Top Ten Complaints a Woman Has About Her Engagement Ring

by Fred Cuellar

  • TOP 10 COMPLAINTS WOMEN HAVE ABOUT THEIR ENGAGEMENT RINGS (by Fred Cuellar). Over the last 30 years, I’ve witnessed a lot of happiness/joy and a lot of anger/frustration from the women who receive diamond engagement rings. This article focuses on the top ten complaints women currently have about their engagement rings. There used to be only one – “It’s not big enough! Size, size, size!” Overwhelmingly, size was the number one complaint for as long as I could remember. Then, mysteriously size dropped from its number one spot to the #2 spot in 2005. Now, more than 10 years later, SIZE isn’t even in the top five! What are millennials finding more important than “YUGE!!”? Let’s find out.

A Healthy Diamond

Recently I ran across two enlightening articles in the New York Times: “When Gold isn’t Worth the Price”, and “A Seismic Shift in How People Eat.” The first article stressed the importance of corporations taking a responsible curator role in establishing the best practices for mining precious metals and gemstones. The second article related how big food manufacturers like General Mills, Tyson, Foster Farm, Kraft, and Hershey’s are now using ingredients labels that better reflect consumers demands for healthy foods that still taste great. As a nation we have learned the hard way that not everything we want is good for us. “Big Food” knew that we easily become addicted to products laced with sugar, salt, and fats so they fed them to us. Everyone has seen the consequences of allowing ourselves to eat high caloric foods with no nutritional value. Currently three out of every four of us are overweight or obese and for the first time, more of us are obese than overweight. “Big Food” finally figured out that it’s hard to keep profits up if the product is killing consumers.

These articles were they catalyst for me to think about diamonds and how they could be categorized as healthy or unhealthy.

Liquid: First and foremost, a healthy diamond is liquid. “Liquid” refers to two things; price transparency and cash liquidity. Price transparency allows the buyer to determine the diamond’s fair market price (FMP). Like a Kelley Blue Book evaluation, the FMP allows the buyer to shop intelligently and avoid price gouging. A fair premium to FMP runs about 10%. Hand in hand with price transparency is cash liquidity. The buyer must be able to know not only present-day cash value but future cash value. Healthy rocks are all bonded and the seller guarantees in writing that the diamond’s cash liquidation price is equal to price paid. The only prerequisites for the buyer are annual inspections and general maintenance.

Organic: A healthy diamond is organic, from Mother Earth with no preservatives. It might sound funny to you, but most diamonds sold to the public today are heavily processed. Fracture-filled rocks are diamonds with fillers. Annealed (heat treated) diamonds are diamonds that have been baked to improve color. Then, add bleached, laser drilled, and irradiated diamonds and the number of overly processed diamonds for sale go through the roof! Now mix in the fakes (diamond simulants and synthetics) and it’s hard for the customer to really know what they are getting. Healthy diamonds have no synthetic sanitizers, no chemical fertilizers, irradiation, industrial solvents or additives. Healthy diamonds are 100% organic. Accept no substitutes.

Value: For any gemstone to be valuable it must possess three qualities: beauty, durability, and rarity. If it’s missing any one of these three it misses the boat on valuable. It we look deeper, the word ‘intrinsic’ shows up. Some rare things have intrinsic value. Gold for example has an intrinsic value, not just because it is rare, but because people believe in it. What we believe matters. My father pointed out that if you add up all the ingredients that make up the human body, you find we are 61% H2O, 18% carbon, and a mix of other elements and minerals that when line-itemed add up to $160.00. Yet the value we place on human life is immeasurable. A healthy diamond isn’t intrinsically valuable because its ingredients are rare because they aren’t. Any chemist will tell you, the ingredients of a diamond are worth pennies. What makes a diamond mean something to us is the process, not the outcome. Man can make a diamond now in a few weeks. Soon in a few hours. The process is automated. But earth is another story. Hundreds of millions of years is quite the process, and we have always recognized that it’s the journey, not the destination, that matters. A healthy diamond is intrinsically valuable because it took the hard road, not a shortcut. We admire that. We cherish what we worked hard for, what didn’t come easy. A healthy diamond has intrinsic value because we believe in it; it is a reflection of us. We choose it as a symbol of our love because at the end of the day it is our relationships that matter to us most of all. If we didn’t take any shortcuts to get where we are, why would we choose a diamond that did? There is a quote I love and means a lot to me, “Better to die on my feet than to live on my knees.” What we stand for matters.

Environmentally Friendly: It cannot be overstated that the extraction of gemstones from Earth raises the possibility to cause harm to our environment unless it is carefully managed. According to The World Diamond Council the key challenge is land disturbance. The council states:

Diamond mining uses a variety of methods, some of which involve the removal of large quantities of soil from the Earth. However it must be remembered that it is economically beneficial to recover the greatest amount of diamonds while moving the least amount of other material. Therefore diamond mines seek to have the minimum sized footprint, and move only the necessary material (known as waste) efficiently.

Modern day best practice calls for a full review of the plans for removal, storage, and return of this topsoil/waste and the environmental impact it will have to allow the area to return to its previous state.
In addition to land disturbances there are a number of associated challenges.
• Energy use and emissions
• Waste and recycling
• Use of water
• Impact on biodiversity

Most importantly, green diamond mining will always be free of using hazardous material.

From exploration, open pit and underground mining, coastal and inland alluvial mining, marine mining, and even informal diamond digging, standards must be put into place to ensure the diamond you purchase is environmentally friendly.

In Conclusion
Jewelry has always been a symbol of the love we share for each other. If we are going to continue those traditions we must be mindful of everything and that includes our environment. While unhealthy, non-environmentally friendly diamonds are now rampant in the marketplace, we can’t be lured by cheap prices and “bargains”. Remember: a bargain is something you don’t need at a price you can’t resist. If we continue to make poor choices that aren’t in line with our values, we will be doing nothing more than filling our junk drawers.

If jewelers expect to be trusted they have to be willing to tell us our diamond’s history with total transparency. We must demand guarantees (not worthless lab reports) that ensure the authenticity of our diamonds. A healthy diamond is Liquid, Organic, Valuable, and Environmentally-Friendly. L.O.V.E. Simply put, to the degree we love, we will be loved. Healthy diamonds – they are lovable.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask The Diamond Guy®

The Vivid White Diamond®

When defining sparkle in a diamond, there are only two things that matter — efficiency and amplified light return.

  • Efficiency rating (E.R.) is a measure of the refracted light entering a diamond that is returned to your eye.
  • Amplified light return (A.L.R) is the number of visible internal light reflections that a diamond has per every ray (signal) of light that enters it.

Weighted Light Return (more commonly know as brightness) = E.R. * A.L.R

A typical run-of-the-mill diamond has an efficiency rating of 35.5% and an A.L.R rating of five (5). Translation: The typical diamond returns 35.5% of refracted light back to the viewer’s eyes; leaks/wastes 64.5% through the pavilion floor of the diamond and only redirects the light internally five (5) times before it leaks out or is returned to be viewed.

A pinball machine is a good analogy here. Think of every ray of light as a pinball. Once the pinball is shot (refracted) into play within the machine (diamond) you score more points (flashes of light) every time the pinball bounces around (internal light reflections) before it is returned back to you in the form of sparkle. Sparkle equals efficiency rating x internal light reflections. So we could say that the typical diamond returns 35.5% of absorbed light and amplifies it five (5) times to give you a sparkle return of 177.5%. You get 77.5% more light then you put in even though there was a lot of waste. This is why most people who see practically any diamond will,at first blush, be impressed. The truth is even bad diamonds look pretty good. But, what if we’re not just looking for pretty good? What if our goal is to have the highest efficiency rating; the highest amplified light return? What would that look like? Well, let’s see, if we are going to hold the most breathtaking diamond in the world we’re going to have to be patient, and I mean really patient! The typical diamond that is cut these days is cut from two types of rough (name for what diamonds look like out of the ground) macles and flats. See below.


These are also called irregulars or preemies (300 to 400 million years old). Preemies are rough diamonds that Mother Nature did not allow to go to full term. Full term crystals, also referred to as sawables, are the most valuable. They are typically found in octahedron, cubic, and dodecahedron shapes. See below


The key to having the best finished product begins by only choosing full term rough. It takes a minimum of 800 million years, not 400 million years, for Mother Nature to deliver a magnificent fully crystallized, full term rough. The irregulars are flat, skipping-stone looking pieces of rough that have an irregular carbon atomic structure. Don’t forget shape determines function! If we don’t have a nice shape to work with we won’t be able to cut the diamond properly.

Ninety-eight percent of the diamonds being sold today are being cut from premature rough and only two percent are being cut from full term rough. So that’s step one. “Better ingredients, better pizza!” Once we’ve got the rare full term rough, we go through a second screening process and throw out any rough that has too much nitrogen or is too heavily included. In order to reach our goal the diamond must not be any lower than a hard graded VS2 clarity or H5 color. By hard graded, I mean the vendor guarantees that no accredited gemologist will ever grade the diamond lower than the assigned grade or you get your money back. Other rating agencies — GIA, EGL, IGI, AGS, etc. all soft grade their stones, which means they don’t guarantee their grades. Once we have the desired full term rough with the correct grades, we can move on to a master cutter. It doesn’t do any good to have the world’s greatest material if we put it in the hands of a poor craftsman. The master cutter will make sure the diamond is cut to class 1 or class 2 specifications (see other article on class of cut for explanation). But, basically, the diamond will have to meet strict proportion guidelines in order to handle the light properly.

Okay. Buy hard-graded full term rough (most expensive) and have a master cutter cut it (more expensive) equals finished product.

The Vivid White Diamond (TM)
The Vivid White Diamond®

The picture you see is a photograph taken with regular light on a black field. What you are seeing is the most efficient, highest amplified light return diamond in the world! The name given to the most breathtaking diamonds has always been vivid! This is The Vivid White Diamond®!

Let’s do the math! The Vivid White Diamond® has an efficiency rating of 91% and A.L.R of 100. So if we want to calculate the sparkle of this gem we multiply the efficiency rating x the A.L.R. — 91% x 100 =9100% light return! 100% goes in; 9100% comes out!

