Ramble On Ron

Diamonds, Music and other Facets of Life

Diamond Market Report 2022

Posted on | December 9, 2022 | No Comments

I can’t believe my last diamond market report was in 2015. Where did the time go? COVID, getting lost in transactions, trying to keep things going here, opening a new office in Richmond, we’ve been busy. The diamond market has been pretty volatile the past few years, below are my thoughts:

How have Lab Grown Diamonds (LGD) Affected Market Prices?

I’ve wrote about lab grown back in 2016 and expressed my concerns about the second hand market. Aside from fraud and people trying to pass them off as natural diamonds, (we had to buy $6,000 testers for our offices) I wondered if these stones would carry any second hand value. The answer seven years later is NO. That’s the issue for me, the intrinsic value of lab grown diamonds are ZERO. Not because they don’t look nice, it’s because I keep seeing these goods offered from dealers for less and less. So for me to purchase one from the public makes no sense. I can acquire them for so little these days new from the manufacturer, that we can’t pay anything for them second hand. Because they can be grown for so little, retailers LOVE selling them. Big profits, nice looking product, but no trades…

The fact that LGD’s are cheap and look nice has lead the lower quality diamond market to fall. We buy and sell it all here, and I’m seeing that the “bluff” stone market, (I2 and lower colors) keeps going down. The reason is that if you put a 2 carat low quality natural diamond next to a high quality lab grown for cheaper, the customer always picks the LGD.

Then we go back to the same old story. Nicer goods still bring good prices. Shape wise, rounds are still king, ovals have been hot for a few years, marquise and pears are pretty strong and princess cuts are dead. They were the hottest stone of the late 90’s early 2000’s but it seems that princess cut diamonds have fallen out of favor.

Melee (small diamonds) prices are not bad. They fell pre-pandemic but made a comeback. Hopefully this means that India is back to manufacturing and exporting to a higher level than then when the pandemic hit.

It looks like LGD has legs for a certain type of shopper. All of the majors carry them. In 2015, I discussed that the sustainability factor was a non-issue and talked about the fact that recycled diamonds are a better option if you’re concerned about that. Since then, we’ve learned that growing man made diamonds take a lot of energy and materials so they are not as sustainable as advertised.

In conclusion, I am cautiously optimistic on the diamond market. There are always disrupters to any industry. As usual, it’s ADAPT OR DIE…


Is This Another Gold Rush?

Posted on | February 19, 2020 | No Comments

Gold soared past $1600 an ounce yesterday, making it the highest since 2013. Can you say #coronavirus? So what does this mean for the future of gold, silver, and other metal prices? We can try and draw comparisons to the run of 2011, when gold climbed to an all time high over $1900 an ounce, but here’s what I see:

Corona Virus:

It makes me feel sick just to say those words. It used to make me so happy to think of Mexico and beer, but anyway, this is probably the reason for the immediate spike. In fact, Chow Tai Fook, the world’s second largest jeweler behind Tiffany & Co, is closing fifteen Hong Kong locations, (a fifth of it’s total in Hong Kong) and even cutting staff in their North American brands that include Hearts on Fire and Memoire. We don’t feel it over here, but China is such a big consumer of not just jewelry, but all consumer goods, that this puts a big hurt on the global economy.

Election 2020:

Who knows what’s going to happen in November, and everyone is freaked out about the current state of US politics, so it seems to be a very ripe time for investors and doomsday preppers to buy and hoard gold, silver and other precious metals.

Gold acts as a hedge in unstable markets, and as the stock market surges, it’s soon to go down, and that’s where our little yellow friend makes her run.

Everyone loves charts so let’s look at 10 year gold:


I hope to be looking at this post in a week, month, or year and saying, “Wow I can’t believe gold was so low!”


