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Mined and Lab Grown diamonds – Words Matter.

The precise use of words has always been of interest to me.  In gemology, a synthetic gemstone is one with the same chemical and optical properties as the natural, mined gemstone of the same species and variety. With diamonds, the powers that be have determined that since diamond is an element, carbon, that regardless of how it comes into being, that lab grown ones are not “synthetic” diamonds. This is in opposition to what has been common and well understood terminology for 50 plus years, but really, it is an argument that is not worth a lot of time getting upset about.

Mined diamonds have a degree of rarity that lab grown will never have. As we see more lab diamonds enter the market at ever lower cost prices, the low end qualities of mined diamonds will struggle to compete, since lab diamonds will look far better in terms of color, clarity, and transparency. Some mining operations will struggle to stay open if they have a rather low end quality level of rough production. This may drive prices higher for mined diamonds as fewer mines will remain open and profitable.

The market will find room for manmade diamonds at fairly low end prices and it will also support increasingly rare, mined diamonds at higher prices than the current level. Neither product will wipe out interest in the other, but the balance of the current market may shift over time in ways we have not been able to plan on. Don’t expect much secondhand interest in the sale of lab-grown diamonds. The value fresh from the lab will be reasonable. Maybe there will be some small residual value and maybe next to none. The market is free to act and surely, there will be a market of some sort where lab grown diamonds will find new homes. I don’t think anyone will toss them in the trash, but I can’t begin to predict how much they may be worth “‘used”.

The current production techniques give us a very consistent production of lab grown diamonds. The near colorless ones are all type IIA and only about 1% of mined diamonds are this type. It has to do with the complex chemistry of the nitrogen in the crystal lattice of the diamonds. What is important to understand, is that skilled gemologists with proper equipment and training can readily separate mined from lab diamonds. There is little reason to think this will change. There are several consistent clues to make these determinations and this won’t change overnight since there is no good reason to make major investments in equipment to make such changes just to make lab diamonds more difficult to detect. Detection will remain an expert skill, but detection will not ever be a big problem for the trade.

There are relatively small and affordable machines to detect tiny to large lab grown diamonds from mined diamonds. More devices are coming online, and the work is becoming easier, not more difficult.

Lab grown diamonds are visually the same as mined diamonds, but they are not identical to the point where there is any confusion among laboratory trained and skilled experts. Simple screening tools are growing in number which extends separation of lab versus mined down to even the nearly untrained counter person.

Folks who love diamonds will make up their own minds about how to spend their money. Do they want some element of investment or are they only looking for “looks”? To each their own. Does a buyer want some degree of rarity, or is a visual copy a better fit for their needs, budget, and personality? Everyone will decide what is best for them. However, understanding there are a series of “differences” between lab and mined diamonds is an important bit of knowledge. They look the same and act the same in the visual world, but they are not the same under close scientific scrutiny or as a long term quasi-financial investment. 

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Traveling and buying jewelry?  Beware and take care.

Travel destinations often use hype, and high pressure.  They may easily abuse naive clientèle and impulsive shoppers.  There is often insufficient time to make high quality and informed decisions when buying in these locations. 

Professional appraisers generally suggest:

  1. Only buy where there is a fair and adequate return policy in place.
  2. Don’t buy when you cannot change your mind with a minimum of at least seven (7) days and get a full refund, not just store credit.
  3. Such a “cooling off period” is an extremely important element of  “a truly good deal”

The following 4 part article was written by David Siskin on his BLOG, back in 2014.  It describes the situation with jewelry sales in vacation destinations, especially when traveling on cruise ships.  It is still very true and important to read today.

The incredible jewelry selling machine – Part 1  by Dave Siskin • October 8, 2014

It swallows consumers by the thousands, storing them in its belly while it traverses the seas in search of places for its captives to spend money as rapidly and efficiently as possible. Teams of well-trained pre-sales cheerleaders prime the consumers for the feeding frenzy while gently steering them to the sellers willing to pay for targeted customer delivery. After processing the customers through several shopping feedlots, they are disgorged back to their original capture point happier, fatter, and over-burdened with new purchases.

Welcome to the world of cruise ships in the Caribbean; floating palatial resorts designed to make the passengers feel wealthy and spoiled. For the last twenty years I worked as a consultant to the Caribbean jewelers serving the multi-billion-dollar cruise ship market. I recently took a cruise and had a chance to see it from the passenger’s point of view. It was an eye-opening experience.

