What’s It Worth? When Buying Diamonds, Trust But Verify

Recently, we had two cases of local people getting hoodwinked by unscrupulous diamond dealers. Buying diamonds should be fun. Whether you prefer brightly lit mall stores, celebrity jewelers or big diamond houses – or even if you like the more educated sale we offer at Old Northeast – it can and should be fun and enlightening. Buying and selling diamonds by the look of the diamond – the way it speaks to you – is a lost experience. Too often people are simply buying paper.

Many a jeweler has gotten into hot water by selling diamonds from labs that are a bit lose in their grading. Some are so loose that it borders on fraud. In our store, we only sell GIA and AGS graded diamonds, with few exceptions – as these two labs are generally the most reliable.

After educating themselves on diamonds, two local couples embarked on a diamond-buying venture on 47th Street in New York City, known for its wholesale diamonds. They lost a lot of money, time, and faith in the diamond industry.

But they are not at fault. Both couples did things 99% correctly. The one thing they did wrong was to trust the wrong jeweler.

The most egregious case involved a young, well-to-do couple who decided to buy a very large fancy yellow (canary) diamond. They inquired at several local jewelers and finally decided to shop on 47th Street in New York City.

They did the right thing, insisting on a GIA grading paper. They looked at several GIA-graded fancy yellow diamonds and settled on a very large fancy yellow stone for over $100,000, offered by the 47th Street dealer. When having the stone set, a well-known jeweler thought he saw something odd and suspected something was amiss. He suggested the couple bring the diamond to ONJ to confirm the GIA rating.

Jeffrey looked at it first and also noticed the aberrations in the stone, which made him think it had been artificially treated. But when the couple showed him the GIA paper, his reaction was that the stone must be correct – since GIA would not issue a full normal report for a stone that had been fracture-filled.

I overheard this and asked to see the stone. I got it under a scope and within minutes gave them the bad news. The stone was treated – fracture-filled. And worth a fraction of what they paid for it. It seems the scammer on 47th Street had obtained an imperfect stone of yellow color, had it “certified” at GIA before treating it to remove black piques (i.e. black imperfections or flaws). This is problematic since fracture-filled stones treated in this manner are typically worth 10%-25% of a natural diamond. Further, a jeweler’s torch when setting – or acidic cleaning fluids – can alter the treatment and revert the stone to its original inferior clarity.

Conclusion: Trust but verify. We can help in the purchase of expensive diamonds and gemstones. You can trust us to walk you through it. We have four GIA graduates on staff. Call for an appointment.

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