The truth is no one knows and we don’t have a crystal ball. There are two things I do know:

  1. If gold hits $2000, Samuelson’s will be very busy.
  2. If it doesn’t, we’ll be here waiting for the next party…




Virginia Is For Lovers

Posted on | October 29, 2019 | No Comments

Our foray into the Washington D.C. local market started back in 2011 when we opened up in Chevy Chase, one block away from the DC line. We started getting calls in our Baltimore store from people who wanted to sell their jewelry in Washington D.C. and were not willing to drive up to Baltimore to do it. It was also at the height of the gold buying frenzy, where gold spot prices reached $1900 per ounce.

This month, we took our efforts a step further with the opening of another office in Northern Virginia. In our 10 years of being in Chevy Chase, we noticed what a great market this is. So many exciting developments in this area make it the perfect spot for another Samuelson’s Buyers outlet. The pressing issue was, how are we going to staff it?

Luckily, we found a great buyer straight from Jewelers’ Row in Philadelphia. Here’s the official press release:

Samuelson’s Diamonds & Estate Buyers Expands Reach Beyond Maryland; Opens Third Location in Tyson’s Corner to Serve DC Metro Area

Baltimore, Oct. 23, 2019 – Founded and headquartered in Baltimore, third generation-owned jewelry business Samuelson’s Diamonds & Estate Buyers has not only survived its almost 100-year history; it is thriving. The company announced today that it is opening a third buying office in Northern Virginia (8300 Boone Blvd Suite 500 Vienna, VA 22182). This location is Samuelson’s first outside of Maryland and its second in the Washington D.C. metro area.

“As precious metal prices have continued to climb, the need for a trustworthy and reputable buyer in the D.C. metro area grows. The success we have experienced in our Chevy Chase office prompted us to expand in order to better serve our new and current Northern Virginia clients with a Tyson’s Corner location,” said CEO Ron Samuelson. “We jumped at the chance to hire a 30-year industry veteran, Allan Rosen, to head up this office.”

A native of The City of Brotherly Love, Rosen joins Samuelson’s straight from Philadelphia’s famous Jewelers’ Row, where he ran his own jewelry purchasing firm. With 30 years of experience, Rosen’s specialties include diamond grading, finished jewelry evaluation, estate jewelry purchasing, gold & silver assessment, and watch appraisals.

Samuelson’s Diamonds & Estate Buyers is open by appointment only and is now accepting appointments at its Northern Virginia office. The office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is conveniently located close to I-495 with free parking outside of the building.

Appointments can be made by calling (703) 714-9553 or by filling out the online form https://www.samuelsonsbuyers.com/locations/.

In addition to diamonds, Samuelson’s Buyers is interested in acquiring:

  • Gold
  • Engagement rings
  • Watches
  • Estate jewelry
  • Sterling silver
  • Coins & Bullion

About Samuelson’s Diamonds & Estate Buyers

Founded in 1922, Samuelson’s has remained family-owned and operated for nearly 100 years.  With locations in Chevy Chase and Baltimore, and now Northern Virginia, Samuelson’s has specialized in providing clients with outstanding service and trustworthy quality for decades. Learn more at www.samuelsonsbuyers.com.

So here’s to Tysons Corner, Virgina – hope to see you there!


Thoughts On the Big Move

Posted on | January 15, 2019 | No Comments

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a post. I’ve been lost in transactions and some other pretty big happenings – the biggest being Samuelson’s move to Baltimore County after 96 years in downtown Baltimore.

The joy and satisfaction I’ve felt from this tremendous change, personally and professionally, is very difficult to put into words. This dream started about two years ago. While our Chevy Chase location was doing quite well, our Baltimore location was good, but not great. We redesigned our Baltimore office, as best as we could, to mimic our DC area spot, but the reality was that Baltimore Street, plain and simple, is not the place for a diamond dealer or a jewelry retailer. My friends and colleagues were not too keen on coming downtown. The parking is a mess, the neighborhood not wonderful. So the question was – do we move to another retail store, or make the dream of a private estate jewelry buying office and retail showroom a reality? We looked at several offices, a deal fell through, (thankfully) and we ended up in a great space, The Quarry at Greenspring.

