May 2017

JEWELRY INSURANCE ISSUES (formerly IM News), provides monthly insight and information for jewelry insurance agents, underwriters and claims adjusters.

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Jewelry Insurance Issues

Table of Contents

Click on article titles in red


What's a Certified Appraiser? - January

Best Appraiser Credentials - February

Are the diamonds you’re insuring real? - March

Handwritten Appraisals - April


Moral Hazard, Documents and the Bottom Line - January

Ruby and Jade - February

How to mail a diamond - March

Jewelry Insurance Appraisal Standards: JISO - April

Describing a gem's color - May

Why not just put jewelry on the Homeowner policy? - June

GIA Diamond Reports - July

Not just a pretty face - August

Moral Hazards on the rise - September

Hurricanes, fires, floods—and jewelry insurance - October

Inherent vice / wear-and-tear losses are rising - November

FRAUD UPDATE – lack of disclosure, false inscriptions & doctored docs - December


Inflated appraisals—alive & well! Shady lab reports—alive & well! MORAL HAZARD—ALIVE & WELL! - January

Clarity Enhancements v. Inherent Vice - February

How green is my emerald? - March

Cruise Jewelry - What's the problem? - April

Crown of Light®- how special is it? - May

Diamonds at Auction — Big gems, big prices, and the trickle-down effect - June

Are you sure her wedding jewelry is covered? - July

What Affects Jewelry Valuation? - August

What to look for – on the jewelry appraisal, on the cert, and on other documents - September

Bigger & Bigger Diamonds - October

Scam season is always NOW - November

Ocean Diamonds - December


Pair & Set Jewelry Claims and the Accidental Tourist - January

Is that brand-name diamond a cut above the others? - February

Vacation Jewelry – Insurer beware! - March

Apple's Smartwatch – The risk of a wrist computer - April

Why you should read that appraisal - May

Smoking Gun! - June

Color-Grading Diamond: the Master Stones - July

Padparadscha—a special term for a special stone - August

Jewelry Appraisal Fees - September

Insuring a Rolex - steps to take, things to consider - October

Diamond camouflage and how to see through it - November

GIA Hacked! - December


Who Grades? - January

Sales, discounts, price reductions, bargains, specials, mark-downs . . . . and valuation - February

