August 2008

JEWELRY INSURANCE ISSUES (formerly IM News), provides monthly insight and information for jewelry insurance agents, underwriters and claims adjusters.

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Jewelry Insurance Issues

Table of Contents

Click on article titles in red


What's a Certified Appraiser? - January

Best Appraiser Credentials - February

Are the diamonds you’re insuring real? - March

Handwritten Appraisals - April


Moral Hazard, Documents and the Bottom Line - January

Ruby and Jade - February

How to mail a diamond - March

Jewelry Insurance Appraisal Standards: JISO - April

Describing a gem's color - May

Why not just put jewelry on the Homeowner policy? - June

GIA Diamond Reports - July

Not just a pretty face - August

Moral Hazards on the rise - September

Hurricanes, fires, floods—and jewelry insurance - October

Inherent vice / wear-and-tear losses are rising - November

FRAUD UPDATE – lack of disclosure, false inscriptions & doctored docs - December


Inflated appraisals—alive & well! Shady lab reports—alive & well! MORAL HAZARD—ALIVE & WELL! - January

Clarity Enhancements v. Inherent Vice - February

How green is my emerald? - March

Cruise Jewelry - What's the problem? - April

Crown of Light®- how special is it? - May

Diamonds at Auction — Big gems, big prices, and the trickle-down effect - June

Are you sure her wedding jewelry is covered? - July

What Affects Jewelry Valuation? - August

What to look for – on the jewelry appraisal, on the cert, and on other documents - September

Bigger & Bigger Diamonds - October

Scam season is always NOW - November

Ocean Diamonds - December


Pair & Set Jewelry Claims and the Accidental Tourist - January

Is that brand-name diamond a cut above the others? - February

Vacation Jewelry – Insurer beware! - March

Apple's Smartwatch – The risk of a wrist computer - April

Why you should read that appraisal - May

Smoking Gun! - June

Color-Grading Diamond: the Master Stones - July

Padparadscha—a special term for a special stone - August

Jewelry Appraisal Fees - September

Insuring a Rolex - steps to take, things to consider - October

Diamond camouflage and how to see through it - November

GIA Hacked! - December


Who Grades? - January

Sales, discounts, price reductions, bargains, specials, mark-downs . . . . and valuation - February