I give all of the credit to my team. I am so proud to have a group of people who believe in the cause and push themselves to be greater. I am so thankful to share this with my father, who has always supported change. This is perhaps the key to a multi-generational family business. Accept and embrace change; it’s a very difficult thing to do but also the most important.

We are already transacting business and enjoying the new digs. And, perhaps most importantly, HAVING FUN, so stay tuned for more from Samuelson’s Diamonds & Estate Buyers. Yes, we’ve been around for 100 years, but we are only in the beginning of this new adventure!

2800 Quarry Lake Drive

Samuelson’s Diamonds & Estate Buyers Showroom

Ron’s Office

Team Samuelson



Derek Trucks Is The Best On Earth

Posted on | February 26, 2017 | No Comments

Been a long time since a post, but something I saw this weekend compelled me. Friday night I went down to Washington DC, home of Samuelson’s Buyers, and saw a spectacle – The Tedeschi Trucks Band. I’ve seen them a few times and have seen the Allman Brothers several times with Derek Trucks. In fact, the first time I saw Derek was in Atlanta in 1991 or 1992. He was probably 12 or 13 years old, playing with Col Bruce and the Aquarium Rescue Unit. He came out onstage with his Braves hat and tore it up. We all knew where he was headed, but his band right now is at another level. High energy, and the music, well, top top notch.

I’ll make this statement that Derek Trucks is the best guitar player in the world right now, and definitely the best slide player ever. That includes Clapton, Warren Haynes, Trey Anastasio, and all of the other great ones alive. The tone and sustain that he gets from his guitar is transcendental – meaning it comes from a higher place. No other explanation to me except that it’s straight from God. So with that being said enjoy this video from the last DC TTB run!

Man Made, Lab Grown, Synthetic Diamonds

Posted on | April 9, 2016 | No Comments

The newest substitute for natural diamonds are now man made or lab grown diamonds. Unlike CZ’s and Synthetic Moissanite, these diamonds actually have the chemical composition of a natural diamond, and can be grown anywhere, like California or Washington DC. Perhaps the most well known startup, Diamond Foundry, is backed by Hollywood bigwigs like Leonardo DiCaprio, star of Blood Diamond. On their website, they sell based on the so called ethical issues of the natural diamond industry. From their website:

The diamond industry has long been linked to human-rights abuses, child labor, ecological destruction, untraceable origin, and cartel pricing. We felt it is time to create a better choice.

Seems like this would be a great selling point to millennials who are looking be to socially and ethically responsible. Sounds a little like selling on fear, which is never good. Remember these are the same customers of Target, Walmart, Gap, and other companies who all produce clothing overseas in not what we would call “socially responsible” conditions. Don’t forget that most natural diamonds are produced under legitimate conditions. Diamond Market maker and rabble rouser, Martin Rapaport, wrote a letter to DiCaprio, pleading for him to stop promoting these diamonds. It will go on deaf ears, but here it is:

Dear Mr. DiCaprio,

Your efforts to sell synthetic diamonds as an ethical substitute for natural diamonds threatens the lives and livelihood of millions of artisanal diggers in Africa. One and a half million diggers support an additional seven million people by digging for diamonds. These diggers are among the poorest people in the world, earning as little as one dollar per day. Their primary daily concern is getting food to feed their children. Things are so bad that in places like Sierra Leone, the child mortality rate is the fourth highest in the world; 12 percent of children die before the age of five.

Instead of using your fame and fortune to help these diamond diggers and their families, you and your company are falsely claiming that it is more ethical to buy your synthetic diamonds than their natural diamonds. You are literally taking bread out of the mouths of the poorest people on earth. And you are calling it ethical. That is super wrong.

Mr. DiCaprio — what will happen to the millions of poor diggers and their families if you succeed in convincing a new generation of Millennial diamond consumers that it is more ethical to buy your synthetic diamonds than their natural diamonds? Will you feed these people? Will you provide them with an alternate livelihood? Are you willing to take personal ethical responsibility for the suffering you will cause?

