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Are Some Diamonds Still Overgraded? Here’s What Retailers Say

Our Brain Squad sounds off on diamond grading.




We have consistently found that EGLUS NY’s grading is equal to GIA Carlsbad. I’ve submitted the same high grade diamonds to both institutions and the EGLUS grade has been more conservative on color and clarity, so I’ve seen them reach a parity on reliability (and the color grading is within ranges of my three colorimeters, Austron, Gran, and Sarin Colibri). However, there are of reports from other labs that are not graded to the same standards, and it is an issue. — Rex Solomon, Houston Jewelry, Houston, TX

  • No, every jeweler should base their grading scale on GIA. Theirs is the standard, and will be. Overgrading will still happen unless you’re a graduate gemologist or a GIA diamonds graduate. — Bruce Goodheart, Burnells Creative Gold, Wichita, KS
  • I think that the grading system is out of whack. Yet prices continue to rise, whether the diamonds are GIA or EGL. — Mary Jo Chanski, Hannoush Jewelers, Rutland, VT
  • I believe overgrading will always be a problem as long as the grading is done by human beings. I also believe that grading companies give the big diamond companies preferential treatment when they give them hundreds of diamonds at a time to grade for them! I took the GIA diamond grading course in 1980, and the guidelines we learned then are not the same as they grade now! — Frank Salinardi, Linardi’s Jewelers, Plantation, FL
  • It still exists as now people are trying to sell diamonds with insanely unrealistic appraisals. Have had several folks come in with appraisals from 10-plus years ago that say VVS1 when they should say I3… — James Doggett, Doggett Jewelry, Kingston, NH
  • We never had any direct blowback. However, we did stop promoting EGL lab reports. The disparity between GIA and EGL reports may have narrowed as a result of the negative publicity. The thought that the EGL is a “red-headed step-child” continues professionally, I believe. — J. Dennis Petimezas, Watchmakers Diamonds & Jewelry, Johnstown, PA
  • No, I think it’s been mostly solved. — Cathy McMurray, The Hunt House, Huntsville, ON
  • Good question. We sometimes see overgraded diamonds, but can stand by our GIA certified gemologist when a customer contests an appraisal. — Chay Rees Runnels, Rees Jewelry, Nacogdoches, TX
  • This isn’t Staples. I sell diamonds, not paper. — Casey Gallant, Stephen Gallant Jewelers, Orleans, MA
  • We feel it has not been properly addressed. You need to check them all, not relying only on the grading reports. I suppose you can only do that if you are familiar with diamond grading, though. — Meg Rankin, J. Rankin Jewellers, Edmonds, WA
  • It affects us when we have to update an older, wildly over-priced appraisal and then explain why their piece is actually “worth less” on the new paperwork. — Loann Stokes, Stokes Jewelry, Stillwater, MN
  • It seems to have been corrected for the most point. We still look to see what country the reports are coming from. There are still some areas that do not stick to the tight guidelines to insure correct grading. We examine all the diamonds we buy first and if we do not agree with the report, we do not show or buy the diamond. — Scott Kelly, Jems Jewels & Gold, North Wales, PA
  • What problem? — Craig C. Curtis, Belfast Jewelry, Belfast, ME
  • It’s still quite subjective, but the spread has become a bit tighter. We tend to stick to GIA, occasionally EGL. With the growth of our lab-grown diamond sales, this may become an a moot point. We are approaching 50 percent of our engagement sales as lab-grown. We don’t advertise this; it’s what the customer is requesting. — Mark Kasuba, M. Edward Jewelers, Pittsfield, MA
  • It will always be a problem; how you handle it will be what sets the tone for your store. There is still a lot of misinformation out there on grading and appraisals, and quite frankly, we all value things differently. Some of us prefer the best of the best, some of us prefer the middle of the road, which gives a balance of size, price, rarity, etc., and some of us prefer the biggest for our buck. We are salespeople. We are going to heavily weight what we value at the end of the day. That is what will steer the ship, and if you listen to the customer, you will meet their needs all while getting your two cents in! — Natasha Henderson, Saxon’s Fine Jewelers, Bend, OR
  • Yes, the long shadow of overrated EGL reports remains a stormy bone of contention in my business every day. Customers come in to sell diamonds that are overrated and overgraded with EGL reports. I have to show, a.k.a. prove to them by comparing master sets next to their stones, that they are not what the reports say. Unfortunately, delivering that kind of truth speech creates an uncomfortable tension in the room, but it is my duty as an honorable independent jeweler to explain to the customer why I cannot give them the value they think their stone is worth, even though they have an EGL certificate! The win here is often gaining the trust and respect of a new customer and creating a new design for the “charity stone.” There’s always something good in every unfortunate situation, you just have to stay positive, be very creative and help your customers find it! Then it is a win-win for everyone. — Denise Oros, Linnea Jewelers, La Grange, IL
  • We did not receive any problems at all. — Alex Weil, Martin’s Jewelry, Torrance, CA
  • Overgrading is rampant. It has become a game, and the online sellers are winning because of it, hands down. Even GIA certificates show crazy variations, but give a seller a chance to overgrade for extra profit, with no repercussions and little to no conscience, and the problem has exploded. Along with our suppliers selling online, the overgrading issue is resulting in the demise of brick-and-mortar stores. — David Blitt, Troy Shoppe Jewellers, Calgary, AB
  • No, not solved. It will always be an issue when “opinion” is how things are graded, just like figure skating. It’s getting better, but is still an issue. — Stacey Gelmici-Saunders, Gelmici Jewellers, Edson, AB
  • I was very outspoken in applauding Rap for taking that step. There is no shortage of overgraded diamonds in the marketplace. It has never affected me as a jewelry retailer because I am a trained gemologist and have taken ongoing coursework and diamonds for the better part of 30 years. It is our responsibility as jewelers to know how to grade a diamond, to know how to plot a diamond, and to make not only our customers but the public at large aware of diamond grading benchmarks and pitfalls. Given that the Internet educates people all about diamonds before these people even walk into our stores, any retailer who can’t see through an overblown cert and who doesn’t point out the pros and cons of said cert when presenting the diamonds doesn’t deserve to be in the business. — Andrea Riso, Talisman Collection, El Dorado Hills, CA
  • After 38 years in the industry, I do not think it has gotten better. Even with GIA, I think there is less consistency than it should be. I’ve had in my opinion SI2s graded I1s and I1s graded SI2s through GIA. Have even had yellow stones graded H and above on both GIA and EGL. I always tell my customers what I truly believe a stone should be, whether that’s what the cert says or not. — Newton Starnes, Newtons Fine Jewelry, Flowood, MS

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.



This Third-Generation Jeweler Was Ready for Retirement. He Called Wilkerson

Retirement is never easy, especially when it means the end to a business that was founded in 1884. But for Laura and Sam Sipe, it was time to put their own needs first. They decided to close J.C. Sipe Jewelers, one of Indianapolis’ most trusted names in fine jewelry, and call Wilkerson. “Laura and I decided the conditions were right,” says Sam. Wilkerson handled every detail in their going-out-of-business sale, from marketing to manning the sales floor. “The main goal was to sell our existing inventory that’s all paid for and turn that into cash for our retirement,” says Sam. “It’s been very, very productive.” Would they recommend Wilkerson to other jewelers who want to enjoy their golden years? Absolutely! “Call Wilkerson,” says Laura. “They can help you achieve your goals so you’ll be able to move into retirement comfortably.”

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