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The Diamond Report Card and DFS Cut Grade, Historical article from 2008

By David Atlas, GG (GIA), Certified Senior member, NAJA

 Article from the Rapaport Magazine – February 2008

In the late 1970s, diamonds were rapidly rising in value. But stones with similar characteristics, as measured by the traditional 4Cs, had quite a wide value spread. Dealers were aware of the issue, but no one in particular explained the mystery. It became apparent that to answer the question of what was creating stratification in the value of diamonds, the quality of cut had to be taken into consideration and could, in fact, be the deciding factor in establishing a stone’s market value. However, at the time, the 4Cs limited the use of the word “cut” to refer only to the outline shape of a stone. A clear definition of the term was needed.

Tolkowsky and other experts had published standards for cutting a diamond. There were four categories of cut by Gemological Institute of America (GIA), 11 categories in American Gem Society’s (AGS) early cut system and the ABC system published in the Rapaport Diamond Report price sheets every month. Although these standards were supposedly different, there appeared areas of convergence on cut standards that mirrored visual observation. This was not a coincidence. Since diamond material has specific optical and durability properties, one must cut a diamond within a certain range of cut parameters to produce a durable stone. Spread-to-depth ratio must be pleasing as well for a stone to be appreciated by consumers. Crafting a diamond with a high degree of symmetry pleases the eye. Excellent surface polish represents a high level of craftsmanship and increases light return from surface reflections.

DIAMOND REPORT CARD 1985
This research led to a better understanding of “cut” that could explain differences in values of stones otherwise similar on 4Cs. By 1985, the Philadelphia-based gem appraisal company D. Atlas & Co. developed a Diamond Report Card, which reported the traditional 4Cs as well as a “Suitability for Use” rating based on a weighted scale for various cut parameters. The report card was designed to mimic an elementary school report card in appearance and had some success in the local jewelry market.

The Suitability for Use score was intended to give a definitive yet simple-to-use value that could be used to compare different stones and provide an assessment of how well a diamond was suited for use. The Report Card allowed consumers to make an informed choice.

Improvements to the Diamond Report Card were made around 1992 and incorporated in the AGA-CERT® developed by Accredited Gem Appraisers (AGA), a division of D. Atlas. In the new standard, based on research as well as years of experience, the grading of the craftsmanship of a diamond was improved and extended to any round and fancy shapes. The result was a standard that could be used by cutters, dealers, grading laboratories and consumers. James Jolliff and Joseph Tenhagen assisted in this advancement; both are current Senior Members of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA).

According to the new system, a diamond is assigned one of eight cut quality grades, with the very finest cut grade being “1A.” This cut standard has been evaluated by independent experts and found to be right at the center of the best cut parameter space; see the GIA Gems and Gemology article in the Fall 1998 edition, “Modeling the Appearance of the Round Brilliant Cut Diamond: An Analysis of Brilliance” by T. Scott Hemphill, Ilene M. Reinitz, Mary L. Johnson and James E. Shigley.

The cut grading system used in an AGA-CERT is based on a stricter standard than that in use at the time by AGS. The NAJA adopted the cut standard used in the AGA-CERT. The developers at Moscow State University, creators of DiamCalc — cut gemstone modeling software program — also adopted the AGA Cut Class system for fancy shapes. DiamCalc is widely accepted and used around the world today. If you look for the AGA Cut Class system on the internet, you’ll find it in hundreds of locations and in daily use. Tens of thousands of diamond grading reports using the system have been issued without any reported “problems” with dealers or consumers.

THE DFS SYSTEM Late 1990’s
In the late 1990s, D. Atlas became involved with ImaGem, Inc., a research organization developing technology for the gem and jewelry industry. One of the areas of research that ImaGem focused on was direct measurement of light return from a diamond. This development is significant in that previously the quality of cut of a diamond was used as a proxy for light behavior of a cut diamond. With direct measurement of light behavior a commercial reality, the parametric cut grade could be used to reveal the additional value of a diamond. But although direct measurement of light behavior is a significant advancement in assessing the appearance of a stone, it doesn’t measure, for example, the craftsmanship and durability that went into making a stone. Keeping this in mind, the AGA Cut Class has been simplified to DFS-Cut grading system. Fewer parameters need to be measured to use the DFS-Cut grading system, thanks to new technology that can directly assess the appearance of a diamond. DFS-Cut grading system takes into account the properties of diamond material and the craftsmanship that goes into the cutting of each individual diamond.