Credential Conundrum - March

Frankenwatches - April

Fakes, fakes, and more fakes - May

Marketing Confusion — What is this gem anyway? - June

12 Reasons Not to Insure a Rolex! - July

Why NOT to insure a Rolex: Reasons 5-7 - August

Why NOT to insure a Rolex: Reasons 8-10 - September

Why NOT to insure a Rolex: Reasons 11-12 - October

The Doublet Masquerade - November

Is the gem suitable for the jewelry? Is this a good insurance risk? - December


Wedding Rings on HO? NO! - January

Silver: the new gold - February

Point Protection - March

Tiffany v. Costco - April

What counts in valuing a diamond? - May

Appraising Jewelry - What's a credential worth? - June

A Cutting Question concerning vintage diamonds - July

Synthesized Diamonds - Scam update - August

Pretty in Pink - Kunzite on parade... - September

Preventing jewelry losses - October

Scratch a diamond and you'll find . . .??? - November

Synthetics in the Mix - December


Advanced Gem Lab - A deeper look at colored gems - January

Whose Diamond? - February

Appraisal Inflation - It Keeps On Keeping On - March

Big Emerald - April

Changing colors and making gems: Are we seeing "beautiful lies"? - May

Diamonds - Out of Africa. . . or out of a lab? - June

Appraiser's Dream Contest - July

GIA & the Magic of Certificates - August

Pricey when it's hot: What happens when it's not? - September

Fooling With Gold - October

Tanzanite – December's stone - November

Branding Diamonds - What do those names mean? - December


Unappraisable Jewelry - January

Replicas - Are they the real thing? - February

Composite Rubies- From bad to worse - March

Jewelry Hallmark - A Well-Kept Secret - April

Non-Disclosure: Following a Trail of Deception - May

Preserving the Diamond Dream - June

Spinel in the Spotlight - July

Jewelry 24/7 - Electronic Shopping - August

Diamond Bubble? - September

Disclosure: HPHT - October

"Hearts & Arrows" Diamonds - November

How a Gem Lab Looks at Diamonds - December


Emeralds - And What They Include - January

Pink Diamonds: From Astronomical to Affordable - February

Palladium-the Other Precious White Metal - March

Bridal Jewelry - April

The Corundum Spectrum - May

How Photos Cut Fraud - and help the insured - June

The Price of Fad - July

Old Cut, New Cut-It's All about Diamonds - August

EightStar Diamonds-Beyond Ideal - September

The Hazard of Fakes - October

Jewelry with a Story - November

Counterfeit Watches - December


Blue Diamond-cool, rare and expensive-sometimes - January

Turning Jewelry into Cash—
Strategy in a Bad Economy
- February

Enhancing the Stone - March

Being Certain about the Cert - April

Every Picture Tells a Story - May

Color-Grading Diamonds - June

The Newest Diamond Substitute - July

What Happens to Stolen Jewelry - August

Jewelry As an Investment - September

Black Diamond: Paradox of a Gem - October

Protect Your Homeowners Market—Keep Jewelry OFF HO Policies! - November

What’s So Great about JISO Appraisal Forms & Standards? - December


Garnet - and Its Many Incarnations - January

Organic Gems - February

Do Your Jewelry Insurance Settlements Make You Look Bad? - March

Don't Be Duped by Fake JISO Appraisal - April

Diamonds in the Rough - May

The Cultured Club - June

Sapphire-Gem Superstar - July

It's a Certified Diamond! 
- But who's saying so?
- August

FTC Decides: Culture Is In! - September

Paraiba Tourmaline – What's in a Name? - October

How Fancy is Brown? - November

CZ – The Great Pretender - December


Moissanite's New Spin - January

Online Jewelry - Buying and Insuring - February

Blood Diamonds - March

Damaged Jewelry, Don't Assume!- April

Chocolate Pearls - May

Appraisal Puff-Up vs Useful Appraisal - June

It's Art, but is it Jewelry?
- July

Diamonds Wear Coats of Many Colors - August

DANGER! eBay Jewelry "Bargains" - September

TV Shopping for Jewelry - October

Enhanced Emerald: clever coverup - November

How do you like your rubies -
leaded or unleaded?
- December


The New Platinum: A Story of Alloys - January

Ruby Ruse - February

How Big are Diamonds Anyway? - March

GIA Diamond Scandal
Has Silver Lining for Insurers
- April

Watch Out for Big-Box Retailers Insurance Appraisals - May

Mixing It Up: Natural and Synthetic Diamonds Together - June

Tanzanite - Warning: Fragile - July

Red Diamonds - August

Inflated Valuations & Questionable Certificates - September

Emeralds - October

Where Do Real Diamonds Come From? - November

Counterfeit Watches - The Mushroom War - December


The Lure of Colored Diamonds - January

Synthetic Colored Diamonds - February

Watches: What to Watch for - March

When is a Pear not a Pair? - April

The Truth About Topaz - May

White Gold: How White is White? - June

One of a Kind - or Not - July

Jewelry in Disguise - August

Valued Contract for Jewelry? Proceed with Caution! - September

Antiques, Replicas and All Their Cousins

Grading the Color of Colored Diamonds

New GIA Cut Grade for Diamonds - December


Synthetic Diamonds - and Insuring Tips - January

Bogus Appraisals and Fraud - February

A Picture is Worth Thousands of Dollars - March

Don't be Duped by Fracture Filling - April

Gem Scams Point to Need for Change - May

What is a Good Appraisal - June

4Cs of Color Gemstones - July

Gem Laser Drilling: The Next Generation - August

Why Update an Appraisal? - September

When to Recommend an Appraisal Update or a Second Appraisal - October

Secrets of Sapphire - November

Will the Real Ruby Please Stand Up - December


Mysterious Orient:
A Tale of Loss
