Appraising a diamond ring involves estimating its value by an appraiser who is qualified to evaluate diamond jewelry. To determine the appraised value of a diamond ring, the appraiser needs to figure out the value of its two main components: (1) the stones and (2) the ring they are set in, including all its metal parts.
Appraising the Value of Diamonds in Rings
The value of diamonds is determined by four major factors: color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. To appraise the value of a diamond in a ring, the appraiser needs to evaluate the stone along these four dimensions.
Diamond color, cut, and clarity can be graded using an established grading system, such as that of the GIA (Gemological Institute of America).
Appraising Diamond Color
To establish the color grade of a particular diamond, appraisers look at how colorless it is.
Stones that have visible yellow tints are graded lower, and the stronger the color, the less valuable the diamond is.
Stones that lack such visible hues are considered of the highest quality.
Appraising Diamond Clarity
Appraisers determine the clarity level of diamonds by looking at how many natural flaws (inclusions) can be seen inside the stone and on its surface.
Diamonds in which such imperfections cannot be easily spotted even with a 10x loupe are deemed the most valuable.
Stones with inclusions readily visible under magnification are assigned a lower clarity grade.
The lowest-graded diamonds in terms of clarity have inclusions clearly visible with the naked eye and are the least valuable.
Appraising Diamond Cut
Diamond cut quality is evaluated by measuring the proportions of the stone and determining how close they are to the ideal proportions used as benchmarks.
Diamonds cut with these ideal proportions have been found to have the greatest brilliance and sparkle (for brilliant cuts), and this is why their dimensions have been set as a standard.
Some of the most important characteristics used to evaluate the cut of a diamond are the width of its table (the stone’s top facet), the diamond’s total depth, the polish and symmetry of its facets, the thickness of the stone’s girdle (its edge), and the size of the diamond’s culet (its bottom facet, if there is one).
In general, the closer a diamond’s proportions are to the ideal standard for its particular cut, the more valuable the diamond is.
Also, some cut types have a higher market value than others – for example, round-cut diamonds are usually more expensive than similar-quality stones of other cuts.
Diamond Carat Weight and Appraised Value
Carat weight is simply the mass of a diamond expressed in carats. One carat is equal to 200 mg, or 0.2 g.
The relationship between carat and value is not linear – bigger diamonds are exponentially more valuable than smaller ones.
For example, a diamond weighing 2 carats will be more than twice as expensive as another weighing 1 carat, assuming they are equal on all other characteristics such as color, clarity, and cut.
As you can see, all else being equal, diamonds cost more per carat as they increase in weight. The reason for this is that bigger stones are rarer.
When an appraiser evaluates a diamond, he or she will take into account how the weight of the stone affects its price, given the stone’s cut, clarity, and color grades.
Appraising Diamonds: Loose vs. Mounted Stones
Whether the appraiser will evaluate the quality of a diamond as it is mounted in the setting or when the stone is loose can affect significantly the appraised value of the diamond.
Mounted diamonds are harder to appraise because the mounting can hide some of their characteristics, making the evaluation less precise.
For example, a yellow gold setting can make the stone look yellower than it actually is, thus potentially distorting its estimated color grade.
The setting can also hide some flaws in the diamond, potentially inflating its clarity grade.
Also, unless the diamond is removed from the mounting, the stone’s carat weight will have to be estimated by looking at its measurements.
So, evaluating a diamond loose is likely to yield a more accurate appraisal – something to keep in mind when having a diamond ring appraised.
Appraising the Value of the Ring
The value of a ring, excluding any stones, is closely linked to the market price of the metals that make it up.
The appraiser will take into account whether the ring is made primarily of yellow gold, white gold, platinum, or another metal. The purity of the metal (expressed in karats for gold jewelry) will also be considered.
Other factors that can affect the value of the ring are its setting, design, brand, and condition.
For example, some settings are more complex to make and are worth more because of the additional labor involved in creating them. Similarly, some designs or brands are more popular and command higher prices.
The condition of the piece is also very important. Worn-out prongs and shanks, broken or bent parts, and other signs of wear will reduce the ring’s value.
Putting It All Together
The appraisal of a diamond ring will incorporate the results of the evaluations of its stones and metal parts, and the final value will indicate how much the item is worth as a complete piece of jewelry.
A ring’s appraised value is usually based on the market value of the piece – i.e., how much it would cost to buy the same or a similar item.
Very often, an appraiser will value a ring according to how much it would cost to buy a new one with similar characteristics. This number will be different from the price you could sell your current ring for and reflects its replacement value.
Typically, a ring’s replacement value is higher than its current market value as a pre-owned piece because used jewelry sells at a discount, and if you sold your ring, you would get less money than what a similar one is worth new.
You should always make sure that you understand how the appraised value of your diamond ring is calculated and what it means.
Where to Buy a Diamond Ring?
For diamond rings, we highly recommend James Allen (read our review) because it shows real photos and videos for each diamond so you can take a 360-degree look at any stone before having it set in a ring.
For colored diamonds, we recommend Leibish & Co., which specializes in fancy color diamonds (use code JewelryNotes200 at checkout to get a 5% discount).
Also read our Diamond Buying Guide and check out our selection of eye-clean diamonds that we've vetted for quality.