Selling a Diamond?

There are two ways to sell a diamond: to industry insiders or to the general public.  In either case, the first step is to have the diamond graded by a reputable third-party.  Gemological laboratories grade loose diamonds for approximately $100 per carat, and the complete process takes about two weeks.  If the diamond already has a grading report and the seller is reasonably certain the diamond hasn’t collected scratches or other damage since the grading, a new grading isn’t necessary.

Alternatively, an appraisal by a local jewelry appraiser may cost less and should only take an hour if scheduled appropriately.  When the appraiser suggests the current retail value of the diamond, don’t get excited.  That is the expected price if you were purchasing the diamond—not if you were selling it.  And if your appraiser offers to buy the diamond or suggests places where you can sell the diamond, proceed with caution.  An honest appraiser won’t leave you wondering whether you’ve been given a low estimate in hopes you’ll sell quickly.

Industry Insiders

When you attempt to sell a diamond in good condition, any industry insider, such as a diamond dealer, is likely to make an initial offer of 60% of the diamond’s “Rap value,” that is, the value according to the Rapaport Diamond Report.  So before you approach an industry insider, you should get a copy of the most recent Rapaport Diamond Report and know your particular diamond’s value.  The report is updated each week and covers diamonds of varying colors, shapes, grades, and sizes up to six carats.

Often the dealer’s offer is far less than the diamond’s appraised value.  This is because the appraiser provided the diamond’s retail value, which will always be more than Rapaport value.  If your diamond’s retail value is $10,000, the appraiser is likely to appraise it at $10,000.  If you ask nicely, and perhaps pay a small fee, the appraiser can also provide you the Rapaport value of the ring.  It may be $4,000.  It may be $5,000.  You simply won’t know unless you see a relatively current Rapaport sheet listing the qualities of your particular diamond.

Hypothetically, let’s say your diamond that was appraised at $10,000 has a Rapaport value of $5,000.  That means the wholesale price of the diamond would be $5,000.  The average dealer would offer you 60% of the $5,000, so you should expect the dealer’s initial offer to be $3,000.  As you can see, it simply doesn’t matter to the dealer that your ring has been appraised at $10,000.  To the dealer, there is no reason to expect the diamond to sell for more than the Rapaport value.

However, there are plenty of reasons a diamond could sell for less than the Rapaport price.  A diamond could be chipped, have scratches, or otherwise show damage.  These things happen.  And dealers know it.  So, if a dealer offers much less than 60% of the Rapaport value on a ring you thought was in good condition, ask why and listen with a skeptic’s ears.

General Public

Most people, however, don’t want the fuss of finding a diamond dealer, haggling over the price, and knowing that the industry insider will later turn around to make a profit on the diamond.  Most people would rather take their chances selling to the general public.

Diamonds—loose and in settings—are easily listed wherever the seller sees classified advertisements.  Even if you live in a big city with plenty of diamonds listed in the local newspaper’s classifieds, online sources such as eBay and Craig’s List draw a larger crowd of potential buyers.

In order to attract top dollar, the diamond must be fully disclosed.  Do you have the diamond’s grading report?  Post a legible photograph of the report so potential buyers can read it.   Post a picture of the diamond, too.  It’s probably not as important as the grading report, but people like to see the merchandise they’re about to buy.

To pick a selling price, take a look at the current market conditions.  Don’t just assume you should price your diamond like similar diamonds in the classifieds.  But study what others are doing so you can learn from their ideas.  Gather the prices of several diamonds and input their characteristics on  Loose diamonds sold through the classifieds will probably be listed below the range of retailers—but the amount below the range varies with market conditions.  If all the other diamonds are posted at 50% of the lowest retail price, aim a little higher.  If it doesn’t sell, you can always post it again at a lower price.  And if it does sell, you’ll be glad you didn’t undervalue your diamond.

Also consider whether you need to sell the diamond immediately or can wait for a better season.  The biggest shopping season for diamonds and diamond jewelry runs November through Valentine’s Day.  If you post the advertisement in October, you’re likely to find more eager buyers than if you post it in March.