One of the greatest things about diamonds is that they are durable. In fact, there is a very good chance that the diamond would last for thousands of years. The challenge is not a diamond’s durability, it is the vagaries of time – fall off and diamonds get lost. With a diamond you can literally be standing three feet from your stone and never see it again. Once the Hoover vacuum cleaner hits the scene, it’s all over…
The good news is that for those who are pedantic about keeping their diamond attached to a ring, checking prongs, etc. that diamond will get passed on or sold eventually. Most diamonds are too valuable to just sit a a drawer collecting dust. If you are the buyer, you may very well be acquiring a diamond without a certificate…
Herein lies the problem. You should no more buy a diamond without a certificate than you should by a preowned car without a full and complete inspection. Yet many people do both.
Diamonds require 3D valuation: If you received a 1 carat diamond from your grandmother’s estate, that ring will possess some combination of color (dimension 1), cut (dimension 2), and clarity (detention 3). Those three attributes, in combination, generate almost 300 different combinations (and valuations) for a “jewelry grade” diamond. That is just if the diamond is round!
If you go to James Allen’s website (our go to site for competitively priced diamonds), the range for 1 carat, round “jewelry grade” diamonds spans from $2000 to $20,000! This means if you have no experience in grading diamonds, and you were buying a diamond without a certificate, you could be paying 10 times what the diamond is actually worth!
This problem is exacerbated by the fact that a diamond is an emotional purchase. Many people don’t buy an engagement ring cold and disconnected from the purchase. Rather, they experience a broad range of emotions ranging from deep love to deep desperation when buying an engagement ring. The more extreme the emotion, the more extreme the buying behavior.
All of this assumes that your diamond is in fact, a diamond… Buying a diamond without certification also means that you run the real risk that you are buying a synthetic stone, cubic zirconium or just a piece of glass! If you know the legacy of the diamond, this is less of a problem (they didn’t sell CZ when grandma got married 60 years ago!), but it becomes a real issue if you don’t know the history.
Our first recommendation is to get the diamond graded by the Gemological Institute of America, GIA. Yes, there are a lot of good diamond grading labs out there, but GIA is the leader by almost every measure. If you would like their fee schedule, (and instructions) You can download their pdf file with a price schedule here (accurate as of June 3, 2017).
Once you have a GIA diamond grading report, you will then know where, within the 300 combinations, your diamond falls and will have a much more accurate view of the quality of the stone. Then it’s just a matter of knowing the price range. Again, we recommend going to James Allen. J.A. is a great reference point if you want to purchase a GIA graded diamond. James Allen’s prices are very good (in our humble opinion), and they offer GIA graded stones.
If you don’t want to have your diamond graded, (time, cost, etc.) then we recommend going to a trusted jeweler and have them appraise it for you. If you do not know how to find a trusted jeweler, read our article, Finding a Trusted Jeweler. Alternatively, you can go to Iannelli Diamonds and ask for Joe. They will charge you $50 a carat to appraise the diamond and Joe gives great free advice as well (make sure you tell him Jewelers.NYC sent you).
Buying a diamond without a certificate can be a tricky proposition, but done properly a lot of the risk can be mitigated. Then you really can have that one special diamond at the appropriate price.