New Trend: Old Cut Stones
"For the past year we've noticed more reproductions of antique-cut diamonds and, unfortunately, in many instances they're being sold as genuine...without disclosure."
Dealers in estate diamonds are seeing a proliferation of reproductions of antique-cut diamonds (Old European, mine cut, rose cut, etc.). There is a romance in antique jewelry, and the market appeals to that romance.
The reproductions typically come from India or other cutting centers that have low labor costs, and they are usually crudely fashioned. These stones are cut "for maximum weight retention," says one dealer, "not beauty or attractive symmetry." This weight retention — that is, higher carat weight — motivates the jewelry industry to play up the trend toward the antique look.
Reproduction of an old cut is not necessarily a bad thing. Antique cut stones are appropriate for replacing lost stones in antique jewelry and for settings in reproductions of antique jewelry. The catch is that the contemporary reproduction may be passed off as antique, and then touted as more valuable.
Gem experts can usually distinguish original old-cut stones from reproductions. One clue is that older stones will usually show wear, will have some minor chips or abrasions, general wear and tear. If the stone is highly polished, it's probably contemporary.
Reproductions are often crudely faceted. The newer stones are generally cut to look passable from the top, but the lower half of the gem betrays a contemporary hand. The treatment of the girdle, where the stone is held in the setting, was different then than it is now, and the lower part of the stone had more depth. However, gemologists admit that repro cutting is getting better and becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish.
FOR AGENTS & UNDERWRITING
Reproductions abound. An old-cut diamond isn't necessarily old. And even if the stone is an original old cut, that doesn't mean the jewelry is antique. Similarly, if the jewelry is antique, don't assume that all the stones are original. The appraisal should state whether the jewelry and/or any of the stones are reproductions.
Jewelry is not necessarily more valuable because it is old. In jewelry, as in other things, styles go in and out of fashion. Many times old jewelry is worth no more than its scrap value — the loose stones and the weight of the precious metal. That's why with old jewelry it is important that the appraising jeweler not only be a Certified Insurance Appraiser™ but also be knowledgeable about antique and estate jewelry.
In the event of a partial loss, have the jewelry inspected by a CIA™ who is knowledgeable in antique jewelry. Verifying that it is antique and determining whether it has replacement stones will have a great impact on value.
Most jewelry losses are total, but you can use a similar approach. If there are other items on the same schedule, have those items inspected, then compare the findings with information on the appraisals submitted. This will give you an idea how reliable the appraisal is for the missing jewelry.
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