From the moment you book your cruise there are two things that are stressed in their communications more than anything else: We are here to guide and protect, you are here to enjoy and consume. Onboard there is constant entertainment, never-ending food, and free-flowing alcohol to trigger the self-indulgent gene that hides in all of us. Every slightest wish is fulfilled instantly by the helpful and friendly crew. And underneath all the luxurious splendor, the gluttonous consumption of food, fun and frolic is a constant message delivered both blatantly and subliminally: “You must buy jewelry!”

Ads for jewelry stores at each scheduled port grace almost all onboard media. There are port lectures extolling all the wondrous delights that await at each stop including selected fine jewelers. Professional “Shopping Experts” give workshops on how to buy a diamond; briefly touching on the 4C’s while promoting the hand-picked, trusted stores where you will save at least 70% over back home prices. The Shopping Expert will even meet you onshore and hold your hand through the entire purchase process…just to be sure you get the best deal. On-board contests often have a jewelry item as a prize.

Tapping into people’s emotions it triggers their greed and instils a small amount of fear. That fear drives the customers to the trusted businesses where the cruise line guarantees the purchase through a US based service center. Buying at any other store carries the risk that you might get ripped off in a foreign country with no recourse.

There is a fee for a jewelry store to be on the list, along with product donations for prizes, a gift of a nice watch or pendant for the shopping experts to wear, and last but certainly not least…a commission on each sale made to a passenger on that ship. This is for each ship visit. In some ports there may be six or seven ships per day.

And the whole scheme works remarkably well. Customers are primed and pumped. Featured stores and products experience a feeding frenzy of buying that you must see to believe. The cash registers keep ringing. Individual stores may sell more in a day than many hometown jewelers do in a month…or several months.


The incredible jewelry selling machine – Part 2  by Dave Siskin • October 10, 2014

Locking the door behind him, a jewelry store owner starts his day. It is 7 AM and he doesn’t open for several hours but any later and he won’t be able to find a parking spot. There are more stores than parking spaces. But there is always work to do, emails to answer, bills to pay.

Every day he faces an up-hill battle to survive. His store is in a prime location on an island that is one of the busiest cruise ship ports in the region. His rent is staggering, in some cases as much as $20,000 per month for a 400 sq. ft space (37 sqm). If you include all costs: labor, utilities, advertising, security, etc. an average small, independent jeweler may have a few thousand dollars a day in overhead. Let’s say our jeweler needs $1500 a day in gross profit before he can break even.

He carries an inventory of over $10 million dollars but owns very little of it. He relies on memo to fill his cases. The downside of memo is that the bulk of the money from most of his sales goes to his supplier and not to paying his bills.

High season is only about four months long. During that time there may be as many as seven ships per day. A busy day brings over 18,000 new potential customers being dropped off at his doorstep. He has 250 other jewelry stores in competition with him, many carrying the same items from the same suppliers. He marks each piece at ten times his cost, knowing that cruise ship passengers have been told to expect 70% off.

The jeweler is ready to fight for each customer. He will always try to get as much as he can but is ready to go as low as needed to make the sale. On most items he manages at least 30% over cost but high-ticket items often sell at single digit mark-ups.

The rest of the year the store will barely cover its overhead. At the lowest season, also about four months long, there may be only one or two cruise ship visits per week and a few weeks without any ships at all. To cover the slow times our jeweler now must profit $6000 a day in high season just to stay afloat for the year meaning our valiant jeweler must make at least $20,000 in sales to stay alive.

It becomes a game of chasing cashflow over profit; always paying yesterday’s bills with tomorrow’s sales. One jeweler told me:

“Cashflow is like a flowing river. All you can do is dip your hand in the water and hope to drip a few drops into your cup.”

For more than 30 years, this life-giving river of customers was enough to provide a good living for the retailers and their staff. Many of them became quite wealthy. Today margins are shrinking, the demographics are changing, and competition for each dollar is fierce. It can still be a rewarding business, but it takes harder work than before.

But the ships keep coming and the shoppers keep shopping. That isn’t about to end anytime soon. It is still the hottest jewelry market in this part of the world.


The incredible jewelry selling machine – Part 3  by Dave Siskin • October 21, 2014

Your first introduction to the cruise directors and destination hosts begins with the required lifeboat drill. At your assigned muster station, one of the host staff will be on stage directing the drill. The message is clear: Follow us, do as we say, go where you are told, and we will always keep you safe. It is our job. We take our job seriously because we care about you. Trust us; we know what we are doing.

Cruise directors and hosts seem to be everywhere; introducing port lecturers, speaking of their own experiences while shopping at the destination, showing off their own jewels found in the next port, hosting the evening’s entertainment. They lead you in silly games to get you out of your comfort zone, breaking down your usual pattern of cautious behavior. You’re here to have fun and let loose. Try something new. We will protect you. You don’t worry.

