Field Trip: Diamond Myths
HOST: Taking a ride through the dark passages of the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mines, I'm getting a glimpse at the industry that's been a huge part of the Mountain State's economy since the late 1800s. Now, I don't think that coal, which takes millions of years to form, qualifies as an antique collectible, but Roadshow appraiser Kevin Zavian has some other carbon-based materials he wants to explore: diamonds. HOST: Kevin, we're here in a coal mine, not a diamond mine, but we're talking about diamonds. Why is that?
We're gonna dispel some diamond myths. The first myth I wanna talk about was that you could put enough pressure on coal to make a diamond. Superman III, Christopher Reeve takes it and he crushes it, and out comes a diamond. That really can't happen. They are both carbon, but it's a carbon of a different structure. HOST: So what's the next myth, Kevin?
Well, the next myth would be that diamonds are very rare. Over 100 million carats of diamonds are mined a year. 70% of the diamonds mined are used for industry. They use them for things like drill bits and abrasives. The other 30% we use for jewelry. In this case here, we have a hand-made platinum ring with a 7.5 carat, emerald-cut diamond with two tapered baguette stones on it. And it's a nice color, very clean, no carbon spots in it, and a stone like this today at auction could be $150,000 to $200,000. HOST: So diamonds, per se, are not particularly rare, but good diamonds are?
Right. HOST: So, I've always thought that diamonds always have been the representation of love and commitment. That's why we give a diamond engagement ring. But that hasn't always been the case?
Right, today we even have diamond-encrusted wedding bands. As recently as the 1800s, diamonds were not a sign of love and commitment. They were a sign of status and nobility. It really didn't get rolling until the 1930s, when De Beers created a marketing plan to show diamonds as a sign of love and commitment. They came out with the ad in 1947, "A Diamond is Forever." This is a variation of a wedding band. This one has diamonds in it. A ring like this would have been made in the 1940s or early '50s. It's hand-made of platinum. It has 18 round brilliant-cut diamonds circling it. They weigh almost three carats total weight. A value for a ring like this at auction would be $3,000 to $4,000. HOST: Now we know the truth about diamonds. Thanks.
Well, thanks for having me.
Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.
Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."
Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.
Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.
Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.
Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.
Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.