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The common approach to the question of how UV fluorescence affects diamond pricing is that medium or greater tends to create a somewhat discounted asking price from the more common non-fluorescent and less than medium fluorescent diamonds. As a generalization, this is an acceptable statement, but does not begin to tell the full story.
Right away, we need to separate blue UV fluorescent and some yellow fluorescent from the far more unusual fluorescent colors of white, peach, orange, greenish and red.
Blue fluorescence may cause diamonds with some tint of yellow color to appear more colorless. This is a potentially positive effect on asking price. So long as a diamond does not take on a cloudy or oily appearance due to UV fluorescence, it has little if any effect on what a consumer will choose, but dealers are far more inclined to haggle over the details, even when the details in question are not of much importance to an end user. The GIA allows some amount of UV light into their grading of diamond body color which does change the grading that GIA does from what might happen if no UV light was put into the mix. In the colorless, D-F range, blue fluorescence can’t produce any desired effect. If the fluorescence is not strong enough to be eye-visible in normal wear, then the effect on value is negligible, but if cloudiness or oiliness is visible in normal lighting, then there will be a reason for discounting the asking price.
Yellow UV fluorescence is usually associated with a negative effect on asking price, but it can help the color of a light to strong fancy yellow color diamond to be even more yellow and visible. This is rare, but it is a possibility we should not fail to mention. Truthfully, UV fluorescence of any color which matches, or coordinates in a beauty creating manner, the body color of a diamond may serve to enhance the visual color appearance of the diamond. When this rare but beneficial event occurs, the asking price might be increased. Most UV fluorescence just gives dealers an opportunity to argue over a detail of the value of a particular diamond. It is the free market at work, but it may mean very little to most consumers either in their cost or the appearance of the stone. One thing for sure, UV fluorescence is something that can make the choice of a diamond just a bit more difficult.
In the second hand market diamond dealers will try to offer less for any diamond with any discernible problem or potential issue. UV fluorescence easily fits into this arena since it can be readily shown to the seller and you don’t need to trust the buyer that it is present. That’s how haggling over the buying price is done all over the world, but it is far less common in the USA. Quibbling over the details is how most of the world operates. Fluorescence is just one of many minor and more major small details which diamond dealers suffer over. Other issues are black inclusions, open inclusions, blemishes on the surface, ships, nicks, naturals, symmetry, polish, culet size, girdle thickness, old lab reports, HTHP, laser drilling and several more. The consumer just can’t begin to get into these tiny details in a fully informed way. Sufficient to say is that UV fluorescence of medium or more usually creates an opportunity for the buyer to make a somewhat reduced offer. You may have gotten the right price already, but how can you tell if you don’t ask?
This is the reality of the stigma surrounding diamond’s UV fluorescence. Sometimes any reduction in cost when the diamond enters the market is passed along right to the eventual end user. Many times, this is not the case and the potential discount is taken in by the dealers and retailer as added profit. May consumers find a medium to highly fluorescent diamond very attractive. Dealers may like them a lot, as well, but since they are the kind of folks trained to haggle, that’s what they do. Even when it is not meaningful, haggling is part of the life blood of the diamond trade.
Rapaport and other price guide publishers report minor ranges of premiums and discounts in value for differing degrees and colors of UV fluorescence depending on the color and clarity of particular diamonds. The range is from a few percentage points plus to a few percentage points minus. The reality is that a very few diamonds might gain a bit in value for fluorescence when it improves the way they look, but many have no change or a reduced asking price because of such an effect. We hear of dealers who will not even buy a UV fluorescent diamond simply because it creates a problem in re-selling. We see other dealers who buy diamonds of all types and appear to have little problem with most UV fluorescent diamonds. If you choose to buy a diamond with medium to strong UV fluorescence and ever wish to sell it back into the trade, you should be prepared to have a more difficult time in finding a buyer than if the stone had little to no fluorescence. That’s why it is important to know this before you buy, not years from now. You buy what you like, but you should understand the facts when you choose. My wife has a good sized diamond which does not fluoresce but the 3/4ct side diamonds are strongly blue UV fluorescent. Both of us like the effect sunlight has on them as they turn bluish in bright daylight.
