A couple of newsletters ago we spoke to an instance where laser-inscriptions could lower a diamond’s clarity grade and guess what? A pending sale between a local buyer and Internet jeweler brought us a GIA certified Internally Flawless one carat diamond for verification and value. The diamond checked out to the GIA documentation with one exception – a laser inscription not there at the time of certification had been added by the seller, with their name and ID number on the girdle. Unfortunately, the process used had entered the diamond and was visible at 10X in the face-up position. The diamond now graded VVS and would require re-cutting to bring it back to flawless, potentially making it less than a carat (that’s thousands of dollars). While most inscriptions are not intrusive, this case-in-point shows us the need for caution in such procedures. It also points out the need to have third-party verification before a purchase. Had the buyer not done this, it may have been years before its detection.

With the industry’s current attempt to enhance the desirability of crystallized carbon through name branding via laser-inscription it’s no wonder we see a more confused public over the “value” of diamonds in the marketplace. While certain “brands” may in fact be better from a light-return standpoint or offer an identification benefit, simply adding a laser inscription to a diamond’s girdle in itself does nothing to enhance the stone’s beauty. Yet the simple procedure may add perceived “value” to the public if well marketed by the seller.
As an appraiser, NGL basically reports what the consumer pays for gemstones and jewelry and if one seller gets more for their product through a brand distinction, then so be it. When a laser-inscription is applied to the girdle it does make identification easier with a jeweler’s loupe. An ID number, or a romantic saying visible at 10X allows the layperson to readily identify their stone. It does not, however replace the need for a diagram of inclusions, which offers conclusive proof of your diamond’s identity. One can have a diamond re-polished or re-cut to remove surface treatments, but the internal characteristics remain. That is why NGL plots the center diamond as part of our appraisal.
Although rare, laser-inscription may be also detrimental to the diamond. A recent client had an internally flawless diamond sent in for inscription, which because of lack of inclusions seemed like a good idea. Everything went fine, and I updated his appraisal with the new inscription, but a sloppy job as pictured here, would have actually lowered the clarity grade! And, like a tattoo, your “To Sally, Love Snookums” inscription may hinder the diamond’s resale if Sally and Snookums ever part company.
The main reason for name branding is, of course marketing. Most Americans associate a higher value on similar items which are well-marketed, packaged or trendy — even crystallized carbon!

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