When you are shopping for a diamond it is very important that you understand the value and quality of what you are buying. With this understanding, buying diamonds will be a pleasurable experience instead of the confusion, anxiety or fear that many do face. In this how to buy a diamond tutorial, you will learn:
1. The language of Diamonds
2. The best places to buy them
3. The best value you can get from your dollars
4. The precautions you need to take
By the end of this tutorial you will understand how to buy a diamond, the qualities you need to look for and make informed decisions to get the best deals.
1. The language of Diamonds
The mysterious nature of diamonds is apparent even in ancient times where among many other things it was considered as the tears of god by ancient Greeks, pieces of stars by Romans and revered as thunderbolts of gods by Indians. 鑽戒 Thought in modern times we have demystified origins of diamonds, they continue hold their value and allure.
The value of a diamond not only comes from its inherent property but is also added by the cutting and polishing that goes into making a finished diamond. The commonly accepted standard for grading is the International System of Diamond Grading developed by Gemological Institute of America (GIA) which evaluates a diamond based on the 4Cs
This is a metric system developed to weigh gemstones. Although similar it should not be confused with Karat (measurement unit of gold purity in an alloy). One Carat weight 200milligrams or 1/5 of a gram.
A diamond color grading is based on the colorlessness of the diamond, the more the color the lower the value. Diamonds naturally range from colorless to light yellow and anything beyond this range comes under fancy colored diamonds.
Diamonds are naturally formed and many contain impurities called inclusions (internal) or blemishes (external). Here lesser the inclusion the higher is the value of the diamond.
The cut of the diamond is what gives the diamond is fiery brilliant allure. Precision of the angles of the cut in creating facets determines the value of the diamond. Simply put, the better the cut, the greater is its value.
In addition to the 4Cs there are two more attributes that you need to know:
Florescence and polish: Diamonds tends to show florescence activity in ultra violet, high florescence activity in a diamond makes it undesirable in some cases. The quality of fine polishing also plays an important part in the optical brilliance of the diamond.
2. The best places to buy a diamond
Now that you understand the value and quality of diamonds, here are the best places to find the best deals
Online vendors provide the best and most competitive prices in diamonds. Also being online you have access to a huge variety of choices including rare and unique diamonds. Although many people do have reservations when buying online, with some precautions (discussed later) online shopping is very secure.
Buy from reputable local jewelers:
A reputable jeweler can guide you and help find exactly what you need. A rule of thumb to determine a good jeweler is to look for certification from GIA or AGS as they train and certify these jewelers. Also see if they have association with various bodies such as American Gem Society or American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) etc.
Buy from a dealer/wholesaler:
The axiom of, the closer to the source of the product the cheap is the product, holds true for diamonds. But buying from dealers tends to be more difficult thought unless you have connections or contacts.
Buy from thrift or pawn stores
They are a good and viable source of getting good diamonds. This requires that you have, at the minimum, some basic practical knowledge about appraising diamonds and some luck. And if you are persistent can end up getting very good deals.
3. The best value you can get for you dollars
To get the best value for your dollars go for apparent quality rather that quality itself. Here you will use what you learned earlier about the 4Cs
The price of the diamond increases with increasing carat that of course. But this is not completely true in all cases. Prices jump disproportionally when the Carat value reaches a whole number (e.g. 1Carat) or exactly half (e.g. 1.5 or 0.5 Carat). Therefore if you buy a 0.98 Carat you get better value.
Minimal changes in the Color grade are imperceptible to a naked eye however the prices do significantly change even with small upgrade or downgrade.
Here again changes in the Clarity ratings above SI are not discernable to unaided eyes therefore limiting your diamond Clarity rating to SI or below is good value.
This is perhaps the most important criteria, because it is the Cut that contributes to the brilliance or sparkle of the diamond. Any rating below good or very good is not recommended.
Buying loose diamonds
Loose diamonds are easier to appraise and are generally price lower that a diamond that has been already place in a setting.
Precautions that you need to take:
When buying online always look for accreditations from Better Business Bureau (BBB), TRUSTe, VeriSign or similar other bodies that guarantees ethical business practices, validated sites, secure and are of good repute among customers. If in doubt, always verify by checking for any complaints against them.
Always check the return policy, read the find print and understand it before you buy a diamond. Most reputable store online or otherwise will offer a 30 day return period. Diamonds can be treated by various methods such as irradiation or heat treatment, laser drilling, filling etc to enhance the appearance of the diamond. These treatments can make the diamond brittle therefore always ask if they have been treated.
When you buy a diamond, it is essential that you ask for a grade report (certificate) of the diamond which is generally issued by GIA, AGS or IGI. Always make sure you get the report from a well recognized and established lab. Always use an Independent appraiser when you buy a diamond. Do not accept the services of an in-house appraiser.
This concludes the how to buy a diamond tutorial. However a final piece request is to ask you to avoid blood diamonds. You can do this by simply asking for the store policy on conflict diamonds and check if their suppliers adhere to the Kimberly Process.