Buying gold jewelry is a straightforward process in that only the purity of gold and the benchmark rate for a particular purity grade are required to be known to evaluate the gold price. There may be slight deviation from the benchmark rates and the making charges of jewelers will differ, but still gold prices carry some sanity in its valuation. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said true for Diamond Prices.
Diamond Prices are primarily derived from 4Cs – Carat, Cut, Color and Clarity. But these 4C and other criteria generate over 16,000 permutations and combinations making diamond grading a complicated process. Moreover, diamond grading presently is subjective and inconsistent as witnessed in a Pricescope comparison. A 2012 Bain & Co. and AWDC report mentioned that “Indeed, two appraisers can differ in their valuation of the same diamond by as much as 30%”.
Carat of a diamond denotes its weight and is equal to about 200 milligrams. However, price of one-carat diamond is not a standard factor that can be used to evaluate the price of other sizes even when the rest of the 4Cs remain constant. The general thumb rule here is as the carat size increases, diamond prices increase disproportionately, unlike gold. The Diamond Pro has tried to illustrate this non-linear increase of prices, as the carats increase.
Besides, even for a particular stone, the price difference may be substantial. For a 1-carat, H-color, very good cut grade, VS1 clarity, retailers offer varying prices from USD 3,427 to USD 5,005 – a 46% variance.
Apart from the 4Cs, the grading certificates and the issuing Gem-Lab also play an important part in evaluation of diamond prices, where popularly stones with GIA certificates are considered to carry better weightage. Other reputed Gem-Labs whose certificates are considered equally reliable are AGS, HRD et al. Then there are some secondary factors like Culet, Girdle Thickness, Laser inscription etc., which also influence the diamond prices.
Today’s choice-conscious consumers also demand to know the source of origin of diamonds and are ready to pay a premium for stones that are conflict-free and eco-friendly.
While trying to find the benchmark prices for diamonds, one will come across several sources including Rapaport Price List, Price Scope, Troy Diamond Report, Ajediam Antwerp Diamonds Monthly, The Gem Guide etc., which publish reference price list of most popular diamond categories on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. However, these prices are indicative only and meant more for the traders and industry professionals dealing in wholesale, loose diamonds. These are not retail prices and not meant for consumers. Additionally, depending on the cut, availability of a particular diamond grade etc., there are huge variations in actual transaction price from these guideline prices.
There are also various diamond price calculators, apps and indices but again they do not represent the actual retail diamond prices that are closer to reality. An alternative method to find prices is by eliciting the sale value.
However, an example of such method reveals astonishing facts. If a local jeweler appraises a piece of diamond for say USD 10,000, it is not the price at which he or anyone else would be willing to buy. Rapaport price for the same diamond grade may be around USD 4,000-5,000 and any dealer would be willing to buy a diamond for at most 60% of the Rapaport price. So a diamond appraised at USD 10,000 would go for sale for only USD 3,000 to a jeweler/ trader. If there is going to be 70% discount in the value of diamonds for end consumers, they are far from being an investment avenue.
Diamonds are not fungible unlike other products and commodities, and lack of uniformity of grading, benchmark prices etc., make it a frustrating experience for many shoppers trying to fetch the right prices for their love stones. To increase uptake of diamonds globally, industry should work together to create and implement standardized valuation practices and bring transparency of diamond retail prices for end consumers.