Your Guide to Buying Diamonds

A diamond is one of the most precious of all gemstones and therefore, when you seek to buy a diamond, it is understandable to be apprehensive of whether you are putting your money in the right place. Many salespeople will have you think that if you are not in the diamond business or haven’t studied gemology, you will not be able to determine its worth. Although part of it is not wrong, it is also true that it is not difficult to learn the basics of diamond buying and avoid falling into a deceitful trap.

If you can familiarize yourself with certain certifications, grading scales, cuts, shapes, and colors, you can be assured that you will have enough armor against getting duped into buying a worthless fake. Arguably, the most important aspect of the worth of a diamond lies in its grading. It includes an assessment of the four Cs – cut, clarity, color, and carat. Laboratories perform tests on various parameters that can be broadly summed up into these four Cs. It is on the basis of these tests that diamond certificates are prepared.

Although there are many labs that produce certificates for diamonds, the American Gem Society (AGS) and the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) are two that are recognized worldwide. If you are buying diamonds approved by other labs, be sure to check their credentials.

In this article, we will be prominently talking about the “Cut.”

In the jargon used by the diamond industry, the word “cut” can have two meanings – the shape or the reflective qualities of a diamond. As it pertains to grading, the “cut” refers to the reflective quality, which determines the brilliance of a diamond.

Understanding the cut of a diamond is very important because it determines how well the diamond will shine. A poor cut can make even a better carat diamond to look like a drab piece of crystal.

Gemologists say that for the best cut, a formula has to be followed. The formula involves the depth, diameter, pavilion, crown, girdle, culet, and table. The interrelation between these determines how the light that enters the diamond is reflected back. The best formula makes the light entering at the table travel through the pavilion to the other side and then be reflected back to the eye. A lower quality cut will have light entering through the table and leaking out from the bottom or sides rather than being reflected back to the eye of the observer, thus making it a lot less brilliant.

The cut of a diamond is graded on five scales – ideal, excellent, very good, good, and fair & poor. All these grades do not apply to every shape, and there may be other aspects in a diamond better than the cut. For example, the “ideal” category only applies to the round shape, and although a “fair & poor” diamond isn’t really brilliant, it has maximum carat weight. These grades are basically calculated on the amount of light that is reflected. The more light reflected, the better the brilliance, and higher the cost.

As far as shapes are concerned, it depends on the skill of a cutter. Over the centuries, there are 11 cuts that have become quite popular – Asscher, cushion, emerald, heart, Marquise, oval, pearl, princess, radiant, round, trilliant. Some of these look good as a pendant, others as earrings, or as souvenirs. It depends on an individual’s choice how to wear a diamond. However, there are some tricks to choosing a shape that will suit you. For instance, the princess cut diamond ring will suit a hand with long fingers. On the contrary, if someone has a small palm of short fingers, oval and pear shapes give the illusion of elongation and complement the hand better. If you are unsure of any shape, you can consider the round diamond – the most popular shape that looks good in almost any jewelry with its kaleidoscope of brilliance.

The other things that have to be calculated are the clarity, color, and carat. The clarity depends on how flawless a diamond is. There are two kinds of impurities – inclusions (defects inside the diamond) and blemishes (flaws on the surface). Needless to say, the better diamond will have least flaws. As for color, the truly colorless diamond is a rare gemstone, and is suitably priced on the far end of the high scale. There are fancy color diamonds like pink or red that are even rarer and are valued more for their color. However, a slightly brown or yellowish tinted diamond will not be easily discernible by the untrained eye. The carat determines the weight and so, the bigger, the costlier.

Now that you have some idea of what makes a good diamond, you can read the certificate – basically a blueprint of the diamond – and make an informed choice.