The host will become your best friend, confidante, and advisor. They know everything…even where to get the best deal on jewelry. While you wait to exit disembark at the port they keep you entertained and get you excited about all the magnificent jewels and the “lowest on the planet” prices. You are on holiday. It’s time to splurge. You are safe if you follow our suggestions.

You hit the port armed with a map of recommended stores, a little bit of knowledge and a boat-load of confidence. You’ll have a handful of coupons for free gemstones, free pendants, free water, gifts and other incentives at different stores. Now the store takes over.

The salesman has about 15 seconds to get your attention and start a dialogue. His first step is to up-sell the coupon to turn the free gift into a sale. A free gemstone can be upgraded to one set in a pendant for $29.95 or a bigger and nicer piece for $59.95. Whatever the free gift, it can turn into a sale. They have a five minute window to close the sale or move on to the next level…the good stuff.

These guys are experts, practicing their craft on dozens of customers per day. They ask what ship you are on. They will remind you that their store is approved and guaranteed by your ship, so they must be one of the good guys. They even know your cruise director/best friend personally! They can obviously be trusted. And somehow or another that free gem becomes 5ct bracelet, a 2ct pair of studs or even a 5ct center stone in a new ring. Maybe you’ll take them all. Get something nice for yourself. You deserve it!

Back on the ship you can’t wait to show your new best friends what you bought and thank them for all their help and guidance. The next step is to register your purchase with the ship. This activates your guarantee. More importantly…it gives the ship a way to account for their expected commissions and verify that the store is reporting all the sales.

If you forgot to buy something…no worries. Once the ship is on the way home and no longer in competition with the advertisers, the overpriced jewelry store on the ship will have a huge sale.


The incredible jewelry selling machine – Part 4  by Dave Siskin • October 29, 2014

The US cruise industry generates over $30 billion a year in revenue. Each ship visit can add around $1 million to the local economy. There are close to 200 cruise ships that bring over 14 million passengers to a handful of small island nations in the Caribbean Basin and The Bahamas. Some of the islands are quite small. The island of St Martin is 87 square kilometers and divided between two countries; France and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. For many of the islands In the Caribbean, cruise tourism is the only source of income.

All the shipboard marketing. including the port talks. are owned and run by independent contractors who hire and train the shopping experts and port lecturers. They also provide training to cruise directors and other crew members who work directly with passengers. They collect the commissions and fees, splitting the profits with the cruise line.

Not all stores participate in cruise promotions but the ones that do will see more traffic and more sales but at a much higher cost. Other stores believe their own marketing and reputation will draw customers and don’t feel the need to partner with the promoters. Still others are quite happy with the overflow from everyone else’s marketing efforts.

The Caribbean jewelry industry is a confusing and misunderstood market. The Caribbean has been associated with gold, gems and jewelry since the days of the pirates. Eventually the pirates became legitimate merchants and shippers, creating Duty-Free ports to encourage trading.

Many US jewelers tend to dismiss the Caribbean jewelers as nothing more than latter day pirates. While there are some stores that may have less than ideal ethics and business practices, the majority of the stores are sincere, honest, family run businesses. Some of the larger chains are very well run and professional.

This is not a small market of tourist trinkets. There are some serious sales being made. A small family run store will need to have over $1 million in sales to survive. Annual revenues in the $5-10 million range are typical. Six-figure days can happen at any time. For the more exclusive stores, seven figure single items will sell more often than you might think.

These floating jewelry selling machines have been operating for several decades, perfecting their systems and driving jewelry sales. It worked beautifully and built a massive retail jewelry industry. But the market is changing and neither the promoters nor retailers have caught on. There is an understandable reluctance to change something that has worked for generations. The machine will keep churning out the shoppers; it’s up to the stores to figure out how to continue catching them.

Cruising is becoming popular in Asia, but the emphasis is still more on touring rather than jewelry consumption. I am sure they have strong local product promotions appropriate to each country but the intense promotion of jewelry that we see in the Caribbean has not hit the Asian ports. yet. But it will.

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QUALITY REPORT USPAP and NAJA compliance statements

These statements and certifications apply to all reports, but especially ones we create that do not have dollar value amounts.  Such reports are Quality Reports and are very useful for firms and individuals who wish to sell items on-line to retail shoppers.  Since these reports are generally only a single page on websites, we believe there is a lot of background data, statements and compliance issues that require easy access for those who rely on those reports.  On-line Quality Reports created after June 1, 2018 will have a link to this posting.  We hope it is helpful and useful.  Those few items marked “N/A” are eliminated because they specifically deal with reports that have dollar values attached.  Quality Reports deal with only the grading and descriptive aspects of our specialty work.

