Embarking on the journey of how to buy diamonds, understanding the nuances of purchasing these precious stones or diamond jewelry is key to ensuring their true quality
Be forewarned, this guide is comprehensive, but for good reason. Every section brings you one step closer to securing the best possible diamond while also equipping you with industry knowledge that could potentially save you considerable sums of money.
In this guide, we will shine a light on what to look for when buying diamonds, guiding you to purchase like an expert. You’ll gain insights on how to save money, avoid diamond scams, and confidently identify counterfeit pieces.
The most exciting part? You don’t need to be a certified gemologist or hold an elaborate degree from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) to become adept at buying diamonds. Just settle down with a cup of your favorite coffee and let’s embark on this fascinating journey!
Introduction: Diamonds Are Forever – Definitions & History
The term “diamond” finds its roots in the ancient Greek word “Adamas,” which aptly translates to “unbreakable.” This descriptor not only alludes to the hardness of the gem but also its enduring appeal. Diamonds are among the most desired gemstones on the planet, thanks not only to their incredible strength but also their mesmerizing light-dispersing properties.
The indestructible nature of diamonds inspired the iconic De Beers advertising campaign featuring Frances Gerety’s 1947 copywriting slogan, “A Diamond is Forever.”
The slogan brilliantly elevated diamonds to a symbol of eternal love and commitment. It was a marketing masterstroke, setting a societal expectation that every worthwhile engagement ring in America should flaunt a diamond. Further, the clever campaign by the N.W. Ayer agency to adorn celebrities and fashion runways with diamonds sent diamond sales skyrocketing.
The subsequent decades, which might have been a downturn for the gemstone industry, proved to be a boon for the diamond market.
Fast forward to the present, and diamonds maintain their reign as the gemstone of choice. Indeed, diamonds are often the assumed centerpiece when conversations turn toward rings.
Why is Mastering the Art of Diamond Buying a Lifelong Skill?
Indeed, diamonds are famously considered a girl’s best friend. However, this phrase doesn’t exclusively apply to women anymore. The appeal of diamonds has transcended gender lines, with men and women alike finding these gemstones irresistible.
Men contemplate diamonds not only when selecting an engagement ring but also when considering their own personal jewelry or gifts for loved ones. Beyond personal adornment, an increasing number of individuals recognize the potential of diamonds, along with other gemstones and precious metals, as investment assets. (However, it’s important to approach this concept with caution, as diamonds don’t store value as predictably as some might believe.)
The allure of diamonds lies in their scarcity. They are formed over thousands of years and are a finite resource, which gives them a sense of intrinsic value. Buying loose diamonds is an appealing option for many due to the uniqueness of each gem, distinguishing diamonds from other pieces of jewelry.
As diamonds are highly sought after, the diamond trade inevitably involves considerable sums of money. As with any high-value industry, the potential for theft, scams, and other fraudulent dealings exists, making comprehensive knowledge of the trade vital.
This guide is your resource on how to buy diamonds, designed to give you the necessary know-how for informed purchases. It will guide you on what to buy, how to buy it, and where to buy it, ensuring you secure the best pieces and safeguard your investments. Ready to dive in? Let’s begin.
How to Buy Diamonds: Mastering the Fundamentals and Understanding the 4Cs
To make an informed purchase, it’s essential to learn the language of diamonds. At the heart of this language lie the 4Cs.
The 4Cs – Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat Weight – form the globally recognized standard for evaluating and describing the quality of diamonds.
Before the mid-twentieth century, no uniform criteria for assessing diamonds existed. However, as the diamond industry burgeoned, a shared language became necessary to discuss diamond quality among industry professionals and customers. This led to the establishment of the 4Cs, which continues to be a key aspect of understanding and evaluating diamonds.
Diamonds undergo chemical alterations as they form deep within the earth, impacting their color. A diamond’s color evaluation is primarily based on its lack of color, as the most chemically pure and structurally perfect diamonds are devoid of any hue.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) gauges a diamond’s level of colorlessness on a scale ranging from D to Z, where D represents absolute colorlessness and Z indicates noticeable light tones.
