Sell Loose Diamonds
Typically, features of a loose diamond that are the most important for 99% of ordinary consumers are limited to the diamond shape and to what is known as the diamond 4Cs: carat weight, color, clarity, and cut.
One thing to keep in mind is that round brilliant cuts are the most expensive cuts out there. This is because producing a round brilliant requires the best quality rough diamonds (crystals called octahedrals for those who care to know) and also results in the most amount of removed material during the cutting process. Therefore there is an increase in the cost of production. On the other hand, fancy shapes, such as princess, marquise, radiant, trillian, etc. can be produced from lower quality and more abundantly available rough diamond crystals (called flats and macles) and also do not require wasting as much rough material.
Loose Diamond Value
Selling loose diamonds can be a very lucrative business. Here is a synopsis of a very useful and informative seminar given by Diane Flora, CGA, which describes the grading techniques used by GIA’s Gem Trade Laboratory. Flora notes five factors determine a clarity grade: Size, number, position, nature and relief. No one factor is more important than the other, and each will have different degrees of importance to each diamond.
- “Size” means the size of the inclusion relative to the size of the diamond. The impact of two identically sized inclusions varies depending on the size of the stone.
- “Number” refers to how many inclusions are in the diamond. A single crystal can reflect multiple times, depending on where it’s located, and therefore must be evaluated as multiple crystals.
- “Position” can also play a role. If all other factors are equal, inclusions under the table impact a clarity grade more than inclusions under the crown.
- “Nature” refers to the type of inclusion it is. Crystals and feathers have different impacts on diamonds. If it’s a feather you must consider its size and location, and whether it breaks the stone’s surface. Most feathers do.
- “Relief”: The color of the inclusion can cause it to stand out in high relief against the background reflections of the diamond. In a near colorless diamond, a black crystal is easier to see than a white one.
GIA graders often use a technique known as wet grading. Using a wet sponge or brush, with a little soap added, wipe the surface of the diamond to eliminate dust and surface reflections. The soap is needed because plain water beads up on diamonds. After the initial face–up impression of the clarity grade, you check the condition of the culet by looking through the table. A chipped culet prevents a diamond from obtaining an IF grade, because chips are considered inclusions, even though they can sometimes be polished away. The stone is then held table to culet and mentally divided into eight wedges or sections. Each wedge consists of one main pavilion and two lower girdle facets, the girdle in the same area, two upper girdle facets, a bezel and a star facet. The diamond is turned until the grader examines all eight wedges. Higher magnification locates and identifies inclusions, but if it’s not visible at 10-power, it is not a factor in grading. The grader then holds the diamond girdle to girdle, with the pavilion side up, examining it in profile to check the culet. This is to check for any damage or pinpoint inclusions that may have been missed in the initial observations. The diamond is then observed face up at ten power, and given a clarity grade. Then it’s checked, also face up, with a 10-power fully corrected loupe and overall light source. If there are visible inclusions, the grader needs to check the diamond with the unaided eye. Eye-visibility does not set the grade but it can impact the final call.
The Gem Trade Lab can report a diamond as “potential” or “improvable.” A “potential” diamond can be recut to IF without reducing it below a critical weight. For “improvable,” GTL must determine that the clarity grade can be improved, also without recutting it below a critical weight.
Diamonds are classified by their general shape. There are a variety of shapes including round or brilliant, princess, Asscher, marquise, radiant, emerald, baguette, oval, heart, pear, cushion, etc. These shapes are a major factor in a determining a diamond’s price since some shapes are more difficult to produce than others. Part of the rough diamond is wasted when cutting and polishing diamond stones. The round (also known as “brilliant”) is by far the most popular diamond shape, accounting for more than 75% of all jewelry diamonds sold. Consumer tastes vary with fashion, often driven by celebrities or T.V. shows, but most people want their diamonds to be classics—outlasting fads or shifting fashions.
- Princess cut (also known as “square modified brilliant”) – the second most popular shape, which accentuates diamond’s “fire” and brilliance rather than its luster. The Princess cuts are typically less expensive per carat than round brilliants because cutters do not have to cut off as much material from the rough diamond.
- Emerald – this is a rectangular shaped diamond with a larger, open ‘table’ (‘table’ is the top of a diamond). Because of the large square of the table, the color of this diamond is more noticeable and hence should be chosen more carefully. Typically, anything in the range of K to Z grade will be visibly too yellowish.
- Asscher – this 72-faceted diamond was designed in 1902 by Joseph Asscher, a diamond jeweler from Amsterdam. The Asscher is a square version of the rectangular emerald cut. This shape has regained some of its popularity in recent years, thanks to being featured on Sex and the City and by some celebrities.
- Marquise (also known as “navette” or “little boat” in French) – this diamond, shaped like the hull of a boat. Marquise diamond shape makes the diamond look bigger than it actually is and also makes fingers wearing this diamond look longer and more slender. When buying the diamond of this shape, watch out for the “bow tie” effect (i.e. the diamond’s markedly dark center) if it is cut too thin. The depth of this diamond should not be less than 60%.
The Rapapaort Diamond Report
When attempting to sell a diamond in good condition, any diamond dealer is likely to make an initial offer of 60% of the diamond’s “Rap value,” that is according to the Rapaport Diamond Report. So before you approach an industry insider, you should get a copy of the most recent Rapaport Diamond Report and know your diamond’s value. The report is updated each week and covers diamonds of varying colors, shapes, grades, and sizes up to six carats. Often the dealer’s offer is far less than the diamond’s appraised value. This is because the appraiser provided the diamond’s retail value, which will always be more than Rapaport value.
However, there are plenty of reasons a diamond could sell for less than the Rapaport price. A diamond could be chipped, have scratches, or otherwise show damage. So, if a dealer offers much less than 60% of the Rapaport value on a ring you thought was in good condition, ask why!
Selling Diamonds to the Public
Most people, however, don’t want the fuss of finding a diamond dealer, haggling over the price, and knowing that the industry insider will later turn around to make a profit on the diamond. Most people would rather take their chances selling to the general public. Diamonds are easily listed wherever the seller sees classified advertisements. Even if you live in a big city with plenty of diamonds listed in the local newspaper’s classifieds, online sources such as eBay and Craigslist draw a larger crowd of potential buyers In order to attract quality bids, the diamond must be fully disclosed. This should include the diamond’s grading report, a photograph of the report so potential buyers can read it, pictures of the diamond itself.
Also consider whether you need to sell the diamond immediately or can wait for a better season. The biggest shopping season for diamonds and diamond jewelry runs November through Valentine’s Day. If you post the advertisement in October, you’re likely to find more eager buyers than if you post it in March.