Certifications of Appraisal Practice, Contingent and Limiting Conditions:

  1. The statements of fact contained in this report are true and correct.
  2. The reported analyses, opinions, and conclusions are limited only by the reported assumptions and limiting conditions and are my personal, impartial, and unbiased professional analyses, opinions, and conclusions.
  3. I have no present or prospective interest in the property that is the subject of this report and no personal interest with respect to the parties involved.
  4. I have performed no services, as an appraiser or in any other capacity, regarding the property that is the subject of this report within the three-year period immediately preceding acceptance of this assignment. This applies to Fair Market Valuations for IRS related assignments. 
  5. I have no bias with respect to the property that is the subject of this report or to the parties involved with this assignment.
  6. My engagement in this assignment was not contingent upon developing or reporting predetermined results.
  7. My compensation for completing this assignment is not contingent upon the development or reporting of a predetermined value or direction in value that favors the cause of the client, the amount of the value opinion, the attainment of a stipulated result, or the occurrence of a subsequent event directly related to the intended use of this appraisal.
  8. My analyses, opinions, and conclusions were developed, and this report has been prepared, in conformity with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice and NAJA Code of Ethics.
  9. I have made a personal inspection of the property that is the subject of this report.
  10. No one provided significant personal property appraisal assistance to the person signing this certification.
  11. Unless otherwise stated this appraisal is not an offer to buy the appraised items at any price.
  12. N/A
  13. Possession of this report does not provide title to the items appraised. This appraisal process does not discover liens, encumbrances, or fractional interests, but if any are known they will be noted.
  14. Appraisal quality analysis is the appraiser’s best judgment and opinion based on current knowledge and information.
  15. Unless expressly stated, the condition of the items appraised is good for their type with serious deficiencies and repairs noted. Ordinary wear and tear common to this type is not usually noted.
  16. Possession of this report, any portion of this report, or any copy thereof does not include the right of publication without this appraisal firm’s written consent. Public use of the name of the appraiser, appraisal firm name, or information contained in the appraisal is not granted. Use of this report in advertising is not permitted without the appraiser’s written consent.
  17. No changes may be made to this report by anyone other than the appraiser who have signed this report. DACO cannot be responsible for unauthorized alterations. Copies of appraisals are kept in the files of DACO for at least ten years after the date of the report and according to USPAP regulations.
  18. The limited owner of this appraisal is the party for whom the work was performed.
  19. Third parties may rely on the information in this report for the defined purpose and function only. Third parties requiring further information than what is in the report must obtain the written permission of the owner of the appraisal before we discuss the appraisal with them.
  20. N/A
  21. N/A
  22. Testimony, depositions, hearings or court attendance are not required by reason of rendering this report. Arrangements for these matters must be made in advance and in accordance with our then prevailing hourly rates. A retainer will be required in advance.
  23. Use of Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and American Gemological Laboratory (AGL) terminology does not represent our firm is in any way connected with these other organizations. We do not guarantee our grading will be the same as these other independent laboratories, but we make every effort to use the same standards these other laboratories.
  24. The quality descriptors placed upon any item of jewelry is based upon the quality of materials, method of manufacture, provenance, salability, and condition.
  25. Diamonds are graded by size, shape, proportion, outline, color and clarity. The finest clarity in the GIA system is the Flawless grade. Clarity decreases in quality to the Imperfect grade. The finest color grade in the GIA system is D color. Color decreases in quality and rarity to the N through R range. Obvious color diamonds in grades S through Z become increasingly rare as color intensifies. The color grade Z denotes a fairly strong degree of color. Fancy color yellow and brown diamonds are more intense than Z color. Fancy color diamonds other than yellow and brown can be very valuable in the less tinted color range of the GIA system. D to R/S color range yellow or brown diamonds are assumed to be natural in color and origin unless stated otherwise.  S/T color to the finest of Fancy color yellow or brown diamonds without a formal lab report are generally assumed synthetic or enhanced.  Major lab reports are required as complete evidence of natural diamond origin and natural diamond color for all diamonds.
  26. Stones that are set can only be estimated for weight, color, cutting and clarity. Mountings often obscure exact grading, identification origin and treatment analysis of stones. We note when stones have been graded “loose” or “unset”, and that certain characteristics are “exact”.  Diamond grading reports are made only on unset diamonds. Quality reports are made routinely on mounted gems and diamonds, although there is a decrease in the accuracy of the work product.
  27. Proportioning, polishing, shape and outline are cutting considerations covered by the GIA teaching system incorporating cut classes 1 through 4. These grades do not appear on GIA diamond reports, but we may use them in our reports to add further information.
  28. Colored stones are graded by size, shape, proportion, rarity, color, clarity and country of origin. Color is the most important factor. A combination of GemEWizard, and GIA is used in the descriptions in our appraisals. GAA cultured Pearl Masters are used in pearl grading.
  29. Diamonds and many colored gemstones have become increasingly difficult to identify as natural, treated, or synthetic.   Treatments vary from obvious to highly difficult to detect or properly identify.  Few appraisers, wholesalers, retailers, or independent gem labs have sufficient equipment and expertise to do more than screen out diamonds and gemstones which potentially have issues of treatments or origin.  Those which are screened out are those which often require additional examination by a major laboratory for definitive identification, using costly equipment operated by highly trained experts.  Consumers should expect and request proper paperwork from their retailer at the time of purchase. Such paperwork reveals the documented natural or other origin of their gem(s), as well as any treatments present.  Factual, documented evidence of origin and treatment is the responsibility of the seller to the consumer.  Both appraisers and consumers rely on proper evidence. Appraisers always make assumptions to produce reports, but, as of 2015, we more often need to make assumptions of a magnitude which require more scientific analysis than can be provided by traditional gem testing equipment.  Since each diamond and gem is unique, a qualified appraiser determines what assumptions should be stated.  An appraiser must formulate the correct set of assumptions based on the evidence and history of the diamonds and colored gemstones in the report.

