Diamond Buying Guide
Jewelry is one of the most popular gifts we use to mark the momentous occasions in our lives. It is an outward expression of what we mean to one another. Holidays, birthdays and anniversaries and other achievements are just some of the events we celebrate with special gifts of jewelry, and diamonds are among the most favorite to give.
The budget for your gift is likely one of your most important parameters, but you can make sure you receive the most value for your purchase by learning more about diamonds before you shop. These six tips will help you find your ideal gift.
LEARN ABOUT THE 4CS
The 4Cs of diamond quality is a language jewelers everywhere use to describe the attributes of a diamond, that when taken together, help to determine its overall quality. Quality is ultimately tied to price, so it’s crucial that you learn the 4Cs so that you understand what you’re buying:
Diamonds are weighed in metric carats. For reference, a small paper clip weighs about two carats.
Diamonds are created by nature under tremendous heat and pressure. Nearly all diamonds contain unique internal characteristics called inclusions and external characteristics called blemishes. Many clarity characteristics are too tiny to be seen by anyone other than a trained gemologist using magnification. The GIA Clarity Scale contains 11 grades ranging from Flawless to Included.
Truly colorless diamonds are very rare and highly valued. The GIA Color Scale uses letters to represent the absence of color, beginning with D (colorless) and ending at Z (light yellow or brown). Color distinctions can be quite subtle and only visible to the trained eye, but the differences can have a significant impact on price.
While diamonds can be fashioned into different shapes, the term “cut” refers to how a diamond’s complex proportions and angles relate to light. A number of factors influence a diamond’s cut grade, including its overall face-up appearance, design and craftsmanship. The GIA Cut Scale for standard round brilliant cut diamonds ranges from Excellent to Poor.
CHOOSE A TRAINED JEWELER
Select a jeweler as carefully as you do a doctor, lawyer or any other trained professional. Find someone who is credentialed, such as a GIA Graduate Gemologist. Take note of their affiliations with jewelry industry groups and professional associations. Use GIA’s Retailer Lookup to find a jeweler near you who carries GIA-graded diamonds or has GIA-trained associates on staff.
ASK FOR AN INDEPENDENT DIAMOND GRADING REPORT
A diamond grading report is an unbiased assessment of the diamond’s quality. It provides a description of the diamond’s 4Cs and confirms that the stone is a natural or synthetic diamond. The report also discloses any treatments the diamond may have undergone to alter its color or clarity. You can verify the information contained in any GIA report by entering the report number in Report Check, GIA’s secure online database.
KEEP YOUR PURCHASE SECURE
A laser inscription will help identify your diamond if it’s ever lost or stolen. You can request to have the diamond’s report number or a personal message inscribed on the girdle (the diamond’s perimeter). The inscription is viewable using a jeweler’s loupe or microscope under 10X magnification. Diamonds that come with GIA Diamond Dossier® reports contain the diamond’s report number laser inscribed on the girdle.
You should also have the diamond appraised and insured. A diamond grading report is the independent assessment of quality, while an appraisal gives a monetary value. If you’re looking for a qualified appraiser, you might start by contacting an appraisal organization for a referral.
CONSIDER PURCHASING THE DIAMOND LOOSE AND HAVING IT SET IN THE RING LATER
Are you shopping for an engagement ring, but not sure what your future fiancée prefers in a ring? Consider purchasing a loose diamond and then decide on the mounting together. Make sure to have the loose stone graded before having it mounted. Read more engagement ring buying tips.
A FINAL TIP BEFORE YOU HEAD FOR THE JEWELRY STORES
Be sure to download GIA’s free 4Cs app for a convenient way to have more diamond knowledge at your fingertips, including access to GIA’s Retailer Lookup and Report Check services. Available in English and Simplified Chinese, you can find GIA’s 4Cs app on iTunes for iPad (English) (Chinese) or iPhone (English) (Chinese) and on Google Play (English) (Chinese).
