From the Streets of Brooklyn Growing up in Brooklyn as a kid, Ben Gordon,(Benji) was not the toughest kid on the block, but he was fast… and smart. He played stickball in the tenement streets dodging traffic to get to the rusty manhole cover that was home plate. Third base was a fire hydrant.
Jewelry Tells A Life’s Journey For anyone with an estate to settle, an engagement to celebrate, a special occasion to shop for, or even a legal case to dispute, Ben’s advice is priceless. He is a long way from the streets of Brooklyn, but a short distance to the Galleria for local Houstonians. Find him online too and book a virtual consultation or in person visit.
Personal jewelry commemorates history and Ben can tell your life’s journey as seen through your jewelry.
Often, a customer will shop for a diamond at a traditional retail jeweler, even if they eventually purchase the diamond ring online. The buyer is able to see various diamond sizes, shapes, and qualities first hand, allowing for a more confident online purchase. (Be aware that “actual” images shown online are often stock photos and not the actual diamond being sold).
In some cases, the customer may decide to purchase from the local jeweler based on their service and selection. But in either case, when shopping for a diamond at a traditional jeweler or on-line retailer;
keep the following in mind: The number one mistake made when purchasing a diamond is being misled on cut, color, clarity and carat (the 4Cs). The 4Cs are difficult for consumers to recognize, and therefore may be misrepresented.
The sales pitch – breakdown For most people, purchasing a diamond is an emotional process! Retailers will often tell consumers: “If you fall in love with a diamond, don’t put too much weight on what the certificate says.” and “No matter the gem lab, we prefer to judge the stones by their visible qualities and beauty, not just by the certificate”
Warning: The U.S. Federal Government legally permits jewelers to be off by one color and clarity grade from what a qualified independent appraiser might determine.
It might sound like a small margin of error, but it can mean that you pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more for your diamond. Unfortunately, this leeway encourages some retailers to inflate their grades; a G color diamond may be represented as a better F color.
It is impossible to accurately judge the clarity and color of a diamond once it is set. (Diamonds have to be removed from their settings to be sent and graded at gem labs.) Setting allows flaws in the diamond to be easily hidden under prongs, and color is obscured by the reflections from the setting itself. Unless it is GIA or AGS certified, do not purchase a diamond over $2,000 without getting a second opinion, so that you can ensure you are getting what you paid for.
Pro Tip #1: Never buy a diamond without a GIA or AGS Diamond Grading Report.
Do All Labs Grade Diamonds The Same Way? Definitely not. We conform to GIA standards, diamond grading protocols, systems and nomenclature. Other organization do not follow these standards and may vary greatly from this industry norm. Besides the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) there is the American Gem Society (AGS), the European Gemological Laboratory (EGL), the International Gemological Institute (IGI), and many others.
4C grading is notoriously difficult. GIA goes to great lengths to create standardized environments and training for diamond grading. Do not accept the retailer’s grade as a substitute. While color and clarity grading for small accent diamonds is commonly given in ranges (e.g. G-H color); for a center diamond, accept only reputable lab grading.
Pro Tip #2: If a retailer gives a color range on a center diamond (e.g. “This diamond is color grade G / H”) you can be sure the diamond has not been graded by any reputable gem lab, much less GIA or AGS, and know the color grade will not be a reliable indicator of value.
Your diamond certification is important: A GIA or AGS diamond grading report will help you down the road to:
Confirm the identity and quality of your diamond Help determine its market value Help to verify ownership for repair or insurance Pass it on if you want to resell or identify a lost/stolen diamond
Pro Tip #3: Get a “Second Opinion” As a Graduate Gemologist (GIA), Jewelry Judge Ben Gordon appraises the diamond in the mounting, documents, grades and values the diamond “While You Watch”.
Rest assured “See the Judge” with over 6 Decades of experience in modern, antique and vintage jewelry will verify your diamond grading report/certificate.
A Jewelry Judge consultation will provide you the 5th C “Confidence”. Trust but Verify!
Learn how the Jewelry Judge provides consumer protection as part of the jewelry appraisal process. Here is a recent appraisal where a major discrepancy was resolved!
We at The Jewelry Judge gem lab take pride in uncovering fraud and misrepresentation when we advocate for our clients in disputes. Devious intent is not always the case when there is a significant discrepancy between what was paid for and what was received.
Here’s a case in point – the mismatched sapphire.
Our client brought us a beautiful loose sapphire with a GIA certificate and a receipt describing the gemstone as weighing 1.93 carat oval blue unheated sapphire.
When we weighed and measured it, our results showed 1.43 carat weight. The discrepancy in carat weight could mean a difference of $1,000.
