An exquisite 9.08 carat yellow diamond ring. A square emerald-cut engagement ring. A ring evocative of Hollywood glamour. A diamond-encrusted Cartier icon. What do these rings have in common? They all command high price tags. Beyond diamond grading and its 4 Cs — cut, color, clarity and carat — there’s a lot our experts consider when pricing a diamond ring. We searched our site for a range of top-tier pieces, from unbranded options to classics, to discover the details behind the dollar signs. Read on to learn what happened when Senior Fine Jewelry & Watch Valuation Manager Lauren Hunt and Lead Fine Jewelry & Watch Valuation Manager Kelsey Hickox first laid eyes on these elegant rings and the backstories behind their five-figure (and more!) price tags.
9.08ct Diamond Engagement Ring
This $95,000 unbranded diamond engagement ring features an impressive 9.08 carat brilliant yellow diamond with 0.37 carats of round brilliant yellow diamonds and 2.07 carats of round brilliant diamonds throughout. What can you tell us about it?
Lauren Hunt: This stunner came across our desks as the result of a remote appointment. The current team here at our LA Century City Luxury Consignment Office is a total of 8 gemologists and growing, and we use the help of colleagues nationwide for pieces of this caliber. Pricing is a delicate process and these discussions arise more and more now that our clients are entrusting us such higher-caliber pieces. We want to think of every scenario and research any comparables within the present market.
Kelsey Hickox: As for this ring’s $95,000 price, a majority of the value is going to be in the center diamond, though a mounting or setting can command a larger portion of the price if it is heavy, ornate and decorated with diamonds and other gemstones.
Colored diamonds are a completely different story when pricing. Even the distinction between a diamond that is yellowish brown versus brownish yellow will affect the price per carat. Colored diamonds that are outside the normal color range are classified as “fancy.” They’re priced much differently than colorless diamonds due to market demand, availability and high-pressure, high-temperature treatments (if any) that enhance or change color. The diamond in this unbranded piece is considered “fancy light yellow” with no overtone colors, which means there are no other colors present that would inhibit the brilliance of its yellow hue. Despite the fact that it has no brand name attached to it, it has an incredibly high clarity and brilliance that’s accentuated by its cut. Its fire, brilliance and the fact that it’s a “fancy” diamond are all factors when we price beautiful pieces like these.
Graff 7.12ct Diamond Engagement Ring
This Graff ring is a staggering $310,000. Can you help demystify the price tag?
KH: Founded in the mid-20th century, Graff is an extraordinary design house based in London. Over the years, the brand has gained an esteemed reputation for working with exquisite, high carat weight diamonds such as “The Graff Lesedi la Rona,” a 302 carat D color stone (a very rare grade) and “The Lesotho Promise,” a 603 carat diamond. They’ve set the bar high and work only with the finest materials.
LH: When we come across such pieces like this, we really do rope in an army of gemologists to assess them. We were sent the gemological report, an image and video of the diamond (to see the brilliance and fire), and discussed how we would price this item. Photos don’t even do the piece justice in regard to its brilliance (the small flashes of light that a diamond reflects) and fire (a prism effect that separates a beam of light into the colors of the rainbow). Since it’s branded, we did seek out our authentication and gemology department heads to help us maximize the price given the current response for Graff rings on the secondary market. It’s about considering all the different factors at play.
Anita Ko 3.02ct Diamond Engagement Ring
Can you tell us a little bit about Anita Ko and what contributes to the price of this ring by the emerging designer?
LH: Anita Ko is a favorite among Hollywood stars, so it’s no wonder the brand continues to hold cachet in the secondary market. Her designs are classic yet contemporary and in Ko’s words “for a woman on the go.” Anita Ko can speak to the modern, cutting-edge woman’s aesthetic. Additionally, she focuses on using ethically sourced and conflict-free gemstones in all of her designs, thus appealing to the growing group of individuals who value sustainability in all facets of their lives. All of this, in addition to craftsmanship, materials and the ever-changing market demand go through our heads before we give a ring like this an almost $60,000 price.
Cartier Panthère de Cartier Ring
Cartier is renowned for jewelry collections like Panthère de Cartier. What can you tell us about the history of the collection and this ring?
KH: The original concept for the Panthère collection was likely inspired by illustrator George Barbier. In 1913, founder Louis Cartier commissioned Barbier to create an advertisement with an image of an alluring, modern woman. She turned out to be “Dame à la Panthère,” an elegant woman accompanied by a black panther.
The collection can also be traced back to Jeanne Toussaint. As of 1933, Jeanne Toussaint was Cartier’s director of luxury jewelry (before this, she was the director of bags, accessories and objets d’art). Louis Cartier’s nickname for her was “La Panthère,” and considering her elegance, grace and determination, the Panthère collection represents Toussaint herself in many ways. In 1948, Toussaint designed the first-ever three-dimensional Panthère piece in the form of a brooch for the Duchess of Windsor. Cartier soon began to make pieces available to the market, and the coveted Panthère grew into a more tangible and wearable design for the European and American elite. Since its inception, the motif has evolved into a brand identifier and continues to adapt to trends in the jewelry and fashion industries.
When this ring came across my desk, my jaw nearly hit the floor. As expected, the materials and craftsmanship are top-notch, from the diamonds to the 18k white gold. The price of this ring depends largely on demand for Cartier Panthère jewelry in the marketplace. At The RealReal we analyze brand performance, demand, sold product prices from the past and salability in order to arrive at a secondary-market selling price.
What’s the proper way to care for diamond rings to keep them in top resale condition?
LH: Be sure to go in and see your trusted jeweler every year, or if you feel something is off with your ring. If the item is white gold, which is plated with rhodium to give it that silvery-white look, you can consult a jeweler about getting it rhodium-plated to refresh your piece and even the tone of the metal.
Due to the amount of movement and wear rings see, you should check the prongs regularly to ensure the safety of the diamonds and gemstones. If you’re unsure how hard you are on pieces, check in with your jeweler and they can advise how often you should check your pieces. I always recommend, if possible, using the original jeweler or designer that made the ring to perform maintenance on it. That will ensure that the same purity of metal is used and quality of work is performed during the ring’s lifetime.