Shopping for a diamond ring is an exciting endeavor. It may be overwhelming due to the high cost of this piece of jewelry, but if you are armed with a few simple facts, you will be able to find the perfect ring.
Evaluating Diamond Quality
Have you ever wondered how to determine the quality of a diamond? In order to do this, you must understand the 4 C’s – carat size, color, clarity, and cut.
The size of the diamond is measured in carats (a measure of weight equal to 0.2 g). Large diamonds are considered more valuable due to their rarity.
Each diamond is given a color grade starting with D for the clearest. The color has more of a yellow or brown tint as the grade approaches Z.
Colors such as red or other abnormal diamond colors are scarce and hold more value – stones with such colors are sold as fancy-colored diamonds.
The clarity is how clear the stone is of flaws within the diamond or on the surface. A flawless diamond will have no imperfections.
The cut will determine how much light the diamond will reflect. A perfect cut means maximum light reflection and sparkle, while a poorly cut diamond will lose light.
Diamond Shopping and Budget
First, choose the shape of the diamond. Different cuts include princess (square), emerald (rectangular), marquise, round, oval, pear shaped, triangular, and heart shaped.
Then decide whether you want it set in a traditional yellow gold ring or a modern white gold or platinum ring. Finally, figure out the most desired characteristic of the ring.
Here are some tips to help you when shopping:
1. Carat sizes get more expensive by the whole number. Purchase one a few decimals short and save a significant amount of money without being able to tell the difference. For example, instead of buying a stone that is 1.00 carats, go for one that is 0.94 or 0.97 carats.
2. Save money on clarity if you can’t see any imperfections with your naked eye. Don’t go for perfect grade clarity as it may not be worth the additional dollars.
3. Diamond cuts are graded by the Gemological Institute of America (G.I.A.) on a scale ranging from Excellent to Poor. Buying a lower grade will save you money, but avoid buying anything less than Good.
4. Color grades are close together and the difference between two adjacent ones may not be visible with the naked eye. Instead of buying a colorless D, save and go with an E, F, or a G if they look the same to you.
Avoiding Diamond Scams and Pitfalls
Not every diamond dealer is honest, and it’s important to be able to trust the jeweler. Take the following precautions and look out for these situations to avoid being scammed:
– Ask to see the diamond loose, and look at it with a magnifier. Diamonds that are already set in the ring may have imperfections that are hidden under prongs or a yellow or brownish tint, which you can’t notice due to the reflection of the metal the stone is set in.
– Beware of diamond imitations. They can look extremely similar to a natural diamond.
– Fractures within the diamond may be filled in with a foreign substance. This decreases the value of the diamond and is usually not permanent. Inquire whether the stone has undergone fracture filling.
– Flaws inside the diamond may be drilled with laser and cleaned with acid. The diamond will appear flawless, but it’s worth less because it isn’t as rare. Ask about any such improvements before buying.
– Diamonds are sometimes heated to thousands of degrees while under an enormous amount of pressure to improve the color. This makes them more likely to chip. Always ask if the stone has been heat treated.
Ask to see the diamond in natural lighting to get an idea of how it looks in an everyday setting.
Find out if the jeweler will issue a refund if a third-party appraiser finds the diamond to be of a different grade than what you were told when buying. Ask for this in writing for the ultimate protection.
To be on the safe side, ask for a diamond certificate verifying the quality of the stone; the document should be issued by a reputable certification body such as the G.I.A.
Where to Buy a Diamond Ring?
For diamond rings, we highly recommend James Allen (read our review) because it shows real photos and videos for each diamond so you can take a 360-degree look at any stone before having it set in a ring.
For colored diamonds, we recommend Leibish & Co., which specializes in fancy color diamonds (use code JewelryNotes200 at checkout to get a 5% discount).
Also read our Diamond Buying Guide and check out our selection of eye-clean diamonds that we've vetted for quality.