The reason Cartier; Graff; Van Cleef & Arpels and Harry Winston get $35,000 to $56,000 for a single one carat diamond is actually rather simple. They are all vivid white diamonds®! When people run to online consolidators like Blue Nile, Amazon, or Ebay; mall stores like Zale’s, Tiffany’s, Kay’s, Jared’s, Robbins Brothers and big box stores like Walmart, Costco or Sam’s, you’re buying diamonds that are pretty good because you get 77% more light return in good lighting conditions but when you buy a Vivid White Diamond® you are getting 9000% more amplified light. Some old sayings are still true today, “You get what you pay for.” By the way, the #1 complaint a woman has about her diamond isn’t size, its sparkle. So, if you really want to make her happy buy The Vivid White Diamond®.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Note: All photographs and drawings were taken/created by renowned artist Jose Garcia.

Related Article/Video:

Pillow Tops

Cushions, Asschers, European, Old-miners, Rose cuts; all diamond cuts long gone like the era they flourished in. Gone like the flappers and the Roaring Twenties; gone like the Great Depression and the Zoot suits…or are they? Gadzooks, the Pillow Tops are back!

Practically every jeweler from here to Kalamazoo has resurrected Pillow Tops and is selling them as the diamond your “Nana” used to wear! Well guess what? Your “Nana” got wise and unloaded it when she realized that the Pillow Tops are the most overweight, chubby, least sparkly, worst value of all diamond shapes! Looks like we have to learn the lesson all over again. The lesson: The rounds are the most valuable and the Pillow Tops are just for show. If you want to impress for less bucks than step right up and buy a Pillow Top. If you want to invest in the best then avoid the inexpensive cushions and buy round.
As a nation, we learned these lessons and buried the Pillow Tops over 50 years ago, but just like a bad cold that you can’t shake the Pillow Tops are back.

It kills me to see one customer after another be hood-winked into buying these diamonds that should have stayed buried. This resurrection was made possible by hooking celebrities into buying “estate jewelry” which was later copied by the general public. Please if it’s important to you at all that your diamond be worth what you pay for it, leave the Pillow Tops on your mattress and away from your fingers!

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Harry Winston Engagement Rings vs. Tiffany & Co. Engagment Rings

I’m constantly asked to compare engagement rings from Harry Winston and Tiffany & Co. “Fred, is the Tiffany Embrace® better than the micro pave Harry Winston? Is the classic Winston better than a classic Tiffany? Or is the double claw prong solitaire of the Winston better than a Butter Cup Tiffany solitaire?” The answer? Depends.

Environment regulates behavior—so what’s your lifestyle? If you are a rock climber or a neurosurgeon, you need a ring that can handle that environment, if that is your choice. Not all wedding ring styles are as resilient as others. A six prong head is more secure than a four prong head; and the more diamonds in the ring the more possibility that one of them may fall out. So what is a person to do?

The task of any setting is to balance beauty and durability. If we want to be 100% sure your diamond won’t fall out, we can bury it in a block of platinum with a wall of metal surrounding the entire perimeter of the diamond. The diamond will be safe but the sparkle will be compromised because of the fortress that you’ve built around it. But today’s popular ring styles leaves the diamond almost “naked.” The shanks (the part that slides on your finger) are very thin and delicate. The head (the part that holds the center diamond) is mounted fairly high and tends to be decorated with a crown (halo) of small diamonds. Less metal and many small diamonds are what is selling these days to decorate the diamond you have chosen. Are they beautiful? Absolutely! Are they easily damaged? You bet! We are back again to the balance between beauty and safety—which is a lot like life. You can buy a castle and hide away in it and be “technically” safe but you will miss some beautiful experiences that always come with their share of risks. So what are my recommendations when it comes to these beautiful settings? Simple, pick what you love, pick what calls out to you. You know that life and rings don’t come with any lifetime guarantee to never fall apart or get hurt. But, if you are in a rock solid relationship with your jeweler they will give you lifetime repair guarantees that will cover any damage you might inflict on your beautiful new ring, at no cost to you, as long as you keep up with annual checkups. So don’t worry, while your wedding ring is a “symbol” of your love for each other and can be damaged, smashed, trashed or even lost, your love for each other is invicible! Have a great day! Hug a diamond. Talk to you next time.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Color Grading

Color Grading Scale

Checking your diamond’s report card.

Diamonds come in virtually all colors of the rainbow, from the “beautiful violet” of the Hope diamond to shades of blue, brown, gray, orange, etc. But colored diamonds are very rare and precious. Chances are, all the diamonds you’ll see in your diamond shopping will be white or yellow, and the whiter the better.

The yellow color in diamonds comes from nitrogen, and as a rule, the more yellow the stone, the less value it has. There’s a good reason for this. The yellower the stone, the less sharp and sparkly it appears. A whiter stone lets more light pass through it, making it sparkle and shine.

The exception to the rule is the canary diamond, which is a beautiful bright yellow and very expensive. Some people are more sensitive to the color of diamonds. What may appear slightly yellow to you may look clear to another person, so it will take a higher color grade to satisfy you.

The best way to judge the color of a diamond are to use either a Gran Fall Spectrum Colorimeter by Gem Instruments or compare it to a master set..

FRED’S ADVICE: Go for grades H or I. Once mounted they’ll look just as good to the average person as the higher grades, without costing a bundle. The average diamond purchased in the U.S. is color grade M or N, but the customer is usually told it’s higher.


D, E, F: Colorless
G, H, I: Nearly colorless
J, K, L: Slightly yellow
M, N, O: Light yellow
P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X: Darker yellow
Z: Fancy colors

Even though there are several grades in each category, there are slight differences between the letter grades. D is the clearest and most valuable, X is a dingy yellow and least expensive. Z grade-colored diamonds are the rarest and most expensive. A diamond so saturated with nitrogen that it becomes a deep, rich yellow is as rare as a colorless diamond.



Fluorescence is a diamond’s reaction to ultraviolet (UV) light. Some diamonds glow in different colors under UV light, and the general rule is to avoid them. If you put a diamond under UV light and it glows strong blue, the diamond may look dull in the sunlight. Diamonds with strong fluorescence may be worth up to 20% less than diamonds which do not fluoresce. Faint fluorescence which doesn’t fog the diamond is OK.


Corresponding grading means matching clarity grades with color grades. For every clarity grade, there’s a color grade that corresponds, or makes the best match in determining value. Diamonds that have corresponding grading sell for higher prices originally, and they also appreciate in value more than diamonds that don’t, and therefore have higher resale value. Buying a diamond with non-corresponding clarity and color grades is like buying a pink Porsche: it’s okay as long as you don’t try to resell it. The market for pink Porsches just isn’t as good as the market for, say, red Porsches.

Here’s a list of clarity grades and their corresponding color grades. Notice that for each clarity grade there’s a perfect match, and a high and low color that also works well.


D (Perfect) ó 10.00%
E (Low)

D (High)
E (Perfect) ó 9.25%
F (Low)

VS1, VS2:
F (High)
G (Perfect) ó 8.50%
H (Low)

SI1, SI2:
H (High)
I (Perfect) ó 6.50%
J (Low)

No corresponding color grades

The value of a stone is always based on the lowest clarity or color grade and its highest corresponding grade. For example: Let’s say you purchased a stone with a clarity grade of SI1 and a color grade of G. You can see above that G is not a corresponding color for an SI1 stone. The SI1-G diamond will cost you more than the SI1-H, but will appreciate no more over time than the SI1-H.

When you don’t correspond the grades ó say you buy high clarity and low color, or high color and low clarity ó you’ll never get your money back for the higher grade. For example, an SI1-F would resell no higher than the value of an SI1-H, and a VS1-I would resell no higher than the value of an SI1-I. A diamond that is not correspondingly-graded could be expected to appreciate 2% to 4% per year.

Clarity Grading

Clarity Grading Scale

I can see clearly now

The clarity of a diamond depends on how clear or clean it is ó how free it is of blemishes and inclusions, when viewed with the naked eye and with a 10X loupe, or magnifier. Let’s define our terms.

BLEMISHES: Imperfections on the outside of a diamond

Chip: A little piece missing, caused by wear or the cutting process. Scratch: A line or abrasion.

Fracture: A crack on the diamond’s surface.
Polishing lines: Fine lines on the stone’s surface formed during the polishing stage.

Natural: An unpolished part of the diamond.

Extra facets: Additional polished surfaces that shouldn’t be there and spoil the symmetry of a diamond.

Bearding: Very small fractures on an edge of the diamond.

INCLUSIONS: Imperfections inside a diamond.

Carbon: Black spots inside a stone.

Feather: Internal cracking.

Crystal: White spots inside a stone.

Pinpoint: Tiny spots, smaller than a crystal.

Cloud: A group of pinpoints, which may give the impression of a single large inclusion.

Loupe: (pronounced loop) a small magnifying glass used to view gemstones. Any good jeweler will let you use one, and show you how. They should be 10X, or 10-power magnification, and the housing around the lens should be black so as not to distort the color of the stone. The Federal Trade Commission requires diamond grading to be done with a 10X magnifier, and any flaw that can’t be seen under 10X magnification is considered nonexistent.

Here are the CLARITY GRADES OF DIAMONDS, as established by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA):

FLAWLESS: Free from inclusions and blemishes when viewed under 10X magnification. Very rare and very expensive.

INTERNALLY FLAWLESS: Free from inclusions; may have slight blemishes when viewed under 10X magnification. Also very rare and very expensive.

VVS1 AND VVS2 (VERY, VERY SLIGHTLY INCLUDED): Has minute inclusions or blemishes the size of a pinpoint when viewed under 10X magnification. Rare and expensive.

VS1 AND VS2 (VERY SLIGHTLY INCLUDED): Has inclusions or blemishes smaller than a grain of salt when viewed under 10X magnification. No carbon, fractures or breaks. High quality.

SI1 (SLIGHTLY INCLUDED): Has inclusions or blemishes larger than a grain of salt when viewed under 10X magnification, and these inclusions can be carbon or fractures. Almost all SI1 diamonds are eye-clean, which means the flaws can’t be seen with the naked eye. Good quality.

SI2 (SLIGHTLY INCLUDED): Has inclusions or blemishes larger than a grain of salt when viewed under 10X magnification, and some of these flaws may be visible to the naked eye. Borderline diamond.