All diamonds within the D-Z spectrum are categorized as ‘white,’ despite their varying degrees of color. This is because their color differences are so subtle that they’re virtually indistinguishable to an untrained eye.
However, these seemingly minute distinctions can significantly affect a diamond’s quality and price. Any diamond exhibiting a tone deeper than the Z threshold falls into the ‘fancy-colored’ diamond category.
As you might expect, fancy-colored diamonds are extremely rare and are evaluated on a separate color scale. Their scarcity and unique hues considerably elevate their prices compared to their colorless counterparts.
It’s worth noting that a diamond’s perceived color can be influenced by its setting. For instance, a diamond can appear slightly yellow when mounted on gold. Therefore, it’s important to consider the interaction between the gem and the setting when making your selection.
During their formation process, diamonds acquire inherent characteristics known as ‘inclusions’ and ‘blemishes’. Inclusions refer to internal features, while blemishes describe external ones. The appearance and value of a diamond are greatly influenced by these characteristics.
The GIA utilizes an 11-point clarity scale that extends from ‘flawless’ to ‘included.’ This scale reflects the presence and visibility of inclusions and blemishes, many of which are imperceptible to the naked eye.
The closer a diamond is to ‘flawless’ or ‘perfection,’ the greater its value and price. However, any enhancements or treatments done to improve a diamond’s clarity or color – such as laser drilling or fracture filling – can decrease its value.
For a more in-depth understanding of diamond clarity, consider exploring our detailed guide on the clarity.
Contrary to common belief, ‘cut’ doesn’t refer to the shape of a diamond but to its proportions, symmetry, and interaction with light. These attributes are what give diamonds their brilliant sparkle, making the cut arguably the most complex attribute to analyze among the 4Cs.
The following illustration clarifies what the cut signifies and why it’s vital to opt for the highest possible grade:
When people talk about a ’round cut diamond’ or similar, they’re actually referring to the shape. Here are some of the most common ones:
Crafting a diamond involves precision workmanship to achieve the necessary facet shapes, angles, girdle width, culet size, polish, and symmetry. These factors contribute to a diamond’s brilliance, fire, and scintillation – attributes that define a top-grade diamond.
Overwhelmed by the technical terms? That’s precisely why the cut is often considered the MOST crucial factor among the 4Cs. There’s no such thing as a cut grade that’s “too high”!
Cutting through the jargon, the basic principle is that the GIA cut scale for standard round brilliant diamonds extends from ‘excellent’ to ‘poor’, with five gradations in between.
‘Carat weight’ quantifies how much a diamond weighs. The term ‘carat’ originates from the carob seed, the original unit of measure employed by diamond traders. It should not be confused with ‘karat,’ a unit used to denote gold purity.
To break it down, one diamond carat equals 0.2 grams. To give you a better sense of scale, consider that a paperclip weighs around 1 gram, equivalent to 5 carats.
For precise measurements, a carat can be subdivided into 100 points. Thus, a jeweler might refer to a 0.35 carat diamond as a ‘thirty-five pointer’. For diamonds weighing more than one carat, decimals are used. For example, a 1.02 carat diamond would be referred to as ‘one point oh two carats’.
Bear in mind that carat weight is never the sole determinant of a diamond’s value. Two stones with the same carat weight could have significantly different prices due to variations in cut, color, and clarity.
It’s also important to note that as a diamond’s carat size increases, its price escalates at an even higher rate. This reflects the rarity of larger diamonds. As the carat weight rises, you’ll see your bill increase not just in total, but also on a price-per-carat basis.
Navigating the Diamond Buying Process: Eliminating Uncertainty, Stress, and Overspending
Purchasing diamonds can be a bewildering experience, particularly given the vast and sometimes confusing array of natural versus synthetic diamonds and clear versus colored options.
However, it doesn’t need to be this way.
With a clear understanding of diamond grading criteria and other essential details, the buying process can become straightforward and hassle-free. But before we delve into the specifics of the diamond buying process, let’s cover a crucial aspect you need to be aware of when it comes to diamonds.
• Diamonds Vs. Other Gemstones
One distinguishing feature of diamonds is that they are the only gemstones formed from a single element. In contrast, all other gems are composites of two or more elements. When it comes to durability, diamonds outshine most other gemstones.
