What to look for when buying diamonds?

Diamonds are simply timeless and elegant, making them a great choice of gemstone for any piece of jewelry. Diamond jewelry, though very popular, is mostly associated with luxury. With a wide range of different varieties to choose from, the question now is which diamond should you get and what to look for when buying diamonds?

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Diamond comes from the Greek word “adamastos,” meaning unconquerable. It is the most prized and highly valued gemstone — the birthstone for the month of April and is also given as a wedding anniversary gift for the 60th year of marriage.

Discovered in India around 500 B.C., diamonds have been the number one treasured stone ever since. The ancients believed that diamonds were hardened dew-drops, crystallized lightning or splinters from the stars. They have been admired by royalty and worn as symbol of strength, courage and invincibility.

Over the centuries, diamonds have also become the ultimate declaration of love in the form of engagement rings, eternity rings and contemporary wedding bands.

a diamond is forever

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When looking for a diamond, whether it will be an embellishment for an earring, a pendant or the most precious engagement ring, always consider the 4 Cs – the most important characteristics in determining a diamond’s value.

 Buying Diamonds  Buying Diamonds
 Buying Diamonds  Buying Diamonds

Buying DiamondsA carat is a unit of measurement used to weigh a diamond. One carat is equal to 200 milligrams, or 0.2 grams. The word “carat” is taken from the carob seeds that people once used to balance scales.

NOTE: “Karat” is a different word that is used to describe the purity of gold.

The process that forms a diamond happens only in very rare circumstances, and typically the natural materials required are found only in small amounts – which could only mean that larger diamonds are found less often than smaller ones.

Large diamonds have a greater cost per carat and the price of a diamond rises exponentially to its size (e.g., a 2-carat diamond will cost more per carat than a 1-carat diamond of equal grade).

Trivia: In 2013, the average size of the center stone on engagement rings was 1.1 carats.


Because natural diamonds are created under an incredible amount of pressure and are not grown in a laboratory, it’s no surprise that most diamonds have flaws. A diamond’s “clarity” grade is all about the flaws (or lack thereof). There are two types of flaws:

Blemishes: found on the surface of the diamond (scratches, pits, and chips (some blemishes occur during the cutting process, most often at the girdle)

Inclusions: found within the diamond (flaws such as air bubbles, cracks, and non-diamond minerals found within the diamond)

Diamonds are examined for flaws and inclusions under 10x magnification and there are different clarity grade descriptions:

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  1. FL (Flawless): No internal or external flaws; extremely rare (one-carat round brilliant diamond = $20,000)
  2. IF (Internally Flawless): No internal flaws, but some surface flaws; rare (one-carat round brilliant diamond = around $5,000)
  3. VVS1-VVS2 (Very Very Slightly Included 1 and 2): Minute inclusions that are very difficult to detect under 10x magnification by a trained gemologist; easy to find (one-carat round brilliant diamond = $4,000)
  4. VS1-VS2 (Very Slightly Included 1 and 2): Minute inclusions seen only with difficulty under 10x magnification; easy to find (one-carat round brilliant diamond = $3,750)
  5. SI1-SI2 (Slightly Included 1 and 2): Minute inclusions are visible under 10x magnification, and may be visible by the unaided eye; easy to find (one-carat round brilliant diamond = $3,500)
  6. I1-I2-I3 (Included 1, 2, and 3): Inclusions visible under 10x magnification, as well as to the human eye

While the presence of these clarity characteristics (inclusions and blemishes) do lower the clarity grade of a diamond, they can also be viewed as proof of a diamond’s identity — think of it as a “diamond fingerprint.”

Flawless diamonds are the rarest, however, a diamond does not have to be flawless to be stunning. Even if you drop to the “SI” and “I” grades, a diamond’s clarity grade has an impact only on the diamond’s value, but not on the unmagnified diamond’s appearance. Diamonds with VVS and VS grades are excellent choices for both value and appearance.

More affordable (and still a great choice) are those diamonds which gemologists call “eye-clean” – diamonds with no inclusions visible to the naked eye. These diamonds are often found in the SI1 and SI2 and unless the recipient carries a 10X loupe (a strong jewelry magnifying glass), they won’t see the inclusions.


The diamond industry uses the word “cut” in two different ways. First, it’s used to describe the shape of a diamond and the second way is used is to describe the reflective qualities of a diamond or how well the diamond was cut.

1st usage: The Shape of a Diamond

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2nd usage: How Well the Diamond was Cut

This second usage (the reflective qualities) is the one that is graded and gets a score on diamond certificates. It is perhaps the most important of the four Cs. A good cut gives a diamond its brilliance, which is that brightness that seems to come from the very heart of a diamond.

When a diamond is well-cut, light enters through the table and travels to the pavilion where it reflects from one side to the other before reflecting back out of the diamond through the table and to the observer’s eye. This light is the brilliance that makes that flashing, fiery effect of a mesmerizing diamond.



When it comes to a diamond’s color, it usually about the presence or absence of color in white diamonds. This color is a result of the composition of the diamond, and it never changes over time.

A colorless diamond, like a clear glass, allows more light to pass through it than a colored diamond. It emits more sparkle and fire – making it more mesmerizing. The formation process of a diamond ensures that only a few, rare diamonds are truly colorless. Thus the whiter a diamond’s color, the greater its value.

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Trivia: Fancy color diamonds do not follow this rule. These diamonds, which are very rare and very expensive, can be any color from blue to green to bright yellow. They are actually more valuable for their color.

To grade ‘whiteness’ or colorlessness, most jewelers refer to GIA’s professional color scale that begins with the highest rating of D for colorless, and travels down the alphabet to grade stones with traces of very faint or light yellowish or brownish color. The color scale continues all the way to Z.

Aside from these four, another C is being considered…the Certificate.

The diamond certificate, which is sometimes called a grading report, is a complete evaluation of your diamond that was 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.

A certificate is a “blueprint” of a diamond, it tells you the diamond’s exact measurements and weight, as well as the details of its cut and quality. It precisely points out all the individual characteristics of the stone. Certificates also serve as proof of the diamond’s identity and value.

It, however, is not the same thing as an appraisal. A certificate describes the quality of a diamond, but it does not place a monetary value on the gem. An appraisal places a monetary value on your diamond, but does not certify the quality of the diamond.

Now you know the 4 Cs plus 1 more C, it would be easier for you to spot which diamond to get!

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