Lab-grown diamonds are becoming an increasingly popular choice for consumers concerned both with cost and sustainability. As more people choose lab-grown for meaningful purchases such as engagement rings and graduation gifts, jewelers and gemologists will see more requests for appraisals of jewelry containing lab-grown diamonds.
Consumers may even wonder if their lab-grown diamonds can be appraised or insured at all. But just about anything can be appraised and insured, and making sure your customers know their lab-grown diamonds can and should be appraised will improve their confidence in lab-grown purchases.
It is important for consumers to recognize that an appraisal isn’t an objective valuation or a simple affirmation of retail price, and neither is it a guarantee of the price they will be able to sell the piece for. Just as customers appraise mined diamond purchases, they should be advised to have their lab-grown diamonds appraised to determine the cost of replacing them so that they can be properly insured, or to determine its value for resale or taxation purposes. It’s also important for consumers to understand - particularly during these times of lab-grown price fluctuation - that just because an appraiser determined a certain value for a piece does not mean that anyone will buy it for that price. Because the lab-grown diamond market is still fluid, lab-grown diamond owners should be prepared to hear an appraisal price that is different from the amount they paid.
While the procedures for appraising a mined diamond are well-established, appraisers have to take further steps when working with lab-grown diamonds. Any gemstone appraisal will take into account the origin of the gemstone: natural, synthetic (and the type of synthesis used, such as flame fusion or crystal pulling), or lab-grown (in the case of diamonds). Lab-grown diamonds are grown using one of two methods: Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) or High Pressure, High Temperature (HPHT).
A spectroscope is a more precise tool for determining the origin of a diamond. These machines can be pricey investments, but they are essential for the appraisal of lab-grown diamonds.A single misidentification can permanently damage an appraiser’s (and the retail store that is associated with them) reputation.
Remember that on their own, fluorescence, nitrogen content, and strain patterns won’t tell a gemologist for sure whether a diamond is mined or lab-grown. But taken together, one may determine with relative certainty what type of diamond they are dealing with. And perhaps more importantly, such an analysis will let you know whether your diamond is a diamond at all, or an imitation such as moissanite or cubic zirconia. No appraiser can assert with confidence that they can identify a lab-grown diamond without the use of tools recommended by the GIA and other reputable labs for identification. If you refer clients to a 3rd party appraiser, be sure to assess what tools and equipment they are using to conduct their appraisals.
Finally fluctuating prices continue to put pressure on lab-grown diamonds. Remember that it is not the appraiser’s job to predict exactly how lab-grown diamond prices will change. But communicating the current nature of lab-grown diamonds clearly to lab-grown consumers is critical, as it is also critical for your documentation to make clear that the price assessed is accurate as of the day of the appraisal, and cannot be guaranteed for any amount of time into the future..
In the past, an analysis of the 4Cs may have been sufficient to accurately appraise a diamond. But with the introduction of lab-grown diamonds, appraisers must take further steps to ensure that they are accurately evaluating a lab-grown diamond. But it’s important that we establish good practices in lab-grown diamonds now, to support the development of trade-up and trade-in programs in the future and to begin building essential consumer confidence.