I certify all the above statements as accurate:  David S. Atlas

Privacy Statement:

D.Atlas & Co., Inc. is committed to safeguarding the confidential information of our clients. We hold all of our clients’ personal information in strict confidence and in accordance with USPAP and NAJA ethics standards. Our files include information collected from clients in connection with the personal property appraisal services provided by our company. At no time in the past have we ever disclosed information to third parties, except as specifically authorized by our clients, or as required by law, and we do not anticipate doing so in the future. We are prohibited by federal law, USPAP, and the NAJA Code of Ethics from changing our policy without first advising the client and obtaining consent. We use the personal property information provided by our clients to help meet their appraisal requests, while guarding against any real or perceived infringements of their rights of privacy. Our policy with respect to personal information about our clients is as follows:

We limit all access to information only to those who have a business or professional reason to know, and only to non-affiliated parties as required by law.  We maintain a secure office and computer environment to ensure that your information is not placed at unreasonable risk.  The categories of non-public personal information that we collect from a client depend upon the scope of the client’s appraisal engagement. This includes information that we collect from a client depend upon the scope of the client’s appraisal engagement. This includes information about personal property assets, information about tax identification numbers, and other non-public information necessary. Additionally, it may include information about transactions between clients and third parties, and information from third party sources.  Unaffiliated third parties that require access to our clients’ personal information, such as Federal and State tax regulators may only review company records as permitted under the law.  We do not provide client information to mailing list vendors or solicitors for any reason.  Personally identifiable information will be maintained during the time a client is a client of the company and for the appropriate time thereafter that such records are required to be maintained by USPAP, and consistent with the NAJA Code of Ethics. After this required period of record retention, all such information will be deleted or destroyed in a manner consistent with providing ongoing confidentiality.

Equipment list:

We will specify equipment used in the body of the report only when deemed necessary and important.

Binocular microscopes 10X-6OX, loupe 10X & 20X, diamond grading light, incandescent spotlight, fiber optic, penlight, Polaroid filters, ultraviolet light short and long wave, digital imaging cameras, electronic scales, optic character equipment, Hanneman filter set, GIA “master diamonds”, refractometer, dichroscope, polariscope, acid and electronic gold testing equipment, color filters, Moissanite detector, type II diamond detector, thermal probe, spectroscope, color description system: GemEWizard®, Diamond measurements via Leveridge and slide type micrometers, Ideal-Scope™, ASET-Scope.


Short Resume:


President, D. Atlas & Co., Inc., Established 1898



Graduate Gemologist, Gemological Institute of America, 1975.

National Association of Jewelry Appraisers, Senior Member 1992 to 2014.  Certified Sr. Mbr, 2014 to present.

Accredited Senior Gemologist designation by the Accredited Gemologists Association. Member since 1981

FORMER TITLED MEMBER:  American Society of Appraisers, 1977 to 1998.   Left membership while in good standing.

FORMER TITLED MEMBER:  American Gem Society, 1974 to 1997.  Left membership while in good standing. 