DFS-Cut grading system scores the cut grade of a diamond on a 0 to 4 scale; 0 represents the highest grade and 2 is the midpoint on the scale. To make sure the contributions of various parameters toward the calculated value are properly taken into account, DFS-Cut grading scale is constructed by weighting the parametric values. The weighting scheme has to be internally consistent while representing the quality of craftsmanship. Dr. Lalit Aggarwal of ImaGem, Inc. assisted in converting the basic concepts into a formula that would create results that learned experts will find to be useful.

DFS-Cut Grade software, developed jointly with ImaGem, Inc., allows the cut grade of a diamond to be calculated in a customer’s own facility. It is a perfect addition to direct measurement of light behavior in order to give a complete picture of the quality, craftsmanship and appearance of a diamond. DFS-Cut Grade results can be generated with an ImaGem GL3100, a Sarin, an Ogi or a Helium device. DFS-Cut Grade software can be used with hand measuring tools, an optical retical or an old GIA-AGS Proportion scope. The more accurate and repeatable a measuring device, the more reliable will be the cut grade results from using the DFS-Cut Grade software. Direct measurement of light behavior and DFS-Cut Grade are both crucial to the increasingly asked consumer question, “How well is my diamond cut?”

D. Atlas’ own opinion is that it would be better to independently report the cut grades from the DFS-Cut Grade system and ImaGem’s direct measurement of light behavior, although some may choose to combine the two. For example, a stone may not score highly on craftsmanship and yet display very attractive light behavior. Several examples of old mine cut stones have scored low on the DFS-Cut Grade system but scored highly on ImaGem’s direct measurement of light behavior. Well-crafted, modern cut diamonds do not always perform in an equal manner. Grading craftsmanship separately from light behavior gives a clear description of the unique properties and value of each individual diamond.

USING THE DFS SYSTEM
To use the DFS-Cut Grade system, it is necessary to have total depth percentage, minimum and maximum girdle thickness grades, culet grade, polish grade and symmetry grade for round and fancy cuts. For round cuts, average crown angle is also necessary. Each diamond is given a score of 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 on the DFS-Cut Grade scale. An explanation of the DFS-Cut Grade score and its qualitative representation are given below. To use the DFS–Cut Grade software, enter the shape, total depth percentage, minimum and maximum girdle thickness grade, culet grade, polish grade, symmetry grade and for rounds, enter the crown angle, in appropriately marked fields. The software will immediately give a DFS-Cut Grade. It is that easy. The use of the DFS-Cut Grade system with ImaGem’s direct measurement of light behavior can provide a complete assessment of the quality and value of a stone. DFS-Cut Grade system doesn’t assign a monetary value to a stone. Thankfully, the free market continues to set the value.
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THE WORKING LOGIC BEHIND THE DFS:

Crown angle, girdle thickness, finish, total average depth percentage and culet size are the five parameters that make up DFS-Cut Grade system. Each parameter is scored individually; the score also creates a ceiling for an overall DFS-Cut Grade. For example, average crown angle for round diamonds only affects overall cut grade as follows:

Average Crown Angle for Round diamonds only:
• Average crown angle of 29 degrees or greater,
DFS score: 0 or lower.
• Average crown angle between 26 to 28.9 degrees,
DFS score: 1 or lower.
• Average crown angle less than 26 degrees,
DFS score: 2 or lower.

Diamond is a durable material, yet chipping is a
common occurrence faced by consumers. Shallow crown angles in round stones create Durability (D) issues. Round diamonds with less than a 29 degree average crown angle may, in particular, have problematic durability. In regard to fancy shapes, many vary widely in crown angle even when very well cut. Many girdle chips do occur in areas of shallow crown angle and/or where girdles are very thin.

In DFS-Cut Grade system, Girdle Thickness for round cuts and fancy shapes affects the cut grade as follows.

Girdle Thickness for Round Cuts and Fancy Shapes:
• For thin to slightly thick girdle, DFS score: 0 or lower.
• For very thin, thick or very thick girdle,
DFS score: 1 or lower.
• For extremely thin, or extremely thick girdle,
DFS score: 2 or lower.
Girdle thickness affects both the Durability (D) and Size (S) of a stone. Girdles from Extremely Thin to Very Thin have a high risk for chipping. Girdles above Slightly Thick lose some of the potential diameter or width, which can influence the size of a stone.

