Can you trust the jeweler when it comes to a diamond purchase?
Ever since the existence of trade, people have set out to earn the highest profit possible when selling their merchandise. This phenomenon propels economies in all types of businesses around the world.
Now, it shouldn’t be a surprise that a profit-orientated mindset is present in the diamond trade too. While this is not a bad thing in itself, the problem is that some people may stop at nothing to achieve that desired profit margin. Especially if that means turning to dubious and unethical methods to do so.
And in the diamond industry, grade bumping is one of these methods employed by unethical jewelers to take advantage of inexperienced buyers. This is why I wanted to dedicate an entire article to help you avoid getting conned and ripped off during a jewelry purchase.
As the Latin phrase ’Nomen est omen’ goes, grade bumping is the intentional misrepresentation of a diamond’s color or clarity grade by its seller (whether it is uncertified or has a dubious grading report). Believe it or not – while this practice is clearly unethical, it isn’t illegal.
Loopholes in federal regulations make this appalling phenomenon possible and widespread.
In fact, the Federal Trade Commission’s own regulations state that an uncertified diamond could be sold within one color and one clarity grade of what the original stone is. There are 2 issues here that I want to highlight.
The first is, what are the kind of benchmarks used for the grading standards? Are we talking about GIA’s strict level of evaluation or referring to questionable systems from labs like EGL? These are vague rulings that jewelers can easily twist and abuse to their advantage.
The second point is that huge amounts of money are involved even with one or two color/clarity grade differences. Take for example a diamond with VS2 clarity and G color may typically sell for $4000.
However, because of the permissive regulation, an unethical seller can pass this stone up as a VS1 clarity, F color stone, making it seem more valuable on paper than it actually is. This means the unethical jeweler can now sell the stone at $5000 for a higher profit.
Unfortunately for the buyer, they are usually at a disadvantage when buying diamonds since it is very difficult for the untrained eye to identify a diamond’s actual properties. Besides that, it is also possible for jewelers to manipulate the showroom’s lighting or the comparison stones you are shown in his favor.
Case in point. Even though I am a trained diamond grader, I would not be able to assess a diamond’s qualities accurately without proper tools and lighting conditions.
While it may seem hard to believe that such frauds exist, don’t forget that an unethical jeweler could be thinking along the lines: “If I can do it, why shouldn’t I?” – And once the transaction has been completed, there’s really no way back without any pre-written agreements since he is no longer legally liable for your purchase.
All you can do is tell people to stay away from that place but the damage is already done.
Don’t fall for these marketing tactics that jewelers use to entice unsuspecting shoppers.
#1: Prices that are too good to be true. One of the easiest ways to identify misrepresented diamonds is that their prices are often too good to be true when compared to GIA/AGS diamonds with similar ratings. The fact is, high quality diamonds are never on sale and if you come across “massive sales”, you better be skeptical about what is being sold.
#2: Hard selling and time sensitive discounts. If you’ve been shopping at local jewelry stores, a marketing tactic you will come across is the offer of a “huge discount” to entice you into a deal. Usually, this “great bargain” is valid only for a limited time and only if you commit on the spot. Don’t be fooled. This is just an attempt to prey on consumer greed and push you into making a rash purchase.
#3: Uncertified diamonds and non-GIA/AGS grading reports. If a jeweler is trying to sell you a non-certified diamond or a diamond with a dubious grading document, ask the jeweler why they didn’t choose to have it certified by well-known labs like GIA or AGS.
Unethical jewelers will often tell you to “Buy the diamond, not the paper” or feed you bullshit like “You will enjoy better savings without a certificate!”. You could even test them by asking how much it costs them for proper certification.
The truth is that the cost of getting a diamond “certified” at GIA is only $105 for a 1 carat stone. This cost is relatively small compared to the price tag pegged to the diamond. From experience, I can assure you that 99.99999% of “uncertified” stones have significantly lesser quality than what it is being represented as. You aren’t getting a great deal with such stones; the jeweler is.
#4: Is the jeweler willing to put their claims into writing? If you are buying an uncertified diamond, ask the jeweler whether they will offer any form of guarantees in writing or that the sale is contingent on the results of an independent examination.
Are they willing to bear ALL the costs involved in grading/appraising a diamond if you bring it to GIA for grading and it comes back with an unfavorable result compared to the quality claimed by the jeweler?
Beware of jewelers who are not willing to put facts in writing or attempt to funnel you to an “independent appraiser” of their choice.
Sample grading report from GIA for a 1ct loose diamond.
As I mentioned in the previous paragraphs, this kind of fraudulent activity is only possible when consumers buy diamonds without certificates from reliable 3rd party labs.
If you want to avoid getting ripped off, you should never buy a diamond without a reliable certification. Even though I am a trained professional in the industry, I only buy diamonds that are graded by AGS and GIA. That should speak volumes.
Why? That’s because I know there are NO deals that end up in the favor of the consumer when buying unreliably certified diamonds.
If you only buy a diamond that is graded by a reliable 3rd party lab like GIA or AGS, you will take the seller’s vested interest and biased opinion out of the equation. This means you can eliminate any doubt about the seller’s trustworthiness and you will be sure the diamond you purchased actually has the qualities you had paid for.
To wrap things up, the grading report is a really important document you need to pay attention to when buying a diamond. You should also make your buying decisions based on tangible information like magnified videos or analytical scope images.
Good luck in your search! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or get in touch directly with me!
Click here to view the diamond listing with magnified video and tangible cut performance data.