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1990: Diamond Grading Needs the Best Diamond Grading Certificates

April 1999

The following is based on an actual conversation.

“I used to deal in diamonds,” the veteran of 40 years of diamond cutting sighed, “I used to remember each diamond by the color of its cheeks and by its unique little dimples.”

“But you still cut diamonds, you still sell them¼?”

“Oh, no,” he confessed, “These days I play the paper game.”

“Now when I finish a diamond, I start the rat race for the best certificate I can get. That’s where the money is today, in the paper, not in the diamonds.

Let me give you the perfect example. Last month I finished a 3 carat “gem”, the best. I spent extra time to get the proportions just right. Everything was beautiful: the symmetry, the table, the depth met all my standards, the brilliandierer did a fine job. The cutting and polishing were easy – I never have trouble with wheel. But then came the hard part. I submitted the stone to my gemologist for pre-grading and he comes back to me with the good news: It’s an “H” V.S. So I send it over to the GIA Trade Lab at 580 Fifth Avenue. After 2 weeks and numerous phone calls I finally wait in line for the results: The GIA decided it was an “I” S.I.!

It was terrible: I lost control and screamed at the young lady who gave me the verdict. She wasn’t offended, she had heard it all before. She told me what I already knew from previous cases, “You can resubmit for a recheck and you will only be charged half of the original grading price.”

Now, I’m not sure whether my gemologist or the youngsters at the lab are right. My opinion doesn’t count, of course, I love all my “children”, but the thousands of dollars at stake between the “H” VS2 and the “I” SI-1 convince me to turn to the Paper Game.

I asked for an appeal. The verdict this time? “H” SI-1.

So, I decided to fool the GIA computers by polishing off one point and sending the diamond to the California GIA…only to receive an “I” S.I.-1 rating. I am back to square one but I continue the Paper Chase by sending the stone to the EGL and the IGI. One of them finally gets it right. Now I have an “H” VS-2.

“Well let me ask you, should I confuse the customer with 5 certificates? No, I show him the one I agree with. My gemologist and I were right. Is it fair to the customer? I don’t think it is, but everyone is playing the same paper game so I have no choice but to follow. And I will give the customer an extra 10% off the price list.

I try to be fair, but I liked it better when I sold diamonds without the papers. Now, I feel like Picasso might if he had had to send his paintings to a lab before they were hung at the Met!”

As we in the industry know, the Paper Game happens every day because diamond grading, despite all of the technology at our command, remains subjective. It is the consumer who pays for the multiple certificates though they may never see most of them.

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