I encourage you to read and study all of the very informative information in all of the categories: "Diamond Grading - Cut", "Diamond Grading - Color", "Diamond Grading - Clarity", "Diamond Grading - Carat Weight", and "Diamond Grading - Pricing" which follow the information you have read here. All of this information will make you a more informed and a much more astute buyer. And should you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email at: donbennett70@att.net, or call me on the phone at: (912) 598-5007 (M-S, 10-6, Sundays by appointment), or schedule an appointment to meet with me in person to answer any questions that you may have. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you very much.


Don Bennett,

Understanding Diamond Grading

All loose diamonds, regardless of size and shape, are graded on the basis of Clarity and Color, some are graded on a basis of Cut, and individually, all diamonds are sold on the basis of size with a price per carat multiplied by the weight of the stone. A diamond seller may purchase a single stone from a diamond cutter, a diamond dealer, or from a diamond wholesaler, and this individual diamond may or may not be accompanied by a Diamond Grading Report (also called a Diamond Certificate) by an accredited Gem Laboratory. If a loose diamond has been "certified" or "certificated" by being graded by one of the six (6) accredited gem laboratories, it cost more than a diamond of the exact same weight, clarity, color, cut, polish, symmetry, shape, fluorescence, and all other factors.

How much more depends upon which gem lab issues the Diamond Grading Report. The six (6) accredited gem laboratories are:
  • 1) GIA (Gemological Institute of America)
  • 2) AGS (American Gem Society)
  • 3) EGL-USA (European Gemological Laboratory's grading by the "stricter" American diamond grading standards)
  • 4) EGL-Europe or EGL-Israel (European Gemological Laboratory's grading by the more "liberal" European diamond grading standards)
  • 5) IGI (International Gemological Institute's grading which is used almost exclusively by Sam's Club, a division of WalMart Corporation)
  • 6) GGL (Gemological Grading Laboratory's grading used exclusively for grading Clarity Enhanced diamonds)

So, how much more? A lot more, particularly if they have been graded by GIA or AGS! Why? Because GIA and AGS charge SEVERAL HUNDRED DOLLARS to grade a diamond and to issue a Diamond Grading Report (a.k.a. Diamond Certificate or Diamond Dossier) on each and every diamond that they grade. SEVERAL HUNDRED DOLLARS! Those charges are added onto the cost of the diamond at the cutter's level, the dealer's level, and at the wholesaler's level. And the percentages of discount off of the Rapaport Price List are 30% - 40% LESS on GIA and AGS "certificated" diamonds. Diamonds "certificated" by Diamond Grading Reports issued by EGL-USA, EGL-Europe, EGL-Israel, IGI, or GGL are priced considerably more reasonable in price for 2 reasons:
  • 1) These 4 other gem lab reports cost a lot less to grade and issue a Diamond Grading Report, so there is only a very few dollars added onto the diamond's cost at every level.
  • 2) The percentages of discounts off of the "Rapaport Price List" are 30% - 40% MORE than on GIA and AGS "certificated" diamonds.

All but one of the accredited gem labs use the GIA Diamond Grading Standards and GIA terminology, which will be itemized in detail under my next 4 categories of "Diamond Grading - Cut", "Diamond Grading - Color", "Diamond Grading - Clarity", and "Diamond Grading - Carat Weight". The one accredited gem lab that uses its own grading standards, (a numerical system of "0 - 10"), is AGS. This is because only 5% of all diamond sellers ----- retail jewelers, diamond cutters, diamond jewelry manufacturers, diamond wholesalers, and diamond dealers ----- are members of AGS (American Gem Society), and membership in AGS is limited to those diamond sellers in the United States and Canada. AGS has no membership in Europe, Israel, or India, major diamond cutting centers outside of North America.

Diamond Grading is NOT AN ABSOLUTE SCIENCE. The assignment of a single, specific grade of Clarity, Color, and Cut, as well as an evaluation of a diamond's Table Percentage, Depth Percentage, Measurements, Polish, Symmetry, and Culet, are all a "SUBJECTIVE OPINION" of an EXPERIENCED DIAMOND GRADER and/or a GRADUATE GEMOLOGIST, one who has 20/20 vision, one who has taken the DIAMOND GRADING and APPRAISAL COURSE from GIA, successfully passed GIA's written examination and successfully graded 7 loose diamonds at GIA's gem laboratory in either New York City or Carlsbad, California. And GIA acknowledges the fact that its GIA Diamond Certificates (a.k.a. "Diamond Grading Reports" and "Diamond Dossiers") are signed by its diamond grader, and the information on that report is the "SUBJECTIVE OPINION" of that particular diamond grader. Another diamond grader at GIA's gem laboratory might grade that same diamond ONE GRADE HIGHER or ONE GRADE LOWER than the previous diamond grader.

