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Diamond appraisal guide Understanding certifications, grading reports & appraisals

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A diamond appraisal is a document that specifies the key characteristics of a diamond and its setting, including carat, color, clarity, cut and measurements, and gives a dollar value estimate of its retail value — whether for insurance purposes or to help you understand its value on the resale market.

People often use the terms diamond appraisal, certification, lab report and evaluation interchangeably, though they are different.

Here's what else you should know:

Diamond appraisal vs. GIA diamond certification

Though some people may use these terms interchangeably, appraisal and diamond certification mean very different things. If you are interested in selling your diamond, it's important to understand the difference.

For example, there is a big difference between a certified diamond appraisal and a diamond grading report, also known as a lab report or diamond certification.

Diamond grading is a highly scientific process, and only certified gemologists at internationally recognized laboratories including the Gemological Institute of America and the International Gemological Institute can give you a diamond certificate, which reports the dimensions, quality and monetary value of your diamond based on evaluations made with highly scientific equipment. A diamond lab report and diamond certification are the same thing.

These laboratories are recognized around the world for their accurate, unbiased grading, and rely on very advanced technology to assess and price your item.

Also, there is a big difference between a certified diamond appraisal and a diamond evaluation — even though these terms are often used interchangeably. An evaluation is an informal overview of your diamond and used typically in a resale transaction.

AppraisalEvaluationLab report/
ProfessionalGIA certified appraiserLocal jeweler, pawn shop, some online diamond buyersGIA, IGI or another internationally recognized laboratory
Length10-15 pages1-2 pages1-2 pages
Useful forTechnical detail of item + replacement valueUnderstanding resale or replacement valueTechnical detail of your jewelry
Unmount the diamond?No.No. Yes.
Price$26-$200, or $26 online via BriteCo.Free$50-$200+

Can I get a diamond GIA certified?

If you have a diamond you’re looking to sell or insure, you can get it certified in a laboratory, the Gemological Institute of America, or GIA, being the most reputable. 

The cost of GIA diamond certification depends on the size of the stone, though expect to pay between $50 and $100, plus the cost of shipping your diamond. This is the current pricing, starting at $48 for a 0.15-0.22-carat diamond:

Pricing table for GIA diamond certification.

For an additional fee, the GIA will laser-inscribe your stone with its unique GIA report number.

There are three ways to submit a diamond for GIA certification: 

  • Submit your diamond through a local jeweler. You can find a list of qualified jewelers through the GIA site. 
  • Mail your gemstone directly to a GIA laboratory using its online intake form. 
  • If you live near New York City or Carlsbad, Calif., (or one of GIA’s 14 international locations) you can drop off your diamond for grading.

Here’s who needs a diamond appraisal

Not every diamond benefits from an appraisal. Because they can cost as much as $150 or more, it usually only makes sense to get an appraisal if your diamond would sell for more than $1,000.

In these cases, it is helpful to first get a certified jewelry grading from a recognized lab like GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or IGI (International Gemological Institute). More tips here on selling diamond jewelry.

A diamond appraisal will document the value of your diamond if it were purchased at retail today. You can use the information in a diamond appraisal for a lot of purposes:

  • Determine a sales price if you choose to resell your diamond or diamond ring
  • Understand how much insurance you need on your loose diamonds, diamond ring, or other diamond jewelry
  • Prove the value of your diamond jewelry when shopping for an insurance policy
  • When purchasing a diamond (before you make the decision to buy)

Note that diamonds values fluctuate much as any other commodity such as gold or silver based on supply and demand. With this in mind, the information in a diamond appraisal can become outdated within roughly 18 months or less.

When reselling your diamond, expect to get far less than retail value. Some recent surveys found that you will get 25 to 40% of the retail value of your diamond jewelry. For example, if you paid $5,000 for a diamond solitaire ring, it should be appraised for approximately $5,000 for replacement purposes. That same ring will sell for about $1,250 to $2,000 or less to a diamond or jewelry buyer.

Diamond appraisals: Where to get a diamond appraised

Don’t try to appraise your own diamond — gemologists spend years in formal training and in the industry to learn how to appraise gemstones. It is worth getting a professional diamond appraisal to best understand the 4 C’s and value of your diamond, and if you chose, position yourself to sell it for the highest price.

A skilled diamond appraiser or diamond buyer can also offer a quality estimate of the replacement value of your diamond. Here are three diamond appraisers to consider (and keep in mind each will have its own process):

1.  – for an affordable online diamond appraisal

BriteCo is primarily a jewelry insurer, and also provides certified, professional appraisals, online from your own home, for $26. It takes just a few minutes.

BriteCo is a relatively new company, but its insurance business is backed by A-rated global reinsurance carrier A.M.

2. Local jewelers — a “diamond appraisal near me”

Local jewelers who purchase jewelry or stones to resell will often offer diamond appraisals, but it will depend on each individual business. (Some jewelers prefer to only buy stones from their official suppliers.) Before you bring your diamond jewelry to your local jeweler, you should call and ask if they offer appraisals. You may also want to ask if appraisals are free, as some jewelers might charge a small fee for their time.

