Buying diamonds is probably one of the blindest purchases a person can make because a consumer cannot really discern what he or she is getting just by looking at it. That’s why the credentials, expertise and integrity of your jeweler are so important.
Most retail establishments commonly in the business of buying and selling diamonds will give you the weight, color and clarity of a diamond but do not offer any information concerning the symmetry and polish. This last element is critically important since a diamond will appear “lifeless” and have little brilliance and dispersion without proper proportions and finish. A diamond’s importance should be placed more on its ability to show “fire” than most of its colorless counterparts. It actually has as much influence on the price and value of a diamond as do the color and clarity. Another element is fluorescence. If a diamond possesses medium to strong fluorescence, it can affect the beauty by rendering a somewhat cloudy appearance. Even without this observation, most diamond merchants will discount a diamond possessing this quality as much as 20%.
In purchasing a diamond from anyone, it would be wise to ask for a document which explains what the grades are, including color, clarity, cut and weight. It should also have a statement which allows for a FULL refund in the event a recognized appraiser or laboratory determines that the diamond is not what it is purported to be. Many retail establishments will “exchange” a diamond if there is a controversy but will not make a refund. This creates a problem in that you may never get a diamond that is what it’s supposed to be!
Cos Altobelli is a third generation jeweler and president of Altobelli Jewelers in Burbank, previously located in North Hollywood for 60 years. His specialty is appraising for all functions and acting as an expert witness. He holds a graduate degree from the Gemological Institute of America and the title of Certified Gemologist Appraiser from the American Gem Society, is the author of three appraisal books and has appeared on “Prime Time Live” several times. Mr. Altobelli can be reached at (818) 763-5151.