Diamond Buying Guide
1 - How to Compare Diamonds
If you are shopping on a budget, remember that all diamonds sparkle, and the most important attribute of an engagement diamond is the way it makes a woman feel. Diamonds are the ultimate gift of love. Any diamond you choose will make your woman feel cherished.
However, it is important that you do a little homework before you go shopping. The 4C's (Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat Weight) are the basic attributes used to compare diamonds. An understanding of the 4C's will give you a way to compare two diamonds and help you set basic price parameters.
How to compare diamond color:
The finest diamonds are colorless, rare and expensive. On the GIA grading scale below, D, E, F are considered colorless, G, H, I, J, K, and even L, near colorless and any grade M or below shows an increasingly yellowish tinge. Beyond the preference for a whiter stone, however, the color of a diamond does not affect its brightness or sparkle.
Worthy of note: Most experts agree that, when mounted, diamonds in the "G, H, I, J" range appear colorless and represent a much better value than "D, E, F" stones which command significantly higher prices.
How to compare diamond Clarity:
Diamonds with fewer flaws are rare and therefore more highly prized. In many cases, these flaws (or inclusions) don't detract from the beauty of the diamond because they are invisible to the naked eye. The GIA grading scale below shows clarity ranges from "Internally Flawless" (IF) to "Very Very Slight" Inclusions (VVS), to "Very Slight" Inclusions (VS), to "Slightly Included" (SI), to "Included" (I).
Worthy of note: Any grade "SI2" or above has inclusions that are "eye clean", not visible to the naked eye. An "I1" grade can be an excellent value, particularly if the inclusion is on the outer edge. "I2" grades can still exhibit a fair degree of fire and light. "I3" grade diamonds are noticeably more opaque or dark to the naked eye.
How to compare diamond Cut, Symmetry and Polish:
More than any other attribute, it is the Cut that makes a diamond brilliant and beautiful. A diamond that is well cut reflects light internally and displays a dazzling shower of light back through the top of the stone. A poorly cut diamond will leak light out of the bottom and sides, as illustrated below. Symmetry is another important factor in the brilliance and beauty of a diamond. A diamond is like a small house of mirrors. If the facets are lined up properly, the diamond returns more light to the viewer's eye. Finally, a diamond that is well Polished will reflect more light and sparkle from the surface to the viewer's eye. Cut, Symmetry and Polish are rated on your diamond certificate from Poor to Excellent.
Worthy of note: The measurements listed on your diamond grading report also give an indication of how brilliant your diamond will be. The formula for cutting a diamond of ideal proportions was written in 1919 by Marcel Tolkowsky. Although it is rather complex, you can find the information by searching his name from within any popular internet search site.
Click on the buttons below to view the relative size of different diamonds in a solitaire engagement ring.
- 2 carat total weigh
- 1 1/2 carat total weight
- 1 carat total weight
- 3/4 carat total weight
- 1/2 carat total weight
- 1/3 carat total weight
- 1/4 carat total weight
2 - Finding a Balance Between Value and Quality
All diamond rings look bright and sparkling when worn on a woman's hand. Women love to wear diamonds. So don't be too concerned if your budget allows only a lower quality diamond. Let's face it: for the same price, some women would prefer a larger diamond of lower quality over a smaller diamond of higher quality. However, the quality becomes clear when different diamonds are viewed under a microscope.
How to choose the best diamond value:
While choosing a diamond is a matter of opinion, we have our preferences. For the price, larger is better as long as the diamond does not fall below your expectations for brilliance and beauty, which are determined by the Cut, Symmetry, Polish, Clarity and Color ratings.
The images below show a range of diamond qualities viewed under a microscope.
This is an F color VS1 clarity diamond with an "Excellent" Cut and Symmetry. It has no flaws visible to the naked eye. It will display a shower of fire, scintillation and brightness when moved under a source of light. Nearly all of the light entering the diamond is reflected back to the viewer's eye through the table and crown of this diamond.