Given that diamonds can only be scratched by other diamonds, they retain their polish exceptionally well. Hence, it’s not surprising that only 20% of mined diamonds are utilized as gemstones, while the remaining 80% serve industrial purposes. Their robust nature makes diamonds ideally suited to withstand daily wear and tear, making them a popular choice for engagement or wedding rings.
It’s worth noting that in the gemstone industry, diamonds behave differently compared to other gems in terms of market pressures. Diamond prices remain high, not due to natural supply and demand dynamics, but rather due to artificial market pressures. This unusual trend can largely be attributed to a single company that maintains near monopoly control in the industry. By stockpiling substantial quantities of diamonds, this entity can engineer shortages to uphold high prices.
Therefore, when diamond prices surge, the cost of colored gemstones viewed as suitable alternatives also rises. Conversely, when diamond prices stabilize, consumers tend to lean towards purchasing diamonds. Such is the distinctive nature of the diamond market.
Understanding the Diverse Types of Diamonds
Previously, we have alluded to the fact that diamonds, despite their purity, harbor microscopic impurities within their atomic structure. These seemingly insignificant irregularities actually play a pivotal role, helping gemologists to classify diamonds based on their unique characteristics.
Broadly speaking, diamonds are categorized into two primary types – Type I and Type II – a classification rooted in the presence of nitrogen impurities. These categories are further delineated based on the distribution of nitrogen atoms and the incidence of boron impurities.
• Type 1 Diamonds
Making up a staggering 98% of all diamonds, Type I Diamonds are identifiable by their nitrogen content.
This sizable proportion is largely attributable to Type 1a diamonds, which exhibit a fascinating phenomenon of blue light absorption. This translates to a spectrum of hues from crystal-clear colorless to subtle pale yellow and even as far as rich brown.
Alternatively, Type 1b diamonds feature a more evenly dispersed nitrogen distribution and have the unique capability to absorb both blue and green light. The resulting colors are a vivid array from deep yellow and fiery orange to earthy brown and greenish undertones. However, this subgroup only represents less than 0.1% of all diamonds.
• Type 2 Diamonds
Type II Diamonds, in stark contrast to Type I, contain only negligible traces of nitrogen.
Type 2a diamonds are renowned for their exceptional ‘purity’ and are typically colorless. Nonetheless, certain structural anomalies can allow them to absorb a range of light wavelengths, imbuing them with colors such as yellow, brown, pink, purple, or even an intense red.
These represent 1-2% of all diamonds. Distinct from 2a, Type 2b diamonds are characterized by the presence of boron rather than nitrogen. This unique composition results in absorption of red, orange, and yellow light, which often imparts a captivating blue color.
However, they can also appear grey or even remain colorless. This unique type constitutes about 0.1% of all diamonds.
Resembling diamonds, sparkling like diamonds, but are they really diamonds? Well, not in the conventional understanding of the term.
Lab-created or synthetic diamonds are not a recent innovation. The genesis of diamond cultivation dates back to the 1950s and was primarily aimed at industrial applications. These man-made marvels make a fitting choice for such uses due to their impressive diamond-like qualities yet are significantly more affordable than their naturally occurring counterparts.
With leaps and bounds in technology, the manufacturing process of lab-grown diamonds has become more streamlined and cost-effective, enticing some manufacturers to venture into the gemstone market.
The commercial availability of lab-grown type IIa/b diamonds produced via the HPHT (high-pressure, high-temperature) method, a notable milestone, was only announced in 2014, as per the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
Distinguishing Between Natural vs. Lab-Created Diamonds
Without the aid of sophisticated technology and tools, it becomes virtually impossible for even the most trained eye to discern between a natural diamond and a lab-grown counterpart. This includes skilled jewelers who often rely on advanced equipment for accurate identification.
When making a choice between natural and synthetic diamonds, the most palpable difference is usually mirrored in the price, which is a direct reflection of the gemstone’s quality. Owing to their lab-controlled creation process, synthetic diamonds typically boast ‘flawless’ characteristics. When compared to natural diamonds of analogous quality, the lab-grown variants are generally much more affordable.
