Size Up Your Sparkle: How Does the Diamond Appraisal Process Work?
Staring at that bauble on your hand, wondering how much it’s really worth? Or, maybe you have a loose or antique diamond tucked into your jewelry box and you’re curious about cashing it in.
Either way, a diamond appraisal can give you the answers you need. This document reveals a significant amount of information about your stone and can help you make sure you’re getting a fair price if you decide to sell it.
Interested in this process but want more information first? Read on. Today, we’re sharing everything you need to know about the jewelry appraisal process and where to take your sparkling diamond when you’re ready to get started.
What is a Diamond Appraisal?
In short, a diamond appraisal is a special form of jewelry appraisal, also known as jewelry valuation. A high-end jeweler or specialty appraiser will inspect and assess your diamond from myriad angles, and then provide you with a comprehensive report that lists key details you need to know.
While the specific categories included in these reports can vary, there are a few key descriptions that a reputable appraiser will provide. These include:
- The estimated weight of your diamond
- The approximate color and clarity of your diamond
- The weight of your diamond
- The type of metal the jewelry component is made from
- Other important details
Note that in terms of your diamond’s color and clarity, most appraisers will provide this data as part of a range. For instance, your diamond might be appraised with G through J color or SI1/SI2 clarity.
Why Should I Pursue a Jewelry Appraisal?
There are a few different scenarios where a jewelry appraisal is appropriate. Moreover, not all of them involve selling your diamond. Let’s take a look at two of the top reasons why you might need one soon!
Insuring Your Diamond
In some cases, your jeweler might provide a complimentary diamond appraisal when you purchase a piece of fine jewelry from their store. You’ll need this document if you intend to include the jewelry as an add-on to your homeowner’s insurance policy.
In this case, the appraisal can help the insurer better gauge how much your diamond is worth and the size of the policy you require. While it’s beneficial at first, most insurance companies will require that you have your jewelry reappraised every few years to accommodate fluctuations in the price of diamonds and precious metals.
In addition, your insurance agency can also use the appraisal to help you establish proof of ownership in the event that your diamond is ever lost or stolen. If you’re unable to reclaim the jewelry, this document can help your insurer understand how much to pay you in replacement costs.
Selling Your Diamond
Most of the time, a jewelry buyer will request that you pay for a diamond appraisal prior to giving you an estimated price on what they’re willing to spend for your piece. Here at Crown Gold, we do not require any payment from the seller prior to the appraisal.
Understanding that the data therein isn’t ironclad and could fluctuate, this document at least gives the buyer a better understanding of the initial value of your diamond. A jewelry appraisal can help protect both you and the other party when you know it’s value.
First, it saves the buyer from spending time and effort on a low-value diamond that won’t render them a profit. It also gives them a better understanding of how much to insure your package for as it makes its way to them.
Jewelry Appraisal Values to Know
One common misconception about diamond appraisals, and jewelry appraisals as a whole, is that they reveal the amount of money you can expect to receive for your piece.
However, an appraised value is not a resale or secondhand value. Nor will it be the same as the amount that you originally paid for your diamond jewelry.
To clear up the confusion, it helps to consider it along the same lines as a home appraisal. You might learn that your home appraises for “X” amount of money, but the price you sell at will likely be different. In the same way, the price you ultimately receive for your jewelry will be determined by the buyer.
If you’re appraising new, modern jewelry, the value given is called the New Replacement Value (NRV). If the piece is antique, it’s called the Second-Hand Replacement Value (SHRV). Either of these values can help you replace your diamond if it’s lost or stolen.
How Does the Diamond Appraisal Process Work?
When you take your diamond in for an official appraisal, you need to know what to expect. Next, let’s take a look at the standard steps that most appraisers will perform as they inspect your jewelry.
First, your appraiser should hold an initial conversation with you to discuss the details of the process to follow. During this consultation, you’ll learn about the specific steps that the appraiser will take and the criteria against which they’ll analyze your diamond.
In addition to providing you with answers, the appraiser might have a few questions, too. Specifically, you should be prepared to share why you want the diamond appraised and what you plan to do with it once the appraisal is complete.
Most appraisers will take a different strategy when appraising diamonds and other jewelry for insurance purposes rather than resale ones. This is why it’s important to communicate your plan from the beginning to ensure an appropriate outcome.
You can’t accurately appraise a dirty diamond. To ensure that the valuation provided is as exact as possible, your appraiser will clean your jewelry before beginning work. This way, they can ensure that the actual clarity is identifiable.
Even if your diamond looks clean, an expert appraiser won’t skip this step. Over time, body oils, lotions, sweat, and dirt can wedge their way into the tiny prongs of your ring or the hooks of your necklace. In addition, they can also obscure the clarity and dull the sparkle of your diamond.