Local jewelers may or may not be GIA certified, so be sure to ask. Additionally, some jewelers may be willing to send your stone to the GIA for evaluation, which will result in a lab report. Others won’t offer this.


3. Grading laboratory GIA

You can send your diamond directly to a laboratory like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) that will evaluate your jewelry and produce a grading report, but the GIA does not offer diamond appraisals. An appraisal will include the retail value of your diamond, while the GIA will not.

Moissanite vs diamond: What to know about resale value in 2023

Here's what a diamond appraisal includes

A diamond appraisal involves a thorough inspection of your diamond by a jeweler or other individual who is trained in gemology.

A diamond appraisal is as much art as it is science. The appraiser will evaluate the technical aspects of your diamond (its color, cut, clarity, and carat size) and then use their understanding of the diamond market to help you value your stone.

When a diamond is in a setting, like a ring or earrings, the appraisal also factors in the gold or platinum weight — which can be valuable, as gold prices have been around record highs in recent years. Any very large and fine gemstones can also factor into the price in the appraisal value. In the case of large or branded jewelry (Tiffany, Cartier) the value of the whole piece of jewelry.

They will evaluate the quality of your diamond (including its carat size, color, cut, and clarity). Using that information and an understanding of the current market conditions, they will then assign a value to the stone. 

Unlike for a lab report, diamonds should not be removed during an appraisal. 

Again, an appraisal value is what the stone or jewelry would sell for in today’s market at retail — not in the resale market such as if you are selling to Diamonds USA.

With this in mind, in choosing someone to appraise your stone, you should look for certain key qualifications:

  • GIA certification: The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is an independent laboratory that specializes in evaluating diamonds and other gems based on their technical characteristics. The organization is a non-profit, and is not backed in any way by diamond wholesalers, meaning they have no interest in inflating prices. GIA-certified gemologists have completed the organization’s training, which indicates a thorough understanding of the technical aspects that go into grading and appraising a diamond. 
  • Experience: A diamond is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it. That means that an appraiser needs to have enough experience to understand the current diamond market, as well as the general trajectory that the market is moving in. Those with many years of experience are often better able to make an accurate estimate on the value of a stone. 
  • Objectivity: Is the person appraising your diamonds also someone who buys diamonds? If so, it’s possible that an unscrupulous diamond dealer may appraise it for a lower price than it is actually worth, so that they can purchase it from you for less. Objectivity helps you ensure you’re getting an accurate appraisal. 

How diamond grading impacts the diamond appraisal

A diamond appraisal will evaluate your stone on a number of factors known as the 4 C’s: color, cut, clarity, and carat.

4 C’s of diamonds

The 4 C’s are the four main characteristics that a diamond appraisal will consider to determine the worth of a stone. They are the stone’s:

  • Color
  • Clarity
  • Cut
  • Carat


Diamonds come in a wide variety of colors, with some being rarer than others. The rarer the color, the more desirable (and therefore the more valuable) the stone is likely to be. Generally speaking, completely colorless diamonds are the rarest and most valuable. Other rare colors for diamonds include red, pink, and blue diamonds (also known as “fancy diamonds”) which need to be graded on their own scale. 


Clarity refers to exactly that: how clear the diamond is. 

Most diamonds will have at least a few flaws which reduce their clarity. When these flaws are on the inside of the stone, they’re known as inclusions. When they’re on the outside of the stone, they’re called blemishes. Both inclusions and blemishes are common, which means that diamonds with fewer (or no) inclusions or blemishes will be worth more. 

The scale below shows how diamond clarity is graded by both the American Gem Society (AGS) and the Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA).

Clarity scale from the American gem society to sell Tiffany jewelry.


Carat refers to the diamond’s physical weight. One carat roughly equals 1/5 of a gram. Carats are further subdivided into 100 points. While grading a diamond’s clarity, color, and cut can be somewhat subjective, grading the stone’s carat is a very straightforward process. 


When a diamond is mined, it is in an unrefined, raw state. It must then be cut in order to bring out the true beauty of the stone. Cut refers to exactly that: The specific shape of the diamond’s cut, as well as the skill and precision that went into the cut.

It’s important to note that some diamond shapes are more popular (and therefore more valuable) than others. The chart below from BlueNile shows the most common cuts that you’re likely to encounter, including: round brilliant-cut diamonds, princess (square), emerald (step-cut rectangle), marquise diamonds, and other shapes. The prices next to each image show what a 1-carat stone in each cut is likely to sell for.

Diamond price by shape from BlueNile on post about how to sell diamonds.

Two other cuts are baguette diamonds and trillion diamonds. These stones are typically not worth much more than a few hundred dollars, and are often used as accent stones next to other, larger stones. 

How much does a diamond appraisal cost?

