Where to Start
It’s wonderful that there is so much information about diamonds out there! You can really dive in and learn all about them before you buy one, but all of that information can be a little overwhelming. I mean, where do you start? The answer is right here.The first step you want to take on your diamond-buying journey is to ask yourself a few questions.
1. What is my budget?
What price range would you like to be in? Remember to factor in the cost of the setting the diamond will go into as well.
2. Do I want natural or lab-grown?
There is a new debate in the industry about natural diamonds vs. lab-grown diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds are identical to natural diamonds except they didn’t come out of the earth. The arguments for natural diamonds are they are rare, valuable, and created by the earth. Also, as lab-grown technology advances and more high quality stones become available, it’s unknown if these manmade stones will hold their value over time. The arguments for lab-grown diamonds are they are more environmentally responsible than mining, a better value, and certain to be conflict free.
3. If I buy a natural diamond how do I make sure it is conflict free?
Since knowledge about conflict diamonds became widespread in the early 2000s, most vendors have made it a priority to source stones from suppliers compliant with the Kimberley Process. Many also implement their own tracing systems, standards, and zero tolerance policies. We only work with vendors that strictly adhere to this protocol. We also frequently source Canadian diamonds.
4. Which value factors (4Cs) are most important to me?
You’ve probably heard of the 4Cs, but what are they and where did they come from? In the 1940s a public benefit, nonprofit institute called the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) created the industry standards for diamond grading. These standards, or value factors, are known as the 4Cs. They are Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat Weight.
Cut – Cut determines how well the stone’s facets interact with light. Many factors, including angles and proportions, design, and craftsmanship are considered when determining a cut grade. The GIA cut grades are Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. You may have heard about Ideal, or even Super Ideal cuts. These terms just mean that a diamond’s proportions fall within a specific range determined to be the best proportions by a particular manufacturer or brand. Diamonds also receive Finish grades for Polish and Symmetry. Keep in mind that fancy (non round brilliant) diamond shapes do not receive a cut grade from GIA. They do, however, receive Finish grades. We recommend diamonds with EX cut, EX polish, and EX symmetry grades.
Clarity – Clarity refers to a diamond’s absence of inclusions and blemishes. The size, number, position, nature, and relief are considered when determining the clarity grade. The grades are Flawless (FL), Internally Flawless (IF), Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2), Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2), Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2), and Included (I1, I2, and I3). We typically suggest diamonds graded SI2 or higher.
Color – Diamond color is graded from D-Z with D representing colorless. The color scale is divided into 5 ranges. They are Colorless (D-F), Near Colorless (G-J), Faint (K-M), Very Light (N-R), and Light (S-Z). Most people don’t notice any color in stones graded H or higher unless they are next to stones with a higher grade.
Carat – This is the metric carat weight of a diamond. One carat is equal to .2 grams.
The Next Step
Now that you’ve answered these questions and know the basics of diamond grading, you’re ready to compare some stones and pricing options. Let us know where you’d like to start. We’re here to help!