I1 (IMPERFECT): Has inclusions and blemishes visible to the naked eye. Commercial grade. Not my taste!

I2 (IMPERFECT): Has inclusions and blemishes visible to the naked eye that can make as much as one-fourth of the diamond appear cloudy and lifeless. Same as above.

I3 (IMPERFECT): Has many, many inclusions and blemishes visible to the naked eye. Not a pretty diamond. Very little luster or sparkle. Bottom of the barrel.

FRED’S ADVICE: Aim for an SI1 diamond. Many people unwittingly buy I1 and I2 stones, but if you shop carefully you can buy an SI1 stone for the same price that most I2 stones are sold for.

Stop Buying and Selling Blood Diamonds

The Kimberley Process and World Diamond Council are a sham.

Severe human rights violations, including murder, rape and forced labor, have taken place in the diamond fields of Marange, Zimbabwe. Recent reports from Human Rights Watch (HRW) indicate that these horrific conditions continue to take place.

Blood diamonds from Marange, Zimbabwe, have been issued Kimberley Process (KP) certificates and imported into the cutting centers, where they were cut and polished and then sold to dealers, jewelry manufacturers and retailers. Tens of thousands of carats of blood diamonds are now in dealers’ inventories and jewelers’ showcases — and are being actively sold to consumers.

The jewelry trade’s purchase and distribution of blood diamonds is funding a continuing cycle of horrific human rights violations. Our industry is providing money and distribution to those who murder, rape and enslave. Every time we buy or sell a blood diamond, we are sending a message of encouragement to the perpetrators of these inhuman crimes. We are legitimizing their dirty business. We become their partners in crime.

We must face the fact that the KP has been issuing certificates for Marange blood diamonds. The KP has made these “certified blood diamonds” perfectly legal. Customs officials did not — and do not — have the right to stop Marange diamonds with KP certificates. Instead of eliminating blood diamonds, the KP has become a process for the systematic legalization and legitimization of blood diamonds. When you get right down to it, the KP has become a blood diamond laundering system. The KP is not just a sham; it’s a scam.

To understand how this could happen, we must define “blood diamonds” and compare our definition to the KP definition of “conflict diamonds.”
Rapaport definition:“Blood diamonds are diamonds involved in murder, mutilation, rape or forced servitude.”

KP definition:“Conflict diamonds means rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments, as described in relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions insofar as they remain in effect, or in other similar UNSC resolutions which may be adopted in the future, and as understood and recognised in United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 55/56, or in other similar UNGA resolutions which may be adopted in future…”

The KP definition of conflict diamonds does not address human rights violations and does not include blood diamonds. It is a legal definition established by governments to limit the scope and authority of the KP. The KP is a highly politicized process controlled by governments for governments. Its primary function is to protect governments and their revenue — legitimate or not — from rebel forces and consumer boycotts. The KP is essentially agnostic when it comes to human rights. As HRW concluded in its November 6, 2009, report: “This diamond monitoring body has utterly lost credibility.”

In spite of the above, there is a common misconception in the jewelry trade that diamonds with KP certificates are free of human rights abuses. Trade organizations, under the misguided leadership of the World Diamond Council (WDC), have promoted and continue to promote the KP as an acceptable standard for ensuring human rights compliance, even though they know that the KP has been issuing certificates for blood diamonds that have penetrated the diamond and jewelry supply chain. The WDC refuses to inform the trade that the KP cannot be relied upon to ensure human rights compliance and that polished blood diamonds are in the supply chain. The WDC has lost its moral compass. Its primary loyalty is now to the KP and not to the diamond industry or even the basic principles of human decency.

“Our narrative could end here, but I have a much broader definition for a blood diamond. Here is my definition:
  • Any diamond that was mined using oppressed labor in unsanitary working conditions.
  • Any diamond whose oppressed labor force was victimized in the form of rape, mutilations (loss of arms or legs), beatings, verbal abuse, unconscionable working hours, and below poverty wage structure.
  • Any diamond that the company who mined it or controls its tariffs is part of a monopoly.
  • Any diamond that funds wars or corporate greed where profits supersede human life.
  • Any diamond that is used to oppress any human life or the extinction of any race, tribe or sub-culture.
  • Any diamond that is purposely graded incorrectly and marketed for corporate profits instead of consumer satisfaction.
  • Any diamond that is sold at a price above its secondary market resale value forcing the consumer to take a significant loss if it was to be resold.”
  • -Fred Cuellar

What To Do?

• Raise Consciousness. We need to raise consciousness within the jewelry industry about the problem of blood diamonds so that people will stop trading them. Industry organizations that should play a role need to be awakened. I suggest sending emails to Terry Burman, chairman of Jewelers of America (JA), director of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) and the WDC, at; Matt Runci, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of JA, chairman of the RJC, director of the WDC, at; Cecilia Gardner, president and CEO of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC), director of the WDC and CIBJO, at You might want to cc the email to other leaders and send a copy to us.

Ask these leaders to confirm that polished blood diamonds are in the distribution system and ask what you or they can do about it. Ask them to use their organizations to inform the trade about the problem. If you know anyone on the board of these organizations, give them a call and ask them to have their organization let people know about blood diamonds.

Email us at if you would like to help us raise consciousness. We will be holding conferences to discuss the issue at BaselWorld on Friday, March 19, 2010, at the Basel Congress Center from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., and the JCK Vegas Show, Monday, June 7, 2010, at the Sands Convention Center from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. We need new ideas and solutions. We need your help to get organized.

• Stay informed. Visit for background information and google Marange diamonds to stay up to date. Help us stay informed. If you know about people or companies that are selling Marange diamonds, email us. While we don’t have the resources to investigate all claims, if a name comes up enough or the case is compelling, we will quietly notify relevant investigative authorities.

• Return diamonds that you suspect may be blood diamonds. Pay careful attention to diamonds that have a green hue. Unless you are absolutely sure of where the diamond came from, it is probably a good idea to return all diamonds with a green or green/gray hue in the D to Z and light green color range, not fancy green colors. While there are green diamonds from other places, about 60 percent of Marange’s cuttable diamonds are green and tens of thousands of carats have come onto the market over the past year. Furthermore, we are getting reports that the color of some green Marange diamonds is unstable and may worsen.

While many in the industry are opposed to the idea of returns, the hard fact is that you are going to have to make a personal decision about what to do. Thanks to the KP, blood diamonds are perfectly legal and you have no right to return them. On the other hand, do you really want to be selling what may be blood diamonds? It’s a financial and ethical issue with a high dose of uncertainty. There may be no clear answers. You might want to talk to a spiritual or ethical adviser.

• Ask Before You Buy. As noted in the HRW campaign*, “Zimbabwe’s Blood Diamonds, Ask Before You Buy,” asking is probably the most important thing you can and should do. Recognize that you are responsible for what you buy and that someone’s life may be at stake. Make sure you know who your suppliers are and ask them serious questions to ensure that the diamonds you buy are not from Marange nor involved in other serious human rights abuses. Err on the side of caution. Tell your supplier you really care about where your diamonds come from. If they know you care, they also will care. Make it a point to personally talk to every diamond supplier about human rights issues and how important they are to you.

You will also want your supplier to sign a document promising to refund payment for any diamonds that turn out to be associated with human rights violations. But don’t rely solely on the paper; remember to have the talk.


It’s time to transcend Kimberley and the WDC. One wonders how many lives will have to be destroyed before the demonstrations begin — before victims come marching down Fifth Avenue, as they did a decade ago. What will it take to get our trade to stop buying and selling blood diamonds?

I know that there are many good and decent people in the diamond and jewelry trade. And I know that many of you care but are frustrated and feel the situation is hopeless. I urge you to reconsider. I urge you not to give up.

We can and will beat this problem. It will take time and unprecedented levels of cooperation. But I do believe that there are enough people in our industry who really care about human rights and that we can make a difference by working together. There is so much good that we can do. I am confident that when the right people come together, we can and will build a more fair and ethical diamond market. We can and will create solutions that will make the world proud of us and our diamonds.

By Martin Rapaport

January 29, 2009

Click here for original article.

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Blood Diamonds

“Certified”: A Dirty Word in Today’s Market

You see or hear the ads all the time—we sell only GIA, AGS, EGL etc “certified” diamonds with a “certificate” to back it up. Thanks for telling me—RUN! “Certified” is a word that is supposed to put you at ease, make you relax, so you put your guard down. But it is meaningless.

The lab “certificates” are riddled with disclaimers that specify it is strictly a bought opinion and in no way guarantees anything, making the “certificates” worthless. The jeweler will pretend he bears no responsibility because someone else graded it, so who or what “guarantees” the diamond? Nothing and nobody! Guess who is left holding the bag? Any jeweler who doesn’t tell you that “certified” does not guarantee anything, belongs in the same cell as Bernie Madoff. Look up the definition of certify (verb: certified) which includes “to guarantee as meeting a standard or to confirm formally as true, accurate or genuine.”

Do you know where the safest country in the world to buy a diamond is? Well, it’s not the United States anymore! It’s India where jewelers are buying back the diamonds they sell to customers who aren’t happy! “They’re not just selling diamonds, they’re selling security and trust”, said Marc Goldstein from Rapaport.* India is the first country whose jewelers stand behind the merchandise they sell with a lifetime buyback policy!

Currently only about twenty percent of jewelers in the U.S sell fully bonded diamonds! (Diamonds with a lifetime buyback policy). Disgraceful! I’m sick and tired of seeing a young couple down on their luck and being forced to sell their diamond to find out that it is only worth an average of 19.7% of what they PAID! Their usual response when they find out that they have been taken to the cleaners? “But it was “certified”?! Buying a “certified” diamond is about as safe as jumping out of an airplane without a parachute and told to flap your arms! I can’t be more serious about this pandemic that is destroying the integrity of diamonds. Please DO NOT buy a diamond from anyone who even whispers the word “certified”. Let 2010 be the year that we banish the dirty word “certified” from the diamond business forever and replace it with a fully bonded appraisal (F.B.A). That leaves you 100% in the driver’s seat! By refusing to buy any diamond that is misrepresented and only comes with a 30-90 day return policy you will never find yourself with a diamond you don’t want and no where to turn. Don’t buy “certified” diamonds from anyone! Fairness has to mean something again in the diamond industry!