Finish for Round Cuts and Fancy Shapes:

Finish of a stone is based on both polish and symmetry of a stone. DFS-Cut Grade software automatically selects the lowest score between polish and symmetry and uses it for further analysis.

• For Excellent, Very Good and Good Finish,
DFS score: 0 or lower.
• For Fair Finish, DFS score: 1 or lower.
• For Poor Finish, DFS score: 2 or lower.

Polish refers to surface condition and relative smoothness, which results in reflective properties. Symmetry refers to the outline regularity of the diamond, the matching of facet shapes to one another and the relative even nature of every facet in the design of the stone.

Total depth is primarily a Size (S) factor. When a stone is overly deep, it must be smaller in diameter or width. Very thin diamonds obviously may also have a Durability problem, but rarely get lab graded as they fail to have the light return characteristics of the far more highly valuable alternative cuts. Total Depth is factored in DFS-Cut Grade system as follows.

Total Average Depth Percentage for Round cuts:

• For Total Average Depth Percentage between 55 percent to 63.0 percent, DFS score: 0 or lower.
• For Total Average Depth Percentage below 55 percent, DFS score: 1 or lower.
• For Total Average Depth Percentage between 63 percent to 70 percent, DFS score: 1 or lower.
• For Total Average Depth Percentage above 70 percent, DFS score: 2 or lower.
Total Average Depth Percentage for Fancy Shapes:
• For Total Average Depth Percentage between 50 percent to 75 percent, DFS score: 0 or lower.
• For Total Average Depth Percentage below 50 percent, DFS score: 1 and lower.
• For Total Average Depth Percentage between 75 percent to 80 percent, DFS score: 1 or lower.
• For Total Average Depth Percentage above 80 percent, DFS score: 2 or lower.

The last factor considered in DFS-Cut Grade system is Culet Size. Culet size affects Size (S) of a stone. Historically, a pointed, closed culet was considered a durability fault, but today’s styles protect the culet from damage in nearly all cases. A large culet allows a diamond to weigh more than its diameter or width would dictate. It’s like extra fat on a cut of meat, or the butcher’s thumb on the scale. Culet Size is factored in DFS-Cut Grade system as follows.

Culet Size for Round Cuts and Fancy Shapes:
• For Culet Size between None to Medium,
DFS score: 0 or lower.
• For Large, or Very Large Culet Size,
DFS score: 1 or lower.
• For Extremely Large Culet Size,
DFS score: 2 or lower.
Scores on the above five factors are combined using
a proprietary weighting scheme to assure internal
consistency for the final DFS-Cut Grade. The meaning of the DFS-Cut Grades is as follows.

DFS-Cut Grade of 0 represents Excellent cut grade.
DFS-Cut Grade of 1 represents Very Good cut grade.
DFS-Cut Grade of 2 represents Good cut grade.
DFS-Cut Grade of 3 represents Fair cut grade.
DFS-Cut Grade of 4 represents Poor cut grade.

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Is It Time to Sell Your Jewelry?

Styles, fashion, finances, incomes, expenses, priorities all have undergone great changes over the past 10 years for nearly all of us. While life is still good here compared to most of the rest of the world, it may be now that jewelry sitting in a hiding place, a safe or a bank vault needs to come out into the market and to be sold. Every buyer tells you they are the biggest and the best, but consumers really do not have much of a clue about selling their jewelry properly. Help is here if you want to do the necessary job as well as you can.

When you want to sell jewelry you have owned or inherited most of you will hardly know where or how to start. You probably do not know the liquidation value of your items even if you have current Insurance appraisals. Most folks don’t even understand that insurance appraisals are not good indicators of what a consumer can sell their jewelry for. So many consumers falsely believe that whatever the item was appraised for insurance coverage that a dealer would be willing to pay such a retail price. Folks, it just isn’t so. When you want to sell jewelry and be paid upon delivery, a dealer will pay a fraction of the retail value even for fantastic and fine items. Items that are obsolete, damaged or out of fashion generally bring scrap value with very little for small diamonds and nearly zero for most common colored gems. You can’t sell a home for cash on any given day and get the full market value from a buyer. You can’t do it with jewelry, either.