When I took the practical diamond grading exam of grading 7 loose diamonds at GIA's diamond gem laboratory in New York City in July of 1981, I graded the 7 loose diamonds EXACTLY as the 7 Diamond Certificates showed regarding each one of the 7 diamond's Clarity, Color, and Cut. The 21 grades were EXACTLY the same as were shown on each one's GIA Diamond Grading Reports, so I passed with a grade of 100 on grading those 7 diamonds. But I could have still passed the grading of those 7 loose diamonds had I graded any one (1) ----- or all seven (7) of them ----- ONE GRADE HIGHER or ONE GRADE LOWER than those grades shown on each one's Diamond Grading Report. To repeat ----- the assigned grades and all other pertinent information ----- itemized in detail on all Diamond Grading Reports ----- are the SUBJECTIVE OPINIONS of that particular experienced diamond grader, whether that diamond grader be employed by GIA, AGS, EGL-USA, EGL-Europe (or Israel), IGI, GGL, or be an independant diamond grader not affiliated with any Diamond Gem Laboratory.

Some diamond dealers prefer to buy loose diamonds that have not been graded by any gem laboratories, because these diamonds are sold to these dealers in large "parcel lots" at price from 50% - 60% LESS than the prices of pre-sorted, pre-graded diamonds. These diamond dealers will then "sort" the diamonds from the parcels, and individually weigh, measure, and grade each diamond, assigning it a Clarity, a Color, and sometimes, a Cutting grade according to the very strict GIA Diamond Grading Standards. This is the procedure that I use at Bennett's Fine Jewelers in Savannah, Georgia, and one that I have used ever since I purchased the family business in 1983. And if a customer prefers, I will furnish him with a Diamond Grading Report with the exact same information itemized on that Certificate that he would find on a GIA Diamond Certificate. In fact, my Diamond Grading Reports have one item that is NOT FOUND on the newer GIA DIAMOND DOSSIERS; i.e., the "Plot" (a diagram showing the internal "inclusions" plotted in "red" and the external "abrasions" plotted in "green") from both the "top" and the "bottom" of the diamond. This new GIA DIAMOND DOSSIER is the Diamond Grading Report issued by GIA starting in January 2010; it does NOT show a diamond's Clarity "Plot". The GIA's Diamond Certificates dated PRIOR to 2010 did show the diamond's "Plot". All of my Diamond Grading Certificates show the diamond's Clarity "Plot". I can SAVE my customer the MOST MONEY on a diamond that I have bought in parcel lots, sorted, measured, weighed, graded individually and issued a Diamond Grading Report. But I will be more than happy to locate any loose diamond, any size, shape, and quality, whether it be accompanied by a Diamond Certificate from GIA, AGS, EGL-USA, EGL-Europe (or Israel), IGI, or GGL. And sell it to you at the LOWEST POSSIBLE PRICE! Let's talk now about the subject that is often misunderstood in the diamond industry ----- the "Rap Sheet" (an abbreviation for the "Rapaport List").

There are a number of diamond sellers ----- retail jewelers, diamond dealers, internet sellers ----- at the wholesale and the retail level ----- who subscribe to a publication copyrighted decades ago by a diamond dealer in New York City in the diamond district on West 47th Street, one named Martin Rapaport, called the "Rapaport List" (a.k.a. the "Rap Sheet"). This list itemized every shape, size, and quality of diamonds offered for sale worldwide. Originally, it was a true WHOLESALE PRICE LIST, but then all diamond sellers started selling these loose diamonds at prices that were DISCOUNTED from those prices shown on the list. And, as such, it CEASED to be a TRUE WHOLESALE PRICE LIST. Some diamond sellers ----- then and now ----- still represent to the buying public that the "Rap Sheet" is a TRUE WHOLESALE PRICE LIST. IT IS NOT! It is only a "reference sheet" from which every diamond cutter, every diamond dealer, every diamond wholesaler, and anyone who is involved with the buying and selling of loose diamonds in the industry, does so at a PERCENTAGE DISCOUNT from this price list. The percentage of discount depends upon which Gem Lab has graded the diamond and issued a Diamond Certificate on it. Loose diamonds with GIA or AGS Diamond "Certs" generally are sold at a "10% - 15% discount off of Rap", with EGL-USA "Certs" being sold at a "20% - 30% discount off of Rap", with EGL-Europe (or Israel) and IGI "Certs" being sold at a "35% - 40% discount off of Rap", with GGL "Certs" being sold at a "45% - 50% discount off of Rap". So a diamond seller, regardless of whether he or she is in a retail store or in an online website, stating that they are going to show you the "Rapaport List" or the "Rap Sheet" and going to sell you a loose diamond at 10% - 15% "OVER COST" is not to be believed.

Recently I read an online tutorial written by an individual who considers himself to be an "expert" on "advising consumers on how to buy a loose diamond for an engagement ring". I was appalled when I read his statement: "Demand to see the Rapaport List, which is the TRUE WHOLESALE COST LIST OF ALL DIAMONDS, and then offer him a tiny percentage of profit over the Rap Sheet's price for a particular loose diamond." The advice of that "self-professed" diamond "expert" should totally be disregarded.

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