*Goldstein, Marc. Rapaport. December 2009. Vol. 32 No. 12. Pg 49.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

The Health of Your Jeweler

In the last two and a half years one out of every seven jewelers has gone out of business! Generations of jewelers have been wiped off the face of the map because they were ill-prepared for the next tidal wave of consumerism—Twitter, text message, Facebook, etc. connected consumers that don’t care what the old way to do business is because they want to buy their way on their schedule! Jewelers who had legions of fans have been left in the Sahara Desert as their fast track-spending baby boomers are off searching for the meaning of life and have put away their pocket books and wallets! Of the remaining jewelers, half are on life support betting on Christmas! If Santa appears, they may squeak by with their lives. If not? It’s Sayonara! Arrivederci! After the next 3 months, we will have a pretty good idea of which jewelers are going to survive and which ones will join the Tyrannosaurus Rex!

As a consumer here is what you have to be on the look out for:

1) Promises that seem too good to be true! If the jeweler keeps lowering the price until you buy he’s not going to be around tomorrow!

2) The lack of non-bonded diamonds; the bonding of commercial diamonds. If the jeweler is offering a lifetime buyback guarantee on crummy diamonds, it’s because they are just dynamiting the pond to get the most money in their pocket before they go out of business. Of course, they don’t have to worry about keeping a promise if they close up and leave town after the sale.

3) Over-stocked Cases! Desperate jewelers bring in a lot of jewelry on consignment that they haven’t paid for yet hoping to make a quick sale! If they sell it to you and they go out of business with out paying their bills you are in possession of stolen merchandise!

4) How long the jeweler has been in business now is irrelevant! Legacy jewelers are dropping like flies. Look for the little things like small repairs that haven’t been made, lights out in cases or outdoor signs that haven’t been replaced. Out of date décor. Does the place have a current minimalism look or old fashion iron stands behind the cases approach?

5) Look at the age of the jewelers. If everyone serving you is older than dirt there is a good chance there is a hole in the desert six feet deep that the company is going to be dropped into.

Are the sales people a little eager like their life depends on it or do they give you room to breathe? If they crowd you it’s because they are missing the crowds!

6) Flat out ask them if their diamonds come with “certificates” guaranteeing the diamond? If they say yes run for the hills! The FTC has deregulated lab reports to not be responsible for the exact accuracy of their grades as long as disclaimers are present! If the jeweler is telling you a piece of paper stands behind their diamonds and not the jeweler himself, you are talking to a dinosaur.

7) Does the jeweler have a social media director? If they don’t they are in the dark ages and will soon be left in the dark.

8) Do they try to make the sale today vs. giving you time to make your decision? If they’re rushing you they are hunting for cash.

9) And finally, who do you know of your friends that have recently bought from the jeweler? If you can’t quickly Facebook your friends and find at least a half a dozen happy customers it’s because they don’t have any!

The health of the “business as usual” jeweler is critical. They are on life support and if they are on life support, how are they going to be around to support you?

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Don’t Force It! (Pre Fab Isn’t Fab)

Ninety percent of all jewelry sold in the United States is prefabricated. Let’s see what Webster has to say. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word Prefabricate as follows:

Function: transition verb

Date: 1932

1: to fabricate the parts of at a factory so that construction consists mainly of assembling and uniting standardized parts.

2: to produce artificially

Think about it! Ninety percent of all the settings that hold our diamonds and gemstones are manufactured PRIOR to knowing what diamonds or gemstones are going to go in it! That’s life in the 21st century—picking out a frame for a newly discovered DaVinci without bothering to ask the exact dimensions. That’s Crazy! But, I’ll keep going! All this Prefab jewelry is mass produced in such great quantities, (#1 goal being profit) that any decent quality control to insure against under-carating of the quality of the gold or precious metal is thrown out with the baby and the bath water! Prongs that should be hand rolled for durability and strength are plucked out of an assembly line machine losing an incredible amount of tensile strength (that’s what keeps your rocks in place)! Of course even under the most optimal conditions, using a Master Craftsman & Master Stone Setter, damage is possible but why would we want to increase the odds of an accident by over twenty times?! We might as well text and drive with an open container in the car! All right, don’t get me started! Here are the facts:

1) Prefab jewelry is a lot less expensive upfront but will cost you more on the back side with costly repairs.

2) Prefab jewelry is ordered out of a catalog so you may get it quick and fast but you aren’t buying something meant to last.

3) Prefab jewelry serves a place in our society the same way a place holder does. It’s a good band-aid until you know exactly what you want your dream piece of jewelry to look like.

4) Custom made jewelry is more expensive (but not unaffordable like some jewelers want you to believe) but will more than pay for itself when it lasts generations not

Here’s how you protect yourself:

1) Ask the jeweler if the ring was Prefabricated by him or anyone else.

2) If the ring was Prefabricated and you are willing to roll the dice with prongs that have been FORCED out of place to fit stones that were jammed into them, what guarantees does the jeweler provide when the little sparkly beauties start jumping ship?

3) If they say the ring is custom made will they put it in writing and guarantee any stone loss (Large main stones must be covered under a personal floater policy) as long as you bring it in for scheduled maintenance?

4) Did the jeweler attempt to show and sell you a setting first and then ask you to pick out the main stone? * Never put the cart before the horse!

5) And finally, how long did the process take from start to finish? If it took days and not weeks with several visits, I’m sorry my friend, you just bought a Prefabricated piece of jewelry and as the story goes “Prefab aint Fab!”

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Bonded Diamonds: Diamonds for the “Conceptual Age”

It’s April 7th, 10:40AM. Good morning or good _________(fill in the blank) wherever you are right now in the future. I say future because as I write this newsletter, it dawned on me that these words will not be received, heard, or read until sometime in the future, if ever! But I’ll press on anyway.

We do this all the time—talk, write, create, destroy hoping and praying to be noticed; hoping to be heard. When others give us compliments, we feel good; ignored we feel bad. Why do we give that power to others, the ability to affect us? Employed we have self-worth. Lose our jobs, we feel worthless. Why is our happiness dependent on others? How well do you treat yourself? You can be kind to yourself, you know? Some people say “I’ve been really beating myself up over ________ (fill in the blank). Really? Beating yourself up? Worrying? Complaining? As Doctor Phil would say, “How’s that working for you?” The solutions may be found in the new “Conceptual Age”.

The “Conceptual Age” is defined as an era of creativity, innovation and design. As Daniel Pink says in his book, The Whole New Mind,“Answers need more problems!” That’s what the “Conceptual Age” represents! It’s about being able to see the book, not just as a source of knowledge, but as a paperweight, a source of energy (burn it to stay warm), a hat, a bullet-proof vest or even a door stop. We need our answers to solve more problems. We need to see the book as more than just a book. A diamond can no longer be just a diamond—not in this day and age. We expect more from things. A toaster can’t just be a toaster! Any toaster can do that! It has to be a thing of beauty! Heck, it spends 99% of its time just sitting around doing nothing. It might as well look beautiful while it sits on your counter top! If you can’t see a toaster as art and art as toaster, you haven’t joined the “Conceptual Age”. You are still stuck in the “Information Age”, where everything was safe and linear. A problem had one solution. Very, very safe. Don’t want to get hit? Stop moving! Want to be safe? Be perfectly still! Quite the paradox. Static was the old safe. Momentum, frequency, vibration, sound, harmony and symphony are the new. Creating chaos to find order and center. This is the new reality. Our “Conceptual Age” fully bonded diamond now is beauty, durability, symmetry, meaning, value, story, safe haven, flexibility, liquidity, nest egg, college fund, retirement fund, rainy day fund, get-out-of-jail-free card, life saver, new car, new job, starting over, upgrade, downgrade, save a life, define a life, make a life, and more. Now quite simply a fully bonded diamond isn’t just carbon from the earth. A fully bonded diamond doesn’t just make a connection; it defines it. It expands it! It grows with you. It goes with you! It is a part of you! A fully bonded diamond, like true love, doesn’t come with rules, regulations, or limits! It is endless, indefinable, and unpredictable—it flows! Any diamond can take you from A to B. That’s yesterday’s Newtonian diamond. Only a fully bonded diamond can take you anywhere you want to go!

Yesterday’s diamond could only be a diamond—one that depreciated with time like a used car. Today’s fully bonded diamond is ready to be whatever you want it to be. As time goes by, maybe it will be a bigger diamond, or maybe you will transform it into a down payment on your dream home! Only a fully bonded diamond can be anything you want it to be because it is the only diamond in the world that is liquid!

Anybody can own a diamond. Not everyone can own the future!

P.S. Remember, “you are the master of your fate; the captain of your soul.” Invictus by William Ernest Henley.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Show Me The Love: Falling Diamond Prices Equals Big Opportunity!

March 6, 2009

They say that there are no atheists in foxholes. Well, I got news for you, there are no atheists or single men in foxholes! When bullets are flying, like the collapse of our economy, loss of wealth, rise of unemployment, women having octoplets (come on did you really need to complete a baker’s dozen plus one?), more and more couples are tying the knot! You can lose your job, your home, your pension, your life savings, but nobody, and I repeat, nobody wants to lose love! We can learn to live without a lot of things but love will never be on the list!


The good news is that for the first time in 28 years the price of “good” diamonds (defined as a diamond that will hold its value and/or appreciate over time) has DROPPED almost 6% over the last four years! This may not seem like a lot, but let me give you an example. The average “good” diamond sold in the United States in 2005 was a little less than half a carat and normally sold for $1700.00. This diamond would have traditionally appreciated in value/cost 6 ½% to 8 % per year. Translation to buy that diamond in 2006 would cost you not $1700.00 but a maximum of $1836.00! Then in 2009 it would cost $2312.83! That’s where the powers that be get you! “You’d better buy a diamond today because tomorrow it’s going to go up!” And, for “good” diamonds (not crummy ones) they were telling the truth! You can pay a little now or a lot more later. Your choice! Since the diamond market is not a free market (more of a monopoly) the dealer (Diamond Cartel) is holding all the cards! They wanted to raise the price and they did! Just like when the oil cartel kept manipulating the market to get oil to $147.00 a barrel-before it collapsed! Well, guess what? Supply super-exceeded demand! For the last few years diamond prices for the bread and butter sizes-1/3 carat to ¾ carat-have been flat! Then, the sky-rocketing prices of the one carat and larger stones that were being bought up as “safe havens” by investors, exiting the stock market are falling back to earth. Investors are now trying to dump their stock piles realizing cash is king!