More about diamonds.....
At Kuhn’s Jewelers we believe that one of the most important parts of purchasing jewelry is education. We’ve added this section to our website to help you learn more about diamonds and other gemstones and provide answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.
Common Pitfalls to avoid
There are a multitude of companies that, for a fee, will examine a diamond and issue a written Report setting forth their opinion of the color, clarity and other characteristics. Such companies include the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), American Gem Society (AGS), European Gemological Laboratory (EGL), International Gemological Institute (IGI) and many others.
YOU SHOULD NEVER RELY ON SUCH REPORTS TO MAKE YOUR BUYING DECISION.
THE REASONS ARE NUMEROUS:
a. None of the companies issuing the Reports guarantees their accuracy. All of the Reports contain a written disclaimer as to accuracy which states, in effect, that the company does not guarantee that anyone will agree with the Report and, further, that the company does not guarantee that even it will agree with the Report if the diamond is submitted to it for a subsequent examination.
b. Reports on the same diamond are notoriously inconsistent. If the same diamond is submitted to the companies for examination multiple times it is not uncommon for the multiple Reports to identify a spread of 3 clarity grades and 3 color grades for the same diamond.
c. It is not uncommon for vendors to submit the same diamond to the companies for examination multiple times and then pick and choose the "best" Report with which to market the diamond.
d. Clarity and color grades are ranges of clarity and color and not specific clarity or color. For example, a diamond graded SI2 in clarity on a Report could be almost the next higher clarity grade (SI1) or almost the next lower clarity grade (I1). Similarly, a diamond graded H in color on a Report could be almost the next higher color grade (G) or almost the next lower color grade (I). Therefore, one diamond described on a Report as SI2 clarity and H color could, in reality, be almost two clarity grades lower and two color grades lower than a second diamond described on a second Report as SI2 clarity and H color.
e. The most important characteristic of a diamond is its overall optical beauty. Optical beauty is the result of a complex inter-relationship of diamond proportions and light handling characteristics. No Report, including those that assign a "Cut" grade, provides sufficient information to determine whether and to what extent the inter-relationship of diamond proportions and light handling characteristics meet your personal definition of optical beauty.
f. Two diamonds with identical Reports can be, in reality, significantly different in terms of clarity, color, proportion, light handling characteristics, overall optical beauty and value. In fact, one diamond can be worth 300% more than the other.
g. The Reports are not truly independent opinions because the companies that provide such Reports are compensated to do so and are in competition with each other. Vendors want Reports showing the highest clarity and color grades for their diamonds. If two companies issue Reports, but one of the companies habitually gives the diamonds higher clarity and color grades, then that company might be favored by some vendors and, accordingly, might receive more examination fees. Put simply, in the Report business, it can pay to grade diamonds leniently.
h. Because of their inherent inaccuracies and inconsistencies, Reports do not provide a basis of comparison between or among diamonds as to actual clarity, color, proportions, light handling characteristics, overall optical beauty or value to provide a sufficiently reliable level of validity or accuracy for comparison purposes.
i. Reports are used by jewelry stores in an effort to persuade customers to "comparison shop" and make buying decisions based on what a piece of paper says about a diamond instead of based on what the diamond really is and really looks like. It is impossible to accurately comparison shop for diamonds based on Reports. Two diamonds that "sound" alike on their respective Reports can, in fact, be dramatically different in clarity, color, proportions, light handling characteristics, overall optical beauty and value. One can be worth 300% more than the other.
THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO ACCURATELY OBSERVE THE CLARITY, COLOR, PROPORTIONS, LIGHT HANDLING CHARACTERISTICS AND OVERALL OPTICAL BEAUTY OF A DIAMOND AND EVALUATE ITS COMPARATIVE VALUE: EXAMINE IT WITH YOUR OWN EYES.
