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How to read a certificate

Certificates vs appraisals



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Jewelry Books

Diamond Ring Buying Guide by Renee Newman
Consumer-oriented book filled with useful information, drawings & pictures for 1st time diamond buyer.

Photo Masters of Diamond Grading by Gary Roskin
Photo Masters is a compilation of 244 extraordinary photomicrographs, suitable for students or experienced diamond graders.

Blood Diamonds

Blood Diamonds cost torture & death for Sierra Leone residents. Conflict Diamonds finance civil wars & terrorists, including al Qaeda.

Antique Price Guide

By Judith Miller, author of more than 80 books on antiques, including "How to Make Money Out of Antiques."

What is the difference between a Diamond Certificate and an Appraisal?


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A Diamond Certificate is a document issued by a Gemological Laboratory describing a Loose Diamond. The laboratory will not issue certificates on Diamonds which are set in a mounting. A Diamond Certificate issues a "grade" indicating the physical properties of the Diamond "at the time of evaluation". A certificate is a document which retains its value over a long period of time, assuming the Diamond does not chip or is not otherwise altered.

An appraisal can be performed on a loose Diamond, a mounted stone, or jewelry. If the stone is not loose, the physical properties are estimated using various estimation techniques. Most importantly, an appraisal indicates the Dollar Value of the piece under consideration. Obviously, the Dollar Value can easily change considerably over a relatively short period of time. Appraisals are most often used for insurance purposes.

Many people make the mistake of using an in-house appraiser to evaluate the purchase price of their Diamond. This is a big mistake. Firstly, appraisals are often over-estimated, and are therefore a very poor estimation of price. More importantly, any in-house Jeweler may be biased.

To further complicate matters, many people have become more educated when it comes to buying Diamonds, and have learned that its important to have a GIA certificate. What they have not learned, unfortunately, is how to differentiate between a GIA GTL (Gem Trade Lab) Grader, and a GIA G.G. or Graduate Gemologist. Many assume that getting an appraisal by a GIA gemologist is the same as getting a GIA Certificate. Some unscrupulous Jewelers attempt to further that illusion.

The GTL (Gem Trade Lab) Grader is a GIA employee who performs the Diamond Grading for the Institute. A GIA Graduate Gemologist, on the other hand, has simply passed the GIA Diamonds and Colored Stone course.

[Note, GIA has pointed out to us that to be allowed to use the title "Graduate Gemologist", "One must pass GIA's Diamonds course, the Diamond Grading Course, the Colored Stones Course, Gem Identification Course, and the Colored Stone Grading course"]

The GTL grader is far better trained in grading and usually has far more experience than a G.G. Further, the GTL grader does not have the same vested interest in the outcome of the grade of the stone they are evaluating.


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