What does it mean to you the average young man that wants to buy an engagement ring? It means the diamond you would have paid $2312.83 for this year is selling at 2004 prices! Or $1581.00! That is a $731.83 savings! Almost 50%! So when I say diamond prices are down 6% and you want to yawn, I am talking about 6% off of 2005 prices!! If you are looking for a big diamond, the savings are off the charts! If you followed my advice from May of last year when I recommended to hold off on making your diamond purchase (reference the Great Diamond Crash) you are in the money now!! You can actually buy a good beautiful, sparkly, gorgeous diamond without going to the poor house! Don’t get me wrong, good diamonds aren’t being given away; in fact they are still 300% more expensive than commercial grades (crummy diamonds). But they are at least affordable in dream sizes! So if you are like most couples these days and realize that it’s better to stay together and work as a team, now is the perfect time to buy your rock! Mark my words you will never see diamond prices like this again in your life time! People can live with a lot of things but regret isn’t one of them. Sometimes love means letting go but right now isn’t one of those times! Don’t let your love go, it may not come back!

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.”
More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®


NBC Nightly News April 19, 2009

Independent Jewelry Appraisers

Let’s start by defining what an Independent Jewelry Appraiser is. Here we go! An Independent Jewelry Appraiser is anyone who decides to call themselves one. No laws prohibit anyone from hanging out a shingle that they are qualified to appraise jewelry. Doctors and lawyers need licenses to practice. Not jewelry appraisers. Now, there are appraisal associations, schools you can go to, fancy looking plaques you can hang on the wall saying you are qualified to appraise the burial site of King Tutankhamun but wishing or saying something doesn’t make it so. Only in the movies can you click your heels together three times and say “there’s no place like home” and be transported where you want to go. A lot of jewelry appraisers couldn’t cut it in the jewelry world.  So, they became critics who take hush money from jewelers they secretly work for to sandbag the quality or value of an item from a competitor to undermine a sale!


Your typical predatory jewelry appraiser looks like your favorite uncle or like Barry Madoff. He’s nice, looks professional, compliments you, tells you how long he’s been in business, and says he is qualified to appraise anything. “It’s Appraisal Depot!” Coins from a sunken treasure chest? No problem. Antique silver, diamond encrusted butter knives that were owned by King Louis? Piece of cake! The predatory appraisers will always over value parts of what you bring in to gain your confidence, then under value or bury something else that they know will make you question your purchase.


So, how can you tell the honest appraisers from the dishonest ones?

  • 1.) They won’t ever tell you that they know exactly what a piece of jewelry is worth. The best they can do is to give you a broad range. To be exact the stones have to be pulled from the setting.
  • 2.) They will never offer to buy your jewelry or recommend a jeweler to you (even if you ask).
  • 3.) They will not have any disclaimers on their appraisals saying they will not be held responsible for any action that is taken with the appraisal. If they don’t stand behind their work, what’s the point!
  • 4.) They will never charge you a percentage of the appraised value as their fee. This will lead them to over value the merchandise to make more money.
  • 5.) They will up front ask if you want the Dump, Wholesale, Retail (fair market), or Premium value of your merchandise. Anyone who picks an exact number out of thin air without explaining it is incompetent or worse–a crook! Pure and simple.
  • 6.) They will always appraise the merchandise in front of you. If it needs to be cleaned they will ask you to join them.
  • 7.) They will never, never, never ask to pull a diamond that they are trying to appraise!!! Only switch-out artists do this. If you are only there for an appraisal and not a sale there is no reason for them to pull it unless they want to switch it!
  • 8.) If the stones are mounted he should only give you ranges in weight, clarity, and color. Investment grade quality cannot be determined or mounted merchandise. The highest grade for a diamond that is mounted is VS1 clarity, G in color. The appraiser may say that the quality could be higher but will never put it in writing. Off-makes (poorly proportioned stones) are easy to spot in a setting.
  • 9.) An appraiser will always weigh a loose stone FIRST & LAST in front of you to prove the stone has not been switched.
  • 10.) No honest appraiser will ever ask you to leave the merchandise with them to appraise unless you are reunited long lost buddies.


Very simple: Take appraisers’ word with a grain of salt. They are looking out for themselves. If they are honest they will explain their limitations; if they are dishonest they will act like God. Finally, if you are lucky enough to have bought a Fully Bonded Diamond the quality is 100% guaranteed so you have nothing to worry about. If you like it, keep it. If you ever don’t, get your money back! The only reason you ever get an appraisal anyway is when the seller puts an expiration date on the “Lifetime Guarantee”. If the jeweler backs the quality and purchase (no ifs, ands, or buts) then the only test any piece of jewelry needs to pass is the “It takes my breath away” test. If a piece of jewelry does that then put it on! None of us can last very long without our breath!

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

The Great Diamond Crash

May 14, 2008

If I had to take a guess, I would estimate that there are over one billion carats of diamonds in the hands of consumers. That is over 100 times the annual consumption gobbled up for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and even Super Bowl rings. The diamond markets for consumers exist in two categories; commercial grade (bluff stones) and non-commercial (the good stuff). A good diamond is defined as a “diamond that will hold its value and/or appreciate in value over time.” The current “cut rate” (distribution of commercial to non-commercial diamonds) is 49 to 1. For every good diamond that is sold in the US there are 49 crummy (commercial) ones. The average resale value of a commercial grade diamond is 19.7% of the original dollars paid; the average resale value of a non-commercial grade diamond is 85%– worst case, 60%; best case, 100% or better. Diamonds have never been considered an investment instrument after one billion dollars was lost by consumers buying diamonds as a hedge against inflation in 1980.

But, it appears some lessons aren’t easily learned. For anyone who has been paying attention, you would have noticed that large, investment grade (IF, VVS1, VVS2 & D, E, F) diamonds have been sky rocketing in prices! Currently a 5ct D,IF is selling for over 3/4 of a million dollars. That’s about double what it was just a few years ago. However, we don’t have to look hard to see other commodities mimicking the same exponential, unrealistic growth. Oil, gold, platinum, rice, wheat, etc… everything is up! Way up! The question is this: is this the new reality or have we fallen down the rabbit hole? The prices people are paying for some diamonds is reflecting a market mania. The current diamond climate is creating a craze very similar to the tulip mania in the early 1600s in Amsterdam. Believe it or not, back then, at the height of the mania, a tulip went for $76,000 a bulb! Six weeks after smart money got out, the price had fallen to a dollar!

Within 12 months there are going to be a lot of sad people sitting on a lot of big investment grade diamonds that will be worth a fraction of what they paid. My advice is this: for the next year, stay away from 2ct+ investment grade diamonds unless you are willing to be a statistic in the great diamond crash of 2009. If you are going to buy a 2ct non-commercial rock that isn’t investment grade, you will still have to pay at least 20% more than what its cash liquidity is worth! That said, if the world ever wakes up and realizes that nobody really needs a diamond and everyone goes to the market to sell at the same time, tulips and diamonds will have more in common than being pretty; they’ll both be a cautionary tale.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.”
More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®


NBC Nightly News April 19,2009

The Truth Behind BLING: Science or Gimmic

By Fred Cuellar and Diep Doan

What is the #1 requirement we have of a diamond? Hint: see title of article….Very good!! It’s bling–aka sparkle! We expect—heck we demand—that our diamond must sparkle. But let’s stop for a second, and ask ourselves what exactly is sparkle anyway? To answer that question we have to understand light. More precisely we have to understand “visible light”. (See footnote.)

Visible light is our fluid energy, and a diamond is our spectral container. A diamond can take light traveling in excess of 186,000 miles a second and bring it to a crawl at 77,000 miles a second before kicking the sliced and diced light back up into your face. The science of light works together with the diamond to give you sparkle! So what is sparkle? It is white light (brilliance) and colored light (dispersion) that is combined and returned back up to your eye. What a diamond does with light while it is the proud owner will determine how much is spilled/leaked (either out the bottom or sides) and how much will be returned to you, the viewer.

For quite a few years now, diamond cutters have known three things: 1) If the table %, crown angles, girdle thickness, and pavilion angles of a diamond are cut correctly, the interior of the pavilion (the ice cream cone part of the diamond) will respond like mirrors and return light back up to the viewers’ eyes. 2) The diamond cutters also know that depending on the shape and position of the outside facets (the ornaments that decorate the Christmas tree) could create intensity kaleidoscope patterns like hearts and arrows. 3) If you shoot enough light into any diamond of any proportions you could make it look decent as long as it stayed in a well-lit environment.

Where the charlatans took over was when they could take the longest visible wavelength (red), isolate it, increase its magnitude, and give a dead Christmas tree (poorly proportioned diamond) life. First, they put pretty Christmas lights and tinsels on the tree (arrange the facets to create the marketable heart-and-arrow pattern that Madison Avenue could sell to the consumers via Cupid). Others have also tried this lights-and-tinsels trick by creating dozens more facets. As light gets broken up more and more, consumers confuse the difference between more decoration and more sparkle! Do you create more pizza by slicing more pieces on the same pizza? It’s just the same amount of pizza with more SLICES!!! Second, they shoot the dead tree with a bath of red light to influence buyers that it is well-cut because of the presence of a manipulated pattern. Somehow the fact that the appearance of this predetermined pattern can theoretically appear in diamonds regardless of proportions is accidentally omitted in all marketing materials. No one tells you that you can get this with warped diamonds. No one tells you that you can get this with an off-make. Having the presence of this pattern does not ensure your diamond is well-proportioned! Finally, they would turn on a red light, stick it in a heavily lighted box with an instrument sounding name like “Brilliance Scope”, and pretend to measure the sparkle efficiency of the diamond by snapping photographs. Here’s a little question for all who use this equipment as a selling tool. How does this thing work? Apparently, this report is a relative comparison of one diamond to a number of other mystery diamonds. If we have a beauty contest between an ogre, a one-eyed Cyclops, and the wicked witch of the West, the witch may come out on top almost every time! Does this mean that the witch is beautiful? How can we be sure that the mystery diamonds are not ogres or Cyclopes? In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.