Credential Conundrum - March

Frankenwatches - April

Fakes, fakes, and more fakes - May

Marketing Confusion — What is this gem anyway? - June

12 Reasons Not to Insure a Rolex! - July

Why NOT to insure a Rolex: Reasons 5-7 - August

Why NOT to insure a Rolex: Reasons 8-10 - September

Why NOT to insure a Rolex: Reasons 11-12 - October

The Doublet Masquerade - November

Is the gem suitable for the jewelry? Is this a good insurance risk? - December


Wedding Rings on HO? NO! - January

Silver: the new gold - February

Point Protection - March

Tiffany v. Costco - April

What counts in valuing a diamond? - May

Appraising Jewelry - What's a credential worth? - June

A Cutting Question concerning vintage diamonds - July

Synthesized Diamonds - Scam update - August

Pretty in Pink - Kunzite on parade... - September

Preventing jewelry losses - October

Scratch a diamond and you'll find . . .??? - November

Synthetics in the Mix - December


Advanced Gem Lab - A deeper look at colored gems - January

Whose Diamond? - February

Appraisal Inflation - It Keeps On Keeping On - March

Big Emerald - April

Changing colors and making gems: Are we seeing "beautiful lies"? - May

Diamonds - Out of Africa. . . or out of a lab? - June

Appraiser's Dream Contest - July

GIA & the Magic of Certificates - August

Pricey when it's hot: What happens when it's not? - September

Fooling With Gold - October

Tanzanite – December's stone - November

Branding Diamonds - What do those names mean? - December


Unappraisable Jewelry - January

Replicas - Are they the real thing? - February

Composite Rubies- From bad to worse - March

Jewelry Hallmark - A Well-Kept Secret - April

Non-Disclosure: Following a Trail of Deception - May

Preserving the Diamond Dream - June

Spinel in the Spotlight - July

Jewelry 24/7 - Electronic Shopping - August

Diamond Bubble? - September

Disclosure: HPHT - October

"Hearts & Arrows" Diamonds - November

How a Gem Lab Looks at Diamonds - December


Emeralds - And What They Include - January

Pink Diamonds: From Astronomical to Affordable - February

Palladium-the Other Precious White Metal - March

Bridal Jewelry - April

The Corundum Spectrum - May

How Photos Cut Fraud - and help the insured - June

The Price of Fad - July

Old Cut, New Cut-It's All about Diamonds - August

EightStar Diamonds-Beyond Ideal - September

The Hazard of Fakes - October

Jewelry with a Story - November

Counterfeit Watches - December


Blue Diamond-cool, rare and expensive-sometimes - January

Turning Jewelry into Cash—
Strategy in a Bad Economy
- February

Enhancing the Stone - March

Being Certain about the Cert - April

Every Picture Tells a Story - May

Color-Grading Diamonds - June

The Newest Diamond Substitute - July

What Happens to Stolen Jewelry - August

Jewelry As an Investment - September

Black Diamond: Paradox of a Gem - October

Protect Your Homeowners Market—Keep Jewelry OFF HO Policies! - November

What’s So Great about JISO Appraisal Forms & Standards? - December


Garnet - and Its Many Incarnations - January

Organic Gems - February

Do Your Jewelry Insurance Settlements Make You Look Bad? - March

Don't Be Duped by Fake JISO Appraisal - April

Diamonds in the Rough - May

The Cultured Club - June

Sapphire-Gem Superstar - July

It's a Certified Diamond! 
- But who's saying so?
- August

FTC Decides: Culture Is In! - September

Paraiba Tourmaline – What's in a Name? - October

How Fancy is Brown? - November

CZ – The Great Pretender - December


Moissanite's New Spin - January

Online Jewelry - Buying and Insuring - February

Blood Diamonds - March

Damaged Jewelry, Don't Assume!- April

Chocolate Pearls - May

Appraisal Puff-Up vs Useful Appraisal - June

It's Art, but is it Jewelry?
- July

Diamonds Wear Coats of Many Colors - August

DANGER! eBay Jewelry "Bargains" - September

TV Shopping for Jewelry - October

Enhanced Emerald: clever coverup - November

How do you like your rubies -
leaded or unleaded?
- December


The New Platinum: A Story of Alloys - January

Ruby Ruse - February

How Big are Diamonds Anyway? - March

GIA Diamond Scandal
Has Silver Lining for Insurers
- April

Watch Out for Big-Box Retailers Insurance Appraisals - May

Mixing It Up: Natural and Synthetic Diamonds Together - June

Tanzanite - Warning: Fragile - July

Red Diamonds - August

Inflated Valuations & Questionable Certificates - September

Emeralds - October

Where Do Real Diamonds Come From? - November

Counterfeit Watches - The Mushroom War - December


The Lure of Colored Diamonds - January

Synthetic Colored Diamonds - February

Watches: What to Watch for - March

When is a Pear not a Pair? - April

The Truth About Topaz - May

White Gold: How White is White? - June

One of a Kind - or Not - July

Jewelry in Disguise - August

Valued Contract for Jewelry? Proceed with Caution! - September

Antiques, Replicas and All Their Cousins

Grading the Color of Colored Diamonds

New GIA Cut Grade for Diamonds - December


Synthetic Diamonds - and Insuring Tips - January

Bogus Appraisals and Fraud - February

A Picture is Worth Thousands of Dollars - March

Don't be Duped by Fracture Filling - April

Gem Scams Point to Need for Change - May

What is a Good Appraisal - June

4Cs of Color Gemstones - July

