Diamonds: How to Avoid Scams
Diamond Scams: What do I need to know to protect myself from the scam artists?
(Also see our complete list of the 20 most common scams still used in most stores, including many of the mall chainstores.
Many scams can still be found in “fine” jewelry stores across the U.S., mainly because it has always been hard for consumers to educate themselves before they buy… until Diamond Helpers was created.
Here are 13 basic precautions that will arm you against almost every scam we know.
Try to apply all 13 precautions as you shop around. If you leave anything undone, you might end up spending $5,000 on a diamond that turns out to be a $5 cubic zirconia. This is exactly what happened to Robert Hensley’s father in the ’70s before Robert entered the diamond industry (he is now the President of Diamond Helpers). More about that story in the letter to the president.
13 Basic Diamond Precautions:
- Test Your Jeweler:
Choose your jeweler carefully. Over 25,000 dealers in the U.S. say they have the best prices, but 24,900 are wrong. Our free article, How to Choose a Dealer has 8 qualities to look for in a jeweler to help you decide. The Guide will help you select a dealer you can trust. If you want to know what our researchers found out about the top ten sites on the Web, read our Dealer Ratings Report.
- Research the best price for any diamond:
When dealers buy, they look up the Rapaport wholesale price and compare discounts. For people without access to the Rapaport price list, we have developed PriceFinder — the revolutionary online program that will tell you a good price to pay for any diamond you describe. Just enter the data from any lab certificate and receive an instant e-mail with the calculated price based on our 12 years of experience and current review of the best sites on the web.
- Insist on Certificates:
A grading certificate from one of the three most reputable gem labs (GIA, AGS, or EGL) will tell you everything you need to know about the diamond to make sure you are getting exactly what you request. Learn how to read every detail of a certificate by reading our report, How to Read a Certificate. However, don’t rely entirely on certs to determine you choice… the way a diamond looks tells a much more important story. If you like the way it looks (in natural light), let that weigh very heavily in your choice.
- Buyer Beware:
Learn about the 20 common scams and be on the lookout for them.
- Check with the BBB:
Call your local chapter of the Better Business Bureau (listed in your phone book) to learn if the dealer has any outstanding customer complaints. The BBB will explain everything.
- Learn the 4 Cs:
Just a little knowledge will go a long way if you find a jeweler you can trust, but take the time to make sure you know enough to make a good decision. Would you buy a car without researching prices and taking a test drive? Our Learning Center has most of what you need to know.
- Ignore all the Big Sales:
Don’t fall for sales or clearances of any kind. If a dealer can afford to mark it down, then he marked it up too high at the start.
- Only Buy Loose Diamonds:
If you are looking for a diamond worth $1,000 or more, insist on seeing only loose diamonds. If the store does not carry them loose, you can’t examine the stone properly and cannot make an informed decision.
- Get an Independent Appraisal:
Get an appraisal of your diamond after the sale, for insurance and for peace of mind. Find an independent, unbiased, certified gemologist / appraiser who does not sell diamonds and is not connected to anyone who sells diamonds (kickbacks). Make sure the appraiser is well known in the community, has been in business for at least 2 years and has no outstanding complaints with the Better Business Bureau. If you follow all the precautions and guidelines in this site, you will not run into this problem.
- Get It In Writing:
The only cure for some scams is prevention. Tell the jeweler to put the weight, color, clarity and measurements in writing on your receipt to give you proof in the event of a switch.
- Forget New York:
It’s simple. Never buy from anyone in the Diamond District in New York…unless you go with a jeweler who will take you up to the real dealers in the trading centers. The dealers on the street level are more likely to rip you off than anyone else we have seen.
- Ignore Comparison Prices:
The honest jeweler will tell the truth about the savings they offer, but the dishonest will inflate the prices. How can you tell the difference? Spend time to learn all about diamond prices, or call Diamond Helpers for the truth from an unbiased expert.
- Never Buy in Tourist Traps:
Never buy a diamond on a trip, no matter what you have heard. You have no recourse if something goes wrong, and you will most likely get ripped off. The people who say they got a great deal in Cozumel have probably never had it checked back home.