Principles of physics and mathematics have not changed—only marketing strategies. Let’s go back to the basics. Tolkowsky and Ditchburn proved to us a diamond’s light can be maximized with correct universal crown angles, universal pavilion angles, total depth percentage, table percentage, etc. (See proportions chart on pages 45-47 in 6th edition of “How To Buy A Diamond”.) A diamond with all the correct proportions does not need any special lighting to tell you it sparkles. Under the right conditions, we can all take a good head shot, but we don’t have to take a shot to the head to realize that any diamond that needs an entourage of red lights and lighted boxes are not going to sparkle on a candle-lit dinner and a long walk on the beach under a silvery moon. Stop letting gimmicks mislead you. Let true science guide you to the light!


Visible light hides in a very small region in the electromagnetic field. At one end of the field, we find Gamma rays that travel at wavelengths 10^-6 nanometers (nm) to 10^-2 nm, X-Rays traveling from 10^-2nm to 10nm, and ultraviolet radiation from 10nm to 300nm. On the other side of visible light, we find infrared radiation, microwaves and radio waves. Their wavelengths start at 1nm and extend to 100km. Visible light is a very thin slice of ham squeezed together by two very large pieces of bread. The sun gives us white light (visible light) and a mixture of all the colors. Remember ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet)? Each travels at its own wavelength—violet at one end, 400nm, and red (the longest) at 700nm on the other. Indeed, the butcher slices the ham we see very thin!

More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Who Will Help Me Now?

If you’re shopping for an engagement ring you’ve probably already realized there are two components that must be evaluated before you sign on the dotted line; the diamond and the setting that holds it. The funny thing is more and more people are buying the setting from one place and the diamond at another. Which leaves us with some serious questions:

1. Who should set it?

2. Who should be responsible for the diamond during the setting?

3. Who will service the ring after it is set? i.e. who will size it if it needs sizing, who will repair it if it gets damaged, who will do the annual check up and if you were lucky enough to buy a bonded diamond, is the bonding still in force if the seller doesn’t do the setting.

Who should set it?

The seller of the setting may or may not agree to set the diamond. Many jewelers won’t set someone else’s diamond because they don’t want to be responsible for any chipping or nicks that my result in the setting process. In fact, many jewelers will only set the diamond if you sign a “hold harmless” agreement. The rest of the jewelers in order to pressure you to also buy the diamond from them, won’t agree to set someone else’s diamond under any circumstances.

The Facts

• Jewelers carry exclusive lines of designer jewelry no one else in their region can carry to lure you into the store. Their hope is to hook you with the setting and reel you into a diamond.

• The reasons the settings are so expensive is because even through the jeweler hopes to sell you their diamond they are well aware of the commoditization of diamonds and the difficulty of competing against wholesalers that are now selling direct. With the loss of the “rock” profit they must compensate with an over-priced semi-mount.

• I don’t blame the jeweler, I wouldn’t want to set someone else’s diamond unless I had insurance to protect me plus even if I am covered, where is the incentive for me to service some guy who blatantly didn’t consider me for the major purchase, had insurance to protect me plus even if I am covered, where is the incentive for me to service some guy who blatantly didn’t consider me for the major purchase,- the diamond.

• As the customer I wouldn’t even ask the jeweler who sold me the setting to set the diamond for one very good reason, he’s probably upset with me for not buying my diamond from him; and his setter may take it out on my beautiful new diamond with “torquing” (Torquing is the over application of pressure to a prong in order to cause permanent damage to the girdle of the diamond).

So the answer to who should set it is easy; it’s the seller of the diamond. And not just for the setting, but all servicing as well. Furthermore, if the diamond is bonded the diamond seller’s insurance company requires him to set it or it voids the warranty. If the diamond seller refuses responsibility then buy your diamond somewhere else.

The Diamond Guy®

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

An Evening at Sothebys

The World’s Largest D Color, Internally Flawless Diamond Ever Brought to Auction

“Mr. Cuellar, Michael Hart from Geneva is on the phone,” chimed in Julie, my assistant, “from Sothebys!” What Julie and the rest of my staff were quickly becoming aware of was that I was just hours away from bidding on the world’s largest D color; internally flawless (IF); 103.83 carat; cushion cut diamond ever offered at auction. The sale number was GE0306, lot 606. It was November 20, 2003, 7:30 PM Geneva time. This would be the final session and lot 606 would be the final item auctioned. They always save the best for last!
“Michael, how’s it going?”
“Fine, Mr. Quar (Cuellar), fine. I just wanted to let you know that a young man by the name of David will be doing the bidding for you while you listen to the auctioneer on the phone. There are about 100 lots in this session; we’ll need you to be on the phone in about an hour. In the mean time, I’m faxing over the absentee bidders form to you, since you’ll be listed as the primary purchaser.” Michael knew full well that I was just the front man for the real buyer, who will remain nameless. This is not unusual. Many buyers work with diamond dealers to maintain their anonymity. This was history in the making and I was on a very short list of people who could say they were a part of it.
“How many people are we up against?” I asked Michael.
“Oh, Monsieur, I am not privileged to reveal that information.”
“Alright,” I replied. “How many people total do you have on the phones?”
“We are accommodating only 20 phone bidders.”
“How many people are in the room?” I asked
“Oh, my. I am not sure. It is packed! There are, of course, those who are seated and those standing in the back.”
“How many seated and how many standing?”
“There are 45 chairs and approximately 50 people standing.”
“Thanks, Michael.” One hundred fifteen—if I assumed that everyone in the room was going to bid on the big diamond. I was one of potentially 115 people in the whole world who had a chance to bid on one of the greatest diamonds ever found.
“David’s on the phone from Geneva,” announced Julie. “David’s on the…”
“I got it. What line?”
“Line two.”
“Please close my door.” I pressed the Do Not Disturb button on my desk phone, took a deep breath and picked up the phone.
“Lot 601! Repeat…lot 601!”
“Mr. Queerar (Cuellar)?” Boy, my name has been butchered a lot today, I thought.
“Yes. This is Mr. Cuellar.”
“Oh, sorry about that Mr. Quazar. Mr. Quazar, your lot is coming up. Should I be the first one in to get the proverbial ball rolling?”
“No.” I responded quickly. “Let’s not get too excited. Let’s get a lay of the land.”
“Beg your pardon, sir?”
“No. No jumping in until things quiet down. I want to get a feel for exactly how many people are hot for this rock.”
“Excuse me? Hot for…”
“Look. I’ll scream when I want you to bid. Got it?”
“Got it, sir.”
“Lot 606! Lot 606! A superb and highly important diamond!”
I’m taking a break here from the live action to show you a reprint of how the diamond was listed in Sotheby’s catalog.


The cushion-shaped stone weighing 103.83 carats
Accompanied by GIA report no. 11185353 and Gubelin report no. 0111004, both stating that the diamond is D Colour, Internally Flawless. With additional Gubelin appendix stating that the diamond is Type IIa.
This magnificent stone is the largest D colour, Internally Flawless diamond ever to be offered at auction. Only three other diamonds of perfect colour and purity weighing over 100 carats have been sold at auction internationally and Sotheby’s Geneva has had the privilege of selling each of them. These spectacular diamonds are presently the three most valuable gemstones ever to have been sold at public auction.

This diamond, which was discovered in the famous Premier Mine in South Africa, has immense presence and beauty. It is exceptional not only for its size, colour and purity but also because it has beautiful proportions and exhibits the cutter’s skill at its height. The process of planning, designing and cutting the rough crystal, which took place in Johannesburg and New York, took over eighteen months to complete.

Its classic cushion-shaped form in reminiscent of so many famous and historic diamonds such as: the Cullinan II, 317.40 carats, presently in the Imperial State Crown of Great Britain; The “Regent,” 140.50 carats, presently in the Louvre Museum, Paris; and the “Queen of Holland,” 135.92 carats, owned privately.

Only very few “D” colour, Internally Flawless diamonds of over 100 carats exist in the world today and they truly rank amongst the earth’s greatest treasures.

This exceptional gemstone has been exhibited in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington during the month of September 2003, in an exhibition entitled “The Splendor of Diamonds”; this is a fitting tribute to such a rare and splendid diamond.
The appearance of such a diamond at auction is a very special event. The successful buyer will have the additional privilege of naming this unique stone which will certainly take its place among the most famous diamonds in the world.

CHF 11,000,000-14,000,000
US$ 8,000,000-10,000,000

Back to the action. “We’ll be opening the bid at seven million, eight hundred thousand.” (These are Swiss Francs) “Eight million, do I hear eight point five million. Thank you. Eight point eight million. Nine. Nine million, two hundred thousand. Do I hear…9 million, eight hundred thousand!”
The crowd was silent for the briefest of moments, then, “Ten million.”
“Sir, would you like me to counter. It’s going to close, sir. Would you like me to counter?”
“No. No, I’m done.” It had gone over my client’s limit by two hundred thousand francs! Two hundred thousand…it can’t be done here! It has to go more, I thought to myself. If we’re going to lose this magnificent stone, let’s lose by a large margin!
“Ten million. Final warning.”
“It’s done, sir. Goodbye,” said David. The line went dead.
We had lost out by two hundred thousand Swiss Francs—US $153,291.94. The diamond had sold for $7,721,441 plus commissions for Sotheby’s.

I got home about ten minutes after six and my wife had pork chops and green beans waiting for me, (delicious). Regardless of the blaring T.V. that wouldn’t shut up about Michael Jackson, or a wonderful home-cooked meal, I couldn’t get my mind off that diamond. After dinner I went upstairs and flipped up my lap top to see what had gone on in the world while I had been focused on the high powered E-bay experience. What I noticed almost immediately was something I was expecting to see, but didn’t—the news release on the super-duper diamond. I checked MSNBC—nothing. I checked Sotheby’s web site results—typed in the sale number, lot number—nothing. They had no listing for a lot 606 ever being sold! What gives?! How can they not be listing the auction result on this item? All the other prices for all the other items were there, so where was the lot 606 result? I called the New York auction results number (kind of like trying to find out what the winning lottery numbers are). When I entered all the required information, a computer generated voice informed me that there was no lot 606. I then went back to MSNBC, but this time I checked MSNBC Europe. It was there I found my answer.
“Huge diamond fails to sell in Switzerland as bids fall short of asking price.