Gem Laser Drilling: The Next Generation - August

Why Update an Appraisal? - September

When to Recommend an Appraisal Update or a Second Appraisal - October

Secrets of Sapphire - November

Will the Real Ruby Please Stand Up - December


Mysterious Orient:
A Tale of Loss
- January

Bogus Diamond Certificates and Appraisals - February

Can Valuations be Trusted? - March

Spotting a Bogus Appraisal or Certificate - April

Counterfeit Diamond Certificates - May

Case of the Mysterious "Rare" Sapphires - June

Politically Correct Diamonds - July

Name Brand Diamonds - September

Princess Cut: Black Sheep of Diamonds - October

Reincarnate as a Diamond - November

Synthetic Diamonds - December


Irradiated Mail/Irradiated Gems - January

Fake Diamonds (Moissonite) - February

GIA Diamond Report - March

AGS and Other Diamond Certificates - April

Colored Stone Certificates - May

Damaged Jewelry: Don't Pay for Nature's Mistakes - June

The Case of the "Self-Healing" Emerald - July

Mysterious Disappearance: Case of the Missing Opals - August

The Discount Mirage - September

What Can You Learn from Salvage? - October

Gaining from Partial Loss - November

Year in Review - December


Colored Diamonds - January

Good as Gold - February

Disclose Gem Treatments - March

FTC Jewelry Guidelines - April

Myths Part I: Each Piece is Unique - May

Myths Part II: Myths, Lies, & Half-Truths - June

New Trend: Old Cut Stones - October

The Appraisal Process - November

Year in Review - December


Deceptive Pricing - January

Gems - Natural or Manmade - February

Jeweler/Appraisal Credentials - March

Fracture Filling - April

Salvage Jewelery - May

Gem Treatments - June

Don't Ask/Don't Tell - A Buying Nightmare - July

Laser Drilling of Diamonds - August

Jeweler Ethics or the Lack Thereof - September

Gem Scam - October

The Truth about Clarity Grading - November

Year in Review - December


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It’s a Certified Diamond! 
— But who's saying so?

Official-looking diamond reports impress customers and persuade them to buy, but not all those diamond certificates are equal. Some are reliable, some look good but lack info, some are loaded with hype, and some are just plain fake. Here are some tips on how to judge diamond reports and how to use them.

The Role of a Report

Retailers find that diamond reports improve sales. Jewelry cases may display lab reports alongside the jewelry. Online companies often advertise “certified diamonds,” as though certification were some sort of seal of approval, some guarantee of high quality. It’s not.

The purpose of a diamond report, or diamond certificate, is to identify the gem and describe it in detail. That’s all.

A Good Diamond Report

A diamond report that insurer and consumer can rely on is

Details. The value is in the details. The report should describe all qualities of the gem in standard gemological language. This requires that the diamond be examined in a gem lab by a trained gemologist. A complete, detailed description assures the owner that the diamond is of the purported quality and, in the event of a loss, it helps an adjuster make a fair settlement.

A lab report doesn’t address valuation. Its concern is only the quality of the gem, not its current selling price.

Accuracy. How does the insurer, or the customer, know a lab report is accurate? As in all things where we are untrained, we rely on experts. And we look for experts with the best track records. Some diamond grading labs are more reliable than others.

Looking at Labs

A recent publication by National Jeweler listed more than 80 gem grading labs in the world! And many national labs are opening branches in other countries to meet the appetite for certificates.

JCRS would love to be able to tell you that we’ve solicited reports from all of them and found the best ones. But a thorough, double-blind study of that magnitude would take $50,000 to $100,000 to complete — and no one has offered to fund it! So our recommendations are based on two things: diamond reports we’ve actually seen, and the reputations a lab has acquired among experts in the field.

[NOTE: This newsletter deals with lab reports on white, or colorless, diamonds. Grading colored diamonds, also called “fancies,” is more like grading colored gems and will be discussed in a future issue of JII.]

For detail, looking at a diamond report is very telling. We want a report that gives the most detail, since all these details are used to determine the gem’s value.

Besides the 4Cs of diamonds—cut, color, clarity and carat weight—the report should state whether the diamond is natural or synthetic. (Some labs do not grade synthetic diamonds.)

The report should also disclose any treatments, such as fracture filling or clarity enhancement. (Some labs do not issue grading reports for fracture-filled, or clarity enhanced, stones because the filling masks the color and clarity of the gem. An accurate assessment of color and clarity can be made only if the filling is removed—which would change the appearance of the stone and, with an extremely fractured stone, might even destroy it.)

For accuracy, we look to labs that have the best reputation for professional training and accuracy. We respect labs that are independent of selling jewelry.

