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AGS-graded WF ACA - color grading

mochiko42

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I recently got my WF ACA ring independently appraised by a local gemologist (a GIA GG who works at one of the better known boutique jewelers in my city; they have a separate department for services than their jewelry sales stores). My ACA was sold as an I VS2 graded by AGS, but it was appraised as a K VS2-borderline SI1 by GIA standards according to the gemologist. I had been expecting it to come in as a GIA J since I had read that AGS is softer on color than the GIA standard, but to have it come in as a GIA K with faint brown was a little bit of a shock. The 'faint brown' was not disclosed by WF or on the AGS report, which I was also a little surprised about.

I know that ACAs are priced at a premium due to the cut quality but the appraisal value was also only about 1/3 of what I paid for the ACA, as well. I don't have plans to sell the stone but still, I feel a little surprised. The gemologist did caution that there were some limitations to her assessment as the stone was graded mounted (and I don't want to unmount it, which I would have to do if I wanted it regraded by GIA). I am trying to take the assessment with a large pinch of salt since it is not an official GIA report, but it does raise some questions in my mind. (FWIW, the gemologist does work for a local jeweler, but they have separate businesses for retail sales and for after-care/service/maintenance. Although it's possible she may have been biased, I did not feel that was the case as I did not feel pressured in any way to buy jewelry or anything else from that company. It seemed they had a clear separation of the two departments.)

I know that a definitive comparison with GIA standards could only be confirmed if I submit it to GIA for regrading, but I am curious if anyone else has had this experience with WF ACAs coming in at more than 1 color/clarity grade difference when appraised? Also, would WF be pricing their AGS 'I' stones at the same price as a GIA 'I'? I am not sure what to think, if I may have paid for a stone that was priced as an 'I' if it is in fact a 'K with faint brown'. I knew I was paying a premium for superideal cut but this would be a separate pricing issue :confused2:
 
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Dancing Fire

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You can do an upgrade?...;))
 

CareBear

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Is it possible to have this stone looked at by another appraiser? I find it hard to believe that a AGS I VS2 would come back a K, borderline SI1, faint brown, and didn't get rejected by WF for their ACA line. I've had 2 AGS stones (not ACAs) appraised by a very reputable appraiser in northern CA. Both stones were mounted when appraised. The first was a 1.4 G VS1, which was appraised as G VS1, so no discrepancies. That stone was traded-in, resubmitted to GIA and graded GIA G VVS2. The second was a 2.1 I VS2, appraised as J VS1. She mentioned the color was a I/J borderline situation, but she tends to grade strict. Clarity wise, she said by GIA standards it was a solid VS1. I know this is not a big sample size, but AGS color clarity grading should not be that "off" from GIA.
 

CareBear

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You can do an upgrade?...;))
I agree!! If you are bothered by the appraiser, since you are in HK, it should be very easy to ship the ring back to WF, and swap the stone for a different one. WF makes the process VERY easy for their customers!
 

mochiko42

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Would you be willing to do that at this time?

Or maybe get a second appraisal ? I’m not sure how mindclean it would be for me if I was in your shoes.
Well... I am happy with my stone as is and don't plan to upgrade at this time. I've always had excellent customer service at WF and the diamonds are cut beautifully. But if the AGS grading is inconsistent with GIA grading (which is more common in my city) then I don't want to throw more money into an upgrade at WF as even if I upgrade to a AGS 'G' I would still wonder if it still be only appraised as a GIA 'I' but I'm still paying the price premium for a 'G', for example? It just makes me feel a bit uncertain and unsure of upgrading to another AGS stone.

I just wanted to share my finding so that other PSers can have additional information and opinions. Also, I wanted to start a conversation and see if anyone else had similar experiences while having their ACAs independently appraised. I mostly feel a bit uncomfortable knowing that I may have overpaid for the stone beyond the price premium which I expected for the superideal cut. I can separate this issue from appreciation of the stone itself.
 
