The Ultimate Guide to Original or Factory Rolex Diamonds vs Aftermarket or Custom Diamonds
Our goal is to answer the following questions...
- How to tell if diamonds are factory?
- What are the quality differences between aftermarket & factory diamonds?
- What should be considered when purchasing aftermarket diamonds?
- How do aftermarket parts change the value of your Rolex?
Take a moment to magnify the photo below of an aftermarket diamond mother of pearl dial compared to a factory Rolex diamond mother of pearl dial.
How can I tell if diamonds are factory Rolex?
"Whether for diamonds, sapphires, rubies or emeralds, Rolex masters the art of gem-setting. ~Rolex
The easiest sign of a Rolex set gemstone is in the alignment. Each diamond's table is aligned perfectly with the center of the dial. Each diamond or gem table should be aligned in a uniform direction.
Sorting and matching diamond color, clarity and cut is useful for more than high-end custom jewelry.
Manufacturers take care to ensure that each stone matches the others in terms of size, cut, color, and clarity.
When the diamonds are well matched, it’s likely that the same attention to detail also applies to the execution and finish.
Rolex's Master Gemologists are responsible for selecting only those diamonds & gemstones that meet Rolex’s extremely stringent quality criteria.
Aftermarket diamond accessories can have cracked, cloudy or non-white stone. Study the cut quality of each stone. If it's not perfect it's not Rolex.
Aftermarket dials have been repainted and applied. This means the "ROLEX" print is not authentic and is not applied by the manufacturer.
Beware of misleading descriptions from online sellers. Below is an example of an aftermarket diamond & sapphire bezel and aftermarket diamond dial being portrayed as 100% factory.
The plate or metal of the dial could very well be Rolex original, but the value lies within the difficulty and perfection of the print, finish, indices, applied coronet and hour markers.
The diamond table also gives us an idea of quality and attention to detail. Take not of the tables not being the same size or aligned.
The purpose of a diamond table is to refract entering light and allow reflected light to meet the observer's eye.
Study each photo provided, pay attention to the diamond setting and position. Each diamond or gem table is perfectly aligned with each neighboring stone. The tables line up throughout the entire diamond bezel.
Bounce the light off of the table of the diamonds present so you can see the diamond table shape and positioning. The diamond position and selection process allow the factory diamond bezel to outshine most aftermarket diamond. bezels of similar size.
"Gem-setters, like sculptors, finely carve the precious metal to hand-shape the seat in which each gemstone will be perfectly lodged.
With the art and craft of a jeweller, the stone is placed and meticulously aligned with the others, then firmly secured in its gold or platinum setting.
"Besides the intrinsic quality of the stones, several other criteria contribute to the beauty of Rolex gem-setting: the precise alignment of the height of the gems, their orientation and position, the regularity, strength and proportions of the setting as well as the intricate finishing of the metalwork. A sparkling symphony to enhance the watch and enchant the wearer." ~Rolex
Rolex Datejust 179383 sporting a full factory diamond bezel and factory white mother of pearl diamond dial. (Photographed above)
"The stones then pass into the hands of the gem-setters, who are tasked with placing and fixing each stone to best reveal its beauty, colour and sparkle." ~Rolex
When studying factory diamond settings on a Rolex wristwatch, its easy to get lost in the masterful craftsmanship involved in creating a gem set model.
Under a 10x loupe you can enjoy the time and effort given to each stone and setting.
Rolex matches the color, clarity, size and cut to ensure a uniform display.
Are factory Rolex diamonds worth the investment?
Take a look at this infographic to see the increase in retail price based on factory Rolex diamond accessories. Keep in mind the retail price is very different from the preowned market.
There is no way of knowing what will rise in value. Loving your purchase regardless of the value is a big part of enjoying the buying process.
Try on different models with and without diamonds. Do your research and know that you've made the right choice.
Take care of your watch so if and when it hits the pre-owned market it has every opportunity to sell at the top of the market.
Knowing the price difference and exploring all available options should ensure a pleasant buying experience.
The increase in value starts with the stones selected. Study a factory diamond set Rolex model under a 10x magnification, notice how the table of each stone is perfectly aligned with the setting.
The table alignment presents a uniform look and fire when exposed to the light.
Rolex Submariner 16613 with Factory Diamond & Sapphire Slate (Serti) Dial (Photo Above)
The perfection and high level of attention to detail that goes into creating a Rolex is best viewed in the diamond & gem set models.
Rolex only uses the best in diamonds. Rolex utilizes a large number of gemologists and jewelers. Their gemologists source, buy and test each and every diamond that goes into a watch.
Every single diamond is individually tested to ensure they grade IF (internally flawless) in clarity and between D and G in color.
"Gem-setters finely carve the precious metal to hand-shape the seat in which each gemstone will be perfectly lodged.
Besides the intrinsic quality of the stones, several other criteria contribute to the beauty of Rolex gem-setting: the precise alignment of the height of the gems, their orientation and position, the regularity, strength and proportions of the setting as well as the intricate finishing of the metalwork." ~ Rolex
Every diamond or precious stone used on a Rolex watch is hand-selected and hand-set by a master jeweler.
The jeweler creates custom settings for each model. The same processes employed in creating the world's finest jewelry is applied to a Rolex.
Rolex maintains a high level of artisanship through out the entire setting process. Most people believe Rolex to be a mass producer of wristwatches due to their high production numbers.
When you study the quality, Rolex maintains quality similar to a smaller independent manufacturer producing far less watches for much high values.
Rolex spends a significant amount of time and effort to ensure the factory diamond settings are of the highest quality.
Under a 10x loupe, it's clear to see the tangible difference between aftermarket and Rolex. View the image below, notice the perfection of each setting. The tables align perfectly creating a uniform setting.
What should be considered when purchasing aftermarket diamonds?
As popular as an aftermarket diamond set Rolex watches are, they fail to hold their value as well as a factory diamond Rolex.
Often times the quality of work is vastly lower than Rolex’s strict standards. Many times the added diamonds can detract from the resale of the watch.
If you’re looking for a Rolex to hold value, do not add low quality aftermarket diamonds to the case/bracelet/bezel/dial as it damages the elements of a watch that were not designed for the setting.
The setting process is costly and will not translate to a higher resale amount. Factory diamonds retain value far better due to their high level of workmanship and high quality look.
If you purchase an aftermarket diamond Rolex, you run the risk of the setter damaging the watch in ways that allow moisture to penetrate the case. Beware of low quality settings.
Loupe your purchase and study the level of workmanship. Everything is cheap for a reason.
Thank you for your viewership. We hope to address everything involved in purchasing a factory diamond Rolex model. If you have additional questions, contact us by selecting "Contact" on the main menu.