Diamonds, colored gems, precious metals, jewelry manufacturing, stone setting, quality control analysis, antique jewelry, enameling, laser and machine engraving, gem identification, collectibles, diamond light behavior, and appraisals at all levels. 

Associate Director and Chairman of Ethical Issues Committee of NAJA.


Gem Laboratory:

GIA graded diamond color master stones are part of this lab equipment. GemEWizard colored gem descriptions.  David Atlas is the creator of the AGA-CERT®, a diamond grading report that includes the AGA Cut Class diamond cut grading system developed by David Atlas beginning in 1985 which is now widely accepted by the diamond trade all around the USA and abroad.  Many expert testimony appearances and trade leadership experiences are detailed in the complete resume available on:

Defining our relationship with the GIA and other labs:

No lab, gemologist or appraiser claiming to use GIA diamond grading standards can prove or verify they successfully duplicate GIA results.  The GIA cannot replicate its own results in all cases due to the subjective nature of its grading system for color, fluorescence, clarity, and finish.  Even the non-contact measuring devices typically employed to make physical measurements have some machine error and often are not well calibrated.  For these reasons, no existing lab, gemologist or appraiser should promise or declare it is able to duplicate the grading of the GIA lab.  It is possible to grade closely to GIA tolerances.  Labs such as AGSL and GCAL most often report results very close to what GIA would report.  There are several other major labs, both in the USA and worldwide, which appear to use the GIA grading system. Some are very good and highly respected, while others abuse the GIA system.  Qualified observers understand these dishonest labs are using their own grading structure and have succeeded financially by their abuse or misuse of GIA grading nomenclature.  This problematic situation well suits some members of the trade, but often misleads the uninformed public into a poor buying decision.  David Atlas and D. Atlas & Co., Inc. make every effort to conform to the GIA system and to report what we believe would reasonably be GIA lab results.


No lab report is above question.  The opinions we provided in this report are based solely on our own opinions of diamond or colored gem grading.  We may use some data from lab reports supplied in the course of an appraisal, but what we put into our own report is our own expert opinion, what we think, and not necessarily solely based, or in agreement with, any lab report, no matter how broadly credible that lab’s reputation might be at the time of the appraisal.  All labs make some level of error.  Some mistakes and some labs are more egregious than others.  Forming an expert opinion is based on all the known facts and presented documentation, but it remains for us to form an opinion.  Such an opinion must always be held as somewhat subjective.  Most elements of appraisal practice are based on fact gathering and subjective expertise, but not simply based on completely objective facts.  GIA reports are often shown to retail consumers as if they were “factual” when, in truth; they are expert opinion documents which are somewhat variable and somewhat subjective.  Appraisers are not charged with proving lab reports actually are factual to their clients, but have the responsibility to arrive at a correct value based on the data they can gather mated to their own expertise.



“gr” or “g” = abbreviations for “grams”:   1.5551 grams=1 pennyweight

“pw”, “dwt”, “pwt” = All used as abbreviations for “pennyweight”:  1 pennyweight = 24 grains, = 0.05 troy 11111         11111111ounce, =0.00416 troy pound, = 1.5551 grams

“tr. oz.” or “troy ounce” = 31.1035 grams, =20 pennyweight, 240 grains

“ct” = carat:  1 carat = 0.20 gram, 1 carat = 0.1286 pennyweight, 5 carats =1 gram.

“ctw” or “tw” = carat total weight

“srp” = suggested reference price, suggested retail price.  No attribution as to the entity making the “suggestion”

“msrp” = manufacturer’s suggested retail price

“LWUV”=Long wave ultraviolet light, approx 365-370 nanometers.  Commonly used in our reports as “UV”.

“SWUV”=Short wave ultraviolet light, approx 254-265 nanometers.

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A directly quoted comment from a consumer / purchaser of an ASET and Ideal-Scope. April 2017

“I used the ASET, Ideal-Scope, and LED loupe and what a difference it made in my evaluation of diamonds at a local retailer I’ve already visited a few times. None of the diamonds they were trying to sell me, a few being Forevermark black labels H&A’s, came close to ideal light performance. In fact, the rep stated that in 22 years, I was the first person to ask for the ASET scope and to even bring my own viewing tools. She even played with them herself. And I was able to take decent photos with my iPhone. I’m happy with my choice to invest in the ASET and ideal scopes.   Thank you!”

We say:  These are small investments in obtaining a lifetime of enjoyment with a fantastic diamond.  If you want to make your purchase a safe one and an no-regret long term choice, then you need these tools.



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Best Practices in Selling Estate Jewelry, Diamonds and Gems

 A definitive guide to doing the job right, without regret, and without making costly mistakes.