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mochiko42

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@CareBear I suppose I could have the stone unmounted and sent to the GIA lab here but the appraisal I just had done cost US$200 so not that cheap, so I need to stop and think about how much money I want to spend having this diamond assessed especially since I don't plan to swap it out at this time. I know I could upgrade to another stone in WF inventory but tbh I am concerned if I swap to another AGS-graded stone it will also be graded lower by GIA standards but I'd still be paying for the higher color/clarity premium. Edited to add: I have nothing against AGS report per se, it's just that if there is indeed such a large discrepancy with the color/clarity grading between AGS & GIA, then I don't want to pay the same price for a AGS I VS2 as for a GIA I VS2, if that makes sense at all....
 

canuk-gal

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mochiko42

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Hi Sharon,

Thanks for sharing your experience. I think 1 grade difference is acceptable in my view. So yours was graded the same in color, i.e. it was also a J in color by GIA standards? I guess in my case, I am mostly surprised by the 2 grade difference in color plus the faint brown (!) designation; I kind of expected the borderline VS2/SI1 so not that bothered by the clarity grade from the appraiser.
 

kmarla

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Hi Mochiko,
I’ve had three ACA’s. I had the first two appraised independently, also while they were mounted. The appraisal’s both matched the AGS certificate for colour and clarity. I’m sorry you’ve had this experience. I understand why it bothers you. Have you let Whiteflash know?
 

MissStepcut

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I also suggest beginning with WF to discuss options. If you got a different I it might still cure the “mind clean” issue because of the brown aspect. It seems like there are a lot of potential solutions here.
 

CareBear

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@CareBear I suppose I could have the stone unmounted and sent to the GIA lab here but the appraisal I just had done cost US$200 so not that cheap, so I need to stop and think about how much money I want to spend having this diamond assessed especially since I don't plan to swap it out at this time. I know I could upgrade to another stone in WF inventory but tbh I am concerned if I swap to another AGS-graded stone it will also be graded lower by GIA standards but I'd still be paying for the higher color/clarity premium. Edited to add: I have nothing against AGS report per se, it's just that if there is indeed such a large discrepancy with the color/clarity grading between AGS & GIA, then I don't want to pay the same price for a AGS I VS2 as for a GIA I VS2, if that makes sense at all....
Mochiko, I totally understand your concerns regarding re-appraising and re-grading! Unless handled by WF, I personally wouldn't feel comfortable unmounting the stone, sending it to GIA, and remounting it back, because that runs the added risk of the stone chipping during unmount/remount, in addition to the cost. If you were to swap for another stone with WF and don't want to send the stone to an independent appraiser before mounting, you can ask for a color lineup. I color against, H, and J, and I against several other I stones. WF can do this both face up and face down. You can pick the stones from their inventory yourself to put in the lineup. This would give you a pretty good idea where your stone stands in terms of color. As for clarity, I have asked detailed questions regarding the inclusions and gotten honest answers for them (I've worked with Becca). For instance, color of inclusions, visible from what angles and from what distance, any girdle breaking feathers. Of course, this is still not a 100% guarantee that the stone will be graded the same color/clarity from GIA, but can avoid a situation where the stone is more than 1 grade off.
 

ringo865

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GG is not the same as GIA. Except that both are only opinions. Opinions on color in Asia might be biased toward colorless. Did your appraiser have a set of GIA color grade stones, or go by "eye"?

$200 for the appraisal would be about what you would have spent having a GIA report.

Knowing it's an ACA and you can get your full purchase price toward another (whiter?) stonebin the future negates (in my mind) any potential pricing inconsistency due to color.

I'm sorry this is bugging you now, though.
 

luv2sparkle

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I think that would bother me a little bit as well. If you love the stone and don't want to trade it in, then I would try to let it go. If it never occurred to you that it would come back as a K, then it won't occur to anyone else who sees it. I question the validity of that eye appraisal. I think if Whitefish had any inkling that the color grade might be wrong they wouldn't have sold it as an I. A variance between an I and a J could be subjective but a color grade difference of two is another thing altogether. However, if it bothered you enough to trade it in, it might be worth asking for a stone to be sent to GIA as well next time. I would tend to think that the independent appraiser is more likely to be that off than AGS.
 