It is paramount to ALWAYS request a diamond certification when considering a purchase. Ensure that this certificate is issued by reputable laboratories such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), American Gem Society (AGS), or the International Gemological Institute (IGI). The certificate will unambiguously state whether the diamond is natural or lab-created.
As a general rule of thumb, avoid purchasing diamonds from any source that raises even the slightest suspicion of selling synthetic diamonds as natural ones. Trusted retailers like James Allen and Blue Nile should be your go-to for diamond shopping, providing peace of mind with their commitment to authenticity and quality.
Navigating the Ethics: Evading Conflict Diamonds
Conflict diamonds, also grimly referred to as ‘blood diamonds’, are those traded with the intent to finance armed conflicts and wars. The profits gleaned from these diamond transactions have been used by warlords and rebels to support devastating wars, notably in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Sierra Leone. The human cost of these conflicts is staggering, estimated to be more than 3.5 million lives.
While conflicts in Angola and Sierra Leone have ceased and the war in the DRC has deescalated, the issue of conflict diamonds persists. This concern is especially pertinent considering approximately 65% of the world’s diamonds originate from Africa, and certain rebel-controlled regions continue to smuggle conflict diamonds through neighboring nations.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), launched in 2003, was devised as a strategy to stem the tide of conflict diamonds. This certification requires all participants within the diamond industry to assure that their shipments of rough diamonds are free from any association with conflict. Now endorsed by 80 countries, the KPCS works to exclude conflict diamonds from the global supply chain by cutting off non-compliant countries from the international diamond market.
Supporting the Kimberley Process and the Clean Diamond Trade Act is not an obligation limited to diamond industry professionals. As a conscientious buyer, you can help ensure the diamonds you purchase are conflict-free by meticulously examining the policies of your chosen jeweler. Verify if there is a guarantee that their diamonds are sourced from importers compliant with the Kimberley Process.
In general terms, all major retailers and online stores adhere strictly to these ethical sourcing practices. Hence, when purchasing from well-established brands like James Allen or Blue Nile, it is reasonable to assume that you are investing in a conflict-free diamond.
The spectrum of diamond colors warrants individual attention, particularly as some hues extend beyond the scope of the conventional diamond type classifications. These captivating variants, known as fancy color diamonds, come in virtually every imaginable color.
The realm of colored diamonds is dominated by yellow and brown diamonds, which are the most prevalent amongst fancy color diamonds, as well as the most affordable. Hot on their heels are the more elusive pink and blue diamonds, which add a unique charm with their rarity.
Stealing the spotlight for their extreme scarcity are the red, orange, green, and purple diamonds. These are the rarest of the rare in the fancy color diamonds category, adding a layer of exclusive allure to their breathtaking beauty.
Here’s what you need to know:
• White Diamonds
White diamonds, globally recognized and appreciated, are traditionally chosen for engagement and wedding jewelry. Available in varied shapes and sizes, these diamonds offer a timeless elegance that transcends changing trends.
• Pink Diamonds
Pink diamonds are the rarest, representing only 1% of all diamonds. Their unique hue, symbolizing beauty and romance, places them at the higher end of the price spectrum, making them sought-after for special, romantic gifts.
• Blue Diamonds
Highly coveted, blue diamonds are extremely rare. They exist in a stunning array of shades, each bringing its own charm. The rarity and the beauty of these gems make them a desirable possession for jewelers.
• Green Diamonds
Green diamonds owe their rare color to nuclear radiation during their growth. The color, apart from its rarity, signifies hope, nature, and growth, adding an intriguing narrative to their beauty.
• Yellow Diamonds
Also known as canary diamonds, their value is determined by the intensity of their yellow color. The richer the hue, the more valuable the diamond, making each piece unique.
• Orange Diamonds
Representing success and creativity, orange diamonds come in various shades. The varied tones contribute to their appeal, making each one unique and desirable.
• Purple Diamonds
Purple, a color often linked with royalty, adds a royal touch to these diamonds. Their regal color and rarity make them an excellent choice for romantic gifts that speak volumes.