Consignment of jewelry to a retail store is not the way to get paid with any speed or security. Do you know the jeweler well enough to leave the items with nothing but a receipt? How long will it take? Will the items ever sell? How and when might you be paid? Consignment to a well-known auction gallery is safer, but hardly the way to getting more money than in an outright, fair sale. Examine closely the long time it takes, along with all the associated costs charged to you and to whoever is the buyer. You’ll find the auction house takes a large share of the value as their commission. That’s money you will never see. Yes, the world’s finest and largest jewels sell at fabulous auctions, but jewelry belonging to members of the general public rarely rise to those world class levels of interest.

While I no longer actively buy jewelry, I have had 48 years of experience with buying and estate jewelry. I know how to help people understand how much they might obtain, how much to ask, how to hear what a buyer is saying, how to understand what the buyer is not saying, and to understand a question about your idea of value versus an authentic cash offer for purchase.

My long time associate, Steven Schiffman, owns a one-time subsidiary firm of mine named D. Atlas Estates, LLC. He is not an appraiser, but is a highly experienced and current buyer of estate jewelry. For many years we travelled together to buy estate jewelry. We still often work in consort with one another, but we are independent. Steven will make valid, competitive and fair offers for your jewelry, as many other dealers also claim to do. Not all dealers are the same. Not all try to be fair. Finding a legitimate buyer is a very important part of selling jewelry properly. Consumers must be prepared to use due diligence and patience in searching for what they will find to be the best price they can obtain. There is no shortcut to getting a best outcome. A consignment of jewelry to Mr. Schiffman is usually for only a two to five days, not for an unknown period of time.  His goal and yours is to maximize what you will be able to get from agreeing to finalize a sale.  Steven Schiffman may be reached at 610-245-3100. www.datlasestates.com

My services at D. Atlas & Co., Inc. are for those of you who would like to better understand the value of what they have and how to handle dealer transactions in a professional way. Sometimes our services include creation of a sales tool appraisal and advice about retail selling that might help achieve a larger share of the value trapped in your items. While I charge a fee for my time, buyers generally do not charge, but offer what they often term a “free appraisal”. Free often is worth exactly that amount, so regardless of the terminology, please understand there is likely a large difference between any buyer’s “free appraisal” and the appraisal and common sense advice D. Atlas & Co., Inc. is able and willing provide.  Advisory services provided by David Atlas are available at 610-245-3101. Right here at: www.datlas.com

Our coordinated phone numbers indicate how closely our two firms still operate. Both of us strive keep our objectivity and provide the best services we can to all sellers.

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The mostly false stigma of UV fluorescence in diamonds.

The common approach to the question of how UV fluorescence affects diamond pricing is that medium or greater tends to create a somewhat discounted asking price from the more common non-fluorescent and less than medium fluorescent diamonds. As a generalization, this is an acceptable statement, but does not begin to tell the full story.           

Right away, we need to separate blue UV fluorescent and some yellow fluorescent from the far more unusual fluorescent colors of white, peach, orange, greenish and red. 

Blue fluorescence may cause diamonds with some tint of yellow color to appear more colorless. This is a potentially positive effect on asking price.  So long as a diamond does not take on a cloudy or oily appearance due to UV fluorescence, it has little if any effect on what a consumer will choose, but dealers are far more inclined to haggle over the details, even when the details in question are not of much importance to an end user.  The GIA allows some amount of UV light into their grading of diamond body color which does change the grading that GIA does from what might happen if no UV light was put into the mix.  In the colorless, D-F range, blue fluorescence can’t produce any desired effect.  If the fluorescence is not strong enough to be eye-visible in normal wear, then the effect on value is negligible, but if cloudiness or oiliness is visible in normal lighting, then there will be a reason for discounting the asking price.   

Yellow UV fluorescence is usually associated with a negative effect on asking price, but it can help the color of a light to strong fancy yellow color diamond to be even more yellow and visible. This is rare, but it is a possibility we should not fail to mention.  Truthfully, UV fluorescence of any color which matches, or coordinates in a beauty creating manner, the body color of a diamond may serve to enhance the visual color appearance of the diamond.  When this rare but beneficial event occurs, the asking price might be increased.  Most UV fluorescence just gives dealers an opportunity to argue over a detail of the value of a particular diamond.  It is the free market at work, but it may mean very little to most consumers either in their cost or the appearance of the stone.  One thing for sure, UV fluorescence is something that can make the choice of a diamond just a bit more difficult. 