Most jewelry sold at auction has a hidden reserve that nobody knows about. I believed it to be the opening bid of seven million, eight hundred thousand Swiss Francs, making every bid after that a potential winner—how wrong I was. The next morning, I had but one question for Michael Hart; okay, maybe two. Was the diamond still available?
“Yes, Monsieur Cuellar, the diamond is still available.”

Dear Reader: The final bid was entered by the auctioneer himself. It’s not uncommon that the auction house can act like it has received a bid in order to get the price of the item where the seller wants it to be.
The next question was obvious. “Will you ask the owner if they want to go one on one with me over the sale of the world’s largest D color, Internally Flawless diamond ever auctioned?”
Michael said he would call back. I didn’t have to wait long for an answer.
“Fred, there is a Patti Wong on the telephone from Geneva. She’s with Sotheby’s.”
“Thanks Julie. Fred Cuellar here.”
“Mr. Cuellar. This is Patti Wong. I am in direct contact with the seller and we would like to open discussions with you on the sale of the 103 carat diamond.”
“Great! Now that the sale is over, what’s your client ready to take?”
“They want X plus Y. (X=a particular number of millions, Y=a particular number of hundreds of thousands)
“Patti, I’m not authorized to go any higher than X. Since X plus Y isn’t that much more that X, let’s sell a diamond!”
“Mr. Cuellar, I’ll go back to my client and tell them you made an official offer of X, but I’m sure they are going to want X with a little Y. I’ll be back in touch.”
Within ten minutes, Patti Wong was on the phone declining my offer of X and countering with X plus Y/2. I asked her since Y/2 was so small a percentage of the overall purchase price, why was the seller trying to nickel and dime my client? She only reiterated that X was declined and X plus Y/2 was the offer on the table.
The whole deal was officially over less than an hour later. My billionaire client felt insulted, as I figured he would, (his offer was more than fair) and pulled out of the negotiation altogether. I won’t discuss my final conversations with Sotheby’s, but what I will say is they did everything within their power to help the two parties come together. In the end, any client can sometimes be their own worst enemy. For the first time in my life, I truly understand the saying “penny wise, pound foolish.”

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Imposters III

Fred evaluates two more C.Z. companies

Since the publication of “Imposters Too,” I’ve been asked to review two other C.Z. companies, CZ Gold and Chic Jewelry. Here are my findings. (In this article, I’ve reviewed three C.Z.’s in solitaire settings).

CZ Gold

Each of the C.Z. solitaire rings came in a nice enough simulated leather ring box.
3 rings one marquise one round and one radiant


At first glance, each of the solitaires looked pretty good.
marquise round and radiant


The C.Z.’s had good life, nice light return, and were very attractive. When I picked up my loupe (10x magnifier), however, the true picture came to light. The marquise was set improperly where the V-shaped prongs (that are designed to protect the points of the marquise) weren’t even covering the ends (See photo #5). There was tremendous porosity (pitting) as well as unpolished areas inside the basket (the head that holds the marquise) that were totally unfinished. (See photo #6). On top of that, there were some pretty bad abrasions and scratches on the surface. (See photo #7).
pictures of settings with problems


The radiant solitaire was nice enough (way better than the marquise) but was set improperly (way too high). You could park a Mack truck between the bottom of the rock and the base of the head. (See photo #8).
you can drive a truck through this setting


The round solitaire was attractive like I said earlier but was set poorly and not completely rhodium-finished. (Yellow gold solder could be seen at the base of the head).
Conclusion: Hit and miss on the quality of the C.Z.’s but atrocious metalwork, setting and polishing on the semi-mounts. I’d pass on these guys.

Chic Jewelry

When I opened the box from Chic Jewelry, I immediately fell in love with their packaging. (See photos #9 and #10). No other company had gone to as much trouble picking out their ring boxes as these guys!
pictures of the boxes holding the diamond rings from Chic Jewelry


Like CZ Gold, my initial reaction was positive. The jewelry looked attractive and believable. (See photos #11, 12, and 13).
3 rings out of the boxes from Chic Jewelry


But sadly, just like CZ Gold, when I took a closer look, I was disappointed. I saw chipped stones (See photo #14), oversized girdles (See photo #15), unfinished girdles (See photo #16), stones mounted crookedly (See photo #17), and poor polishing, porosity, and finishing (See photos #18 and #19).
close up view of chips and oversized girdles on the rings from Chic Jewelry
close up of mountings of Chic Jewlery Cubic Zirconiums

Conclusion: Buy their adorable boxes but get the contents from somewhere else! Total miss on quality of C.Z.’s and semi-mounts! If I had three thumbs, they would all be turned down.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Imposters Too

Last year I wrote a couple of articles (“The Imposters” and “From Ziamonds Vault”) where I took a little time off from evaluating diamonds to critique simulants and synthetics. Since the publication of those articles I’ve been inundated with requests to review other cubic zirconia companies—Orleans Counterfeit Diamonds (, Body, Czplatinum Inc ( and Jewelers Direct, Inc ( These are my findings. Note: I ordered loose a 1ct marquise, round and emerald cut from each company. This is the bread and butter stuff. If they can do a decent job on a basic one carat then they will probably get everything else right.

Orleans Counterfeit Diamonds

When I opened the package from O.C.D., I discovered that the three stones had been placed in a single plastic bag with a piece of cotton. A C.Z can chip another C.Z if they bang into each other. Strike one. The first stone I looked at was the marquise. It looked bright, had a good length to width ratio but when I louped it I found a baby size chip on the pavilion. (Nothing I probably couldn’t live with). The second stone I examined was the round. My first impression was that it looked a little flat (dead). Take a look at what I saw in photographs 1-A, 1-B, and 1-C.

There were crater size chips on the table and star facets of the crown. It’s as if I was looking at the dark side of the moon! Not acceptable! Strike two! The last stone the emerald cut, had chips on the keel (bottom of the rock) as well as polishing drag lines all across the stone. Strike three! For $50.00 a carat I should have gotten a magnificent hand cut C.Z. Opinion: Overpriced, poorly packaged, inferior quality.


The box from B.J, had three attractive gold lame´ drawstring pouches (see photo 2A) and a packing slip. There was no paper work explaining how to clean or take care of my new product, nothing about any guarantees or even the prices I paid, just my three little pouches. In each pouch I found the stone sitting on a small white cushion enclosed in a plastic case (the absolute best way to ship a loose stone!). See photo 2B.

As before, I looked at the marquise first. It was immaculate; sharp crisp edges, no rolled faceted junctions and expertly polished. The round was also bright and full of life! When I examined it further I found a very small chip on the pavilion (no big deal at all). The emerald was superb – one of the best hand polished jobs I’d ever seen on a C.Z. All the stones were well proportioned. Opinion: Good packaging, poor documentation on guarantees or cleaning, but excellent quality at a reasonable price.

C.Z. Platinum

C.Z. Platinum was more economical on the use of plastic cases and like Orleans Counterfeit Diamonds placed all three stones into one container. See photo 3A and 3B.

The marquise looked fair but had an unpolished girdle that lightly hazed the look. The round arrived broken! It looked like a windshield that had been pummeled by a hail storm! See photos 3-C, 3-D, 3-E.  The emerald cut looked flat and lifeless, like plastic. All the pavilion main step facets were abraded. Opinion: At $25.00 a carat a fair price for non hand cut C.Z.’s. The warranties and return policies were stated clearly in the packaging materials, but the C.Z.’s are just run of the mill.

Jeweler’s Direct

The price I paid for each stone was just $12.00! I expected machine-finished C.Z.’s. Boy, was I in for a surprise! The rocks were beautiful!! Well cut, hand polished, sharp, crisp, magnificent! As good as any C.Z, I’ve ever seen in my life and at truly a wholesale price. The emerald shape was cut to 65/65 specs; the round didn’t have a nick on it and the marquise shone like the sun. Opinion: In this round of imposters I was clearly smitten with Jewelers Direct. A great product at an unbelievable price! Take a look for yourselves.

(All photographs were taken by acclaimed photographer and artist Ricky Fernandez)



by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

The Imposters

The Simulants and Synthetics

For the last six months I’ve been slowly and methodically collecting data on a group of gemstones I like to call the “Imposters”. An “Imposter” is any gem that claims to be as good or better than, just like, as hard, more beautiful than, but cheaper than a diamond. The “Imposters” come in two groups, the simulants and the synthetics. Let’s take one at a time.

The SimulantsA simulant is something that looks similar to a diamond but does not have the same properties (weight, specific gravity, refractive index, hardness, etc.). These would include c.z.’s, glass, white corundum, Y.A.G. (Yttrium Aluminum Garnet), Graffs simulant, The Asha, Diamonelle and Zirconite to name a few. Many of these companies (I won’t mention them by name, you know who you are) make some pretty outrageous claims. Some say they have created a super simulant that will sparkle and last forever. Well, I guess that’s true but for it to be true you cannot wear it.

It’s like those abdominizers that claim you can get rock hard abs while using their machine. That’s technically true but only if you diet and exercise and use the machine! Most, if not all of these companies will give you a ton of technical data meant to impress us. For example, they will tell us how brilliant and sparkly their fakes are and back them up with Sarin reports, megascope reports, brilliance scope measurements and on and on. Look, nobody’s disputing that a lot of these simulants are pretty (with the exception of moissanite) the problem is their hardness.

Vendors brag about how hard their stones are and how they put diamond-like coatings on their rocks to keep them looking beautiful till the end of time. Then, they say, if we’re wrong we will give you a new one. So what!! If they’re wrong why would you want a new one? If a particular brand VCR broke every six months would you be satisfied getting the same product again and again and again. One of the fakes I tested came with a guarantee that actually said and I quote, “Should your gem ever become chipped, scratched, lose its optical characteristics, or otherwise become damaged as a result of normal daily wear, please contact us to arrange the return of your gem and the defective gem(s) will be promptly replaced. The warranty does not cover damages by another jeweler’s work (Example: During setting of the gem, or during repair of jewelry that the gem is mounted in) or damage due to wear during unusual activity such as rock climbing, construction or other occurrences where common-sense would indicate jewelry is likely to be damaged.”

