Consumer Expectations vs The Real Diamond World

Having dealt with many customers over the years, I have become accustomed to what consumers, and indeed a lot of the trade think about diamonds versus what really is true. Below I have made a list of some of the expectations I’ve encountered and the “truth” behind them.

Fluorescence

Most of the trade still think that fluorescence is the Anti-Christ of the diamond world. The truth is, in the vast majority of cases, it has a positive effect of a diamond’s appearance. For more information, read my previous blog post on Fluorescence.

Inclusions

A lot of consumers believe that the a diamond’s clarity grade strongly correlates with its appearance to the naked eye. Whilst this may well true in most cases, a diamond’s clarity grade is determined by a number of factors, including:

  • Amount of inclusions
  • Three dimensional location of inclusions
  • Location of inclusions in respect to other inclusion, ie: how spread out they are.
  • Colour of inclusions

Therefore, in a lot of cases, what the naked eye sees, may not seem to correspond someone’s expectations of the clarity grade of the diamond. For example, one VS2 may have a small black crystal that is visible from the side of the diamond, whilst an SI1 or SI2 of the same carat weight may have a lot of spread out inclusions that are not visible to the naked eye at all.
Worse still are those who look at a two dimensional clarity plot and make their decision based on which plot looks the best.

Diamonds Can Not Break

This is a common myth perptuated by the fact diamond is extremely hard with a rating of 10 on Moh’s scale. Unfortunately, this really means that diamond is scratch resitant, that is you can only scratch a diamond with another diamond. In reality, diamonds can be chipped or have cleavage plane fractures, simply by dropping them on the floor.

Diamonds are/can be Graded with a 10x Loupe

Anyone who tells you they can accurately and consistently grade diamonds with a 10x loupe alone really doesn’t know what they’re talking about. In reality, diamonds must be graded with a strong microscope to actually find all the inclusions. Only when all of them are found, and can then be seen using a 10x lens can the clarity grade be determined. If you look at the video below from the GIA, you will see a lot of microscopes, whereas a lot of other labs use mostly loupes.

Finish Grades are Important

Finish grades (polish and symmetry) dished out by most labs, including GIA and AGS really are not that important in terms the appearance of a diamond. Firstly, polish grades refer to microscopic blemishes on the surface the diamond. The difference in GIA grades between excellent and very good, or even good, is usually not visible to the naked eye. Secondly, lab symmetry grades are not optical symmetry grades, meaning they do not refer to how well areas of contrast and brightness are spread out across the diamond. This means that a lab symmetry grade of excellent may well have poor optical symmetry, and a lab symmetry grade of good may have superior optical symmetry.
Even worse are consumers and trade thinking that finish grades on fancy cut diamonds have any bearing on the actual light performance of the diamond.

Gemmological Qualifications are The Be-All and End-All

The problem with gemmological qualifications are that they are just that – gemmological qualifications. Most graduates, whether from the GIA, GAA or other institution come out knowing a lot about all sorts of gemstones. The problem with this is that is they are essentially result in being a jack of all trades, but a master of none. Many don’t know what crown or pavilion angle combinations work to make a diamond ideal cut, and even more so, many probably don’t know how to do such things as get bank finance or basic accounting in order to buy the top diamonds, instead of memo-ing (borrowing) the left overs from their local wholesaler.

Different Diamond Certifications

Every so often a consumer will buy an X graded diamond, graded by Y laboratory, but then is told by someone else (a valuer, jeweller, whoever) that the diamond is really a Z grade. The truth of the matter is, is that the diamond industry, at least on a wholesale level is very efficient. This means that if you buy a diamond that is graded by X laboratory and it is a really a lower grade, it would be fairly harsh to say that you have been “ripped off”. This happens a lot of the time with EGL graded stones, when a diamond is graded, for example a colour F, and it is really, say a colour I. In fact, if you take into account the real grade of EGL certified diamonds, most of the time, they would be a few percent cheaper than their GIA graded counterparts, meaning the consumer actually gets a better deal.

Unfortunately, the days of jewellers and diamond merchants grading and standing by their grades is pretty much over, as consumers have demanded grading certificates, leading to a growing number of diamond transactions dependent on a third party.

The AGS Ideal Grade is The Best in the World

AGS grades polish very leniently, as evidenced here. Therefore, a GIA graded diamond with excellent cut, polish and symmetry with proper cut grading would technically be a superior stone.

There is a Crack in My Diamond

If you think you see a crack about half way down the pavilion of your round brilliant diamond, it is not – it is merely the relection of the girdle.

Valuations

In my opinion, valuations are a relic of the past. The truth of the matter is a piece of jewellery is valued at whatever you pay for it. When you go to a valuer, it is usually for insurance purposes. Valuing a piece of jewellery at a high retail price is a means to:

  1. Keep you happy.
  2. Avoid any disputes with the seller over the price paid (a lot of valuers rely on businessĀ  from jewellery stores).
  3. Keep insurance premiums high.

Visual Comparisons

The romantic days of a jeweller or diamond merchants going onĀ  a buying trip to Antwerp to source to best diamonds in the world are over. These days most diamonds are bought and sold sight unseen on a wholesale level, with technology faciliting this change. First there was the internet, then manufacturers offered basic cut information, then photographs and now it is possible to accurately perform a three dimensional scan of a diamond, and send the scan so that a potential buyer can examine that light performance and quality of brillianteering anywhere in the world.

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