JDDN

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I understand your confusion about the grading. I once brought a loose GIA graded H, VS1 stone into an independent appraiser and she appraised it at a J!! She also said it had at minimum faint fluorescence when it said No fluorescence on the report. That was too much of a difference for me in terms of color and of course the presence of fluoro should affect the pricing. I thought it looked like a low H or a high I, but was surprised at a J. All of that didn't give me much reassurance regarding what I'd be paying for so I passed on the stone.

I would call and speak to someone at WF. See what they will do to help make you feel 100% about your stone. It's not a bad idea to at least hear their thoughts.
 

december-fire

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AGS graded your diamond loose, upside down, in strictly controlled lighting and other environmental conditions.

Their professional reputation is dependent upon trust that they consistently apply strict grading methods.

In contrast to the above, the local gemologist based their opinion on your diamond mounted in a ring.

WF examines loose diamonds when determining which met their restrictive requirements to be classified as ACA diamonds. They carefully examine a large number of loose diamonds. I can't imagine that AGS and WF would both examine a particular loose diamond and believe it to be an AGS I if it wasn't within the acceptable range of AGS I colour.

As I recall, this gorgeous diamond was an upgrade to your previous beautiful ACA I diamond, with the difference being an increase in size with this diamond.

It would be interesting to hear the experts' thoughts on AGS grading versus GIA grading; specifically, colour and clarity.

I'm curious as to why you had the local gemologist assess your diamond.
 

Texas Leaguer

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Mochiko,
Sorry for any concerns your appraisal may be causing you. As december-fire and others have stated quite well, there is a difference in accuracy in laboratory grading of a loose diamond in highly controlled lighting with a master set vs an appraiser (even a well qualified one) grading a diamond in a mounting by eye. That said, even lab grading calls are ultimately made by human graders and a small amount of subjectivity is always part of the process as color grades (and clarity grades as well) are very small ranges along a continuum. So it is possible for stones to be on the borderline between grades and equally qualified lab graders can therefore be one grade apart.

We deal in both GIA and AGS diamonds so we see those differences from time to time. In a significant majority of cases, the labs agree. It is very rare that there is ever a two grade difference, given that AGS uses GIA vetted master stones for grading. And as december-fire mentioned above, the Whiteflash internal review process would flag any diamond that our team feels is out of the one grade +/- range for recheck at the lab.

All that said, we would be happy to work on a trade-up for you anytime you are ready!
 

SimoneDi

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@mochiko42 I have seen many pictures of your gorgeous stone and to me it honestly looks like the I it is. I have had a K stone which yours is definitely not. I think that given your location, there is definitely a bias toward lower colored stone (and btw I don’t necessarily see I as a “lower colored diamond”) I would challenge the appraiser and at least ask that the appraisal be corrected to state the color and clarity grading that AGS provides. They did you a disservice by stating a lower color and clarity. One thing is their opinion, but when it comes to creating an appraisal for insurance purposes, the AGS report is what counts and needs to be listed. The environment where the diamond was graded matters, if the room had a warmer hue, or the appraiser was wearing a warm tone, then that can change color perception. I have had my AGS I color independently appraised and I is what it appraised as. I have had other AGS stones and they have always been pretty consistent with GIA standard gradings.
 

Rfisher

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Mochiko42 I get the concern and origination of your questions.
You're no newbie and it shows you well understand the ins and outs of grading.
What I find odd about this thread is the number of times you mentioned you had no desire to upgrade nor sell.
The repeated remarks about upgrading from other members, I expected.
The one from Texas Leaguer I did not.
I hope you get all your answers and it truly becomes mind clean to you.
 