In the second hand market diamond dealers will try to offer less for any diamond with any discernible problem or potential issue. UV fluorescence easily fits into this arena since it can be readily shown to the seller and you don’t need to trust the buyer that it is present.  That’s how haggling over the buying price is done all over the world, but it is far less common in the USA.  Quibbling over the details is how most of the world operates.  Fluorescence is just one of many minor and more major small details which diamond dealers suffer over.  Other issues are black inclusions, open inclusions, blemishes on the surface, ships, nicks, naturals, symmetry, polish, culet size, girdle thickness, old lab reports, HTHP, laser drilling and several more.  The consumer just can’t begin to get into these tiny details in a fully informed way.  Sufficient to say is that UV fluorescence of medium or more usually creates an opportunity for the buyer to make a somewhat reduced offer.  You may have gotten the right price already, but how can you tell if you don’t ask? 

This is the reality of the stigma surrounding diamond’s UV fluorescence. Sometimes any reduction in cost when the diamond enters the market is passed along right to the eventual end user.  Many times, this is not the case and the potential discount is taken in by the dealers and retailer as added profit.  May consumers find a medium to highly fluorescent diamond very attractive.  Dealers may like them a lot, as well, but since they are the kind of folks trained to haggle, that’s what they do.  Even when it is not meaningful, haggling is part of the life blood of the diamond trade. 

Rapaport and other price guide publishers report minor ranges of premiums and discounts in value for differing degrees and colors of UV fluorescence depending on the color and clarity of particular diamonds. The range is from a few percentage points plus to a few percentage points minus.  The reality is that a very few diamonds might gain a bit in value for fluorescence when it improves the way they look, but many have no change or a reduced asking price because of such an effect.  We hear of dealers who will not even buy a UV fluorescent diamond simply because it creates a problem in re-selling.  We see other dealers who buy diamonds of all types and appear to have little problem with most UV fluorescent diamonds.   If you choose to buy a diamond with medium to strong UV fluorescence and ever wish to sell it back into the trade, you should be prepared to have a more difficult time in finding a buyer than if the stone had little to no fluorescence.  That’s why it is important to know this before you buy, not years from now.  You buy what you like, but you should understand the facts when you choose.  My wife has a good sized diamond which does not fluoresce but the 3/4ct side diamonds are strongly blue UV fluorescent.  Both of us like the effect sunlight has on them as they turn bluish in bright daylight. 

The discount on initial bids for diamonds with strong UV fluorescence can be more than 25% less than for a diamond with no fluorescence.  Rapaport does not publish this high a discount in his monthly news magazine.  What we get are very nominal indicators of discounts from 0% to about 8% for the most part.  I would speculate Rapaport chooses to make these discounts as “minimum discount offer prices” just as the main “highest asking prices” on his Rap Sheet do not reflect the best prices, but the highest range.  It is all very logical, but might escape the consumer who is not so well aware of how the Rap pricing guide is a coded sheet for which outsiders have no key to full understand.  Even highly experienced estate dealers do not have the complete key to the pricing in the diamond market.  The key is earned knowledge by working daily in the diamond business.  There is no other way to be kept current.  The best we can do is to generalize and to keep the consumer aware of the issues.  The diamond business may seem somewhat simple on the surface, but underneath the glitter there is a complex free market trading and moving 24/7 all over the world. 

Consumers may find a UV fluorescent diamond is the one they most prefer. Often there is no visual basis for any discount and on occasion the right color of fluorescence and a particularly well matching body color may create a meaningful premium value.  The free market will always act to create the minimum of buying costs when a consumer wishes to sell back to the trade.  In the several steps a diamond takes to get back to the next consumer that discount may be mitigated.  The final asking price may be adjusted for the particular issues of the diamond, or may be priced based simply on shape, cut quality, weight, color and clarity.  We can’t know until each stone comes back to the end user exactly how it will be priced  The consumer is best left to understand that UV fluorescence and pricing differences make sense, but don’t always occur in apparent and simplistic ways in the final retail asking price.  In the end, you must select what pleases you the best.  Knowing the facts can give you a lot more comfort in your decision process.