For over 40 years of my even longer career in the jewelry industry, I bought and sold estate jewelry, diamonds and gems. There is nothing like daily experience over decades to give someone a unique and wonderful insight into the many pitfalls that exist for the public, who only occasionally find themselves in an unfamiliar role as sellers.  To become an intelligent seller of items the public has little real knowledge of second hand markets.  Individuals have next to no experience in negotiating asking prices, offers and deals.  Do you think it is difficult to buy a car?  Jewelry is far more difficult and blind.  The second hand jewelry and gem sales market is very different than the retail jewelry market or the auto business.  You do not dare enter such markets with no advance knowledge.

There is literally no end to the diverse nature of the jewelry product mix. No one individual buyer is expert in everything.  No one buyer is a true best buyer for everything.  Buying and selling items in the jewelry business requires proper expertise in not only the items on offer, but very good understanding of what buyers preferences are, what they feel they can sell, what they wish to stock for inventory, and what they believe they should invest in.  Of course, one also needs to know what buyers do not want and what turns them off.  It is a psychological game as well as an expert game for all the players.

The consumer who wants to sell has special problems. They are inundated by “buyers” of all types.  Pawn shops, scrap buyers, coin stores, mom and pop jewelers, kiosks in malls, auction galleries of every size and shape, large corporations with slick advertising in fancy urban locations.  You name it, there will be a “buyer” there just waiting to peel off some $100’s or willing to write you a check.  Your problem is that you probably have many unanswered questions that need answers to BEFORE you make any deal.

You need to know the range of second hand value of each and every item. Until you know what the real value is in the market you are now in, selling jewelry and gems, you cannot know what price is a good one to accept.  You cannot tell by the personality of the buyer.  Remember, all con-men have wonderful personalities and their stock in trade is getting you to believe in them.  It is very, very easy to be victimized.

You will be offered “FREE APPRAISALS” by many buyers. You must realize that this free appraisal is most often worth exactly what it cost.  Sorry, but there is little free stuff that is worth anything.  You may find this somewhat harsh and unkind.  My tone is strident because way too many people wishing to sell are badly misled by biased advice.  If “free appraisal” was worded properly, it would be advertised as “FREE OFFER TO PURCHASE”.  That would be way better.  You can always say “NO”.  However, if you have no understanding of the proper value of what you want to sell, you will say “NO “even if you were offered the correct amount.  Why would you do that unless you have not gotten the information you require first?  This is a main and primary point of this essay.

Before you go out to sell, you need expert advisory services to best understand the values in the secondary marketplace. You need to know the facts in advance to make a clear decision.  You can’t rely on “free appraisals” given by those who might not be objective.  There is often a lot of money at stake and everyone knows where there are big bucks, there are often huge pitfalls.

The same advice can be given to the public when they are asked by retailers or others in the jewelry trade to “Consign the items with me for a period of time and when I get them sold I will give you XX% of what I obtain”. This is NOT AN OFFER to buy anything.  This is allowing your precious items to sit somewhere out of your control and at the whim of the seller.  How well do you know the seller?  Will you get back what you left?  Will the items ever sell?  Will the eventual price be a correct one?  Is the person you are consigning to a true expert or just a “buddy”?  Consigning to an auction gallery may be a bit better, but it sure is not inexpensive.  You will get about 2/3 of an auction selling price.  That is not always terrible and may end up being very good, but it may not even be as much as you can get outright from a really expert buyer who wants what you have and is willing to pay on the spot for it.

What can you do? First, obtain a real appraiser’s estimate of value as a second hand item for sale.  Only an experienced appraiser, one with second hand market expertise, can help you with this.  Only a relative handful of otherwise well qualified appraisers in the USA have such estate jewelry valuation experience.  There will be a fee for such services, but the fee will be more than fully covered by selling for correct prices and not impulsively for way too little money.  Some appraisers will recommend buyers for items that fit well with one another.  I often do that, not as a profit center, but to help my clients get the right amount of money without putting them into a worrisome situation.  If I don’t have a good buyer or situation for what you wish to sell, that’s what I tell you.  Not every sale is easy.  Most of the time, sales made easily without market value knowledge, are not for a proper amount of money.  That’s human nature, but we can often defeat our failings with better advice and a bit of education.

Have I gotten your attention? This was not written to scare anyone, but instead to encourage you to investigate the value BEFORE you sell.  Knowing the real range of value will make the sales process easier and safer.