• Champagne Diamonds
These naturally colored diamonds exhibit a range of hues from straw to cognac, adding to their appeal and making them a versatile choice.
• Brown Diamonds
The most common among fancy colored diamonds, brown diamonds are often referred to as “Champagne”, “Cognac”, or “Coffee” based on their specific hues.
Buying Loose Diamonds Vs. Diamond Jewelry
Loose diamonds refer to diamonds that are yet to be mounted onto any piece of jewelry.
Choosing a loose diamond provides an opportunity to create bespoke jewelry, ensuring its uniqueness and potential to become a cherished heirloom for years to come.
It can also be a strategic choice when an attractive deal presents itself on a diamond, but the ideal setting has not been finalized. By securing the diamond first, you keep your options open for the perfect setting at a later date.
The buying process is streamlined when you have a preferred diamond shape in mind and can further refine your selection using the 4Cs: carat, color, clarity, and certification. Your budget also plays a vital role in this decision-making process.
Several compelling reasons are driving more people towards the purchase of loose diamonds. Let’s uncover some insights into this emerging trend:
• They are cheaper
Loose diamonds are often cheaper than those pre-set in jewelry due to the absence of additional material and labor costs. They’re usually sold wholesale, offering a more affordable route.
• They are flexible
Loose diamonds provide more control over the final product. They offer the ability to personalize gifts or design engagement rings, saving search time, and catering to individual taste. They can also be set into various types of jewelry such as earrings, necklaces, and bracelets.
• They are varied
A wide range of cuts is available, from pear to emerald to heart-shaped and round, offering a spectrum of choice for the discerning buyer.
• They can be scrutinized
Buying loose allows for thorough inspection, as setting can conceal potential faults. This ensures you get full value for your money.
• Something to remember however is…
For top-quality assurance, it’s advisable to opt for certified loose diamonds. While they may cost a bit more than non-certified ones, the assurance of authenticity makes it a worthwhile investment.
The importance of diamond certification will be detailed in a subsequent section.
Not Breaking the Bank: Diamond Pricing & Your Budget
The prime concern while buying diamonds usually revolves around pricing. To avoid exceeding your budget or potential scams, it’s vital to understand the factors that influence diamond prices.
Diamond pricing is primarily dictated by four factors:
- Supply-demand dynamics
- The 4Cs of diamond quality (Carat, Cut, Clarity, and Color)
- The diamond’s shape
- Grading lab.
Supply and demand are straightforward: scarcity and high demand drive prices up. For instance, fancy colored diamonds, which represent a tiny fraction of the world’s diamonds, command high prices due to their rarity.
However, the concepts of quality, shape, and grading require further elaboration for better comprehension and to streamline your pricing research prior to your next purchase.
Diamond Quality and Price
Clarity and color determine the price based on factors previously discussed. Please refer back to the 4Cs and Diamond Colors sections.
Carat weight and Cut also impact pricing. The diamond’s price escalates significantly with an increase in carat weight, due to the rarity of larger diamonds, adhering again to the principle of supply and demand.
Remember, each carat is priced differently; the larger the carat, the rarer, and consequently, the more expensive the diamond.
Diamond industry professionals often refer to price sheets from Rapaport and IDEX. Previously accessible only to insiders, these are now available for a one-time purchase of $50.00, should you deem it necessary.
Bear in mind, a diamond’s specific characteristics can significantly raise or lower its price relative to the official Rapaport value.
Alternatively, trusted online diamond retailer listings, such as Blue Nile, James Allen, and Whiteflash, can provide access to rough diamond prices based on your chosen specifications.
Remember: don’t make blind comparisons. Ensure the 4Cs of the diamonds you select share similar attributes to make a fair comparison.
Cut also affects price in a big way.
The Cut significantly influences diamond pricing, as it greatly determines the gem’s beauty.
Understand that when discussing price, diamond cut can have two connotations: cut quality and cut shape. Both these elements – the cut quality (encompassing proportions, symmetry, and polish) and cut shape (for instance, round, oval, pear, etc.) – are crucial factors when researching diamond prices.
Cut quality is determined by how well the cutter balances maximizing the diamond’s aesthetics and preserving as much of the rough diamond’s carat weight as possible.
