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When you Need an Expert, Hire an Expert

Appraisals are a combination of art and science. A worthwhile appraiser has a longstanding expertise in a particular field (the science), and  a well-trained appraiser uses professional methodology (the art) to provide reliable results. Appraisals are the opinion of value based on both expertise and methodology, time spent in considering the item and comparing it to sales for like items in the marketplace. A worthwhile appraisal is done by an objective party working within an ethics code.

Recently, I did an appraisal for a couple who had inherited two diamond rings and  were debating what to do with them. The rings had sentimental significance and like most of us, the fact that they were diamonds enhanced their expectation that the rings would be worth a goodly sum.

I could see right away that these were old cut diamonds with varying clarities and color. After inspecting them for inclusions, chips, and cut, I began my research.  I considered the fact that antique diamonds are a ”hot” market now, with many learning to love the glow developed by fewer facets and deeper stones.  That’s market knowledge at work. Consumers also love the fact that they are re-using or “upcycling” a product of nature. I was hoping that this would enhance the value of the stones for my clients. I contacted a group of antique diamond dealers and jewelry sellers that I know in the industry to discuss value. I also researched vintage diamond prices, which was not easy to do as there really are no true comparisons between old and new diamonds. The only general comparison is that bigger is more desirable in both old and new markets, as is  high color, but there are exceptions to everything.

Diamond Ring

The couple ended up with a report that gave them solid information about the market: "The most likely resale market would be sale to a dealer of vintage jewelry. There is an active market now for vintage diamonds due to the interest in repurposing stones that are already mined. Prices depend on the inherent quality of the stones and their cutting, as some dealers recut to bring out more brilliance or to repair obviously problems. Mountings that are good examples of the period, still in good condition, or considered desirable are often kept intact. “ 

I gave them details about their stone: “One ladies diamond engagement-style ring. Center stone outer diameter dimensions approximately 7.7 - 8 mm. Measurements are approximate because stone is mounted, not a perfect round, and contains “naturals” all along the girdle which decrease the full diameter slightly. One large natural (or chip) is hidden under a prong. These irregularities would likely have to be polished off before stone could be sold.  Stone has an open culet, typical of Old European cuts and has a yellowish “Cape” color of OP color.

The outer dimensions of translate into a total carat weight of approximately 1.75 – 1.90 total carats according to a scale for modern-cut diamonds.  However, this stone is fairly shallow, making accuracy of carat weight difficult to judge in a setting.  Clarity of this stone is SI2 – I1 due to some inclusions which are visible to the naked eye. Setting is stamped 18KT gold.

And a final assessment of value:

Appraised Value for Resale into Vintage Dealers’ Market:   $1500 - $2000 per carat, less recutting costs and  weight after repairing the girdle.  So, if stone weighs 1.75   carats, value could be $2625 - $3500, although I think the latter figure is optimistic.  If, after recutting, the stone weighs 1.5 carats, for example, the value would be in a range of $2250 - $3000.                                               

I was able to sell the ring for the couple at the higher end of this valuation scale which made all of us happy.