- January

Bogus Diamond Certificates and Appraisals - February

Can Valuations be Trusted? - March

Spotting a Bogus Appraisal or Certificate - April

Counterfeit Diamond Certificates - May

Case of the Mysterious "Rare" Sapphires - June

Politically Correct Diamonds - July

Name Brand Diamonds - September

Princess Cut: Black Sheep of Diamonds - October

Reincarnate as a Diamond - November

Synthetic Diamonds - December


Irradiated Mail/Irradiated Gems - January

Fake Diamonds (Moissonite) - February

GIA Diamond Report - March

AGS and Other Diamond Certificates - April

Colored Stone Certificates - May

Damaged Jewelry: Don't Pay for Nature's Mistakes - June

The Case of the "Self-Healing" Emerald - July

Mysterious Disappearance: Case of the Missing Opals - August

The Discount Mirage - September

What Can You Learn from Salvage? - October

Gaining from Partial Loss - November

Year in Review - December


Colored Diamonds - January

Good as Gold - February

Disclose Gem Treatments - March

FTC Jewelry Guidelines - April

Myths Part I: Each Piece is Unique - May

Myths Part II: Myths, Lies, & Half-Truths - June

New Trend: Old Cut Stones - October

The Appraisal Process - November

Year in Review - December


Deceptive Pricing - January

Gems - Natural or Manmade - February

Jeweler/Appraisal Credentials - March

Fracture Filling - April

Salvage Jewelery - May

Gem Treatments - June

Don't Ask/Don't Tell - A Buying Nightmare - July

Laser Drilling of Diamonds - August

Jeweler Ethics or the Lack Thereof - September

Gem Scam - October

The Truth about Clarity Grading - November

Year in Review - December


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Describing a gem's color

When it comes to colored gemstones, the most important characteristic is color. Cut, clarity and carat weight also play their parts, but the star of the show is color.

That may seem obvious, but describing color accurately can be a tricky business. A consumer may choose a gem because the color is "beautiful" and "I know what I like." For appraisers, charged with determining valuation, judging a gem's color requires precision. That description has financial consequences.

But how to describe a gem's color?

In earlier times, experience of the natural world sufficed: canary yellow, moss green, sky blue, lime, sea, forest, cardinal, cherry, orchid . . . etc.

What color is "sky blue"?


Some sellers, and even some appraisers, still use terms like that. In fact "pigeon's blood" rubies command some of the highest prices. The term has a long history in gem descriptions but today gemologists disagree on exactly what color that is. The dispute prompted one appraiser to suggest how the question could be decided:  "First you have to catch a pigeon, then you have to kill it . . ."

Since color is such a crucial determinant of value, it's clear that precise terminology is needed. For example, the price difference between pink corundum (sapphire) and red corundum (ruby) can be enormous, but the color variations can be quite subtle.

When does "pink" become "red"?


A number of systems have been created to describe how color appears to the human eye. Chief among these is the Munsell color system, developed early in the 20th century by Albert H. Munsell, an American painter and art instructor.

GIA created a consistent and systematic way to communicate color in faceted transparent gems. Basing its system on Munsell, GIA's system describes color in terms of hue, tone and saturation.

GIA chart illustrating hues


Hue is what we commonly think of as color. The GIA specifies 31 gemstone hues. They include terms such as blue, slightly greenish blue, very slightly greenish blue, bluish green, and so forth. The GIA has prepared a color chart showing the hues and their designations.


Tone refers to the lightness or darkness of a color. The GIA has determined 9 levels of tone, ranging from very very light to very very dark.


This is the degree to which a color departs from a neutral (gray) sensation. Saturation can be thought of as the relative purity of a hue. The GIA specifies 9 terms, such as brownish, grayish, moderately strong, and vivid.
Thus an emerald's color might be described as having "very slightly bluish Green" hue, "Medium Light" tone, and "Very Slightly Grayish" saturation. Although words like "grayish" and "medium light" may sound like loose descriptions, within the GIA grading system they are very specific gemological color theory terms. See here for a more detailed look at this system.

Other Color Grading systems

Some cards from the ColorCodex system

There have been other approaches to describing gem color. ColorCodex, one of the most recent, consists of a set of color cards to which the user compares the gem being graded. Each color on the cards has a number, and the closest match to the gem would be the gem's color grade or color description.

Developers of the system say that it is more reliable than GIA's system because it more realistically represents a gem's color, brilliance and intensity. However, the color "description" does not use words; it is a number code, two digits plus two digits, that corresponds to the color pictured on one of the cards. Without a set of these cards the numbers are meaningless.

Another system, the World of Color, relies on a book of colors following the Munsell system. The user places a faceted gem crown over a color swatch to create a three-dimensional presentation of the printed color as a gem, and compares that to the gem being appraised.

