The Difference Between a Diamond Certification and an Appraisal


If you’re thinking of selling a diamond, you’ve probably seen a lot of people recommending you get an appraisal or a certification from the GIA. And if you’re like most people, your initial reaction was something along the lines of, “What the heck does that mean?” Are a certification and an appraisal the same thing? Or do I need both? And who or what is the GIA anyway? We’ll explain.

For starters, the GIA is the Gemological Institute of America. They’re the most trusted diamond evaluators in the industry because of their years of experience and completely unbiased diamond grading reports. Because the GIA isn’t involved in any part of the sale or purchase of diamonds, buyers and sellers alike trust them to deliver an accurate evaluation of a diamond’s quality.

So what do you get with a GIA certification? Nearly everything. They’ll give you the exact measurements of your diamond and describes its shape as well as its cut, color, clarity, carat weight (the four Cs), proportions and finish. It assigns a grade to each of the four Cs, describes any unique identifying characteristics of your stone and lists any known treatments your diamond has gone through. With a GIA certification, you’ll know everything there is to know about your diamond and it’ll give potential buyers a better idea of what it’s worth. The only thing it doesn’t tell you is your diamond’s monetary value.

An insurance appraisal is completely different. When you get a diamond insured, the insurance company will tell you to get an appraisal, and may even recommend a jewelry appraiser for you. While the appraiser may know their diamonds, it’s doubtful they have the proper tools or expertise to get a complete picture of your diamond. The appraiser will generally provide you with a high-quality color photo, and a detailed description of the diamond’s quality for the insurance company. They also provide you with a value. This isn’t the value of the jewelry, though. It’s the value you should insure it for. This number is always inflated because they’re trying to make sure that you’re fully covered should the diamond ever be lost, stolen or damaged. Insurance companies actually encourage inflated values because it means they can charge higher premiums.

The insurance value isn’t even the amount most policies would pay out even if you did lose or damage the diamond. It’s just the maximum amount the insurance company can pay. Depending on your policy, they’ll either give you the “replacement new value,” which is the amount you’d need to buy a similar diamond new, or they’ll give you the “indemnity value,” which is the amount you’d need to buy a diamond of similar age, condition and quality on the secondhand market. Either way, it probably won’t be anywhere close to the number the appraiser told you to insure it for. That’s why the price you get when you try to sell your jewelry will be very different from the value the insurance appraiser gave you. It’s an artificially high number designed to make sure you have full coverage for your diamond.


Then there are appraisals that you get from a jeweler. These appraisals look at the quality of your diamond and try to guess at current market conditions to figure out how much it’s worth. The problem here is that they don’t actually know anything about current market conditions. At least not as far as the diamond industry is concerned. They have an idea of where your diamond fits in with the rest of their inventory, but that’s about it. They don’t know what a diamond like yours would sell for among the elite dealers in the industry. Even if a jeweler does know a little bit more about the diamond market than an insurance appraiser, they still won’t have the expertise to accurately evaluate your diamond the way a GIA-trained gemologist will. They definitely won’t have the tools or lab required to get a complete picture of your diamond’s quality. While the value a jeweler gives you is closer to its current value on the market, it’s going to be what your jewelry would cost if it were new, not what a buyer is willing to pay for it now. Still, if you’re selling the diamond yourself, an appraisal from an independent jeweler, not connected to the sale, might be useful. If only to serve as a starting point for negotiations. You just shouldn’t expect to get anywhere near that price.

If you sell your diamond through Diamond Lighthouse, the estimate we give you will be very different from the number you’d get from an appraiser, insurance or otherwise. We give you the amount we think a buyer will pay for it, given the exact quality of your stone and current market conditions for diamonds like yours.

So which do you need? If you’re selling through Diamond Lighthouse, you may not need any of them. While we encourage you to get a GIA certification, we don’t require one. Our expert gemologists have been trained by the GIA and will perform a full diamond evaluation. They’ll give you all the information you’d get from a GIA certificate, and they’ll even give you a general idea of what price we can sell it for. So why do we encourage a GIA certificate? It makes your diamond easier to sell and, in most cases, allows us to get a higher price. A certificate lets our buyers know exactly what they’re getting, so they’re comfortable offering more. Some of them will only buy diamonds with a certificate, so having one lets us show your diamond to a much larger pool of buyers, giving us a better chance to get you the highest price. That said, it certainly isn’t necessary to get a GIA Certification. Because our gemologists are trained by the GIA and have over 25 years of experience with diamonds, they’re trusted by the diamond industry to give accurate and fair valuations. That trust allows us to push for the highest price whether you have a certification or not.

But what about an appraisal? While we never discourage getting one, a diamond appraisal isn’t necessary when selling through Diamond Lighthouse. First of all, appraisers that provide monetary value aren’t as trusted in the diamond industry as a GIA grading report is. Second, the value they give you is how much your diamond would cost if it were new, not how much you’d be able to sell it for now. That’s why the number an appraiser would tell you is often very different from the one we quote you. We give you an estimate of what we can sell it for. That’s the more important number. At the end of the day, no matter what an appraisal says, a diamond’s true value is the price someone is willing to pay for it.

Diamond Lighthouse is the only way to be sure you get the best value for your diamond. Because we try to sell your diamonds for you and only collect a commission once you’ve agreed to a sale, we will push our exclusive network of diamond buyers to get you the best price. We sell directly to expert buyers and dealers in the diamond industry that don’t normally buy from anyone outside of the industry. When you sell your diamond jewelry through Diamond Lighthouse, you get exclusive access to our network. Because of Diamond Lighthouse’s trusted valuations and our excellent standing in the diamond industry, we’re guaranteed to get higher prices for your stones than you’ll find anywhere else. We’ll use all the tools at our disposal to accomplish our true goal: putting more money in your pocket.



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