Failing to clean your jewelry before inspecting it could result in a false appraisal that holds little to no value and doesn’t serve its intended purpose.
Measuring the Stone
First, the appraiser will measure to see how big the diamond is. Two of the most common tools used at this juncture include micrometer screw gauges and digital gauges.
Using either of thee tools, the appraiser can determine the following metrics about your stone:
During this step, the appraiser will also determine the shape of your stone. The main type of diamond shapes include:
If your diamond has an irregular or deformed shape, your appraiser will note this detail at this time, too.
Thorough, Microscopic Examination
Once your appraiser has inspected the actual size of your diamond, it’s time for a more intricate look at its details. Using a special microscope or a loupe, which is a handheld magnifying glass that magnifies diamonds at 10x power, this the industry standard for grading diamonds, they will then examine the surface of your stone up close, taking note of any defects, including:
Carat Weight Estimation
If you bring a loose diamond to your appraiser, it’s relatively easy to weigh the stone and determine the number of carats. If the stone is set in a piece of jewelry, it can still be measured. Often, appraisers will remove the diamond from the setting and weigh it separately, which can result in an approximate 5% weight variation.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has established parameters around carat weight that help appraisers measure a stone’s apparent size. Note that one metric “carat” equals 200 milligrams, or 1 gram exactly, and each individual carat is further subdivided into 100 “points”. Using these measurements, an appraiser can estimate the carat weight of a diamond to the hundredth decimal place.
The general GIA carat weight scale ranges from 0.50 carats to 5.00 carats. If a diamond weighs more than one carat, it is described using both carats and decimals. For example, a stone that weighs 1.05 carats would be described as “one point oh five carats”.
Your diamond might appear bright and white to you, but looks can be deceiving, especially without any guide to compare it with. To determine the true color of your stone, your appraiser will compare it against a clear or colorless master diamond.
The three-color attributes that an appraiser will measure include saturation, hue, and tone. The GIA has established a diamond coloring scale that ranges from D to Z. The closer your diamond measures toward D, the clearer it is. The categories are as follows:
- D through F: Colorless
- G through J: Near Colorless
- K through M: Faint
- N through R: Very Light
- S through Z: Light
Color is one of the top factors appraisers will evaluate when considering the value of your appraisal. To this end, it’s important to be as specific as possible.
The clarity of a diamond refers to its internal and external characteristics. To understand the variations in clarity, it’s important to remember how diamonds are created. These stones are created when carbon is exposed to a substantial amount of heat and pressure deep within the earth.
As such, there are no two exactly alike. Each will possess its own characteristics and have varying degrees of clarity. Internal characteristics are known as inclusions, while external characteristics are called blemishes.
The freer your stone is of inclusions and blemishes, the greater its clarity will measure. Your appraiser will take a close look at all of these characteristics, taking into account the quantity, size, relief, position, and nature of each one. They will also consider how these imperfections affect the overall quality of your stone.
The GIA has developed a scale for assigning diamond clarity. While there’s no such thing as a perfectly pure diamond, your stone can fall anywhere on this range. Let’s take a look at what the different levels include.
If a diamond measures an FL on the clarity scale, this means it does not have any inclusions or blemishes visible to a skilled appraiser using 10x magnification. This is the highest clarity grade a diamond can receive.
IF: Internally Flawless
A diamond measuring at IF on the clarity scale does not have any inclusions visible to a skilled appraiser using 10x magnification. However, there are some blemishes present at this magnification level.
VVSI and VVS2: Very, Very Slightly Included
If a diamond measures at VVSI on the clarity scale, this means that the appraiser can see minor inclusions using 10x magnification. However, these inclusions are either extremely difficult or very difficult to see.
A VVS2 diamond is very similar to one that measures as a VVS1. However, these inclusions aren’t quite as difficult to see at 10x magnification and put the stone lower on the overall clarity scale.
VSI and VS2: Very Slightly Included
Measuring as a VSI on the clarity scale means that a diamond has minor inclusions. These can range from difficult to somewhat easy to see with 10x magnification.
Similar to a VVS2 versus a VVS1 diamond, a VS2 stone measures close to a VS1 stone. These also possess minor inclusions that are difficult to somewhat easy to see using 10x magnification.
SI1 and SI2: Slightly Included
A diamond that measures at SI1 on the clarity scale has noticeable inclusions. These can range from easy to very easy to see using 10x magnification. An SI2 diamond has noticeable inclusions that are slightly easier to see under the same magnification.
I1, I2, and I3: Included
Diamonds that measure at I1, I2, or I3 on the clarity scale have obvious inclusions that are easily identifiable to an appraiser using 10x magnification. These inclusions may affect the transparency and brilliance of the stone.
