No gemstone is more sought after than the diamond. It is not only the hardest natural substance on Earth, but when it is cut and polished it is unmatched in its fire and brilliance. Because they are so precious, diamonds are judged by high standards. These standards are supposed to keep diamond sellers honest and keep you from paying a lot of money for a gem that is substandard. The following is a guide to buying diamond jewelry:
How Diamonds Are Judged
Diamonds are judged by what’s called the Four C’s. They are:
- Cut can refer to how the diamond is shaped as well as how it is actually cut. A diamond whose cut is too deep or too shallow will not bring the radiance and sparkle it is capable of.
- Clarity refers to whether the diamond has any flaws or inclusions. Most diamonds do have flaws, but higher quality diamonds have flaws that are not visible to the naked eye. This is called “eye clean.” Reputable diamond sellers usually don’t sell diamonds that are not eye clean. The highest quality diamonds have no flaws at all, and they are very rare.
- Carat is how much the diamond weighs. The word comes from the Arabic word “carat,” which means bean or seed. Long ago, the seeds of the carob tree were so uniform in size and weight that they were used as weights for precious stones. Now, the international carat is 200 milligrams, or one fifth of a gram. All things being equal, the larger the carat the more expensive the diamond. However, if a diamond is very flawed, it can cost less than a smaller, more perfect diamond.
- A diamond that is truly colorless is rare and valuable. Most diamonds have the tiniest bit of yellow in them, but again, the color should be hard to see with the naked eye. Other diamonds are supposed to have color. These diamonds are called fancies and range from pale yellow to pink to red to blue and black. They are differentiated from other colored gems such as rubies or sapphires because diamonds are mostly pure carbon. Other gems have different chemical compositions. Impurities such as iron give fancies their color.
How to Buy Diamond Jewelry
The best way to buy diamond jewelry is to start with a loose diamond. A loose diamond allows you to inspect all parts of the diamond. The diamond should come with a certificate from a reputable institution such as the Gemological Institute of America. This certification lets you know where the diamond is from and that it has the attributes that the seller says it does. Make sure that the certificate is up-to-date.
Even if the diamonds are already set in the jewelry, don’t be afraid to ask the seller a lot of questions. Ask about the provenance of the diamonds. Make sure that the settings hold the gems and clasps close firmly and that the precious metal is what the seller says it is. A band made of sterling silver, for example, may have 925 engraved on the inside, while 18K or 14K may be engraved on a piece of gold. If you’re still unsure, don’t hesitate to bring a knowledgeable friend to the store. Lastly, don’t think you have to go to a fancy store to get quality jewelry. A bit of research may uncover some out-of-the way jeweler whose standards are high and whose prices are reasonable.