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jewelry without a certificate

Can I sell my diamonds and diamond jewelry without a certificate?

Here’s what to do if you don’t have the certification documents for your precious gems

When it comes to buying and selling diamonds, it makes perfect sense that the industry requires certificates of authenticity. After all, these are highly valuable gemstones, and buyers want to be assured that they are getting what they pay for. But if you are selling a diamond ring or other piece of diamond jewelry, you can often get a good price without a certificate.

What is a diamond certificate?

Diamond certificates – sometimes called gemological certificates, or grading reports – are issued by accredited laboratories, among the best known of which is the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The European alternative is the Hoge Raad voor Diamant (HRD), and other reputable gemological laboratories include are the Parisian Chambre de Commerce and the EGL (European Gemological Laboratories).The labs will issue certificates declaring the diamond’s characteristics based on what is known as the ‘4Cs’: color, clarity, carat weight, and cut.  There is no single body that grades diamonds to define what a color or clarity grading is, and each laboratory has its own grading quirks and criteria. One may be stricter on color, for example, but more generous with clarity gradings. What matters is that they are all consistent, so buyers know what to expect from each laboratory.

Why do we ask for them?

There are a number of reasons that we ask for certificates when we buy diamonds.

  1. Authenticity.  The number one reason is to establish straight away that we are buying genuine, natural diamonds.
  2. The Rapaport Price: Established by New York diamond broker Martin Rapaport in 1978, the Rapaport Price List is the industry standard for pricing diamonds – used by both dealers and buyers as a guideline for prices, based on GIA reports. A certificate gives us a clear idea of what we should be paying for the diamond.
  3. Cracks or other defects. The certificate will flag up any cracks or natural defects that can affect the final weight of the diamond.
  4. Diamond ID: The diamond certificate will provide us with a ‘diamond ID’ – detailing all its physical details and characteristics.
  5. Cut parameters: The gemological certificate will give us the ‘cut parameters’ for the diamond, which will ultimately affect the pricing.

What if I don’t have the certificate for my diamonds?

Many people contact us to say that they do not have a certificate for their diamond, or that their certificate is lost, but they still want to sell. If you are dealing with individual stones – and especially ones of a high value – our recommendation is to have your diamond officially certified, preferably by the GIA. It is not an expensive process – expect to pay around US $50-80 depending on size- and will help you sell your diamond easily, and at the best price. When it comes to jewelry, remember that the family heirloom may well have been exaggerated over time. It’s worth having a couple of experts look over it before deciding whether to seek certification for the diamonds. And of course the opposite might be true: perhaps that piece of ‘costume jewelry’ is worth a fortune! Always seek the opinion of a trusted professional (or, even better, several trusted professionals).

Are there any alternatives to a certificate?

If funds are tight and you don’t want to fork out for an assessment and certificate, there are a number of ways you can get a decent idea of the price of your gem or jewelry item. You can ask a professional diamond buyer, or even a pawnbroker, to give you their professional opinion, free of charge. Be aware that they may have a vested interest in giving you a lower appraisal if they are considering buying the diamond, so ask at least two or three experts to get a solid idea of value.

Limited sale options

While you can save a little cash in the short term by not having your diamond officially evaluated and certified, it’s likely to limit the sales potential and the final price you might receive for your diamond or item of diamond jewelry. Many reputable buyers won’t accept diamonds without certificates, so you may be limited to selling on sites such as Ebay, or selling to pawnbrokers. While you might get a decent price, it’s likely to be less than you would get for a diamond with accompanying certificate and guide price.

GIA Inscriptions

Most diamonds that have been officially evaluated by the GIA come with a micro laser inscription on their girdle. The inscription is so small as to be invisible to the naked eye, but can be found with ease by a professional diamond dealer’s microscope. The inscription officially identifies the diamond, and links it to to the accompanying grading report and certificate. It’s a simple way for reputable traders to establish the cut and quality of a gem.

Do low-carat diamonds need to be certified?  

There are some instances when it’s not a financially sound move to have your diamond or piece of jewelry officially certified. For example, diamonds below 0.30 carats are rarely certified, because they are not likely to be sold for a high enough price to justify the investment. Typically, the certification might cost around 10-20 per cent of the price of a small diamond, so many people choose to sell these without a certificate. For example, if you have a small stone from a diamond tennis bracelet, it probably wouldn’t be worth paying for an evaluation. Be sure to have it evaluated by two or more reputable professionals, though.

Can I sell my diamond ring without a certificate?

Whether it’s your own diamond ring or an inherited one, selling a diamond ring can have an emotional aspect to it, so it can help to keep a cool head when deciding how much to sell it for. The first step should be to take it to an expert for evaluation – many diamond rings are made with certified stones, so it could well be the case that you don’t actually need to have your stone certified at all.

It’s worth remembering that the GIA, and other gemological laboratories, will only evaluate individual stones, and not items of jewelry in themselves. This is because they need to be able to examine the whole stone in detail, and some parts will be hidden by the ring or other jewelry item. So you essentially have two choices – you can have the stones removed, evaluated, and then put back with their inscription (this could be a solid option if you are looking at higher value stones), or you can take your ring to professional appraisers (again, it’s best to visit at least two or three to be sure of a fair appraisal) before putting your precious ring on the market. The same applies to necklaces, earrings, and other items of diamond jewelry you might like to sell.

Can I sell my diamond tennis bracelet without a certificate?

As tennis bracelet are usually made with smaller stones, it is not at all unusual for these to be sold without certificates. However, if your bracelet is made with larger, natural diamonds of over 0.50 carat, it may be worth having the stones certified.

A rare secret about natural diamonds…

As a certified gemologist, I can let you into a little secret about natural diamond jewelry. It is essentially impossible to assess the color, clarity, and cut quality when a diamond is mounted in a ring or other piece of jewelry, so any jewelry certificate or evaluation will not be 100 per cent accurate. And one person’s assessment may differ greatly from another. If you are dealing with a large diamond set in a ring, for example, it is worth having a professional remove the stone to be assessed and inscribed, and then remounted in the ring.

The ‘hidden secrets’ of diamond jewelry

The diamonds in your ring, necklace, or earrings might not be all that they seem. How so? Well, a good jeweler knows how to present the brightest, whitest side of a diamond when setting it in a piece of jewelry. To the untrained eye – or even the expert eye – it can be difficult to tell the ‘real’ color, clarity and cut quality. Sometimes an irregularity is hidden under a ring prong, for example, and can only be seen once we take it out.

Should I sell my diamond jewelry without a certificate?

The short answer is very likely to be ‘yes.’ Having a trusted professional look over your jewelry and assess it for quality and price recommendation should be enough. Unless the diamond is over 0.70 carat, it is probably best to leave it in place. There is a possibility that your diamond might be broken under the settings, in which case they would need to be recut, and the Rapaport price would drop. With older items of jewelry, any removed stones are likely to need recutting, so – again – unless it is a very large, white, and clean natural diamond, I would not be in a rush to have the stones removed and certified.

So there you have it! If you are holding onto individual diamonds, it’s a very good idea to get them certified in order to be able to sell them to the right buyer, for the best price. If you’re looking at diamond jewelry, you should be able to sell without diamond certificates – just be sure to get a trusted professional to give you an idea of value, and don’t be afraid to ask for a few professional opinions in order to be sure of your asking price!

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