HappyNewLife

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I would try to un-know what the gemologist told you. I highly doubt your diamond, which btw looks whiter than my "I" ACA in pics, is a K with brown tint. You'd have noticed. I'd toss that appraisal out the window and try to forget about it. AGS and GIA lab standards are wayyyyyyyyyyy stricter than someone looking at a mounted ring from the side.
 

LLJsmom

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For my own peace of mind, I would maybe send back to WF and have them resend to AGS, maybe. If it were me I would not trust an appraisal done mounted, regardless of who the appraiser is. Just logistics. It would not be hard for me to disregard the gemologist’s appraisal. Also, given this person is in HK, they greatly value colorless so I think that could skew his/her evaluation. Not intentionally but still...

You’ve been around for a long time so I would guess you know all this. Don’t let this appraisal unnerve you. I also do support you doing whatever it takes for you to get peaceful with your stone. I am sure it is a beautiful one.
 

AdaBeta27

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To me, this would be a money issue: Did I get the specs that I paid for, or not? Send it to GIA is probably what I'd do. There has been "grade creep" in recent years, and some of the old school GIA gemologists are much stricter than today's GIA lab. I have an AGS graded F color from 2009, and I can see warmth in to that I'd probably call more of a GIA G. Getting two evaluations that are so far apart makes me want to go for a third. If the diamond doesn't grade for the specs you paid for, you paid too much. I'd want that issue settled.
 

nala

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To me, this would be a money issue: Did I get the specs that I paid for, or not? Send it to GIA is probably what I'd do. There has been "grade creep" in recent years, and some of the old school GIA gemologists are much stricter than today's GIA lab. I have an AGS graded F color from 2009, and I can see warmth in to that I'd probably call more of a GIA G. Getting two evaluations that are so far apart makes me want to go for a third. If the diamond doesn't grade for the specs you paid for, you paid too much. I'd want that issue settled.
I agree. This would be what to me is financial mind clean.
 

Wink

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Michiko, RE:
But if the AGS grading is inconsistent with GIA grading (which is more common in my city) then I don't want to throw more money into an upgrade at WF as even if I upgrade to a AGS 'G' I would still wonder if it still be only appraised as a GIA 'I' but I'm still paying the price premium for a 'G', for example? It just makes me feel a bit uncertain and unsure of upgrading to another AGS stone.
This is a recurring topic that jumps up at least once or twice a year. I think John Pollard's comments in a thread a couple of years ago summarizes things nicely.

https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/2-69ct-g-vvs2-worries-feather-natural-ags-color-clarity.203189/#post-3698017

Wink
 

EvaEvans

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Literally, I don't trust so much independent appraisers even the most reputable! I have 3 cases where stones graded by reputable appraiser came back from GIA with different grade.

#1 Appaiser: J-K, SI1, slight blue fluorescence
GIA: I, VS1, no fluorescence

#2 Appraiser: K-L, SI1, medium blue
GIA: I, VS1, none

#3 Appraiser: O-P, SI1-SI2, inert
GIA: L, VS2, medium blue

The diamonds were set when appraiser graded them. #2 and #3 were set together on a twin ring.
The appraiser in these cases is the same person, well known name, using GIA standards.
I have copies of the appraisals and the GIA reports.

I've experienced two more compassion between appraisers and GIA lab, but they are pretty close to each other with slight difference.

My advice: Just go to other appraiser or send the stone to GIA or simply enjoy your diamond!
 
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Paul-Antwerp

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Let's be very clear:

Anyone (let's not confuse the matter by a supposed 'professional' status), so anyone who grades a diamond, mounted, to have a definite color, adding to that a 'faint brown' tint, is a fraud.

I am sorry for the harsh words, but there simply is no better or nicer word to describe such deceptive practice.

Live long,
 

MissGotRocks

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Bryan, Paul John and Wink are the experts here - they work with these stones and labs all day long. I give their comments and expertise lots of weight.

I too am very skeptical of what this appraiser told you. Grading a face up, mounted stone is not comparing apples to apples. Furthermore, you would sell or resell your stone based on the AGS cert you have - not an appraisal. One carries far more weight than the other in my opinion.
 

mochiko42

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@Rfisher thank you, I think you were one of the few who understood what I was trying to get at. I don't necessarily need an immediate "fix" hence my emphasis on not wanting to upgrade the stone at this time (as I anticipated this would be a recommended course of action) , but mostly I just wanted to have a conversation about grading and get some answers to some questions. I don't want to make any snap decision on this. Give that this is a consumer education forum, my hope is that this discussion would also be helpful to others.

I know the simple solution would be simply to upgrade as suggested by other PSers, but if I have unanswered questions about AGS stones I would want to have more information and have some time to sit on & parse the info before making any next step, at least for my own peace of mind!

The GG did mention there was a limitation to her assessment due to the ring being mounted so I don't think she was being disingenuous when she estimated the color grade (she did compare it to some other GIA graded stones in front of me).

I know that there are limitations to appraisals by a GG and not the same as a GIA report (and I had stated such in my original post). Fwiw, although this is in Asia, the appraiser was from Canada and had studied at the GIA in NYC and was familiar with AGS. It's entirely possible/probable that she still had a bias for higher colors, but I would tend to think that she might be less biased compared to most other local gemologists here who have not heard of AGS before. Though that's just my thought and probably not worth a whole lot as a layperson :lol-2:.

I haven't decided what I want to do yet with the diamond and don't want to make a hasty decision before I invest more time and money (whether it's having the stone appraised overseas in the US, sending it to GIA proper, etc. All these would have significant costs for me). I would like to learn about other people's experiences in the hopes it would help to inform my decision on what to do next. I'm not that color sensitive so it's more for my own peace of mind / mind cleanliness.

@EvaEvans thank you for sharing your experience with other appraisers. It's very helpful for me to learn of the big difference between the appraisals you got and the GIA reports! If I get another appraisal i would want to do it in the US but since I'm in Asia it's a huge hassle to do that. I'm mostly trying to decide between the 3 options you mentioned. :mrgreen2:
 
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mochiko42

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Let's be very clear:

Anyone (let's not confuse the matter by a supposed 'professional' status), so anyone who grades a diamond, mounted, to have a definite color, adding to that a 'faint brown' tint, is a fraud.

I am sorry for the harsh words, but there simply is no better or nicer word to describe such deceptive practice.

Live long,
Hi Paul, I appreciate your professional input. Could I ask why you think that? I sincerely want to learn and understand more. Also, the appraiser mentioned the limitations of her assessment was based on the mounted ring and that the assessment might change if the stone were loose. Given this disclaimer that was given to me both in person and in the written appraisal, do you believe it was inaccurate for the appraiser to give the color grade (and brown) estimate, and why? It would be very educational if I could understand why.
 

MissGotRocks

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I feel that you are giving too much weight to the appraisal vs the info and experiences from professionals and others. It seems that you are happy with the stone - or were until you received this appraisal. I always feel there is truth in numbers and if the number of people advising one thing vs. one other person giving opposite advice, I'd have to go with the weighted opinion. The appraiser could have been inexperienced or she could have been wanting to sow doubt about who you purchased from as well. She could have simply been mistaken and not able to do a thorough assessment of the stone while mounted. The reasons could be as varied as the mind could see. I would put the onus on the appraiser to justify how she came to her conclusion - with facts and pictures. An appraisal is simply an opinion - unless it is backed up by fact. High end appraisals include very detailed, magnified pictures to at least support the clarity. I would expect to be able to see stone sets that would justify her opinion of color - particularly with the brown undertone that she claims to see. I think that Paul was very forthright with his opinion - I don't think he could have been any clearer.

I hope you will not let this one appraisal make you unhappy with the stone that you have been happy with until this point. If it makes you that unhappy, then do what you need to do to be sure. Send it for re-grading, trade it in, whatever. You are fortunate that you bought from a company such as WF for you are never truly 'stuck' with any diamond.
 
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