 

David Atlas, GG, Certified Senior Member, NAJA

 

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Grading the Light Behavior of Ideal Cushion Cuts

Recently I had the opportunity to use a Verigem® device, an objective light behavior tool specifically created for diamond light return grading, to examine two Branded Cushion cut diamonds which happen to have the AGSL blessing of Ideal make.  These are diamonds designed and marketed by one of many popular vendors on Pricescope.  When you first see them you hardly can tell they are cushion cuts because their brilliancy makes your eye see what might be a round shape.  Upon closer inspection, of course, the rounded corners and flatter sides do show themselves to be present.  Like every other Ideal Cut which AGSL has developed cut grading standards for, these diamonds show all the design characteristics of finely cut diamonds.  And, sure enough, both a Hearts and Arrows effect are perfectly displayed with a viewer.

I have often stated that the occurrence of H&A is a happy accident, in that the two phenomena both work well with romance.  However, hearts and arrows, when perfectly formed, do confirm a great deal of time and effort has been spent on creating exacting symmetry in a diamond.

Although I do not have access to the database of diamonds at Imagem, Inc, (www.imageminc.com) the firm CEO, Dr. Aggarwal, assured me that the results of this limited test placed these diamonds in the top 20% of the “Excellent” cut grade scale.  Since thousands of diamonds are in this database, the comparison is on firm footing between the objectivity of the Imagem technical process for light behavior and the consistency of the AGSL techniques of measurement and assessment of cut quality. There are several other competing high performance cushion cuts in the market which have not yet crossed my desk or been put into a Verigem® light measuring device, but the availability of rather poor cut quality cushion shaped diamonds is far more commonplace.  Ideal, cut cushion diamonds which are finely cut, perform excellently with light and have consistency, let alone the blessing of AGSL techniques are quite rare at this time, but the market potential for such beautiful diamonds will encourage more production.  An Ideal variety of cushion cuts competes very favorably with round diamonds.  They are likely among the highest performing of all diamond shapes, and have increased weight retention from their rough crystal which makes for a somewhat lower cost per carat.  I’d think a cushion shape with a modified round brilliant facet design will allow a maximization of light return unlike other square outline fancy shaped diamonds.

Any vendors interested in testing their cushion cut stones would be most welcome and the results will be shared with you alone.  I will not make comparisons of one brand to another since the samples are not random and too small.  Fairness and knowledge is the highest goal.

 

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Divorce appraisals of jewelry. A necessary evil for many soon to be ex-couples.

 

For many years I refused to do this kind of work preferring to let others handle this unfortunate, inconvenient and often somewhat ugly matter surrounding a divorce.   Maturity, more patience and understanding, has led me back into the fray in these contests.  Most of the time, it seems the wife intends to keep the jewelry as part of the division of marital property.  Often, the items have a huge amount of negative sentimental value by that time, but one expects the wife to keep the jewels in most cases regardless of the mixed emotions.  What is the right “value” to place on such settlements?  Should the decision as to who takes the jewelry have anything to do with the value?  I think not.  Whichever party takes all or part of the jewelry ought to get it at a value that they can liquidate it in a fairly rapid yet orderly manner and not at some wildly high “retail” value that no consumer could sell it for.

To me, it is fair that either party who takes jewelry as part of a property settlement in these matters gets those items at a value that can be obtained in orderly liquidation and with reasonable effort to get a fair price.  Truthfully, if that always happened there would be little argument over the jewelry, but sadly this is rarely the case.  Jewelry is so different than cars or real estate when it comes to the difference between retail and liquidation market values.

As a solution to the problem of divorce settlement, I suggest having the two parties mutually agree to use my services jointly so that there is no hint of favoritism in the conclusions made in the appraisal.  This can cut the cost of the appraisal in half for each party if they are willing to split the expense, or if one party is paying the other does not need to pay.  Having dual appraisals simply leads to further expense in courtroom arguments over which appraisal to accept.  Lawyers are the prime beneficiary of disagreement and courtroom time.  Divorcing couples are best served by getting the final ruling and going on with their lives.

If I can be of service to you in a divorce, please contact me.  I am willing to work for either party as well as under mutual agreement.  That is a suggestion, but not a requirement.