No one panicked!
We simply called the retailer where the gemstone had been purchased two days earlier. He remembered the customer well – she had compared four sapphires of different sizes and colors. Each was brought out of inventory and carefully unwrapped from its small packet. Each was examined with a loupe and tweezers. A decision was made to purchase the 1.93 ctw gemstone and the three remaining sapphires were wrapped up and returned to stock.
It is easy for a sales professional to inadvertently wrap a gemstone in the wrong packet, especially when to the naked eye, gemstones can appear to be quite similar. The retailer quickly examined the remaining three packets in his inventory and confirmed that the 1.93 ctw gemstone was in the 1.4 wrapper and our client had her preferred stone within a half hour.
Errors can and do occur. But this happy ending was brought about by:
• Our client’s quick action – it was only two days after the purchase that she brought the loose stone to us for confirmation and insurance valuation.
• Our immediate call to the principal who was personally known to The Jewelry Judge (while the client sat with us).
• This retailer was happy that we brought the discrepancy to his attention, and his inventory confirmed our findings.
Both the retailer and our client thanked us for weighing and testing the beautiful oval sapphire. Yes, a mistake had been made – unintended human error is possible. Our call to the retailer gave him an opportunity to quickly correct the error and protect his reputation.
That may sound harsh, especially with jewelry stores everywhere offering certified diamonds. So, what’s up with that?
“We are not the compliance police,” asserts Mr. Gordon, “ but the term ‘Certified, or Certificated’ is old school marketing.” The term, ‘Certificate’ carried too many different meanings and the jewelry industry itself issued guidelines to help standardize the terminology for describing diamonds and gemstones. “Technically, any retailer can create a Certificate, but only gem labs create Grading Reports,” The Jewelry Judge explains.
A big part of the Jewelry Judge mission is education, so clarity (no pun here) is important to Mr. Gordon. Diamonds with Grading Reports have undergone scientific analysis by qualified professionals who analyse, report and grade the qualities of each gemstone. There will be a description for each of the four C’s, i.e., Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat weight. There will also be additional language to describe fluorescence, color enhancement, fracture filling or heat treatments.
Store receipts and typical Certificates have little to no meaning because they do not go far enough to completely describe a diamond. “Don’t mix up the terms,” the Judge warns.
Diamonds with a laboratory Grading Report may be priced slightly higher than non-graded diamonds because of the extra step of having the gemological laboratory test them. A jeweler may pass this cost along to the buyer.
How do I Get a Laboratory Grading Report?
“Each appraisal we create comes with a grading report,” Mr. Gordon explains. A laboratory grading report is for analysis and identification only. “Our testing is similar to the testing that is done at the gem labs, but our purpose is to arrive at a valuation. We take the report one step further by adding current market value.” A diamond Grading Report’s details should never change, (unless the stone is damaged or altered), but appraisal values will certainly change with market conditions.
“If your diamond did not come with a Grading Report, don’t worry,” assures Ben. For a service fee, important stones can be sent to a reputable lab to obtain a Grading Report. The GIA, Gemological Institute of America and AGS (American Gem Society) are two reputable gem labs based in the US. There are other laboratories around the world, but they have not earned the level of trust of the US based gem labs.
Double-Check for Peace of Mind
“Many of the consultations we do are to confirm laboratory Grading Reports,” Mr. Gordon explains. “And sometimes we find that the grading report that comes with a diamond, does not match.” It’s always best to ‘trust but verify’ especially with new purchases. In some cases, an honest mistake has been made, in others, there may be a suspicion of fraud.
The Jewelry Judge can identify discrepancies and offer suggestions for resolution. “We have saved or recovered thousands of dollars for our clients, by helping them to document a claim,” Mr. Gordon added.
Click here to schedule a visit with The Jewelry Judge. Verify a laboratory grading report, retrieve a lost one, or learn current values of your precious jewelry or loose diamonds. The peace of mind you’ll gain, as well as “Information You Can Trust” is worth an hour of your time. Consult the most experienced Houston Jewelry Appraiser!
Verification is what we do in our gem lab on a daily basis. Often the paperwork or certificate from a gem lab does not match the stone that accompanies it.
We ‘call them as we see them.’ This past week we examined a diamond ring with a certificate grade for the stone of SI-1. While we agreed with the color grading, we determined the clarity to be SI2 – 3. This meant that the owner had received a lesser quality stone than he thought he was buying.
With the information we provided, he was able to return the stone to the jewelry retailer in exchange for a better quality stone with a GIA certificate – the more trusted grading laboratory.
This type of discrepancy happens more and more frequently so Buyer Beware – Trust but Verify. Here is a helpful link to a news network broadcast: