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Appraisers telling you what you want to hear?

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denverappraiser

Ideal_Rock
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I think we’re all saying the same thing. Appraisers can, and do, offer a variety of different services depending on the needs of the client. As consultants we can give clients advice on making a purchase decision but we don’t normally make the decision on their behalf. I have been hired by clients to shop on their behalf where I have done pretty much the entire shopping process from choosing the designer and the diamond to choosing the goldsmith. There’s nothing wrong with this kind of service and it can be quite valuable to the clients, but it’s not an appraisal. In these cases, I’ll hired an independent to do the final appraisal because I consider myself no longer eligible.


There is a substantial market for customers who knowingly buy I2-L diamonds and are pleased with their purchase. There are others who would consider this to be ‘crap’. I can give them the facts, we can show how it will compare with other stones, I can tell them what prices should be expected and what the various tradeoffs are but I can’t tell them what they want, what they can afford or what will make their future wife happy.


Window, I’m disappointed to hear that you feel I offer an inferior to service to what is offered by Rich and Dave. Have I done work for you and let you down in some way?


Neil Beaty
Independent Appraisals in Denver
 

Regular Guy

Ideal_Rock
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Hey Chris, have a few of us high jacked your thread?

Actually...special thanks to all the appraisers here, and in this thread especially...DenverAppraiser, Dave, Rich. It's true enough that the environment of Pricescope help to draw you together, but you don't have to show up, after all. Although participating here should in fairness represent real enlightened self interest for you...inasmuch as this forum is substantively focused on cut, and...even among appraisers...you stand out nationally, along with RockDoc, as uniquely qualified to provide substantive analysis in this regard -- making it worth many readers here to send their items across to you at some distance...I think you are also organically drawn together to provide additional help. DenverAppraiser, though more recently here, your recent question about judging mounted diamonds may add value to everyone's work, since the cause for that info is great, and the question helpfully illuminates Rich's already successful work in this area. Rich likewise, I've discovered, uses Dave's cut standards in his appraisals (and although you can see examples of his appraisals here under Guerilla Gemology, I think not having a sample on your own site is a simple correctable omission).

But I'll take exception to both Elmos's and WindowShopper's latter comments...not that I have any appraiser's standards to uphold. But, just following the logic of what it would seem the job could entail, I think there is a fairly broad line that can separate what an appraiser reasonably could and shouldn't do. I talked earlier about trying to exploit an appraiser's knowledge, and figure out a way how to make that info more broadly available. I still support that idea. Also, regarding the general idea of being a consultant...I think that general idea represented by WindowShopper is supported, probably, by all three here.

But I don't think -- even if an appraiser had among their own general set of skills, skills that included negotiation strategies...I wouldn't think to include that in the tasks I would expect for an appraiser, or not at least necessarily. If a stone were described as a VS 2, and the appraiser suggests it is more clearly an SI 1 or even SI3...this is information the prospective buyer can use to do whatever they will with...deciding then whether to keep the stone or not, and/or to negotiate the price based on the new information. Expecting the appraiser to provide advice on what to do with the discrepant information, seems to me, outside of what I would expect an appraiser to do.

So, Elmo, I disagree. And Window Shopper...I agree with what you said, but not your conclusions. What you want should be fair game for the appraiser/consultant. I don't think the appraiser needs to separate out their activities from a) valuation and b) buying consultant. Using this expressed idea, you are really minimizing the "valuaton" to "cert matching," and the appraiser may simply be expanding that to provide the more nano details that F&I talked about, that may or may not be of interest. F&I...that you used a consultant may give you cause to separate out the roles...but given your ability to read Pricescope, and your willingness to specify the parameters...frankly I don't know why you'd want the middle man, except to take off the pressure from the appraiser, which they would I'm sure be happy to oblige you.

What is of interest to the majority of people who use an appraiser, of widely dispersed sets of knowledge and maturity of judgement, includes both what cert matching should be intended to accomplish, and appraisal procuring for their insurer...but also...the general perspective that: a) the appraiser has, b) in my opinion, is completely consistent with the spirit of what an appraiser can be sought out for, and c) if offered, can add value to the customer.

Having thought a bit, I realize that the points made by Dave and DenverAppraiser are correct...PS shoppers are by the fact of their exposure to this forum...different than non PS readers. And if I'm not mistaken, following a link from Rich's site to Garry's site, I saw that the relationship between crown & pavillion angles was perhaps only explicitly recognized in 99, despite the fact that AGS grades have been based on that relationship for some time, and further, the principles of diamond cutting altogeter have been based on this relationship...forever.

But, even though PS readers have perhaps figured out this relationship...probably many of us only just figured it out when we come to you. Having seen this stuff for some time, I now am full of myself, and so confident as to make recommendations to new readers, such that I am tickled to see they are sometimes actually followed. And, with new readers seeking out an appraiser having just come upon HCA and etc., they do seek some kind of broad perspective, and reassurance, that you can perhaps provide. So, for PS shoppers, it would simply be a matter of confirming that.. yes...you did this shopping, found the cut grade, and by gum it's close to as good as you can get relatively speaking. Presuming the HCA score may represent a diamond's potential (I'm sort of speculating here), and variations, specific strategies of cutting, and inclusions may help or moreover hurt the potential of that score, you could consider pointing to at least the principle suggested by the search by cut quality feature on Pricescope. In this way, you can suggest to the prospective buyer something...not only about the specific diamond brought in, but further, more or less...how they've done, based on a general market mix.

Final suggestion...consider working up with Leonid a special appraiser's cut of the search by cut database. We should be generative with this resource at Pricescope. The suggestion is that...for those customers who can be smart enough to begin to form the question about cut, so that the appraiser is not prompting them too much (in the most conservative case, where the appraiser is cautious about leading their customer on)...if non-Pricescope readers come to the appraiser, and want to know how welll they've done....and especially if the appraiser knows they haven't really done very well at all, but doesn't know how to tell them...the "appraiser's cut" of Pricescope could help him. It would be the dynamic engine here in full, with all the vendor info removed.

Of course, I suppose, until this is set up, the appraiser could rig up a bandage over the right side of their screen, covering up this data. Just an idea, of course. And, a potential public service, for those not already exposed to Pricescope, to provide some idea of where their particular diamond might fit in, in the fairly broad -- but yet -- still fairly specific -- universe of possibilities.

With best wishes,

(But, edited to add:...hard to say, buy I wrote this post as Denver Appraiser wrote his last post, where, since he notes (with my emphasis below in italics)...

"There is a substantial market for customers who knowingly buy I2-L diamonds and are pleased with their purchase. There are others who would consider this to be ‘crap’. I can give them the facts, we can show how it will compare with other stones, I can tell them what prices should be expected and what the various tradeoffs are but I can’t tell them what they want, what they can afford or what will make their future wife happy...."

...my concerns may have been addressed. But, I wrote the above since I hadn't read it, and immediately after my post, hadn't read this carefully. And, then, as you can see, the discussion follows anyway...also regardless of my two cents. Still, thought I'd add this update, and share these reflections...

Still with best wishes,


 

fire&ice

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I agree--I really liked my appraiser BUT---I got a lot of resistance from him on acting as a consultant about the actual purchase when I felt I''d made it quite clear thats what I wanted. I think it makes their job too hard and they just want to give the valuation.
You do not have a clear understanding of what an appraiser''s job is. I would be appalled at an appraiser whose opinions are the rule. It''s got nothing to do with taking the easy way out. In fact, looking at a stone & saying "It''s great" would make their job incredibily easy. The resistance you encountered is completely warranted, professional & prudent.

Appraisal

Buying advisor

Two *very distinct* jobs.

I can assure you. If I do an appraisal for a museum donation, I don''t write "I really don''t like ephemera. It''s not aesthecially pleasing to me. But, here''s what it''s worth. "

Very different than if someone hires me as an advisor for a fee to evalutate potential purchases. My opinion is what they are paying for. This is not a diamond industry staple. I venture to guess this arrangement is far and few between.
 

oldminer

Ideal_Rock
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There are quite a few darned good appraisers who can report accurate values and qualities on diamonds. There are far fewer who truly could be considered competent to go further and act as a consumer consultant giving qualified opinions as to what sort of diamond suits the client's needs best. Generally, appraisers should stick to appraisal work which is identifying, describing and evaluating things and leave it to recognized experts to do a higher level of purchase consultation. Most consumers prefer to buy what they choose and take little advice on the subject. Some want a tiny bit of advice, but still want to make their own decision based on the facts laid out in the appraisal and the sales pitch. Only a few need or want more extensive consultation, buying directions. An appraiser who acts as a consultant has a higher liability and great responsibility and a different role in a purchase than a plain appraiser.

There are appraisers in the pockets of sellers. I don't think these guys are on Pricescope, but they infest 47th St. in NYC. The diamond district is a little notorious in the secretive "arragements" made between sellers and "their appraiser".

My firm does work for sellers in our local area and occasionally someone will ask us right out if we upgrade our results for our major accounts. We don't work that way, but one might infer we could. It is a tightrope which we choose to walk in order to provide my staff sufficient business to keep their jobs. I know RockDoc only works for consumers, but he works alone. I run a much larger facility and we must be realistic with that kind of overhead. Relationships with vendors are good to foster, but one must stay independent to do this appraisal work fairly for all concerned parties. Vendors know this and respect this necessity which really furthers the whole process of creating legitimate trust.
 

windowshopper

Ideal_Rock
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Jul 10, 2004
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denverappraiser................absolutely not. i just said rich and dave reflexively.....my appraiser is not a regular pricescoper that i kmow of at least. i wish i couldve used any one of you all but you are all in geographic locations that don''t work for me
 

windowshopper

Ideal_Rock
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fire and ice..............i think i do realize EXACTLY what their job is but i am not satisfied with that,.................right or wrong, prudent or not
 

strmrdr

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Nov 1, 2003
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Iv said it before but im going to say it again:
I want my appraiser to give me the facts of what the "stuff" is no more and no less.
But I will never get that because no one in the diamond/jewlery industry will give you the facts regarding anything its all opinion.
From the vendor recomendation to the lab reports to the appraisers report its all opinion.

So I will settle for the professional opinion of the appraiser of the specs of the item being appraised.
I want personal opinions left out of it its up to me to take their professional opinion and decide what my personal opinion is.

When an appraiser steps over the line to personal opinion they are no longer doing an appraisal they are giving their personal opinion.

The help the appraisers give on PS is personal opinions because there is no business relationship involved so there is a time and a place for it but an appraisal is not the time nor the place for it.
 

elmo

Brilliant_Rock
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Jun 18, 2003
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Date: 12/18/2004 10:43:38 AM
Author: Regular Guy
I''ll take exception to both Elmos''s and WindowShopper''s latter comments...Expecting the appraiser to provide advice on what to do with the discrepant information, seems to me, outside of what I would expect an appraiser to do.
That''s not what I was suggesting. Basically what I''m asking for from a consultant is information that goes beyond what appears in a GIA or AGTA lab report. At that level of nuance I think you get into a gray area between fact and expert opinion. Also with collectibles, sometimes fine is good enough for what you''re doing, other times you want best of the best. It''s also hard for me to reliably make that distinction on my own. It certainly affects price. So you pay someone who has that level of expertise to help you decide.

Somewhat analogously I understand there are consultants that will help you choose a Steinway D or B at the factory for instance. There''s enough variation from piano to piano that an expert will ask another expert for their opinion as part of a purchase. Not sure this is too much different.
 

perry

Ideal_Rock
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Actaully, I think I understand the question very well because I specifically have asked an appraiser to be part of the buying process due to their experience working with thousands of diamonds.

Fact is, I can study all of the techi stuff, I can wander thgough local jewelry stores, and I can use my IdealScope. But after looking at 100+ diamonds I am not sure that I really have the expertise to say what is a truely a great looking diamond.

Thus, I first want the appraiser to furnish all the techincal details - and I will see if they match within reason to what the vendor provided, an insurance valuation, and then an opinion based on his experience on wheather the diamonds are really going to perform well in normal light - that they are some of the better ones out there.

However, I would point out that I asked for this kind of appraisail with my initial contact with said appraiser, and we have discussed the various services up front that he can offer. I did not just have diamonds delivered to him and ask for an appraisial, to only discuss things after the fact.

Thus, I believe the key is for people to know to ask for that kind of service on the intial contact if that is what they want. As mentioned above, most people only want to either know the spec''s and a value, or to verify that the spec''s match the certs and provide a value.

Perhaps Leonid can update the "appraisal" section of the tuturial to include information on what appraisers normally do and that you need to ask for other services up front (like helping in the buying decission).

I do appologize to any of the great appraisers mentioned in this thread; that I did not contact all of them when I went looking. At the time I did not think to bid compare all of you folks. I instead focused my attention on the diamond vendors and finding the elusive diamonds that I was looking for. In the end only two vendors were even willing to search for what I was looking for (a matched pair of well cut 1/4 Carat RB side diamonds for a 3 stone ring - with medium blue fluoresence: Thanks Good Old Gold and NiceIce).

Perry
 

fire&ice

Ideal_Rock
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Jul 22, 2002
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Date: 12/18/2004 11:52:50 AM
Author: windowshopper
fire and ice..............i think i do realize EXACTLY what their job is but i am not satisfied with that,.................right or wrong, prudent or not
If you understand EXACTLY what their job is, why are you unsatified when they preform exactly that?

When I go to a dry cleaner, I ask them to clean my clothes to the best of their ability. They may even point out a potential problem stain, fabric issue, etc. What they shouldn''t do is tell me not to wear that color or style.
 

fire&ice

Ideal_Rock
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Jul 22, 2002
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Only a few need or want more extensive consultation, buying directions. An appraiser who acts as a consultant has a higher liability and great responsibility and a different role in a purchase than a plain appraiser.
Precisely, and as such should be compensated on a different level w/ an entirely different set of instructions.

As a consumer, I do not think we can will this as part of an appraisers job.
 

hoorray

Ideal_Rock
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May 16, 2003
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2,798
I agree with Perry. In the era of buying diamonds sight unseen expecially, but even if you have seen it, most people have not looked critically at enough diamonds to know how one compares with the vast majorities of others, or how it will perform in different light. I had my stones fo rmy earrings appraised by Rich Sherwood. In some ways, this was overkill , as they are not large stones, but the were SI2''s, which I have never ventured into before. I told Rich up front that I was looking for his opinion on how they would perform, based on what I told him was important to me as part of my buying decision. He agreed and knew to look for that during his process. He gave me his opinion as well as valuations and specs. For just the valuation, I probably wound''t have bothered for earring stones, but having his expert eyes take a thorough look before I bought was worth it to me. (And it makes DH sleep better at night
.)
 

RockDoc

Ideal_Rock
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Aug 15, 2000
Messages
2,509
The consumers I get do want more than just the normal gemological specs. So I provide it - I haven''t had a client in the last 4 years that doesn''t care about details with their purchase that might be considered consultant work.

If one is analyzing the stone gemologically, and just offering market data about price is this actually an appraisal? It more of a gemological service than one that is based primarilly on valuation. If I am asked to write a formal appraisal for a specific purpose I see no ethical problem with doing so.

All of the appraisers certainly have their mindset proper in their posting here on this thread. The appraisers found participating here are amoung the most professional in the country. I am not sure that consumers realize this. Most consumers here want as much informatiohn as they can get.

We all have different levels of what we think is professional and ethical. To find this out the consumer needs to appraise the appraiser. The methodolgy used can vary tremendously both gemologically and in the area of valuation monetarily.

Different appraisers have "rules" and what they will and won''t do. As far as being in cahoots with sellers, to the point of selling a consumer down the river. This is something that the appraisers participating here won''t do. Most of the sellers know this and won''t ask, but there are some that try. When the appraiser receives more than one stone to help the consumer with a "blind" choice, if you have stones from different sellers only one will win, but a professional won''t side with a particular seller. We are hired and paid for by clients and we do have a responsibility to conduct ourselves and serve the client, not the seller. Most of the sellers who participate here, sometimes lose a sale. They aren''t happy about it, but most realize the appraiser/gemologist''s responsibility to serve the client rather than play favorites with the sellers. I had a client write me telling me what they want me to do. Unfortunately, I don''t like making any kind of conclusion without doing a thorough and complete gemological analysis. This client just wanted a cheapy appraisal and want to find out if I''d do this. I didn''t feel comfortable doing what I feel is an incomplete analysis, thus I sent him to find someone else. I turn down a lot of people who want "half way" appraisals.

We also have to be in the same community year after year with sellers. I try to maintain a courteous professional and friendly relationship with sellers but in no way do they get any favors that will hurt the purchaser.

Rockdoc
 

strmrdr

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Date: 12/18/2004 8:25:55 PM
Author: windowshopper
so why is fire and ice saying one thing and everyone else saying another?
Im saying the same thing she is just in a different way.
I agree with her.
I think what has happened is that the job an appraiser does has expanded when it comes to Internet sales due to demand.
While I wont speak for f&i I think we both have some trouble with the expanded role.
When giving a professional opinion it is easy and required to keep personal preferences out of it but when giving a personal opinion it involves personal preferences.

For example rockdoc who I have a lot of respect for is big on not having strain in a diamond.
Professional opinion - tell me it has it and what it means and why its bad.
Personal opinion - him saying: I wouldnt buy a diamond with that much strain.

In the end he is saying the same thing but in the first case he Is giving me the information and letting me decide.
Thats what Im paying him for.
If I was hiring him Id want the professional opinion.

There is a fine line and some appraisers walk on different sides of it.
It doesnt necessarly make them bad appraisers but it needs to be considered.
 

chris143007

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Oct 7, 2004
Messages
145
Holy smokes batman!

I haven''t checked this site in about 1.5 days and wow! What feedback and dialogue.

By all means ,hijack the post! :)

I was basically just trying to elicit responses on people''s experiences w/ appraisers and if they felt their appraiser was just spitting back what was on the cert.

Some people have responded that we''re not supposed to get caught up with numbers and angles and all that good stuff, but as PS members and constant contributors, that''s what we do. We''re not your average "walk in the mall and begin a kiss w/ Kay" consumer, IMO. We look at numbers, run them through programs, request images, ask about light return, etc.

Of course I want my appraiser to verify the stone is the one represented on the cert; but past that I would love him to take IS images or other light return/leakage images, consider all the specs of the stone, and in his PROFESSIONAL experience/''opinion'', tell me if this is a quality stone.

I personally have seen a handful of radiants, but not hundreds, like maybe Nicrez has. I''ve seen some that were truly ''crap'', with nicks/scratches clearly visible on the surface and I''ve seen others that were sparkly and very nice. What I would like my appraiser to tell me, using the tools he has and I do not, is if this stone is going to sparkle, be brilliant, fiery, and whatever else we look for in our jewelry.

Nobody ever goes out in search of a dull, lifeless diamond do they?
 

perry

Ideal_Rock
Premium
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2,541
Chris:

I have to disagree in that I think that most people do indeed go shopping for a dull lifeless diamond judging by the quantity of them out there - and how people accept them. Of course, most people do not know that "full of life" diamonds even exist either... I seem to find that most people go shopping for either the cheapest diamond they can buy - or the most expensive they can finance; and in neither case are they really worried about quality of cut.

Concerning your questions for the appraiser:

I suspect that most appraisers do not have an IdealScope, Firescope, or Symetryscope which are all similar in function. I also suspect that most appraisers do not know what makes a great cut - one that will have "life" in the real world and what doesn't. They just have a feeling on what looks better than others - and most of them are not willing to tell you that feeling.

The standard stock and trade of an Appraiser is to tell you the key numbers of your diamond and an estimated value (along with verifying that it is a diamond in the first place). If you want more than that then you must find an appraiser who is willing to do more, has the tools of the trade to do more, and the experience to do it with.

I suggest that you need to look no further than the appraisers who have posted on this forum to find a few who are willing to do what you want.

Remember to ask up front what you are looking for. Also remember, it will be easier if you don't try to connect price and the quality of the stone. You put an appraiser in a very tough position if you are asking if the stone is the best for the $. I suggest that you just ask if the stone is in the lower, middle, top, or absolute top of its kind in cut qualtity and day to day brilliance and fire ("life"). What you paid for it (or will be paying for it) should not be a detailed issue as long as it is reasonable compared to the value evaluation.

Perry
 

elmo

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 18, 2003
Messages
1,160
Date: 12/18/2004 8:25:55 PM
Author: windowshopper
so why is fire and ice saying one thing and evryone else saying another?
Like Neil said I thought we were all pretty much in agreement
, just making slightly different points.

I also think part of the burden here is on the consumer for discussing what they want to see up front. If you're not getting what you want out of your appraisal / consultation, there's a good chance you didn't ask about what you want
. Different folks provide different sorts of services, but I expect that the common (and the default) for engagement rings is a valuation plus report verification.
 

Regular Guy

Ideal_Rock
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Jul 6, 2004
Messages
5,951
So, Elmo, whos (de)fault is that?

Joke.

Generally, I'm guessing most diamond buyers are pretty downstream in their decision process by the time they show up at their appraiser...making that particular moment in time a more sensitive one than most, as things go. Perhaps the situation is somewhat enervated (is that a word?) altogether.

Also, I think most appraisers, seeing their customer, and appreciating the set of expectations that they show up with, are best known to them, and not to me. Also, as Dave says..."An appraiser who acts as a consultant has a higher liability and great responsibility and a different role in a purchase than a plain appraiser...." yet another confounding factor.

Still, maybe tools can be created to help molify any gaps. Clearly, sets of opinions being expressed here suggest some customers are not in the norm, have a different set of expectations than what may be routine, and some may not be as clear headed as Perry and who can, with clear presence of mind, and with a proper command of both their intentions, and the English language, know what to ask for, and can say, no thank you I'll ask the next guy if you can't get me what I'm asking for after all.

For example, my appraiser had me fill out a questionairre prior to my work with him, asking me one thing, to include -- not only how I had heard of him (which was both through the vendor and this forum), but also, something about what I expected from the session. (I think he did -- at least he could have.) I will note the best test I ever took in college was from an accounting prof (I did have to take accounting twice, because my grade in his class was too low for me to make my GPA) who's test was an instructive piece, in and of itself. And so, such an instrument -- maybe used by everybody already, for all I know -- could be a vehicle to not only draw out expectations, but also instruct in what options are available from the session.

For better or worse, in ways they are probably more sensitive to than me, an appraiser will have a perspective on what is "the good," and as a result, unless they care little for the resulting benefits available to the customers that call on them, and unless they can help devise ways to minimize risk that they can take upon themselves, I cannot see any way around their being in a constant sense, with respect to the customers they see of -- gee -- what a collosal waste of money that guy is spending, or whatever.
 

fire&ice

Ideal_Rock
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Date: 12/18/2004 8:54:19 PM
Author: strmrdr

Date: 12/18/2004 8:25:55 PM
Author: windowshopper
so why is fire and ice saying one thing and everyone else saying another?
Im saying the same thing she is just in a different way.
I agree with her.
I think what has happened is that the job an appraiser does has expanded when it comes to Internet sales due to demand.
While I wont speak for f&i I think we both have some trouble with the expanded role.
When giving a professional opinion it is easy and required to keep personal preferences out of it but when giving a personal opinion it involves personal preferences.

For example rockdoc who I have a lot of respect for is big on not having strain in a diamond.
Professional opinion - tell me it has it and what it means and why its bad.
Personal opinion - him saying: I wouldnt buy a diamond with that much strain.

In the end he is saying the same thing but in the first case he Is giving me the information and letting me decide.
Thats what Im paying him for.
If I was hiring him Id want the professional opinion.

There is a fine line and some appraisers walk on different sides of it.
It doesnt necessarly make them bad appraisers but it needs to be considered.
Precisely.

In the end, the only person making the decision is *me*. All I want is information pertinent to the diamond. I don''t want anyone else making decisions for me.

If I am reading correctly, Windowshopper is disappointed that the appraiser did not provide opinions & conclusions based on his own personal preference. That is *NOT* his job. Appraiser''s can provide monetary evaluations, all details that a consumer requests about the stone, opinions on proper setting as far as possible problems to avoid (still commenting on the properties of the stone), BUT - shouldn''t make value judgements (in terms of preferences) as to one shouldn''t buy an D/IF or that a stone w/ fluor. is crap or undesireable. He can state that a colorless stone may trade for less among diamond dealers. BUT - he shouldn''t say that it is undesirable trait- that''s a value judgement.

One note - when I say "value judgement" - it means a subjective comment based on personal preferences. It doesn''t mean the "value/proper price specs for the stone.

A good appraiser will provide an opinion on whether a diamond is good for a particular client (as Dave noted). A good consumer will know how to read between the lines & answer questions.
 
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