Diamond appraisers typically charge a flat fee, either by the hour or by the piece. Average hourly rates for a diamond appraisal can vary from a low of $50 per hour to a high of $150 or more per hour.

BriteCo offers online diamond appraisals for $26.

Diamond appraisal FAQs

Common questions about diamond appraisals …

Do pawn shops appraise jewelry?

Do pawnbrokers appraise jewelry?

Sort of.

If you bring your jewelry to a local pawn shop, they will evaluate it in order to understand how much they might be able to sell it for. They’ll then make you an offer—typically somewhere between 25% and 60% of the final retail price they plan to resell the item for. With this in mind, you can use a pawn shop’s offer to get a rough range of what your jewelry might be worth.

But it’s important to understand that this is very different from a true diamond appraisal. Diamond appraisals are conducted by people specifically trained for the job, who know what to look for to determine the worth of a stone. Very few pawn shop owners have undergone similar training, which means they’re liable to make mistakes. 

While you might be able to go to a pawn shop to get a rough estimate about the value of your diamond, you will ultimately want an actual diamond appraisal conducted by a trusted professional. 

How to sell jewelry for the best price, including gold and silver as well as antique and estate jewelry.

Do diamonds sell for appraised value?

Expect to get around 50% of the retail value of your diamond. Ultimately, a single diamond is worth what someone is willing to pay you for it. In addition to getting your diamond appraised or reviewed by a laboratory, searching for similar, recent sales on eBay or other auction sites, you can get a sense of how much your diamond is worth by educating yourself about your stone and the current marketplace.

Keep in mind that diamond resell values have dropped more than 30% for some sizes as retailers over-bought during Covid, lab-grown diamonds are competing with natural stones, and the global economy is depressed. Analysts predict these trends will not reverse soon, if ever.1

Oct. 5, 2023 RapNet Diamond Index report

Do diamonds lose their value over time?

Like a new car, diamonds start to lose value as soon as you purchase them. Most diamonds lose value over time for these reasons:

  • A decreased popularity in diamond engagement rings among millennials (and fewer marriages in general, according to the U.S. census)
  • Increased popularity in lab-grown diamonds
  • A general flooding of the market

You can expect to make about one-third of the retail value of your diamond if you sell. These are some other factors that might affect the value of your diamond jewelry:

  • Most diamond buyers are only interested in the center stone of your piece, and the retail price you paid for your diamond jewelry includes the design, smaller side stones, labor, and retail experience. A diamond wholesale buyer or diamond exchange will melt the metal contents down to scrap.
  • Wholesale jewelry buyers need to make a profit when they resell your diamond jewelry, so they will pay you less, then turn around and sell your diamond at a higher price.

That said, selling unwanted diamonds can bring much-needed cash when sold to a reputable diamond buyer.

Is getting a diamond appraised free? 

It depends.

Some businesses, such as diamond sellers and retail jewelry stores, will provide diamond appraisals for free with your purchase.

Alternatively, some businesses may charge a small fee for an appraisal. When a fee is charged, it is usually a nominal fee, and is roughly meant to reimburse the appraiser for their time: Between $50 and $150. BriteCo offers online diamond appraisals for $26.

You can also do a search for “free diamond appraisal near me” to see if there are any local options for you.

How long does a diamond appraisal take?

An in-person appraisal can be conducted in as little as 30 minutes to an hour, though it will often take a week or more to receive the final report. If you are sending your diamond out for appraisal, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to complete.


  1. “Why Retail Jewelers Aren’t Buying: A changed approach to diamond inventory is causing a slowdown in polished trading,” by Avi Krawitz, Rapaport News. Sept. 26, 2023.
What are diamond appraisals used for?

A diamond appraisal will document the value of your diamond if it were purchased at retail today.

How much does a diamond appraisal cost?

Diamond appraisers typically charge a flat fee, either by the hour or by the piece. Average hourly rates for a diamond appraisal can vary from a low of $50 per hour to a high of $150 or more per hour.

Do diamonds sell for appraised value?

Expect to get around 50% of the retail value of your diamond. Ultimately, a single diamond is worth what someone is willing to pay you for it, and the market for diamond has been plummeting over the past year.

How long does a diamond appraisal take?

An in-person appraisal can be conducted in as little as 30 minutes to an hour, though it will often take a week or more to receive the final report. founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist, author and expert. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, and National Jeweler editor, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. As an expert on divorce and gender, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality and multiple state legislature hearings. Her next book, The 50/50 Solution, is out March, 2024 with Sourcebooks. More about Emma's credentials.

Yingjia Puk is a GIA-certified gemologist and CAD/CAM jewelry designer as well as a member of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers. Yingjia has worked extensively with jewelry since 2006, with positions at Harry Winston, celebrity jeweler Lorraine Schwartz and Good Housekeeping and BlackBook magazines. Previously, she managed the gemological laboratory at Yingjia is originally from Singapore.Yingjia's LinkedIn profile

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