Two diamonds of a given shape can be exactly the same clarity, exactly the same color and exactly the same carat weight yet, because of differences in optical beauty (brilliance, fire and sparkle), one of the diamonds can be worth 300% more than the other. Gorgeous diamonds are rare and they are not cheap. Cheap diamonds are not rare and they are not gorgeous. If two diamonds have the same description, but are priced differently, you should suspect that the reason for the difference is because one diamond has greater optical beauty than the other diamond. The difference in optical beauty and value between two diamonds of identical shape, clarity, color and carat weight can be AMAZING. It is impossible to evaluate the optical beauty of a diamond, or its value, without actually seeing and examining the diamond. You should NEVER buy a diamond sight unseen.
It is IMPOSSIBLE to accurately clarity grade or color grade a diamond that is already set into a ring. Chips and other significant imperfections, which seriously affect the value of the diamond, may be hidden under the prongs. The surrounding metal can seriously distort the perception of the color of the diamond.
One of the most profitable marketing schemes in the diamond industry is to take an ordinary diamond, give it a fancy sounding brand name, market it to the public accompanied by a claim that it is the most brilliant, most beautiful and most perfectly cut diamond in the universe and then charge more for it. THE CLAIM IS PURE HYPE.
BRANDED DIAMONDS ARE NOT SUPERIOR TO UNBRANDED DIAMONDS. BRANDED DIAMONDS ARE MORE EXPENSIVE THAN UNBRANDED DIAMONDS SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY ARE SUPPORTED BY EXPENSIVE MARKETING CAMPAIGNS. (NOW YOU KNOW THE TRUTH)
The shopping mall is the most expensive place to do business ever created. Shopping malls typically base their rental charges on a percentage of the sales volume of their tenants. So, if a jewelry store in a shopping mall has to pay rent at the rate of 20% of its sales volume, this means that you could have paid 20% less or gotten 20% more for your money just by having the good sense to stay away from the shopping mall.
A diamond is so many things: the symbol of love everlasting, the purest of the gemstones and even a girl’s best friend. Diamonds are universally beloved and coveted for their beauty, fire and radiance.
Choosing the perfect diamond for an engagement ring or other piece of fine jewelry can be an intimidating process, but at Kuhn’s Jewelers we are committed to helping you understand how diamonds are graded and valued, so you can focus on making the right choice.
The beauty of a diamond and value of any diamond is determined by four characteristics: cut, color, clarity, and carat weight.
The cut of a diamond is what brings out the brilliance and amplifies the fire within. This fire can only be brought out through the precision of a skilled diamond cutter. Each facet of the stone must be cut perfectly and precisely aligned with every other facet.
The Ideal Cut is a technique for diamond cutting built on generations of experience and designed to maximize every aspect of a stone’s brilliance. Less than 1% of all mined diamonds can be certified, making them all the more unique and special.
Diamonds range color from icy winter white to slight tones of yellow or brown. Except in the case of fancy colored diamonds, the rarest and most prized diamonds are the ones with an absence of color. The whiter a diamond, the more that light can pass through, increasing its brilliance and its value.
Truly colorless diamonds are exceptionally rare. Most have a slight tinge of color that is only detected by a trained eye under the right lighting conditions. All of our diamonds are color graded according to international gemological standards.
The clarity of a diamond refers to the number of tiny flaws or “inclusions” found on a diamond. Truly flawless diamonds are extremely rare. Most diamonds have a small number of inclusions that are only visible when the stone is viewed under magnification.
We view natural inclusions as a diamond’s “fingerprints” – making each stone totally unique. All Kuhn’s Jewelers diamonds are graded for clarity and certified by international gemological standards.
The “carat” is the simplest of the four C’s – a gemologist’s measure of a diamond weight. One carat is equal to 200 milligrams. Each carat is divided into 100 points, so a 75 point stone is three quarters of a carat.
Larger diamonds are very rare in nature and have a greater value per carat, so the price of diamonds increases exponentially in relation to its size.