To the naked eye, it can be difficult to discern the exact differences between these categories. For instance, a VS1 and SI2 diamond might look very similar. However, there can be marked variations between the two that greatly affect their valuation. This is why only a skilled appraiser should assess the clarity of your diamond.
The cut of your diamond can affect up to 20% of its overall value. Again, the GIA has developed a scale that appraisers use to determine the specific quality of your diamond’s cut.
In all, there are seven components that appraisers will consider during your cut assessment. Three are related to the stone’s physical appearance. These include:
- Brightness: The total light that’s reflected from the diamond
- Fire: The dispersion of light into the different colors of the spectrum
- Scintillation: The pattern of light and dark areas and the sparkle produced when it’s moved
The remaining four components relate to the diamond’s craftsmanship and design. These include:
- Weight ratio
Your appraiser will analyze each component separately and assess how it factors into the overall cut quality of your diamond. Then, they will grade it accordingly. According to the GIA cut scale, a diamond’s cut can measure from Excellent to Poor. The individual categories include:
- Very Good
It’s important to note that each cut grade represents a wide range of proportion sets and face-up appearances. Thus, there is no one-size-fits-all grading factor that will immediately render a certain cut as Excellent and another as Very Good. Myriad different proportion sets can work together to produce an attractive diamond, and each can affect the way the stone interacts with light.
After appraising your diamond based on the GIA’s “Four Cs”, your appraiser will provide a general description of the stone itself, as well as any metal it is set upon. In addition to a narrative that details the characteristics of the diamond, this description will also include a clear photograph of the diamond.
Market Research and Appraised Valuation
If you’ve ever worked with a home appraiser, you know that part of the process is analyzing the value of local homes in your area that are similar to yours.
In the same way, a diamond appraiser will conduct in-depth market research to understand how much similar stones are currently valued at. This process should include both an online and offline analysis.
Once all of the above steps are completed, your appraiser can assemble all of the data into a complete, comprehensive appraisal report. This printed report will reveal the true value of your jewelry, along with all reference information required to make the documentation authentic and credible.
Diamond Appraisals vs. Diamond Certificates
A diamond appraisal can provide you with key information on the quality and value of your stone. For this reason, most premium jewelers will require one before purchasing your jewelry.
Yet, it’s important to note that this appraisal is not the same as an official diamond certificate provided by a respected grading laboratory, such as the GIA. The ratings provided by these certificates are more scientifically accurate, while an appraisal is the jeweler’s opinion of your diamond’s value.
However, a diamond grading laboratory will not assign a value to your diamond. It will simply grade your diamond to help you assess the quality of your stone.
The best place to sell your diamond is to Crown Gold Exchange where our specialty is only buying. We won’t try to sell you anything. Don’t sell your jewelry or diamond to a jeweler unless you want to buy something else and spend more money. If you simply want to sell your items, a trustworthy gold buyer is the best place to go.
Questions to Ask Before Your Diamond Appraisal
Are you preparing to take your diamond in for an appraisal? If so, it pays to understand how the process works and the approach that the jeweler will take. Before agreeing to the process, speak with the jeweler, and ask the following questions:
What Tools Will You Use to Perform the Appraisal?
In addition to a set of master stones, a certified appraiser should also have a 10x to 60x microscope. Other tools commonly used to perform jewelry appraisals include:
- Proportion scope and lenses
- Fiber optic lighting
- Interference figure ball
What Qualifications and Licenses Do You Possess?
You want to make sure that the person who appraises your diamond has the educational experience and industry training required to provide an accurate valuation.
Is the appraiser affiliated with any gemology institutes? How long have they been appraising diamonds? Reputable appraisers will be willing to share these details, along with a professional portfolio.
At Crown Gold Exchange, most of our professionals are diamond-certified through the GIA. They’re well-versed in providing expert, objective valuations of any stone.
What Light Do You Use to Appraise Diamonds?
There are several different kinds of light that certified appraisers can use to inspect your diamond. For instance, in addition to standard penlights, they might also use long and short-wave UV lights, along with a colorimeter or desk lights.
Trust Your Diamond Appraisal to Our Team
Are you holding onto old or outdated jewelry that you haven’t worn in ages? Deciding to sell your pieces is a financially savvy move that can help you turn your castoffs into cash. From gold chains to diamond rings, you could have a small fortune just waiting in the back of your closet!
However, you won’t know the value of your items without an official diamond appraisal.
When you’re ready to sell your diamonds, we’re happy to appraise them for you following the process outlined above. Then, we’ll offer you a fair price based on our findings. We buy a wide variety of diamonds, spanning all shapes and sizes, right in our store.
We want you to feel confident that you’re getting an excellent deal on your precious stones. Contact us today to schedule an appraisal and let’s take this next step together.