Dear Mr. DiCaprio, I plead with you to take two urgent actions. 1) Stop promoting your synthetic diamonds as a more ethical product than legitimate natural diamonds. 2) Use your fame and fortune to help us and others promote fair trade diamonds and jewelry that will ensure good living and environmental conditions while paying artisanal diggers fair prices that lift them out of poverty.

You can and should play an important role in promoting ethical consumerism and an ethical diamond trade. The real issue before us is not diamonds, it’s people like the diggers in Sierra Leone and how we can use diamonds to help them. I urge you to contact me and follow up with a discussion about how we and others can create a more ethical diamond and jewelry trade that will significantly improve the lives of millions of artisanal diggers.

Yours truly,

Martin Rapaport Chairman, RAPAPORT

His point is that the man made diamond industry is taking jobs way from the poorest people on earth and calling it ethical. They will argue that Mr. Rapaport is old school, doesn’t embrace technology, and is only thinking about his own personal interests. I’m not here to debate the ins and outs of ethical mining, social responsibility, or these company’s right to exist. The real question is what affect will these diamonds have on the natural diamond market?

I am going to discuss this wearing two hats – the concerns of a retailer and the concerns of a second hand buyer.

Retailer Concerns:

These stones will be about 20% less than natural diamonds, so when you have customers on a budget and asking for these man made diamonds, the retailer will fear that they miss a sale if they don’t have them. If the made made diamond marketing machine succeeds, like DeBeers “A Diamond is Forever” campaign, then retailers may be forced to adapt or die. At this time, we have chosen not to carry these diamonds at Samuelson’s right now. It doesn’t have much to do with being “against” the companies who produce them, but more that we don’t want to participate in cycling these “diamonds” back into the market. This leads into my concern as a second hand buyer.

Second Hand Buyer Concerns:

This part really scares me. We buy a lot of diamonds from the public. Like moissanite, these made made diamonds will test genuine on a diamond tester. What equipment will we have to properly detect these stones? Most will have a laser inscription, but who is to stop someone from buying a man made diamond, having it recut, and then resellng it? Perhaps like CZ and moissanite, in a few years it won’t be an issue to detect these stones. However, the technology has improved so much that I think it will be tough. It also will be interesting to see what these diamonds will bring second hand if they are bought as made made diamonds. In other words, what be dealers pay for “recycled man made diamonds”. It may be that they have ZERO real market value, like CZ’s and moissanite. Of course, natural diamonds have always had a real value and a robust trading market.


Time will tell how man made diamonds will affect the natural diamond market, but there is something special about natural diamonds that technology can’t ruin. They have been valuable for 1000’s of years, this one blip in history can’t take that all away. As long as they are making real diamonds in a lab, why not make real gold, silver and platinum? Is that the next step? What jewelers and diamond buyers will have to do is adapt and move forward – that’s always been our philosophy – change is inevitable, the winners will move with it…



Diamond Market Report 2015

Posted on | February 15, 2016 | No Comments

I would be lying if I were to say that 2015 was a banner year in the diamond market. Let’s be honest, it was rough out there. The FORMER monopoly of Debeers didn’t heed the call of the market and continued to raise prices at their sales. What ended up happening was that a majority of sightholders (companies that have the “privilege” of buying from Debeers direct) turned away boxes of diamonds in unprecedented numbers. In the second hand world, where I am fully in the trenches, cash was tight. Prices I realized in 2013/2014 did not bring the same in 2015. There were some key factors that contributed to overall diamond prices in 2015 like Far East demand and unsteadiness in the global economy, but there were a few things the I saw, as a diamond buyer, that affected diamond prices in 2015. The following factors are things that I noticed as an estate jewelry buyer that most diamond reporters will not see, as they are generally reporting on the rough and manufactured diamond markets; not the recycled diamond market, which is the BIGGEST diamond mine in the world.