The discount on initial bids for diamonds with strong UV fluorescence can be more than 25% less than for a diamond with no fluorescence. Rapaport does not publish this high a discount in his monthly news magazine. What we get are very nominal indicators of discounts from 0% to about 8% for the most part. I would speculate Rapaport chooses to make these discounts as “minimum discount offer prices” just as the main “highest asking prices” on his Rap Sheet do not reflect the best prices, but the highest range. It is all very logical, but might escape the consumer who is not so well aware of how the Rap pricing guide is a coded sheet for which outsiders have no key to full understand. Even highly experienced estate dealers do not have the complete key to the pricing in the diamond market. The key is earned knowledge by working daily in the diamond business. There is no other way to be kept current. The best we can do is to generalize and to keep the consumer aware of the issues. The diamond business may seem somewhat simple on the surface, but underneath the glitter there is a complex free market trading and moving 24/7 all over the world.
Consumers may find a UV fluorescent diamond is the one they most prefer. Often there is no visual basis for any discount and on occasion the right color of fluorescence and a particularly well matching body color may create a meaningful premium value. The free market will always act to create the minimum of buying costs when a consumer wishes to sell back to the trade. In the several steps a diamond takes to get back to the next consumer that discount may be mitigated. The final asking price may be adjusted for the particular issues of the diamond, or may be priced based simply on shape, cut quality, weight, color and clarity. We can’t know until each stone comes back to the end user exactly how it will be priced The consumer is best left to understand that UV fluorescence and pricing differences make sense, but don’t always occur in apparent and simplistic ways in the final retail asking price. In the end, you must select what pleases you the best. Knowing the facts can give you a lot more comfort in your decision process.
David Atlas, GG, Certified Senior Member, NAJA
It is simple, but you need to follow these steps to know what sort of deal you are making.
#1. Shop and discover what you want, what you can afford, and where you feel most comfortable in buying. See what their return policy is. Find out about any warranty or trade-back policies.
#2. Find out the amount you can get outright, for immediate payment, on the item you wish to trade-in. This is the item you no longer wish to own. Shop around until you are satisfied that you understand the situation no matter how little the offers may be. Now that part is done.
#3. Determine the final item you wish to purchase. Do your research to discover the best asking price for the item and make every effort to have a vendor who you feel most comfortable with actually do the deal with you. Even if it costs a few bucks more, relationships and emotions have value that can’t be exactly measured. Be sure you are at the price which totally makes it work for you. Price is important, but not the only consideration.
#3. From out of nowhere, pull out your trade-in and ask what the item is worth in order to make the deal. You already know exactly what you can sell it for outright, and you also know exactly what you must pay. If your vendor wants to over allow a bit in order to tempt you into the sale, now is the time for you to get the benefit of trading in by making the vendor give you a “liberal” trade-in. A liberal trade-in will result it you getting the new item for less. They may or may not wish to trade, but you know exactly where you stand and when to say yes or no. If the trade-in benefits the bottom line cost, then go forward, if not, you can decide to sell to your other bidder or not to make the trade.
One must be aware that if any mention of a trade-in is made in advance of the final asking price on a new item, there may be no way to get to the exact asking price. If you don’t have the asking price settled, then any trade-in allowance is a mystery that you cannot later figure out and you will have more or less ruined the potential extra value of the trade-in.
Pretend for a moment you are on a wonderful trip somewhere with your spouse or loved one. In your busy lives, you never have enough time to do as much with one another as you would love to do, so you decide to shop together for a gift for one or both of you at your next destination. You may have attended a great “informational” sales pitch on a cruise ship or you may be headed to one of the many destinations where shopping is “duty free” or supposedly at a large discount. You are happy, peaceful and optimistic and have put your daily worries aside for a few hours or days. The sky is blue and life is good. You have turned off your warning radar and are about to become a victim.
You shop, but you find there is quite a bit of pressure to decide on the spot. You see things you like, but you really have no way to comparison shop as you normally might do at home You forget yourself and just wing it. You take a chance and don’t realize what you might have done to you and your wallet until later that night or even until you get home. Then, you read the return instructions and discover how very difficult it will be to get this purchase reversed, exchanged or adjusted. Many find themselves in exactly this position.
You will find that had you been more aware of the pitfalls you might have bought the same items at home from a trusted source who would work out any and all kinks in the deal just to keep you happy, but now you have bought something where getting it made right will be nearly impossible.
Please, don’t become a needless victim of impulsive buying when you are not in your comfort zone. Since it is very much like gambling when you are really uninformed, never spend more than you can afford to lose. You can still buy a trinket or little gift that is sentimental and meaningful, but why would you buy something really costly and risky when you may have no recourse to have any issue straightened out later?