However, customers often prioritize size over cut quality, pressuring cutters to prioritize weight over appearance. The Cut grade is therefore important for you, as a buyer, to ascertain if a diamond’s fair to poor cut was deliberately chosen to preserve carat weight.
Diamond Shape and Price
Different diamond shapes can influence the price significantly. Round diamonds, for instance, typically command higher prices due to their high demand and lower yield from cutting, where more of the raw diamond is lost.
This leads to a higher cost per carat. Round diamonds make up about 75% of all diamonds sold, largely due to their superior fire and brilliance from the reflection of light.
Diamond Grading and Price
Diamond prices also fluctuate based on their grading by certified labs such as GIA, AGS, and IGI. These labs may have varying grading standards, which can affect the price.
When comparing diamonds, it’s crucial to consider ones graded by the same lab and avoid diamonds graded by less reputable labs like EGL. The GIA is globally recognized as the most reputable diamond grading entity.
How to Choose the Perfect Diamond and Jewelry Setting?
Finding the diamond that perfectly aligns with your expectations and budget can be challenging. It’s not just about your budget, but also about choosing the one that appeals most to you from a vast selection. Loose diamonds can be easier to pick than diamond jewelry due to fewer variables to consider.
For diamond jewelry, the setting and metal types add more factors into the mix, alongside the quality of the stone itself. But with careful consideration of these aspects, and armed with the right knowledge, you’ll find that navigating the world of diamond shopping becomes significantly smoother.
Choosing the Diamond’s Shape
The shape of a diamond is perhaps the most crucial factor when buying one. It’s a decision that needs to align with the recipient’s preferences, especially if the diamond is a gift.
While the buyer can decide on the diamond’s price and quality, the shape should reflect the recipient’s taste. Diamond cutters have, over time, introduced new shapes, making this decision a bit more intricate.
Deciding on the Ring Setting
When purchasing a diamond ring, the setting type is primarily associated with the ring. Various setting types should be considered while choosing the ring.
The recipient’s lifestyle, daily activities, hobbies, and style preferences must be considered when selecting the setting. The ring’s significance, current trends, and your budget also play a role in the choice of setting.
Choosing the Metal Type
Choosing the metal type is often overlooked in ring selection, usually due to the lack of knowledge. However, the choice of metal should depend on your budget, lifestyle, and the likely wear and tear of the ring.
Here are some options:
- Platinum: Platinum is a perennial favorite for both genders. Its rarity, being 30 times rarer than gold, contributes to its higher cost. The heft of this metal, being 40% denser than 14K gold, means engravings have better definition. It presents a natural gray hue and develops a unique patina over time. Known as “forever white”, platinum retains its color indefinitely.
- Palladium: A member of the platinum group, palladium is more accessible price-wise. Its rarity, being 15 times rarer than platinum, makes it the most uncommon of the six metals in the group. This naturally white, resilient, and lightweight metal resists discoloration, and its 95% purity means it needs no alloys or plating.
- Sterling Silver: Silver, a metal esteemed for hundreds of years, was once prized above gold. Today, it stands as one of the most reasonably priced precious metals. Sterling silver is a blend of pure silver with copper and other metals for added durability as pure silver is overly soft. Be mindful of tarnishing and store your silver jewelry in tarnish-preventative bags.
- Gold: As the most classic choice for wedding bands, gold is a flexible metal capable of being reshaped, polished, and sized repeatedly throughout its lifespan. Pure gold’s softness necessitates mixing with other metals for jewelry use.
The specific alloy incorporated with gold determines its color, which is a personal choice:
- Yellow Gold: Pure gold combined with silver and copper for an enhanced brightness.
- White Gold: A mix of pure gold with palladium and silver or nickel, copper, and zinc.
- Green Gold: Pure gold fused with silver, resulting in a yellowish-gold color.
- Pink and Rose Gold: These are a combination of pure gold and copper—the copper content influences the degree of redness.
- Tungsten Carbide: This metal is extremely hard and resistant to scratches, making it a prime choice for those with hands-on occupations. Its dark gray, dense appearance provides a unique style for rings, which, however, can’t be resized.
