If you are thinking of buying a diamond off the internet there are a few things to be aware of, especially with earth mined diamonds. These diamonds often come with a very official looking certificate to substantiate the grading and stated value for the item being sold. Often the claims made in the certificate are different, (sometimes considerably) than what a GIA qualified gemmologist trained to the GIA standard of grading might believe them to be. Invariably the purchaser has paid close to the New Zealand appraised value of the item, so they feel they have not been cheated. But they have! As they have not received the ‘bargain’ they thought they were buying.

International Gemological Information

One of these Labs is the International Gemological Information or IGI. IGI certificates are not to be trusted because the information can be so nebulous as to what the grading actually is on the diamond. As you can see, this is a single diamond of .37ct. But it has a clarity grade listed as VS2 – SI1. How can you tell which one is correct? Is it one of the two. Same for color grading at H to I. This leaves open the question about what the actual grade of the diamond is. Is it a VS2/H or a SI1/H? Perhaps a VS2/I or a SI1/I? It’s not definite enough. The reason the IGI does this is to help the seller. Using this sale card, the seller can convince they are giving the customer a VS2/H, charge them for a VS2/H, yet only deliver a SI1/I. A far lower value diamond. But the real problem is when there is a loss. The insurer may well be stuck replacing a SI1/I grade diamond with a VS2/H grade diamond because of this IGI appraisal document. You should very wary of a document with split grades especially whenever you see one submitted by a seller.

Buying off the internet or when on holiday can be fraught with danger as many jewellers sell fraudulent official looking certificates which bear no relation to the actual item. USGL is one such certificate you must be wary of. You can see from the picture that this emerald is a very low quality, promotional type gemstone. These stones sell in the $200.00 per carat range at best. Yet the certificate from the USGL states that the value is almost $4,000.00. The item actually sold for around $900.00. But with this certificate, the customer believes they can get it insured for nearly $4,000.00. Generally, a New Zealand Insurer would not accept the certificate and a local valuer would expose the true value. Again, the purchaser did not ger the bargain they believed they were getting. Note also that the color and clarity grades are simply listed as “Good” and “Good”. No proper gemological quality grading scale is used by these people who make such an official looking appraisal document

quality grading
USGL certificate
USGL certificate

Beware of buying overseas where some sellers back up their jewellery with an official looking but totally fraudulent Gem ID card, to convince the buyer they are getting a ‘bargain’. An example of such a certificate is this ruby bracelet. Notice that in an actual photo of the item it shows the gems are of low, promotional quality. These ‘rubies’ are more purple sapphire color, and the clarity of the stones is so bad that they are opaque, not gem quality at all. This USGL certificate appraises this item at a huge $9,672.00 dollars, when in reality it should be around $1500.00. Which would be the normal value for an item of this quality. If the customer had purchased it thinking they had a bargain, they would be wrong as in truth it wasn’t. in spite of having low promotional quality stones, the listed quality for the color and clarity are simply ‘Good’ and ‘Good’. This is another example of an appraisal company issuing this document on behalf of the seller. It was done at the request of the seller, paid for by the seller, and used during the sales pitch to supposedly prove the real ‘value’ of the item to the buyer.

totally fraudulent Gem
European Gemological Lab
Card from European Gemological Lab

It pays to be aware of what traps there are when purchasing an item either over the internet or on holiday when you are relaxed and tend not to be as careful as you could be. This is an appraisal Card from European Gemological Lab. (EGL). This Lab’s certificates are very misleading and fraudulent because it gives the impression that the item has been professionally appraised by EGL. It has is a combination of problems. Firstly, the purpose of a photograph in a proper jewelry appraisal is to show (1) that the item actually existed on the date of the appraisal, (2) the design of the item if replacement is needed, and (3) that the appraiser actually inspected the item. None of those three are present with this case. Notice the difference in the actual item and the photograph on the certificate. They are not even close. The diamond in the certificate is obviously not of a I2 clarity listed on the certificate. And the actual diamond is indeed a I2 but does not look like the photo in the certificate. This practice by the EGL leaves purchasers with useless proof of their item of jewellery. Labs such as EGL give the impression they use the accepted worldwide grading protocol, developed by the Gemological Institute of America. However, but in reality, they use their own grading system which misleads consumers into believing the grading is of GIA standard when it is not. Most NZ insurers will not accept an overseas appraisal, as they require a qualified NZ appraiser to prepare an appraisal with NZ values, when insuring jewellery. It pays in the long run to purchase your jewellery from a reputable jeweller preferably in NZ with a reputation to protect, and who is accountable by NZ law