November 15, 2016 4 min read


The basic philosophy behind buying diamonds is incredibly simple to understand. This is how I personally buy diamonds from suppliers all over the world, and it’s how I teach my customers to buy diamonds in our showroom. There are two simple rules:

1. Buy from someone you trust. Buy from someone who has your best interest atheart, someone who will tell you truth, and someone who will offer ongoingsupport after the deal is done.

2. Never commit to buying something you haven’t personally seen with your owneyes and handled with your own hands.

I’ve been doing this for over 35 years. I don’t buy from people I don’t trust, and I don’t commit to merchandise I haven’t seen and handled for myself. Again, this is simple to understand, but hard to do in the real world.

As you do your research, you will come across websites that will tell you “this is a ‘certified’ diamond,” or “this diamond comes with a ‘certificate.’”

But professionals know that there is no such thing as a “certified” diamond. If you look at the document — a GIA report, for example — it’s not a “certificate.” It’s a grading report, or a lab report. The word “certified” is a marketing term designed to make you feel like you’re getting a “guarantee.” But, ultimately, that piece of paper is someone’s opinion, and nothing more. It is absolutely NOT a guarantee of the quality of the diamond you’re buying.

Like any opinion, you can’t take it at face value. You must consider the credibility of the source. The grading reports of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), or the American Gem Society (AGS), for example, tend to be more respected and credible around the world.

The grading reports you’ll get from many big-box stores and online retailers, on the other hand, are often from the European Gemological Laboratory (EGL), or the International Gemological Institute (IGI). Both of these grading labs are famous (or infamous) for giving diamonds a much higher quality grade than the GIA or AGS labs would give.

These grading reports essentially “bump up” the appearance of quality so the retailer can charge a higher price for a lower quality diamond. Many of these retailers know that some people will simply look at what the “certificate” says the diamond is, and know nothing about the grading labs themselves.

Here’s the reality: The Federal Trade Commission says nothing which grading systems are reliable or unreliable... They simply say that a supplier has to disclose the grading system that they are using.

So, theoretically, I could make up a new grading system tomorrow. I could issue grading reports (“certificates”) that say whatever I want them to say, and I could charge whatever I want for the diamonds.

Is that unfair and incredibly deceptive to the customer? Yes, I believe it is. But that’s the reality of the diamond grading (“certificate”) system that exists today.

Let’s confuse the matter more: As with any other document, even reputable lab reports from the GIA or AGS can be forged. Every now and again a rash of forged grading reports enters the market, and lower quality diamonds are sold to unsuspecting customers who thought they could buy a diamond simply by looking at a GIA “certificate.”

So, what’s the solution? Unfortunately, there is no short and easy answer to this. You should buy from the person or business that has the best reputation for being knowledgeable and trustworthy. Ultimately, it’s up to you to do your homework, and find a jeweler you can trust with your important diamond and jewelry purchases now and in the future.

In this day and age, buying a diamond based on a “certificate,” or looking for a “deal,” simply isn’t the smartest way to get the best diamond for your money.

Cars are assembled on an industrial assembly line. The exact same parts are put together in the exact same way. With almost no variation, identical cars come out like clockwork. You can get on a website, build your car online, and know exactly what you’re getting. The same is true of clothing, electronics, or any product that is made by a standardized manufacturing process.

Diamonds are not a standardized, manufactured product. They come from nature. But the misconceptions around diamond grading reports have created the impression that diamonds can be purchased like any other standardized product.

The reality is that when you buy a diamond, you’re buying a unique, one-of-a-kind stone, created by nature, that does not match any other diamond on earth. This is not the same as ordering a T.V. on, or ordering a Nissan Altima online.

You literally don’t know what the diamond will look like until you see it with your own eyes. Even pictures and videos don’t fully capture what a diamond will look like on your finger, or under different kinds of light.

Professionals who buy and sell diamonds all day, every day, trust their own eyes over the words of the seller, and always over the words of a grading report. If you want to buy smart, you should do the same.

NEXT: Read about Diamond Cut

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