EGL International Going Under

It was a big deal in November 2014 when Martin Rapaport, the market maker in diamonds and owner the Rapnet Diamond Trading Platform, delisted ALL EGL certified diamonds, because of massive overgrading. EGL International in particular were the culprits in this scheme and they went out of business immediately. Years ago EGL was average in their diamonds grades, but lately they have been so far off the mark, that it got out of hand. There were even some lawsuits/class action suits filed against companies for selling these certificates.  I  think this may have had a direct effect on the sale of commercial grade diamonds for us in 2015. We used to be able to move these items at decent prices, but in 2015 prices were off on these particular goods. Bread and butter goods, larger diamonds and nicer quality diamonds are always in demand.

Metal Price Slump

I also believe that the metal price slump has had an adverse effect on diamond market. At the height of the gold buying craze from 2008-2012, (remember the Cash4Gold Super Bowl ad with MC Hammer?) things were moving fast, gold was at an all time high, and diamonds were cruising. Once the craze was over, diamonds slowed down as well.


So what did Samuelson’s do as a company to combat the 2015 slump? We adapt and move forward. That’s all you can do. We also sold our dead goods and continued to buy aggressively and carefully.  Like Warren Buffet says, “Be Fearful When Others Are Greedy and Greedy When Others Are Fearful”. There were some great deals out there (and still are).


So the next question is – what will 2016 look like? So far, it’s on a rebound. Debeers last sale was a record. They came back down to earth and the market reacted. I’m seeing prices improve and the overall state of the market moving up. I also predict a rally in gold, silver and platinum prices. This will propel the diamond market moving forward. These minor corrections are healthy for any market – they weed out the weak and reward the ones who are still standing…

Grateful Dead Soldier Field July 3-5, 2015 – WOW!

Posted on | July 8, 2015 | No Comments

laura and ronWell, I guess dreams really do come true. I started a blog post before I left that I never finished titled, “Is This Really Happening? The Grateful Dead With Trey?” Well it happened and this could have been the best musical experience of my life.

Here’s how the post before I left started:

“How many Phish shows have I craved a Grateful Dead cover? Never got one. So when the announcement came for the DEAD50 Anniversary shows at Soldier Field, I was all in. The “warm up” shows were promising, not perfect, but great. I will write a full review when I get back. So far, Trey hasn’t FULLY let loose, but he’s getting there. The major similarity between Trey and Jerry is the peaks and valleys that they take you through. I think the technical term is CRESCENDO:

Will report back after my trip – enjoy!”

Boy did they deliver. Trey was unbelievable – he really let loose and took us on those crescendos. Bobby was on his game, the vibe was just so perfect, I can’t even explain it. This was a dream come true for me. Great friends, great music, great city – I am still high from it. I can’t even write a full review of these shows because I can’t put into words how great they were, and I’m not willing to critique every note and every flaw. The professional videos are not out yet but here’s a great one that gives you the vibe of the crowd:

The Meaning of “Mazal” In The Diamond Business

Posted on | April 25, 2015 | No Comments

After reading an article in New York Magazine titled “The Secret Slang of the Diamond Diamond District,” I thought that this would be a good opportunity to write a blog post about the most important term in the diamond business, MAZL,(or mazel or mazal) and what it means. Also, I wanted to explain that this rule doesn’t seem to apply to retail customers and it should.

From NY Magazine’s article:

The most significant phrase on the street, and perhaps in the global trade, is mazl un brokhe — “good luck and a blessing” — which is commonly abbreviated to “mazl.” It is hard to overstate the power of this oral handshake, which seals million-dollar deals without lawyers, witnesses or contracts. In “making mazl,” diamantaires stake their honor (and that of their family), and the term garners near-universal respect.

So, I went into the archives of Ramble On Ron and discovered a draft from August 2011. It says everything I want to express. This remains unchanged from 2011 – please read it below:

AUGUST 11, 2011

There are a lot of quirky, old school practices in the diamond business, but the one that I use on regular basis is commonly referred to as a “mazl”. Mazel Tov in Hebrew (or Yiddish) means “Good luck” or “Congratulations” that is often said on a happy occasion. However, that word, MAZL (pronounced MAZAL) and a handshake in the diamond business means that the deal is done.

