January 2009

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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Blue Diamonds: cool, rare and expensive — sometimes

Blue diamonds are the best blues to have. The famous ones are big, gorgeous and pricey. Less famous ones come in all qualities and valuations—and it’s important to be aware of that when the appraisal crosses your desk.

Hope DiamondNatural fancy blue diamonds are a rarity, but they’re in the news again. In December the 35.56-carat Wittelsbach Diamond sold at auction for $24.6 million, a record price. Like the Hope Diamond, surely the most recognized name gem in the world, it dipped in and out of history as it traveled from hand to hand among royalty and the wealthy over the centuries. Both stones are gorgeous blues. The 45.52-carat Hope Diamond is now owned and displayed by the Smithsonian Institution. The Wittelsbach will probably become the centerpiece of a piece of jewelry.

Colored diamonds are so rare in nature, it used to be only the wealthy could own them. They tended to wind up in crown jewels and royal treasuries, occasionally making their way into museums so the rest of us could get a look. But technology is changing the game.

What makes them blue?

In the Earth

Natural grayish blue fancy
(click to enlarge)

A white, or colorless, diamond is pure carbon. But a trace of this or that can add color. Nature has several ways of producing diamonds with blue as the dominant color. Most often, blue comes from the presence of a bit of boron in the structure of the diamond. Blue, or greenish blue, can also be the result of natural irradiation. The presence of nitrogen, hydrogen or nickel can produce blue diamonds with a violet cast. Natural blue diamonds of good quality command a very high price.

Color Enhancement in the Lab

Irradiated Diamond
(click to enlarge)

Diamond treatments to add color have been around for centuries. Early methods involved painting the stone, or backing a mounted stone with foil so it appeared blue (or some other color of choice). These applications were all temporary. They were easily detected and could be easily removed.

Today’s color treatments are more sophisticated and more durable. Modern gem technology takes its cues from nature.

Labs use high pressure-high temperature (HPHT) annealing on gray-to-brown stones to make them blue. Or technicians irradiate the stone, just as natural irradiation in the earth produces blue in diamond. High-tech coatings, much stronger and subtler that the primitive versions, can effect different bluish hues, even the rare blue with a violet cast.

Note to Insurers: Color treatment is used to enhance the appearance of the diamond and to increase its market value, so treatments are generally applied to low-quality, off-color stones. The treatment changes the diamond’s appearance to the naked eye, but a color-treated diamond is worth considerably less than a natural fancy diamond of similar appearance.

A well-trained eye and advanced analytical instruments are needed to detect the treatment. And this will be increasingly true as gem treatments become more sophisticated.

When you review an appraisal, remember that most jewelers writing appraisals for insurance are not trained gemologists. Jewelers who do not have the expertise or equipment to examine the merchandise they sell must simply rely on the word of their supplier. Even without intending fraud, they may pass on color-treated blue diamonds as though they were much more valuable natural fancies.

It’s best to have a JISO 78/79 appraisal from a Certified Insurance Appraiser™ who has experience in selling colored diamonds and can distinguish natural fancies from color-enhanced stones. The appraiser should be familiar with current enhancement technologies and know how to look for distinctive signs of color treatments.

Synthesized Blue Diamonds

Lab-grown Diamond
Photo courtesy of
Chatham Created Gems

(click to enlarge)

Synthesized Diamonds
Photo courtesy of
Chatham Created Gems
(click to enlarge)

Labs can just make blue diamond from scratch. They make them just like Mother Nature does, by incorporating boron into the growth process.

Gem-quality diamonds have been manufactured for almost 40 years, but production has increased dramatically in the last decade. Some of the biggest diamond-producing labs today are Chatham Created Gems, Lucent Diamonds Inc., and Gemesis Corp.

Note to Insurers: Synthesized diamond is real diamond, with the same optical and chemical properties as mined diamond. However, distinguishing between the two is important because natural fancy colored diamond has a much higher valuation than lab-made diamond.

An appraiser of blue diamond should be a graduate gemologist who has experience dealing with colored diamonds, the equipment to examine the stones, and the expertise to distinguish mined from lab-grown diamond.


As colored diamonds become increasingly popular, insurers must be extremely careful. Accurate description on the appraisal is vital, as the valuation for natural fancies is far higher than for color-enhanced diamonds or synthesized stones.
An appraisal for colored diamond should

An appraiser of colored diamonds should

Lab-made diamonds can be difficult to detect. Laser inscriptions on the girdle, identifying the manufacturer, may be concealed when the stone is in a setting.

Improperly trained (or dishonest) retailers and appraisers may pass on synthetic diamonds as naturals.

Never assume a diamond is natural just because the appraisal doesn’t mention man-made/lab-grown/synthetic. The appraisal should specifically state that the gem is natural.

Lab equipment, developed by DeBeers and others, allows gemologists to distinguish synthetic from natural diamond, but the cost of this equipment is beyond the means of most retail jewelers. Therefore, when insuring colored diamonds represented as natural, insist on a Diamond Report from a reputable lab which employs the best technology available.

GIA, AGS and GCAL are respected authorities in diamond grading. Not all diamond certificates come from trustworthy labs.  See Spotting a Bogus Appraisal for details.

The GIA now grades synthetic diamonds. The heading on the GIA document specifies that the report is for a "synthetic colored diamond," and the description includes the phrase "laboratory grown." 

There’s a growing problem with counterfeit diamond reports. To verify authenticity of a certificate, 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

Remember that even a reputable diamond report is not a substitute for an appraisal. A diamond report does not describe the jewelry as a whole, including metal, setting, etc., and it does not give a valuation.

It is best to have a detailed JISO 78/79 (formerly ACORD 78/79) appraisal from a competent and experienced jeweler who is a Graduate Gemologist (GG) and a Certified Insurance Appraiser™ (CIA).


The price difference between natural and synthetic diamond is immense, as is the difference between treated and untreated diamond. An overpayment could be tens of thousands of dollars or more.

If the appraisal does not explicitly state the diamond is natural, use every means possible to determine whether it is natural or synthetic. Be especially diligent with colored diamonds.

If there is a diamond report, be sure to verify its authenticity using the links above.

Inspect the appraisal for terms that mean synthetic, such as grown, created, lab-made, and cultured. Also look for the terms treated or enhanced.
Be sure to scrutinize the appraisal and sales receipt. If the sale price is too good to be true, the gem is probably a synthetic or an imitation (such as cubic zirconia or moissanite).

On a damage claim for a high-priced diamond, always have the piece examined by a qualified gemologist, such as a Certified Insurance Appraiser™, to determine whether the diamond is natural or synthetic (and to be sure its qualities are as stated in the appraisal).

Makers of synthetic diamonds use their names to market their products. Recognizing these names, or working with a jewelry insurance expert who does, could save you tens of thousands of dollars on a claim.


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