By educating yourself, you can avoid being the target of a few common and sometimes major scams.
1) Carat Total Weight (ctw)
Some retailers will only list the ctw – “carat total weight” of a diamond. I have gone into some stores where they only list ctw and you have to ask the salesperson for the carat weight of the center diamond every time. This is a critical piece of information because the larger the percentage that the center diamond is to the carat total weight, the more the piece of jewelry is worth. 1 single diamond that is 1 carat in weight is worth significantly more than 3 diamonds with the same carat total weight with all other factors cut, clarity and colour being the same.
2) Laser Enhanced or Drilling
Some dealers are able to remove black spots and inclusions by drilling a tiny hole deep into the diamond to evaporate them. These diamonds are more prone to breaking and are bit more fragile. More importantly, they cost significantly less. Demand to see a certificate for the diamond and ask the jeweler if the diamond has been laser drilled.
3) Fracture Filling and Treatments
Similar to laser enhancement or drilling, fracture filling involves removing inclusions that appear as hairline fractures in the diamond. This treatment also enhances the diamonds clarity as with laser drilling and it is done by filling the fractures with a melted crystal by using high heat. These diamonds should sell for much less than an untreated diamond, so be sure to ask for a GIA or EGL certificate stating its clarity and if any enhancements were made.
4) Synthetic, Simulant or Natural
I would consider this is a major scam if you happen to buy a diamond and it ends up being a complete fake. However, technology is changing incredibly fast and it can happen. Currently, there are synthetic diamonds available that are man-made and are identical chemically with natural diamonds. They sell for a fraction of the cost and diamond simulants cost almost nothing when compared with a natural diamond. Just remember that when buying diamonds, find a reliable source and get an appraiser to verify its authenticity.
5) Bright Lights and Fluorescence
Every jewelry store wants to display their diamonds in the best light. Just watch out for jewelers that mention anything about a diamond being blue-white and being more expensive. Blue-white refers to a diamonds fluorescence and it actually makes the diamond worth less. More unscrupulous jewelers will even try to high the diamonds fluorescence by using lights which have hue of blue in them to hide this attribute. Try to look at the diamond in natural light if you can and also verify on its certificate if there is fluorescence or not.
6) Sales and Going out of Business at the Mall
Everyone has seen these signs – Going out of Business or 50% off Today. Almost all of these sales are not really sales because the jewelry has probably been marked up 300-500% to begin with. It is a good idea to try out different styles and to see the kinds of diamonds available in store, but the only way of getting a complete picture is to compare retail prices with online wholesalers and diamond brokers.
7) Get an Independent Appraiser
Always seek an independent and certified gemologist to appraise your diamond. They can verify the diamond’s 4C – Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat Weight as well as the certification on the diamond by comparing the laser inscription on the diamond with the one written on the certificate. Do not rely too much on the appraised value because it is for insurance purposes and your insurer will most likely not give you that amount when replacing your diamond.
8) Hidden Flaws
Even I had my jeweler try to hide flaws when setting my fiancee’s diamond if there were any under the prongs. However, when you are buying a diamond, you want to look at the loose stone if possible. Many of these flaws may be more than just a black spot and could be structural in nature like feathering or a thin girdle which makes the diamond more prone to chipping. SI1 stones can look like a VS1 or VS2 easily when set. If you can’t take a look at the loose stone, you may need to factor in a discount or just purchase somewhere else.
9) Doctored Certificates and Fake Certificates
In the age of computers and high end printers, any piece of documentation can be tampered with or created. The only real way of verifying its authenticity is to verify its GIA# on the Gemological Institutions of America website and to have an appraiser check to see if the GIA# on the diamond matches. If the diamond has no pedigree, you should expect a significant discount on the diamond and to price it much lower. Have an experienced appraiser give you his opinion on the diamonds ratings and do not expect a high resale value – buyer beware.