- Tantalum: This bright, low-density transition metal is frequently chosen for men’s wedding bands due to its high strength and cost-effectiveness. Although rings made from titanium are not malleable, they offer decent scratch resistance.
- Titanium: Titanium is a lustrous transition metal with a low density. It’s popularly used for men’s wedding bands. It is of high strength and is extremely economical. Rings made with it are NOT malleable but they will be fairly scratch-resistant.
- Cobalt Chrome: An alloy composed of cobalt and chromium, cobalt chrome boasts a strong resemblance to white gold in appearance. It’s strong, highly resilient, and biocompatible. Rings made from it can neither be resized nor stretched, but they’re durable and long-lasting.
- Stainless Steel: Not just for utensils, stainless steel serves excellently as a jewelry material. Admired for its strength and affordability, it offers a modern, sturdy look, whether in a matte pewter finish or a reflective chrome.
After making all the crucial decisions in picking your diamond piece, the next step is to ensure the size is right. This is not much of an issue for most jewelry, but when it comes to engagement or wedding rings, worn for years to come, perfection is key.
Engagement rings, typically purchased without the wearer’s presence, require precise sizing. Incorrect sizing may result in disappointment and additional costs for resizing.
In some cases, if the size discrepancy is too large, resizing might not be a viable solution. Prevent such complications by using a ring sizer, available in printable versions online.
Avoiding Diamond Scams
Diamond certification or grading heavily influences the price you pay for any loose diamond or diamond piece. Thus, learning how to interpret a diamond grading certificate becomes crucial after you’ve grasped the fundamentals of certification.
Diamonds are meticulously evaluated using expert eyes, jeweler’s loupe, a microscope, and other professional tools. Upon completion, gemologists issue a certificate, detailing an analysis of the diamond’s dimensions, clarity, color, polish, symmetry, and other attributes.
Remember, a lab certification is not an appraisal. An appraisal focuses on the diamond’s value, primarily for insurance purposes, whereas a certificate defines its characteristics and quality, not market value.
The highest premiums for grading reports are commanded by The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), American Gem Society (AGS), and Gem Certification and Assurance Lab (GCAL). They differ in certification standards, partly due to their profit orientation; for instance, GIA is a non-profit, while IGI is a commercial organization.
IGI might grade a diamond one point higher than GIA and AGS, creating a lure for their buyers. This creates confusion for a buyer comparing similar diamonds graded by IGI and GIA, making it hard to discern what exactly they’re paying for. A lower grade with GIA translates to a lower price, while a higher grade with IGI would imply fair pricing but potential compromise on quality.
As a buyer, the issue of diamond certification should never be underestimated. While a wide range of labs, each with their unique strengths and weaknesses, offer certifications, the best buyer’s deal typically involves diamonds with GIA or AGS certification.
The Gemological Institute of America, or GIA, is the world’s oldest, largest, and most respected independent lab. Uniquely, GIA has no ties to diamond industry insiders, ensuring objectivity in its certification and grading.
Retailers selling diamonds graded by GIA typically provide a GIA Grading Report or Dossier with each diamond, which can be checked online before purchase if the retailer operates digitally.
A GIA Dossier is a condensed version of the Grading Report, best suited for smaller diamonds.
A GIA diamond grading report generally includes the following:
- Shape and Cutting Style
- Measurements in millimeters
- Carat Weight up to the nearest hundredth of a carat
- Color Grade evaluating absence of color
- Clarity Grade assessed under 10X magnification
- Cut Grade determined by diamond’s appearance, design, and craftsmanship
- Fluorescence: Color and strength under UV light.
- Comments noting diamond characteristics not previously mentioned in the report.
- Clarity Plot showing size, type, and position of inclusions under the microscope
- Proportion Diagram depicting the diamond’s actual proportions.
The Best Places to Buy Diamonds
Whether purchasing diamonds from a physical store or online, consider asking these questions before purchasing from your selected retailer:
- How long have they been in business?
- What kind of reviews have they received?
- Do they ensure secure transactions?
- Are they members of a jewelry trade association, which would hold them accountable to ethical standards?
