Diamond Buying Guide
When buying a diamond it is important to do your research before you forfeit a large amount of your money. To make your journey enjoyable and hassle free we would like to offer consultations to assist you in the decision making process. We ensure that you gain exceptional value. At the same time we strongly encourage consumers to do their own research and gain an understanding on what it is they are after. As such we have prepared this guide, wherein you will be taught the skills to ensure that you are purchasing a diamond according to your own standards.
How much should you spend on a diamond?
That is very much up to you. Some people consider one or two months’ salary a good guide for an engagement ring. The important thing to remember is that unlike a wedding dress, a diamond engagement ring is worn everyday of your life so you would be wise to choose something that will continue to give pleasure year after year, because a diamond really is forever.
How do you determine the quality of a diamond?
To determine a diamond’s quality and worth you begin with the 4 C’s: Clarity, Cut, Colour and Carat weight. These are the traditional units of measure when looking at this precious stone, however, you must add one more imperative ‘C’ to the list and that is Certification.
This relates to the marks of non-crystallised carbon called ‘inclusions’ found within the diamond. The inclusions vary in standards on the spectrum ranging from FL (flawless), SI1 to I3.
It is exceedingly rare for a diamond to be flawless (known as FL) and is the highest level on the spectrum. SI1 is in the middle of the spectrum and it is recommended when buying a diamond that you should not purchase lower than this standard. I3 is the lowest as it includes the most inclusions and is least clear.
The clarity grade is determined by several factors including:
- The size of inclusions.
- How many inclusions.
- The positioning of the inclusions - inclusions found under the table (top of the diamond) affects clarity grade more so than inclusions found under the side facets.
- The visibility of the inclusions – the more visible the inclusions to the naked eye the less favourable the grade will be.
The cut of a stone is not relating to the shape, but refers to the way the cutter has formed it to best ensure that light bounces within the stone and back out through the top. If it has a defective cut (too long or too short) the light refracts on the inside and falls out down the bottom. This decreases the brightness and lustre of the stone. A well cut stone is neither exceedingly long nor shallow, it is luminous and will always dazzle when dirty.
The grading system varies from Ideal Cut to Good and lastly, Poor Cut. With round diamonds, it is suggested to never purchase below ‘Very Good’ and ‘Good’ in all other shapes. Again, the better cut stone the more it will cost.
Diamonds come in every colour; however, coloured stones are less desired as it diminishes it’s ability to refract light in the same way as colourless diamonds. This holds true unless the coloured diamonds are ‘Fancies’- these are rare diamonds of unusually strong colour.
The grade used to determine the desirability of colour in a diamond is measured from D (colourless) to Z (coloured yellow). The clear diamonds are the most prized and are the most expensive. It is recommended while purchasing a diamond you do not choose one less than grade H.
The method of measuring a diamond is by its weight or carat. One carat is 0.2 grams and can be further divided into 100 points (this is the method used to determine the lower carat stones).
In other words, the smaller the stone the lower in carat weight, whereas, the larger the stone the higher the carat and price.
Ensure that you receive a certificate when buying diamonds. There are a few highly reputable grading houses around the world and they include GIA, AGS and DCLA. Never accept the certificate of the retailer, even if they are GIA certified. Only accept certificates from the above mentioned graders as they maintain high standards and ensure that the quality of the stone is exactly what you have paid for. Other labs are pressured to lower their standards, therefore you will be paying for a lower quality stone for a higher price.
Hearts and Arrows
However, if this is not enough, you can go beyond the highest level of quality and purchase a ‘hearts and arrows’ diamond. This is the perfect diamond. It is perfectly cut to mathematical proportions, which enhances the way the light bounces in and out of the top of the diamond. When looking through the telescope from the top you will see arrowheads lining up with the shaft and when looking down on the bottom you will find perfectly shaped hearts.
Be careful of retailers who boast to have hearts and arrows diamonds, many have the appearance of hearts and arrows but they are not symmetrical. There are only a few brands in the world who can boast true hearts and arrows, therefore it is recommended you do our research beforehand.
8 tips to identify the perfect hearts and arrows:
- There must be 8 hearts and 8 arrows.
- All hearts and arrows must be the same in intensity. Meaning one cannot be brighter than the other.
- All hearts and arrows must be of the same colour.
- There should be a gap between the heart and V shape under it.
- The V shape under the hearts must all look exactly the same.
- All the arrowheads and all of the hearts should be the same shape.
- The arrowheads should line up to the shafts.
- The heart tips should not be pointed.
Be aware that GIA’s highest standard of diamond does not automatically constitute your stone being hearts and arrows. It may state on the card that it is hearts and arrows, however only certificates from HRD Antwerp Labs will provide the guarantee that your diamond is in fact true hearts and arrows.
At minimum it is suggested that you adhere to the 4 C’s and modify your standards according to your budget. Always ask questions of your jeweller, in order to ensure that you are getting what you pay for.