When you decide that it is time to sell a major diamond or a fine collection of jewelry, why would you ship it to our firm instead of selling it locally? If you live in a major metropolitan area, such as LA, Miami, New York City, Chicago, Dallas, we may agree that you will find many buyers and auction galleries that can do whatever any other firm can do for you. However, if you are lucky enough to be living in less crowded areas of the USA, then you will undoubtedly need to travel quite a bit to know you are getting the best possible price. In those cases, you will need to get recommendations and more or less keep your fingers crossed since you are a lot less likely to really know the buyer you are about to visit.
My family firm is one that has been around since 1898. While I work alone, my office is currently in a substantial jewelry manufacturing facility in the suburbs of Philadelphia. All our business comes from recommendations whether we are appraising for insurance, mediating value and quality issues, or when we are buying. While we do not sell to the public, we have been active buyers of jewelry and diamonds from both dealers and the public. My own experience dates back to December 1967 when I joined my father in our wholesale jewelry business.
The reason I decided to post this topic is to assure people who wish to sell a diamond, a piece of fine jewelry or a collection of fine items, that my firm is a rather well known business with a long, long track record. Some of my larger competitors have rapidly bought their rather new reputations while D. Atlas & Co., Inc. has earned it over many decades. It is simple enough to understand the latter is a safer reputation than those who have tossed millions out to obtain notoriety or credibility.
If you want a safe connection to selling your jewelry, gems and diamonds at fair market prices, please contact us. We can easily arrange for no cost, insured shipping to us via overnight FedEx. You will not be under any pressure or obligation.
What it means to the trade
Why it is beneficial to the trade and the consumer
For as long time, 1967 to be more exact, I entered the family jewelry business. Since then I have been exposed to diamond trading, grading wholesaling and retailing. From cutter, to dealer, to retailer and to the consumer, the communication of a diamond’s quality is one of the most important parts of the entire jewelry business. This said, the trade is well aware of the shortcomings of the status quo. We rely on diamond grading reports, but understand the rather erratic nature of how these documents, related devices and human graders provide physical measurements, UV fluorescence strength, color and clarity grading.
If you show a diamond to a dealer with a secondary lab report they will only buy it for one color and/or one clarity grade lower in value. Even if they agree with the report, they won’t trust it or even trust their own knowledge. They know that even the source of the most trusted diamond grading is inconsistent enough to have cost them before. Burn me once, shame on you, but burn me twice, shame on me. That’s just the way it is.
If the world was a perfect place, we’d have no problem with making a living or trading diamonds. It would be better for the international nature of the diamond business to have documents for diamonds that made them more readily tradable. Accurate documents measurements that held up to strict control, correct UV strength, reliable and accurate color and clarity grading all would contribute to stability and trust. For those who like to gamble, there are plenty of diamonds without grading documents or with old documents. It isn’t as if everyone will immediately appreciate the change that is possible today, but one must not be close minded about the potential to do more and better business, either.
For the past 14 years, I have been privileged to have played a small role as a consultant to a future industry leader firm. This relatively small but rather well funded firm is now bringing to the diamond industry a rather complete system which does the job of diamond measurement and grading for the vast majority of diamonds in nearly a fully automated way. All technological changes “evolve”. No technology is perfect upon its first delivery to users, but we are on the third generation of improvements by now and it is being deployed in labs and cutting facilities to improve diamond grading accuracy with increased speed and efficiency unlike any product in the marketplace. There still is a role for a gemologist in the mix, but the presently subjective nature of color, clarity, symmetry and fluorescence grading is virtually reduced to an occasional adjustment by a knowledgeable gemologist to correct minor error due to the complex possibilities in the odd stone. One can spend several million dollars to create machines to grade 97% of diamonds and many more millions to grade 98.5%. When the potential for a return on investment is not there, one must be realistic in just how much to spend to grade certain strange diamonds with technology. It becomes the chief gemologist’s role to grade or adjust for the small number of diamonds that a machine won’t grade perfectly. This is standard for all technology and not an excuse No one will build a device or system where it is impossible to recapture the investment unless they are a well funded, non-profit R&D facility. While we think we have these sorts of facilities already in the diamond industry, we must examine why little has been done by any of them to make the grading of diamonds more efficient, less time consuming and more accurate. Could it be that they have a vested interest in the status quo? Do you think their very best clients, diamond dealers, might just prefer to leave subjectivity as an excuse or a bargaining tool? This is something we should ponder.
