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Buying a diamond shouldn’t be a daunting task but on the contrary should be enjoyable as diamond is a very emotional purchase and for many a people their first diamond purchase is also their last diamond purchase. Therefore, it’s important that the customer gets it right the first time. This blog is dedicated to educating customers so that they get their diamond purchase right the first time. There are few basic things that I recommend customers they do and few basic things I recommend that they never do.
· Always buy a diamond certified by a reputable, independent laboratory
· Always buy a diamond with the best cut possible within your budget
· While it’s alright to buy from a jeweler who is your dad’s buddy’s buddy it’s important that you get your information right, ask questions and tell them your requirements that you will learn in this blog
· Set a budget, decide your preferred shape, allocate your budget to setting & diamond according to your priorities, decide on a color and clarity (more on this below)
· Do not buy a retail store certified diamond. They are most likely overgraded.
· Do not buy a color treated diamond. Once they cross those 18 inches of retail counter over to you they lose their value pretty quickly.
· Do not buy a clarity enhanced diamond. Read the last point.
· Do not buy diamonds from some XYZ laboratory.
While everyone claims to sell ‘certified diamonds’ the actual definition may vary and can potentially result in customer buying a diamonds with much different real values. A diamond certified by an independent grading laboratory is much more valuable than a diamond graded in-house by a store or a diamond that is graded by a laboratory known to over-grade diamonds. You should aim to always buy diamonds from reputable grading laboratories. GIA, AGS, HRD and IGI are the most reputable and recognized grading laboratories. While there may be a difference of opinion on grade of diamonds as there is human process involved but that difference is not more than one grade in color or clarity. Carat is understandably consistent and cut is graded using high-tech machines to measure diamonds proportions and put a cut grade on that.
Diamond’s cut is an extremely important element that drives a diamond’s value and its beauty. Cut is what determines how a diamond interacts with the light from the surrounding and reflect it back to the viewer. A poorly cut diamond will not interact with the light in a manner that contributes to it’s beauty. A well cut diamond will appear bright and depending on lighting conditions will have a combination of white light return what is known as brilliance, the colored light return what is known as fire and on-off pattern when the diamond or the viewer moves (for example rocking the diamond), this is known as scintillation.
Another extremely important element that Cut contributes to a diamond’s value is in terms of it’s spread. A well cut diamond will have proportions that will contribute to it’s overall spread and how big a diamond measures on the gauge. For example a well 1.00ct diamond is supposed to measure between 6.4mm – 6.5mm. A poorly cut 1.00ct diamond may measure anywhere between 6.00mm – 6.3mm which is more like a spread of well-cut 0.80ct to 0.95ct diamond’s spread.
These two elements combine warrant the need of buying the best cut possible because a well cut diamond will have a) measurements true to it’s carat weight and b) superior light performance that results in brilliance, fire & scintillation.
When shopping diamonds you should start with a budget as that will help you narrow down your searches. Then allocate your budget to diamond & the setting. Depending on your priority you may want to go for a slightly higher priced settings such as halos or side stones or may want to stick to classic solitaire settings and allocate most of your budget to the diamonds. This is a very personal choice and everyone is different. Once you have you diamond budget in mind you start to consider the color and clarity that you would want to fit in that budget. Again depending on the priority this is another very personal choice. Some cultures prefer only buying a very high clarity diamond (VVS2 and above) and can do with lower color (for example Asian countries, Middle East) and in some geographies the priority is different and they want to maximize for size. Once that’s done it’s time to start shopping.
For any purchase and especially that of diamonds where there are so many qualities and such a huge range of prices across different stores it may become a bit terrifying but it needs not. Once you have the right information and what you want the process becomes much easier. Once you know what you want and what you are getting it becomes easy to compare prices at different vendors. That is the usual 4Cs which are basic factors that contributes to different diamond prices. Two diamonds with similar 4Cs would (or should) have similar prices. But that is often not the case. And I’m dedicating this section to look at factors that contributes differing diamond prices when the 4Cs are same:
· The diamond cut quality – Yes I know the 4Cs are same which means the Cut grade is same for two diamonds – But the GIA cut grade is actually a pretty large range of proportions that recognizes many different cut qualities (some as not Excellent) as Excellent and there can be performance differences between a diamond which is precision cut like our Super Ideal Hearts & Arrows Diamonds and another common cut diamond. AGS has addressed this and attributes Ideal cut grades to diamonds which fall in the Ideal proportion ranges. However an AGS ideal is not a guarantee that a diamond is precision cut and you need more information like Hearts & Arrow images, ASET scope images to understand the symmetrical precision of the diamond. This is one of the factor that contributes differing diamond price points.
· The overall proportions of diamonds – Considering two diamonds which both are not Super Ideal and have a price difference – It’s because of other proportion factors such as a the total depth of the diamond which is a factor in a diamond’s spread/measurement, the diamond’s Crown and pavilion angles which contributes to diamond’s light performance, the table size with gives different character to diamonds etc.
· The clarity characteristics of a diamond (More relevant in lower clarity diamonds) – Clarity characteristics are of varying kind and some kinds may discount a diamond more than others. For example a black crystal inclusion visible to the naked eye in a diamond will discount the diamond over another diamond that has a colorless crystal inclusion not visible to naked eye. Or may be a diamond that has many cloud inclusions which affects a diamond’s brilliancy & transparency (We check all our diamonds for their luster and transparency and none of our diamonds are cloudy/hazy/milky). Different clarity features contributes to differing diamond values.
· Fluorescence in a diamond Medium & Above – Fluorescence is one subject most of the sales person in a retail store fail to understand and explain to their customers and YET it is a very common feature of a diamond. Some diamond’s having fluorescence glow (usually Blue) when they are exposed to short wave ultra violet light source like the black lights that you see in a club. The UV light source activates the boron particles contained within the diamond crystal structure at an atomic level and that results in the blue glow. There are two factors that contributes fluorescence diamonds to be discounted a) the difficulty of explaining fluorescence to the customers b) the fallacy that fluorescence diamonds appear hazy or milky. While a very small number of fluorescing diamonds may appear milky or hazy most of the fluorescing diamonds are clear like their non-fluorescing counterparts. It is more a matter of personal choice and taste. Some people like the blue glow of a diamond when they are outside in Sun or in a club and some people don’t. Whether or not you choose to purchase a fluorescing diamond this can be one of the factor that may contribute to differing diamond prices. Also its worth noting that diamonds with only faint fluorescence do not attract discounts.
· Auxiliary services – A diamond backed by auxiliary services that contributes to buyer’s peace of mind and future value may be slightly priced higher for example a diamond backed by trade-up policy, buy-back guarantee and return policies etc. However this premium is not substantial and perhaps only results in 2-5% increase in the total diamond’s purchase price.
A customer should avoid diamonds with any kind of treatment done on them whether they are treated to enhance their colour (while this is an acceptable in colored gems it’s much more detrimental in diamonds) or treated to enhance their clarity either by laser drilling or fracture filling. While laser drilling is a permanent clarity enhancement, fracture filling can come off when a jewelry piece is cleaned at high temperatures or in certain chemicals. One of the reason is these diamonds quickly lose their value once they are sold to you and often don’t come with upgrade or buy-back policies.
Another thing to be careful about while buying diamonds is grading by dodgy laboratories that over-grades diamonds. These diamonds might appear to be bargains or may not be bargains but just more profits for the seller. Avoid these diamonds in all cases. Only buy a diamond graded by a reputed laboratory. We strongly believe in this and that’s why we only sell diamonds graded by either GIA or AGS laboratories.
Hope you have a wonderful diamond purchasing experience!