- What is their current return policy?
- Is their staff helpful?
- Where are they located?
- How is the diamond shipped? Is a signature required upon delivery? Is the shipment insured?
- If an online retailer, do they provide sufficient evidence of the diamond quality, such as reviews, photos, and grading reports?
Diamond Insurance and Appraisals
Like other high-value items, it’s a good idea to insure your diamond. While home insurance policies generally cover theft of jewelry, they typically don’t cover damage or loss. Therefore, it might be worthwhile to consider specific jewelry insurance.
Diamond appraisals are important for your insurance agent and any jewelers you may approach for upgrades or potential resale. Numerous appraisal organizations can assist you. Besides supplemental appraisal training, appraisers should have a GIA Graduate Gemologist (GG) diploma.
Common Mistakes When Buying Diamonds
Buying diamonds can be challenging, especially without adequate knowledge, and embarking on the journey of how to buy diamonds requires the right insights. Here are some common mistakes that buyers make:
Many people get confused by cut quality, as it’s more difficult to discern than the other 4Cs, like color and clarity.
Some jewelers exploit this lack of knowledge to their advantage.
Before you buy, research extensively and be cautious with deeply cut diamonds—they may have more carat weight without necessarily having a more visible width.
Also, remember that well-cut diamonds are pricier than fairly cut ones. Aim for an ideal/excellent cut, then consider other characteristics.
• Loose diamond Vs. Set diamonds
Once set in a jewelry piece, assessing a diamond’s clarity and color can be challenging.
Avoid buying diamonds worth over $2,000 without examining them loose before they’re set.
• Colors Vs. Color ranges
Don’t rely solely on the jeweler’s ‘grading’—compare the diamond with the jeweler’s master color set, a standardized set of cubic zirconia stones displaying various color levels.
Jewelry store lighting is designed to enhance diamonds’ color and make them more attractive. Request to view the diamond under normal lighting or in a different room.
• Carat weight
Ask for the exact weight of a diamond, as carat weight is often rounded up to the nearest figure.
• Gemological Institute of America grading report
Reputable jewelers should provide a GIA certificate. This report discloses essential information about the diamond that the jeweler might not share, such as if the diamond has been treated to enhance its appearance.
• Visit several online stores
Jewelers aim to make profits and will try to sell the best in their store, not necessarily the best on the market.
Take your time and shop around to ensure you get the best value for your money.
• Price Calculations
Use a calculator to determine the discounts offered on the diamonds, which can help you negotiate better prices.
• Jewelers’ Policies
Always ask for written policies before making any payments. Confirm what the warranty includes—free cleaning and inspections are standard, but does it cover loss and theft? And remember, a warranty should never replace insurance.
How to Protect Your Diamonds and Diamond Jewelry?
Being careful about where you leave your diamond and with whom is one way to protect it.
If you’re leaving your diamond with a jeweler for maintenance or cleaning, and you’re concerned about a potential switch, there are certain measures you can take:
Firstly, make a note of the GIA certificate number inscription and make the jeweler aware that you know it exists. This way, it’s less likely to be tampered with during maintenance.
If you have a particularly valuable diamond, consider taking it to an independent appraiser to have it evaluated and the findings documented. After maintenance or repairs, return to the appraiser to confirm that the diamond is the same one and in the same condition as before.
Another key aspect of protecting your diamond is taking care of it.
Diamonds are often marketed as indestructible, but they’re not. They can chip from a strong blow, come loose from a weak setting, or be damaged by other diamonds.
Store your diamonds in padded boxes and clean them using a lint-free cloth or commercial cleaning solution. Alternatively, you could let your jeweler handle the cleaning, provided you’ve taken the necessary precautions when leaving your diamond with them.
Having accurate information is empowering, especially when it comes to buying diamonds correctly.
We’re delighted that you’ve engaged with our guide on how to buy diamonds, whether you’ve skimmed through or delved into it thoroughly. Your interest is greatly valued.
Our aim is that you now possess a more comprehensive grasp of the diamond purchasing process, including key aspects like what to look for, where to make your purchase, negotiation strategies, and ensuring you receive the best value for your money.