Diamond Buying Guide - the 4 Cs
Posted on Monday, October 19th, 2009 at 11:50 am by Preston
Buying a diamond can be a significant purchase both emotionally and financially, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating. Here are four basic steps to ensure that the journey to find the perfect diamond for you is as pleasurable as admiring the diamond you finally select.
1. Choose your qualified diamond jeweler just like you would choose your doctor, lawyer, or any other professional. Ideally, your jeweler is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist (G.G.) or Accredited Jewelry Professional (A.J.P.) and is affiliated with jewelry industry groups and professional associations such as the American Gem Society (AGS) and American Gem Trade Association (AGTA). A knowledgeable jeweler will clearly explain the 4Cs of diamond quality and encourage you to compare a number of diamonds that fall into your price range.
2. Learn the 4Cs of diamond quality, the key to a diamond’s value and subsequent price.
Diamonds are weighed in carats with one carat weighing about the same as a paper clip, or 0.2 grams. Just as a dollar is divided into 100 pennies, a carat is divided into 100 points which means that a diamond of 50 points weighs 0.50 carats. But two diamonds of equal weight can have very different values depending on their clarity, color, and cut. Carat weight is the most intuitive of the 4Cs – you expect a larger diamond to be worth more.
Because they are created deep within the earth, most diamonds contain unique birthmarks called inclusions (internal) and blemishes (external). Diamonds without these clarity characteristics are rare – and rarity translates to higher cost when purchasing diamonds. Using the GIA Diamond Grading System, diamonds are given a clarity grade that ranges from Flawless to Included (I3).
Colorless diamonds are extremely rare and very valuable - most are nearly colorless with yellow or brown tints. The GIA Diamond Grading System uses letters to represent colors, beginning with D (colorless) and ending at Z (light yellow or brown). Many of these color distinctions are so subtle that they are invisible to the untrained eye but these slight color differences make a big difference in price.
While diamonds come in many different shapes, including round brilliants, hearts, pears , and marquises, cut has to do with proportion and the arrangement of facets. The sheer beauty of a diamond depends on cut more than anything else, using light to create brilliance, sparkle, and flashes of fire. The GIA Cut Scale ranges from Excellent to Poor. GIA provides a cut quality grade for standard round brilliant diamonds that fall in the D-to-Z color range.
3. Get your diamond reports. Insist that your diamond come with grading report or, for other gemstones, an identification report from an independent, accredited gemological laboratory like GIA - your assurance of value, quality, and authenticity. GIA Diamond Grading Reports are the most widely used reports in the industry and offers laboratory grading services and reports directly to the public. Since GIA only grades unmounted diamonds, they recommend working with your jeweler so that your diamond is submitted correctly.
4. Keep your purchase secure. Before you surprise your love with a piece of diamond jewelry, have the piece appraised and insured. Appraisers and insurers rely on diamond grading and identification reports to accurately evaluate the quality and value of gems.
The GIA Laboratory can also laser-inscribe the diamond’s unique Diamond Grading Report number to provide verification if the diamond is ever lost or stolen. Or, if you prefer, personalized messages can be inscribed. Your local jeweler can help you with this request or you can contact GIA directly.