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The “right” way to do a trade-in.

It is simple, but you need to follow these steps to know what sort of deal you are making.

#1.  Shop and discover what you want, what you can afford, and where you feel most comfortable in buying.  See what their return policy is.  Find out about any warranty or trade-back policies.

#2.  Find out the amount you can get outright, for immediate payment, on the item you wish to trade-in.  This is the item you no longer wish to own.  Shop around until you are satisfied that you understand the situation no matter how little the offers may be.  Now that part is done.

#3.  Determine the final item you wish to purchase.  Do your research to discover the best asking price for the item and make every effort to have a vendor who you feel most comfortable with actually do the deal with you.  Even if it costs a few bucks more, relationships and emotions have value that can’t be exactly measured.  Be sure you are at the price which totally makes it work for you.  Price is important, but not the only consideration.

#3.  From out of nowhere, pull out your trade-in and ask what the item is worth in order to make the deal.  You already know exactly what you can sell it for outright, and you also know exactly what you must pay.  If your vendor wants to over allow a bit in order to tempt you into the sale, now is the time for you to get the benefit of trading in by making the vendor give you a “liberal” trade-in. A liberal trade-in will result it you getting the new item for less.  They may or may not wish to trade, but you know exactly where you stand and when to say yes or no.  If the trade-in benefits the bottom line cost, then go forward, if not, you can decide to sell to your other bidder or not to make the trade.

One must be aware that if any mention of a trade-in is made in advance of the final asking price on a new item, there may be no way to get to the exact asking price.  If you don’t have the asking price settled, then any trade-in allowance is a mystery that you cannot later figure out and you will have more or less ruined the potential extra value of the trade-in.

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Advice to vacationers who want to buy jewelry or a diamonds when travelling

Pretend for a moment you are on a wonderful trip somewhere with your spouse or loved one.  In your busy lives, you never have enough time to do as much with one another as you would love to do, so you decide to shop together for a gift for one or both of you at your next destination.  You may have attended a great “informational” sales pitch on a cruise ship or you may be headed to one of the many destinations where shopping is “duty free” or supposedly at a large discount.  You are happy, peaceful and optimistic and have put your daily worries aside for a few hours or days.  The sky is blue and life is good.  You have turned off your warning radar and are about to become a victim.

You shop, but you find there is quite a bit of pressure to decide on the spot.  You see things you like, but you really have no way to comparison shop as you normally might do at home   You forget yourself and just wing it.  You take a chance and don’t realize what you might have done to you and your wallet until later that night or even until you get home.   Then, you read the return instructions and discover how very difficult it will be to get this purchase reversed, exchanged or adjusted.  Many find themselves in exactly this position.

You will find that had you been more aware of the pitfalls you might have bought the same items at home from a trusted source who would work out any and all kinks in the deal just to keep you happy, but now you have bought something where getting it made right will be nearly impossible.

Please, don’t become a needless victim of impulsive buying when you are not in your comfort zone.  Since it is very much like gambling when you are really uninformed, never spend more than you can afford to lose.  You can still buy a trinket or little gift that is sentimental and meaningful, but why would you buy something really costly and risky when you may have no recourse to have any issue straightened out later?

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Selling jewelry or diamonds? What do you ask a buyer for?

When you have jewelry or diamonds to sell, you don’t need to ask for an “appraisal”.  Many appraisers and gemologists will immediately sell you an appraisal report which will add nothing to the secondary market value of your items and create yet another expense for you to pay out good money.  Instead, when you want to sell jewelry or diamonds, go to people or firms who advertise they are “buyers” and simply ask them to tell you what they would be willing to pay you.  Ask for an “offer” or a “bid”, not an “appraisal”.  Unless you have a large quantity of items and/or show an attitude of unwillingness to do business, a buyer will give you their offer or bid for no cost.  Once you have collected a few bids, then you are in an excellent position to know what the items are actually worth to those who you have found willing to exchange cash for your items.  In this process, you will likely also find those who would offer to take your items on a long term consignment in order to offer them for sale to their customers, but who won’t pay you anything unless and until the item(s) are sold.  If you have time, this may be a bit better for you.  Remember, you will have to put your trust in the firm and person you are making a consignment with.  They have everything and all you’ll have is a receipt.  It may take considerable time and may never result in a sale.