How will the trade and consumer benefit from new grading technology? Do we ever question the desirability of honesty and accuracy? Few of us would deny that honesty and accuracy are laudable and noble goals. What consumer would not willingly give up fear and doubt and wish to replace these feelings with trust and assurance? What legitimate retailer would not wish to provide correct grading to their customers? How many retailers are being hurt financially today by dishonest or ignorant competitors who offer phony “certs” with pumped up color and clarity grades? How many honest diamond dealers are amazed at competitor dealers who flog loads of diamonds accompanied by phony documents? Who could fail to be amazed at the amount of lucrative business being done with these bad documents? It is very difficult for honesty to prevail when dishonesty remains so defiantly profitable.
Consumers would be surprised the degree of honesty and integrity prevalent in the diamond trade. No, it isn’t just honesty among a den of thieves. There is true integrity within the business, in spite of all that I have stated here. To clarify my point, I am saying there are some truly rotten apples in the business willing to use poor diamond grading as the means to their own ends, getting rich fast. There is nothing wrong with earning your riches, but the get rich fast approach is unfair to everyone.
Being early is a lot better than being late when it comes to being recognized for taking a positive stand for accuracy. There is no downside for being a leader when it is obvious that the status quo is a failed strategy for moving into the future.
The thin jewelry trend
Fashion is often influenced by the cost of production. With precious metal prices rising to record levels we have seen fashion take to a course where thinner and lighter is “fashionable”. It certainly is logical, but it is my belief we have reached and likely have passed beyond a reasonable limit to an extent on how delicate and light some ring mountings are to be made. While the comments I am about to make apply more broadly, I’ll just touch on a couple portions which seem to be creating frequent problems.
Rings with 1.5mm shanks are thin and delicate. For many people they are way too thin to be durable. Added to this trend for thinness is the micropavé of many light items further reducing the metal content and therefore also reducing durability. A ring for daily wear takes an incredible amount of abuse in the normal routine of life. Add this wear factor to a light and overly delicate design with tiny diamonds plugged into a Swiss cheese of holes for holding these stones there is nearly nothing left to give the ring sufficient strength. These very delicate and beautiful rings are just going to give consumers problems sooner or later. Some folks may be very careful and dainty with their rings on, but most people are going to see trouble in their future with such pieces.
Historically, one of the things which gave rise to this fashion are some of the wonderful Art Deco and filigree items from the first 1/2 of the 1900’s. One must remember that these items mostly look so delicate and fine today because they were made heavy enough when new that they have worn away a good deal of their metal by now, but are still holding up. They were not so thin when new. And, the thin ones made for less money back then have worn out and been scrapped or rebuilt.
I am seeing bracelets too thin to be durable, earrings with friction nuts so thin that they won’t stay on the ear, micropavé and invisibly set diamond jewelry made so light that the items bend and the stones fall out. If you have insurance, you are covered for the loss of the diamonds, but normal wear and tear on jewelry is not covered.
My suggestion is to investigate and shop well to determine if a light, delicate item is really right for you. Using a 2 or 2.5mm shank will help the ring to stand up to normal wear. Using hand made or die struck components, which are more dense metal than cast components, also often increases hardness, and durability. The labor to make a slightly heavier item is truly nominal. Only the added metal increases the cost and while it will cost more, the jewelry will last a long, long time and frequently never give the owner any problem over decades of use.
Not to make light of what I see as a a tragic situation, but I see the chase for thinness in rings akin to the public’s mistaken attraction to the super thin fashion models who are about one tiny meal away from turning into dust. Just a little more body on both jewelry and models would not be a mistake……. (My experience is all with jewelry and unfortunately not with models, oh well.)
The vendor’s dilemma is to agree to sell an item which will not wear well over a long period of time, or sell what you request in spite of this reasonably clear knowledge. All vendors want and need your business. Some will always agree to make whatever you wish. Some may warn you and then make what you want anyway and a few will never agree to make a piece too light or too thin to hold stones well or to be less than durable. Let the vendor guide you and keep an open mind. We cannot go thinner and thinner still. We have reached that limit already. Fashion and common sense will head in the opposite direction at some point. Look for advice and listen to those things which your vendor suggests concerning daily use and wear and tear issues. If the vendor makes no mention of durability and thickness concerns, then you should ask. You may be glad you did.