My time can be yours by appointment.    David Atlas  1-215-385-0258




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Keys to my personal 50 plus years of business success

In contemplating what has been the prime motivation or philosophy for myself and my business enterprises over the last thirty years, I have realize that the quest to create a successful enterprise and a respected reputation have been my primary goals. These long term goals were the gift and the responsibility laid on to me by my father who had this same gift and responsibility placed on him forty years earlier by his father.

I was fortunate in that my primary goals were so understandable. Many individuals, the vast majority, need to primarily work to “make money”. My father and I both entered a going family business with a tradition of ethics, but most importantly, a business that was not struggling to survive the day to day financial worries most people face. I was assured many times, although there was frequent self-doubt, that if I was primarily honest and secondarily careful, conservative, patient, and well educated, all the rest of the things necessary would fall into place. What my grandfather told my father and what my father told me has proven itself correct both times. Maybe there is something very special about taking the honest path.

Every day comes with opportunities to take the easy route, the quick buck, or take a dishonest direction. When you have to decide each time to take the correct path, rather than the wrong one, your life is full of indecision. However, if you practice taking the right path as much as humanly possible, your way becomes less confusing as you age. The honest path is a clear one, especially when the other alternatives are so infrequently taken. Since the process of making choices is so reduced by knowing which direction you are going to go in, you can simply get to where you want to go without a lot of false starts and off the path treks that don’t lead to a desired result.

When you have made the decision to let honesty be your main guide everyone around you; friends, relatives and employees, all know which way to mesh and work with you. There will be less strife and much less misunderstanding. With the honest outlook you can allow the process of becoming careful, conservative patient, and well educated to proceed as time and circumstances allow. It does not happen overnight, but if you have the ability to learn, time and effort will give you these secondary attitudes and achievements.

We live in a time where honesty seemingly has lost its appeal where the powerful have often risen to high status by taking alternative routes to apparent success. One must keep in mind the fragility of success and power built on a false and weak foundation. In due course, the corrupt have always sunken to their true level in history even if not in their own lifetime. False markets have built vast wealth, but from time to time we see the weakness of their underpinnings. Time will, no doubt, let us see what the actual value of these vast markets really amounts to.

All the job training, education, desire, and talent in the world will not get the dishonest individual very far in the long run. We see this in our daily lives and can read about it in the historical records. The world may be quickly changing, but certain elements of our lives are invariable.

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As a GIA Graduate gemologist and jewelry consultant, David S. Atlas provides jewelry appraisals and gem advice in Southeastern PA and the upper and central Eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, i.e., St. Michaels, Kent Island and Rock Hall, MD.  Consumers and dealers located near or far away often benefit from his services and expertise by sending in their gems and jewelry or by online advisory services.

From insurance appraisals to divorce settlement appraisals, David S. Atlas offers a variety of appraisal types to help with your needs. Visit our appraisal services page to learn more about the different appraisals we have to offer. With over 50 years of jewelry business experience, we have acquired expert knowledge and considerable experience.

As jewelry consultants, we offer an assortment of solutions for our clients. We provide you with jewelry descriptions and market reports, which are perfect for jewelry dealers or private clients that are looking to sell their jewelry. Visit our Jewelry Descriptions & Market Reports page to learn more about this service.

If you are a beginner or professional consumer or jeweler, visit our Ideal-Scope Store to choose from our assortment of jewelers’ scopes. We offer high-quality products ideal for a range of needs and skill levels.

Work with David S. Atlas to receive jewelry consulting from a GIA Graduate gemologist today! If you would like to learn more about our services, contact us at 215-385-0258. Our jewelry services will provide you with all the help you need!

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Why hire an Independent appraiser?

A professional, independent appraiser ties up all the loose ends of an important purchase. The appraiser makes certain that the diamond is in the condition listed on the report at the time of delivery to you rather than months or even years later.  If there is anything wrong, the only time to know it is right away.  The appraiser confirms the diamond is the correct diamond matching the report, too. It is not uncommon to see 1.00 carat diamonds getting mixed up in large dealer inventories.  If your diamond is unique, then that is less likely to happen.

Finally, the appraiser arrives at an independent opinion of value, confirms that the stone is skillfully set, in a properly constructed mounting and that any remaining questions and concerns you may have are all answered.  If you do have a loss, the independent valuation of an independent the appraiser is an excellent tool to force a fair and proper settlement or replacement from your insurer.  Poorly constructed appraisals may allow your insurer to corner you into accepting a poorly matched replacement.

You might want to get an appraisal simply because you distrust the seller, but there are better and more substantial reasons that consumers need a second and unbiased opinion.  It is easier to cure a problem when the deal is very new than months or years later when it has become your fault and way too late.