Can you believe this?!! For starters, whose in charge of deciding what normal daily wear is and second, where’s the common sense committee that decides when it is dangerous or not dangerous to wear your sparkly new “Imposter”? But you want to know the craziest part? It’s the fact that your typical c.z. runs just dollars a carat and some companies are selling their super rocks for up to $400.00 a carat!! P.T. Barnum was right, there is a sucker born every second and two to take his place.

Most of the prettiest simulants I examined were hand cut c.z.’s versus machine manufactured ones. And yes there are companies selling them for a fair price ($5 to $10 a carat wholesale; $20 to $30 retail). Ziamond, CZ Jewelry and Zirconite are companies that sell their product at a fair price.

Moissanite is another popular “Imposter” running as high as $500.00 a carat. They are more durable than hand cut c.z.’s but still no match for the hardness of a diamond. They are made by synthesizing carbon, hence making them doubly refractive. The biggest down side to these is their inability to obtain nice colors. All the moissanite I’ve seen has a grayish dull overtone.

The Synthetics

A synthetic is a man-made diamond that has all the properties of a natural diamond (weight, specific gravity, refractive index, hardness, etc.) The only company making real man-made diamonds (yellow ones for the market) is Gemesis in Florida. They say synthetic whites will hit the market in eighteen months. Note: GE has been making industrial diamonds for years.

Crossing the Line

At this point it is impossible to grow or replicate a real natural diamond of any impressive size with a high clarity or color grade. Yet if you surf the web there are over a dozen companies claiming they are selling lab created diamonds; synthetic diamonds. Pure fiction.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.”

More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Is it the Real Thing?

How to tell a real diamond from a fake
Hands down the #1 question I’m asked online is “How can I tell if my diamond is the real thing?” People want to know if there is some simple test they can do at home or little tricks of the trade to tell if the ring they own is a valuable heirloom or of the Cracker Jack variety.
Without question the quickest and most reliable method for authenticity would be an independent appraisal. This can be accomplished easily enough by looking under “Appraisal (Jewelry)” in your yellow pages. When you call to enquire about their services you want to ask three questions:
1.) Can you schedule an appointment or is it first come first served.
2.) Ask the fee; $35.00-$75.00 is considered a fair price.
3.) Ask if the jewelry will always be in your presence. If the appraiser says they will not evaluate the jewelry in front of you, find another appraiser.
If spending 50 bucks seems a little too steep to uncover the identity of your rock, you can head to your local jewelry store and ask their in-house gemologist to take a peek and give you their opinion. Since opinions are like belly buttons (everyone’s got one) understand that in a lot of these quick 30-second evaluations mistakes can be made. Especially since most jewelers won’t charge you for 30 seconds of their time. (Just like with independent appraisals, don’t let the merchandise out of your site.)
There are some less reliable methods you can try but there are no guarantees with these:
1. The old “If it will scratch glass it has to be a diamond.” Well, it is true that diamonds do scratch glass but so do a lot of the other fakes on the market. To boot, it’s possible to injure your rock even if it’s real during your hardness test.
2. The transparency test. If you flip the diamond in question upside down and place it over some newsprint and can clearly read through the stone, it’s not a diamond. (The problem with this test is some diamonds are cut shallow and can be read through.)
3. The fog test. This test I like a lot. Put the rock in front of your mouth and fog it like you would try to fog a mirror. If it stays fogged for 2-4 seconds, it’s a fake. A real diamond disperses the heat instantaneously so by the time you look at it, it has already cleared up. (A down fall to this test is oil and dirt on the stone can effect its reliability and the test is not accurate at all on doublets where the top of the stone is diamond and the bottom is cubic zirconia epoxied together.)
4. The weight test. The most popular of diamond simulants (fake) is a cubic zirconia. C.Z.’s weigh approximately 55% more than diamonds for the same shape and dimension. So if you have a carat or gram scale at your disposal you can see if the imposter tips the scales too much.
5. The U.V. test. A high percentage of diamonds fluorescence blue when put under an ultra violet light (black light). Since 99% of all fakes don’t, a positive identification of medium to strong blue would indicate a diamond. The bad news is if this method proves you have a diamond, it also proves your diamond is worth less. Diamonds with blue fluorescence are as much as 20% less valuable. Remember, lack of blue fluorescence doesn’t mean it’s a fake; it could just be a better quality diamond.
6. Under the loop test. If you own some sort of magnifying lens, there are some things you can look for on the stone that might give away its identity:
A. Look at the rock from the top and see how well the facets (cuts on top of the diamond) are joined. They should be sharp not rolled.
B. Look at the girdle and see if it is faceted or frosty (a clear sign it’s a diamond) or waxy and slick (an indication it’s a fake).
C. While you’re looking at your stone under magnification, look into your stone to see if you detect any flaws (carbon, pinpoints, small cracks). These are typically clear indications it’s the real thing since it’s very hard to put inclusions in a fake.
D. After examining the stone, focus in on the stamps inside the setting. A stamp of “10K, 14K, 18K, 585, 750, 900, 950, PT, Plat” indicates the setting is real gold or platinum which gives a better chance that the stone in it is real as well. While you’re looking at the interior of the ring, also look for any “C.Z.” stamps that would indicate the center stone is not a diamond.
I hope this helps all you Sherlock Holmes that want to know what you got.
by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®
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How to Sell a Diamond

Not all diamonds are forever. There may come a time in your life when you want to sell a diamond or two, for one reason or another. It may be an engagement ring from a previous marriage, or a pair of diamond studs from an ex-boyfriend. It may be a family heirloom, or just a diamond you don’t want to wear anymore. Rather than let it gather dust in your safe deposit box, you’d like to convert it to cold cash. Here’s what you need to do. And remember: Patience is a virtue! If you rush into a sale without doing your homework, you’ll get burned. Follow these steps:
Step 1: Have the diamond appraised.
You need to know what you have, and a qualified appraiser can tell you. To find one, contact the Appraisers Association of America, 386 Park Avenue South, Suite 2000, New York, NY 10016, (212) 889-5404. Tell them where you live, and ask for a list of appraisers in your area. They won’t tell you over the phone, but they’ll send you a few recommendations — it’ll take about a week. If you’d like their complete membership directory, they’ll mail it to you for $14.95. If you can’t wait, look in the Yellow Pages under Appraisers.
Check the appraiser’s affiliations. The top three groups are: Appraisers Association of America, American Society of Appraisers, International Society of Appraisers. Membership in any of these is a good indication the appraiser is okay.
Step 2: Ask the appraiser for the Rapaport value.
Rapaport is a wholesale price sheet published in New York that tells jewelry stores all over the country the prices they should pay for diamonds. The Rapaport prices are wholesale. The price the appraiser gives you will be the highest price you can get for your diamond. For example, if your diamond is a 1-carat, round, VS1-G, Class 2 cut with no flourescence, the Rapaport value would be $7,200. That’s the most you’ll get for it. That same diamond would sell for more in a jewelry store, but you’re not a jewelry store! Anyone who buys a diamond from an individual, who gives no guarantees or warranties, is simply looking for a good deal.
Step 3: Find a Buyer
There are a number of possibilities here, but I’m going to firmly guide you away from most of them. In my mind, the two best choices are: 1) Family or friend, and 2) a jeweler.

1. Family or friend:
This is my top recommendation hands down. I’ve seen people try every which way to sell a diamond or piece of jewelry, then finally discover that a family member or friend would love to buy it. Before you go to strangers, look close to home for a buyer. You’ll always make your best deal with someone who knows you, loves your jewelry and wants to own it, while a liquidator just wants to resell it for a quick buck.

2. Jewelry store:
Yes, but be careful! Never let the jewelry out of your sight — you don’t want someone pulling a “switcheroo” on you. Before the jeweler starts a spiel about how poor your diamond is, show him the appraisal. At that point, the jeweler will probably make you an offer that is below “dump value.” Dump value is a trade expression — it means 60-80% of the diamond’s Rapaport value, and it’s the lowest price a diamond should ever sell for. If the jeweler offers you below 60%, don’t take it. He’s going for a fast buck, because he knows he can resell the stone overnight to a dealer at regular dump value. But if the jeweler offers you 60-80% of the Rapaport value, he’s actually being fair.
Remember, to make any money from the deal he’ll have to find a new buyer for the diamond, and who knows what expenses he’ll incur to do that.
Let’s take our 1-carat VS1-G, Class 2 cut diamond from Step 2, which has a Rapaport (wholesale) value of $7,200. Dump value would be 60-80% of that, or between $4,320 and $5,760. Try to negotiate the best price, of course, but don’t feel insulted if the jeweler’s offer is 5% below the low dump price. He’s just trying to make a little money for handling the deal. But if he offers you only 40% or even 50% of wholesale, tell him NO DEAL!
Now let’s talk about some options that I do NOT recommend.

1. Newspapers:
The premise is simple: you take out an ad, a buyer calls you and gives you money for your diamond. But it’s never that simple. I have seen the classified ads work, but not often. In fact, I did a little survey on my own and found only an 11% success rate. You can do better than that in Las Vegas! Furthermore, placing an ad exposes you to all sorts of people including crooks who want to steal your jewelry. You’ll make appointment after appointment with “buyers” who don’t show up. Even if you attract a legitimate buyer, he’ll drag you back to the appraiser and then make a ridiculous offer. I would avoid the classifieds. It’s not worth putting yourself in danger.

2. On consignment:
A jeweler might say, “Hey, why not leave your diamond with me and I’ll sell it on consignment and make big money for you.” DON’T DO IT! NEVER leave your jewelry with anyone unless you’re paid up front. He can promise you the moon, switch your good diamond for apiece of junk or a cubic zirconia, then call you in a couple of weeks to tell you to pick up your jewelry because he couldn’t sell it!

3. Pawn shops:
The should be called “Prawn Shops,” because they’ll dip you in cocktail sauce and eat you alive. On average, pawnbrokers will offer you only 10% of wholesale. STAY AWAY!

4. Others:
You may have heard of Diamond Dealer Clubs, but these are only for the trade, and unless you’re in the trade you won’t get within ten feet of these places. Another option, for high-end jewelry only, is an auction house. The top two in the U.S. are:
502 Park Avenue at 59th Street
New York, NY 10022
(212) 546-1000
1334 York Avenue
New York, NY 10021
(212) 606-7000
by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®