Auctions will take your items for consignment to to place on sale at upcoming auction dates.  At least you have a hoped for sale date, but please look at the amount of fees the auction loads onto any amount you will obtain.  There are buyers fees, sellers fees and sometimes insurance and photo fees which will come out of the total value the auction can get for your pieces.  You may get less than 2/3 of the money the items brought at the auction and be no better off than selling such items outright to a dealer and have been paid months sooner.  You have to make this judgment about time, money and trust.

The point of all of this is that you do not need to request an “appraisal” when you want to sell.  What you need to request is an “offer”.  Be sure to get assurance that you have a few days to a couple weeks to “make up your mind” or to “consult with your family members” before the offer expires.  Also, if a buyer says “Will you take $xxxx for these items?” be certain to respond, “Are you offering to buy these pieces at that price or are you just asking me a question and not making a firm offer?”  You will find many buyers are not going to be straight about making a bid until you get past this tricky question they often like to ask.

These words and techniques will help to give you time to make sure you are accepting the best available offer, to eliminate mis-understanding fake offers which really were just probing questions and not offers, and to have no regrets later on about choosing to sell your jewelry or diamonds.

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Don’t dump your gold, silver and platinum at the street-side buyer!!

Many people have thousands of dollars worth of precious metal jewelry, flatware and holloware in their homes that gets virtually no use, yet these high value assets are at risk for loss.  If you are insuring them, the last thing you will want are replacements of items you never use and every year you pay out premiums to cover their loss.  Why?  Wouldn’t you be far better off selling unused and pretty much unwanted and unappreciated items that cost you needless expense to insure, put you more at risk for crime, and risk losing substantial dollars that you might have easily obtained without suffering any harm or pain?

If you have theft of precious items, you will never replace the sentimental attachment you might have for the lost items.  In this regard, no amount of insurance truly covers such losses.  Wouldn’t it be better for you and your heirs to consider selling off assets of substantial value that will only make your estate a much more complex matter than money in the bank or normal stocks and bonds?  I have seen many older folks get a far greater pleasure by helping out their children and grandchildren now, rather than after they have passed away.  The smiles and seeing how your gift has been received can give you much real pleasure that you would miss if you waited until it was an inheritance.

For younger potential sellers, we understand that many older items of jewelry are just not at all in fashion and will never come back in style.  The world has changed since 1960 and it is not going back, but rapidly forward to some new future and fashion period.  You may have items you want to sell, but simply going to the convenient store with the “WE BUY GOLD” banner out front is likely the worst way to sell.  Please look at our gold prices and compare to your local buyer BEFORE YOU DECIDE.  You often can double what some “buyers” offer to pay the public if you are well informed.

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Are you considering selling jewelry and diamonds? Please read further.

When you decide that it is time to sell a major diamond or a fine collection of jewelry, why would you ship it to our firm instead of selling it locally? If you live in a major metropolitan area, such as LA, Miami, New York City, Chicago, Dallas, we may agree that you will find many buyers and auction galleries that can do whatever any other firm can do for you. However, if you are lucky enough to be living in less crowded areas of the USA, then you will undoubtedly need to travel quite a bit to know you are getting the best possible price. In those cases, you will need to get recommendations and more or less keep your fingers crossed since you are a lot less likely to really know the buyer you are about to visit.
My family firm is one that has been around since 1898. While I work alone, my office is currently in a substantial jewelry manufacturing facility in the suburbs of Philadelphia. All our business comes from recommendations whether we are appraising for insurance, mediating value and quality issues, or when we are buying. While we do not sell to the public, we have been active buyers of jewelry and diamonds from both dealers and the public. My own experience dates back to December 1967 when I joined my father in our wholesale jewelry business.

The reason I decided to post this topic is to assure people who wish to sell a diamond, a piece of fine jewelry or a collection of fine items, that my firm is a rather well known business with a long, long track record. Some of my larger competitors have rapidly bought their rather new reputations while D. Atlas & Co., Inc. has earned it over many decades. It is simple enough to understand the latter is a safer reputation than those who have tossed millions out to obtain notoriety or credibility.

If you want a safe connection to selling your jewelry, gems and diamonds at fair market prices, please contact us. We can easily arrange for no cost, insured shipping to us via overnight FedEx. You will not be under any pressure or obligation.