This is a G color I1 clarity diamond with a "Very Good" Cutand "Excellent" Symmetry. It has a flaw (near the top) that would be visible to the naked eye. However, a diamond like this can be a very good value for the price and the G Color is virtually indistinguishable from the highest color (D) after the diamond is mounted.
This is a G color I2 clarity diamond with a "Good" Cut. It has several flaws and it looks a little dark overall, but there is plenty of light reflecting through the table, and it will show flashes of fire and scintillation when it is moved under a light source.
3 - Diamond Certificates
The features of all diamond laboratory grading reports include specifications on a diamond’s cut, shape, carat weight, color, and clarity. The report also grades for symmetry and polish, dimensions, presence of fluorescence, a report number, and some contain a "map" depicting the type and location of the stone’s major inclusions.
While the measurements and mathematical cut and clarity are fairly cut and dry, there is quite a bit more of subjective judgment and opinion used when it comes to color and clarity. Both are judged by the human eye and standards that do vary from lab to lab, as well as person to person.
Just as every diamond is unique, the "map" of two SI2 diamonds, for example, will look quite different from each other. One might show a large feather on the right side of the diamonds, while another may have several small crystals located under the table.
Which should you choose? Just looking at the "map", it is very difficult to tell what kind of impact these inclusions will have on the diamond. Only a diamond expert, with years of experience and training, will be able to interpret the grading report and judge the stone itself to find the right diamond. Even then, an expert needs to actually look at the diamond.
Two diamonds with the same color and clarity grades will have very different prices. This is true with the same laboratory, and especially so for different laboratories. That is because diamonds of the same grade will look very different to the eye, and that is what determines the price.
What are the differences in the laboratories?
Diamonds with the same grading from different laboratories will have wildly different prices. This is the norm in our industry.
Are some laboratories good and some bad?
Short answer: YES and NO!
The overseas EGL certificates exagerate the color and clarity.
The GIA & AGS and all of the reputable laboratories are the "Gold Standard" with 50 years of experience in the field. They "coined" the diamond grading letters D-Z. There is a very long waiting list, currently 6-8 weeks, to get a certificate, with a 100% charge for "rush service" and a premium price for a certificate, as well as shipping the diamond back and forth. It is a substantial amount of money.
The We also use CGL laboratories, which is a local lab. They will see you right away, treat you competently, grade the diamonds accurately and at a fair price.
Some diamonds have no certificates, and are shown as NONE or N/A on the diamond selector. They simply have not been graded yet. Nothing wrong with the diamonds, it is just that the descriptions are different, by as much as 2-3 grades in color and clarity. They have not been through the process yet, and the grades are simply representations of the particular diamond vendor on our database. You may get a diamond graded "H" and it may well be an H or I or J. Hence their "lower prices" when comparing to other diamonds with GIA, IGI, or AGS certifications. These ungraded diamonds are less costly in comparison, when comparing color and clarity grades from other labs, but they are not the color and clarity as graded by the GIA or AGS on the certificate. The diamonds are PRICED according to the market,(clarity and color)so they seem like bargains, just do not be influenced exclusively by certifications. Don't make "apples to apples" comparisons. Are they a "good buy"? Yes, they are. The majority of diamond sold have these or no certificates. What makes a diamond a "good buy" is not the certificate, or what the diamond is graded at, or what certification it has. It is the price for the actual level of quality you are receiving. That is what is so subjective.
Diamond certificates have their value. They are useful when you are insuring your diamond. However, at the end of the day, a diamond certificate should not be used as the final determinant when making your purchasing decision. Setting aside all the laboratory certificate mumbo-jumbo, there are two very important aspects that have to be taken into account when choosing a diamond.
- The "eye appeal" of the diamond.
- The intrinsic value of the diamond.
.Do you need help to choose? Give us a call @ 888 527 9422 and talk to one of our experts at Dacarli..
We will go so far as to email a picture of the diamond you choose, as well as 1-2 other choices for comparison purposes. Pictures don't lie.