Here’s an example. I make a sale on a diamond with another dealer/member of the trade. Let’s say he wants to buy a diamond from me for $5,000. I agree to the price and we make a mazl. That means that I can’t go back on my decision and neither can he. So even if I am still holding the stone and another dealer or retail customer offers more, I can’t sell it to someone else. And in the buyer’s case, if he changes his mind or decides that he doesn’t need it the next day – it’s too late. It’s a DONE DEAL.

Some customers definitely don’t understand this. It’s often referred to as “buyer’s remorse” but sometimes I see it the other way around – like “seller’s remorse”. I take a risk when I buy. What if gold or silver goes down? What if the diamond market collapses? Or if the diamond is chipped under a prong, or not the color or carat weight that I thought it was? In any of these cases, I took the risk!

Let’s take the flip side. If gold goes down, should I call all of my customers and ask them to write me a check for the money I lost from when it was bought? If a diamond comes back from the lab at a different grade than I thought, can I go back on the deal? The answer is no, I wouldn’t do that – and customers shouldn’t either. Whether you are in my business or not, when you make a deal and shake hands, it’s done. To go back on the deal, ask for a price increase or change the terms of the deal, takes a lot of a CHUTZPAH!

Jewelry Market Report 2014

Posted on | December 22, 2014 | No Comments

Each year I give a Diamond Market Report where I explain what’s happening in the diamond world and where I think market trends and prices will be. As I read over my report for 2013 it seems that 2014 was a very similar year with all trends continuing on the same path. Colored and larger diamonds are strong, average diamonds are moving, and small diamonds (melee) are relatively weak. CLICK HERE TO READ MY 2013 DIAMOND MARKET REPORT.

So this year, I decided to give a report on the state of the JEWELRY industry. Not necessarily on fashion – like what’s hot and whats not, but more on what business decisions need to be made for jewelers and diamond dealers. This year was a pretty difficult year, and 2015 will be just as challenging for jewelers on the retail and wholesale level.

What’s changed in the past 10 years? Why can’t the average jeweler compete these days?


Yes the net has taken the jewelry industry for a big spin. It took a little while, but retailers and now wholesalers are having a hell of a time figuring out how to add value. First, it was “you can’t buy a diamond online” – it worked a little. Now, it just doesn’t fly as well. Sure people want to touch and feel their jewelry, but a 25-30 year old guy who can get a good value in one click and return it if it’s not right? That’s a hard one to compete with in 2014. So what’s the key? RELATIONSHIPS. You can’t get that at Blue Nile. You’re just a number and then you go into a marketing funnel at that place. So jewelers have to provide some value beyond a good price, and it can be done. Samuelson’s Diamonds is coming out with a new website in the first quarter of 2015 that will really tap into what local buyers are looking for.


This is an especially tough one for jewelers and maybe even more so for diamond wholesalers. What do you do with all of the goods you bought that are sitting? What does a wholesaler do with a large amount of diamonds that a bank won’t lend them money on? The problem is that banks don’t understand what jewelry is worth, so they can’t lend aggressively on goods. I believe this problem can be solved, but I will say that TURN is going to be a key to survival this year. Don’t stock items you can’t sell.


Gold and silver have taken a big hit in the past couple years. In April 2011 gold hit a high of $1923 per ounce. Silver hit almost $50 per ounce. Now they are at around $1180 and $15.60 respectively. That’s a huge loss. How did this affect jewelers? For that 2008-2012 run, there were a lot of jewelers who survived on gold buying. Remember CASH4GOLD and all of the other companies? How about gold parties? Well, they are all gone or very small now, and so are the sellers. So the easy money just isn’t there for a single jewelry store. Now, it’s back to the basics and the basics have really changed!


I think 2015 will be the year to BUY. Because of what I listed above, coupled with fear, the deals are there. For a consumer and for a diamond dealer (like me). It may even be a great time to buy metals.

I think Warren Buffet sums it up best:

“Be Fearful When Others Are Greedy and Greedy When Others Are Fearful”

It’s gonna be a good year to buy






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