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The Advanced Diamond Buying Guide

The Advanced Diamond Buying Guide

It seems that snow flurries, twinkly lights, and the holidays give couples the warm-and-fuzziesthe holiday season is the most popular time of year for couples to propose tying the knot. Because of this, the fall has become engagement season for jewelers, who help clients pop the question with breathtaking bling. 

But not all jewels (and jewelers) are created equal. With such an investment, it's of utmost importance to understand what you're getting and what factors are most important to consider. 

If you're considering buying a diamond for your partner, you likely already know about the 4 C's: Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat Weight. But how can we use this information to make the best purchase? We've outlined six of our best tips for choosing your diamond that you won't find in Diamonds 101.

 

gia and ags logos

1. Not all certificates are created equal.

GIA is considered the highest standard for grading,whereas other laboratories like EGL USA, IDI, and AGS are more generous with their grading policies. For this reason, we recommend reducing the grading of non-GIA certified stones by one grade when comparing them with GIA certified stones. Ultimately, it is important to remember that diamond grading is subjective and not mathematically defined. So if one lab consistently calls one color grade "H" while another lab calls the same color grade "G", it’s perfectly reasonable as long as they do so consistently.

 

diamond and tools

2. A certificate is only as good as the lab’s reputation.

Every lab has its quirks: one may be looser in color, or clarity, or perhaps more forgiving of certain inclusions. What makes the lab’s certificate authoritative is consistency in these grading practices. It is for these reasons that we recommend staying far away from stones with certain low-reputation lab certificates, including those from the now defunct EGL-International.

 

 

3. Compare your stone with the certificate.

Diamond certificates include a top and bottom diagram illustrating the stone’s unique arrangement of inclusions. Using these diagrams, inspect your stone with a loupe to verify that the certificate provided matches the stone being offered. Some inclusions may be difficult to find even with a loupe; ask your gemologist to help you find them!

4. Don’t skimp on the cut grade.

The quality of a diamond’s cut directly affects its brilliance and is one of the most important factors when evaluating your stone. At the very best, a round "ideal" cut diamond will show high fire, brightness, and perfect symmetry—resulting in a hearts and arrows effect. Be aware that grades offered above this GIA recognized grade are created by the diamond seller to inflate the value of their stones. There is no difference between an "ideal" stone and a "super ideal", "signature ideal", or similarly described stone.

 

diamond colors

5. Don’t buy more than you need.

You go into the car dealership looking for a modest sedan and come out with a fast-and-sporty, full-loaded coupe with all the bells and whistles—many that you won’t ever use. The same can happen with a diamond, too. While many would adore having a colorless, flawless diamond, the price difference between it and a pretty-much-completely-perfect diamond can be astronomical. Further, it can be very difficult for even the trained eye to tell the difference! For many people, diamonds in the range of F-H in color and SI1-SI2 in clarity hit the sweet spot for appearance and price. Take advantage of the nuanced spectrum of colors, clarities, and grading criteria to pick a stone that is ideal for you and your budget.

 

 

diamonds weighing around one carat

6. Size is (almost) everything.

Diamond prices jump at half carat and full carat marks, so aim for a stone that is slightly below that size for the same look without the same price tag. For example, 0.95ct looks identical to 1.00ct but is much more attractively priced.

 

Tisha Vaidya, Contributor
I'm a sucker for hot sauce, dimples, and fat babies. Oh, and I have a massive sock collection, even though I don't like wearing socks.
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