For example, we can’t recommend lab reports that include a valuation. The valuation is often significantly higher than the selling price, which suggests that valuation is inflated to make the sale price look good. That makes the report a sales tool, not a dependable analysis from a impartial lab. And if the valuation is inflated—that is, a lie—then the description of the gem is not to be trusted either.

Reliable Labs

So which labs give the most trustworthy reports? We recommend GIA, AGS and GCAL.

GIA (Gemological Institute of America) established the color- and clarity-grading systems that are accepted throughout the world. A GIA report is the gold standard in diamond grading. For round brilliant diamonds, GIA gives information on cut geometry; for other shapes, unfortunately, the report lacks some crucial cut details. GIA issues separate reports for synthetic, or lab-grown, diamonds.

AGS Lab (American Gem Society Lab) issues reliable reports. It has full cut information for round brilliant, princess cut, square cut, emerald cut. Coming in late fall, in time for the holidays, it will be adding full geometry for oval and marquis cut diamonds, as well. AGS does not grade synthetic diamonds.

GCAL (Gem Certification & Assurance Lab) is also among the most reliable labs. Its impressive report includes full cut geometry on round brilliant, princess, cushion. The report also has a photomicrograph of the stone’s inclusions. GCAL does not grade synthetic diamonds.
Two other highly respected labs are located outside the United States: Gübelin (based in Switzerland) and HRD (based in Antwerp). Although you would not seek out a report from a foreign-based lab, such reports may accompany jewelry purchased.

If your client presents a report from a lab not mentioned here, we strongly recommend that you look carefully at the appraisal and the credentials of the appraiser. For high-value stones, consider requiring a second lab report from one of the above labs.

Fake Certificates

The increasing reliance on gem certificates, along with a lucrative trade in fake gems, low-quality stones, and treated or “enhanced” gems, means there’s an increasing danger of counterfeit certificates. Some labs are introducing more security features on their reports to combat the problem. GIA, being the most prominent lab, is most likely to have its reports faked (see our issue on counterfeit GIA certificates), but others are also imitated.

If the client presents a diamond certificate, or if the appraisal references a diamond report, always take a moment to verify the report’s authenticity on the lab’s Web site. GIA was the first to offer this service (very useful to insurers), and other labs have followed.

To verify authenticity of certificates from the recommended labs, follow the appropriate link. You will need the report number and the carat weight of the stone. 

GIA Report Check
AGS Report Verification
GCAL Certificate Search


A certificate from a reliable laboratory serves as authoritative verification of the qualities of the gem, and it is a highly recommended document for insuring high-value jewelry.

The most reliable labs for diamond certificates are GIA, AGS and GCAL.

Even a certificate from a reliable lab may be counterfeit or may have been written for another stone. Be sure to verify the authenticity of the report on the lab’s Web site.

A little trick to be aware of: Some manufacturers sell their diamond simulants (fake diamond) with certificates that give the color, clarity, carat weight, cut, brilliance, polish, etc. — but never actually say the stone is a diamond. If it isn’t even called diamond, you can be sure it’s not diamond.
A diamond certificate, even from a reliable lab, is not a substitute for an appraisal. Your best bet is to secure an appraisal that meets the insurance industry’s standards — a JISO 78/79  appraisal, preferably prepared by a Certified Insurance Appraiser™.  (Some insurance companies give premium discounts for JISO appraisals.)


GIA, AGS and GCAL are the most reliable labs for diamond reports. If you are faced with a certificate from another lab, use caution. Always try to verify the certificate’s authenticity on the lab’s Web site.

If you’re dealing with a certificate supplied by the jewelry seller, be sure to verify the report’s authenticity. Besides the possibility of deliberate fraud, there’s also the possibility that the retailer himself was given a fraudulent certificate when he purchased the stone and he merely passed it on.

Do not rely on diamond reports that include a valuation. The qualities, as well as the valuation, will likely be inflated.

Especially for high-value jewelry, always compare all documents on file to be sure their descriptions agree. Check that the certificate and the appraisal are describing the same stone. Uncovering discrepancies can help avoid overpayment of settlements.

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