Page from the World of Color system

GemE Wizard is a computer-based color comparison system. The user picks the hue of the stone and the screen displays variations of the selected hue to choose from. An inherent problem is that screen color displays can vary.

These and other systems aim to make color descriptions more accurate. But if the terms used by these systems appear on an appraisal, anyone reading the appraisal—a replacement appraiser, for example—must have the same equipment and be using the same system as the appraiser. They both must be speaking the same language.

The various systems have their advocates, but none of these systems is widely used. The GIA color grading system has the advantage of being taught by the respected Gemological Institute of America and used by appraisers throughout the world. It's a universally understood gemological language. 

Insurers should see the terms tone, saturation and hue (or the comparable terms: value, chroma and hue) on the appraisal's description of color. If not, the description should be rejected.

Colored Gem Certificates???

For white diamonds, a lab report from GIA is considered the highest authority.

Unfortunately, we cannot recommend any lab for producing reports that adequately describe colored gems. Even GIA, which developed the color description system discussed in this article, does not follow its own system on its colored gem reports, but gives only hue. In a future newsletter we'll discuss these lab reports in more detail.

A lab report may have other information useful in determining value, such as the stone's origin, whether it is mined or lab-grown (sometimes called synthetic), and whether it has been treated, but don't count on a cert for color description.

For now, we have this advice: when insuring transparent colored stones of significant value, be sure that the appraisal describes the gem's color in terms of tone, saturation and hue (or the comparable terms: value, chroma and hue).


Since none of the certificates for colored gemstones carries sufficient color information, it is crucial to have an appraisal that does. Be certain that all color elements (tone, saturation and hue) are stated. The appraisal should also have a color correct photo of the jewelry, should state whether the gem is mined or lab-grown, and list any treatments.

Some jewelers and appraisers may use other grading systems or even a nomenclature of their own. This is unacceptable. Unless the description is based on a system that is widely understood, and one that is standardized to produce repeatable results, the color grade is meaningless.

Most jewelers and appraisers are experienced primarily with diamond jewelry. For colored stones, it is essential that the appraisal be written by a gemologist experienced with colored gemstones and familiar with current pricing, treatments and frauds.

Preferably, the appraisal should be on JISO 78/79 form, written by a trained gemologist (GG, FGA+, or equivalent), with additional insurance appraisal training. One course offering such additional training is the Certified Insurance Appraiser™ (CIA) course of the Jewelry Insurance Appraisal Institute, Oakland, CA.

The color description discussed here also applies to richly colored diamonds, known as fancies. Such diamonds are extremely rare in nature and very expensive. Stones at more accessible prices include lab-made diamonds in various colors and mined or lab-made diamonds that have been color enhanced. Lab-grown gems should be so identified on the appraisal, and color treatments should be noted.

Clarity treatments, such as fracture-filling, can drastically lower the value of a gem. Be especially attentive with emerald, a highly fractured material that is often subjected to this treatment. All clarity treatments, or enhancements, should be listed on the appraisal.


Compare the sales receipt with the appraisal. If there is a great discrepancy between selling price and valuation, the selling price probably reflects value more accurately. If the sale price seems too low for the appraised value, it's possible that the gem was fracture-filled, or was lab-made, or was a lower-value substitute, such as spinel passed off as ruby. A jewelry insurance expert may help in determining this.

If a claim is made for damage, ALWAYS have the damaged jewelry examined in a gem lab by a trained gemologist (GG, FGA+, or equivalent), preferably one who has additional insurance appraisal training, such as a Certified Insurance Appraiser™.

While there are fewer claims on colored stones than on diamonds, colored stones usually have much higher markups and generally have inflated valuations. Most buyers are totally unfamiliar with colored stones, and the pricing abuses are great. Be sure the appraisal comes from an appraiser familiar with the market on colored stones.

Check all documents for mention of color treatments or clarity treatments, such as fracture-filling. Treated (also called "enhanced") gems have a significantly lower value than untreated gems of similar appearance. Appraisals that simply say "enhanced" (without naming the enhancement) should be rejected.

Lab-made gems have a lower value than mined gems of similar quality. Lab-grown gems are often marketed by the manufacturer's name. If there are names or terms on the appraisal or other docs that you don't understand, it may be worthwhile to consult a jewelry insurance expert.



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