Does the thought of purchasing a diamond ring overwhelm you? Don’t think you know enough about certificates, inclusions, grading scales, and colors? Or do you know the basics, but need a refresher course? A good understanding of diamonds is necessary before you begin shopping.
Price – Decide how much you can spend. If you are buying an engagement ring, the general rule is two months’ salary.
Four C’s – Learning about diamonds is first learning about the "four Cs" of diamonds which are considered the most important grades and categories. Make your decision based on which diamond offers the best combination of the four C’s: clarity, color, cut and carat.
Shop around – Before you make a purchase, you’ll want to check out a few diamond store both locally and online. See what kind of diamonds you can get in your price range and compare the prices on each. Many times you can get a better deal on the internet.
Shape – Choose the shape of diamond you prefer. Diamonds come in many cuts, including round, princess, square Asscher, or emerald cuts. Since all diamond shapes are very different, unique characteristics determine quality for each shape.
Clarity – Examine the diamond’s clarity. Most diamonds contain some inner flaws, or inclusions, that occur during the formation process. The visibility, number and size of these inclusions determine what is called the clarity of a diamond. Diamonds that are clear create more brilliance, and thus are more highly prized, and priced.
Color – Examine the diamond’s color. Acting as a prism, a diamond can divide light into a spectrum of colors and reflect this light as colorful flashes called fire. Just as when looking through colored glass, color in a diamond will act as a filter, and will diminish the spectrum of color emitted. The less color in a diamond, the more colorful the fire, and the better the color grade.
Cut – Cut is probably the most important, and most challenging, of the four Cs to understand. The brilliance of a diamond depends heavily on its cut. Most gemologists consider cut the most important diamond characteristic because even if a diamond has perfect color and clarity, a diamond with a poor cut will have dulled brilliance.
Weight – A carat is the unit of weight by which a diamond is measured. Because large diamonds are found less commonly than small diamonds, the price of a diamond raises exponentionaly to its size. The greater the carat weight, the more valuable the diamond. Keep in mind that since larger stones are more rare, two 1 /2-carat diamonds are less expensive than a single 1-carat diamond.
Certificate – The diamond certificate, which is sometimes called a grading report, is a complete evaluation of your diamond that has been performed by a qualified professional with the help of special gemological instruments. Each stone bears its own recognizable, individual characteristics, which is listed on the certificate. Inquire about a certificate from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The GIA, the largest impartial diamond-grading authority in the world, issues a grading report and details the diamond’s specifications after examining it.