Let’s say you wanted to buy a nice diamond ring. Here’s a dilemma for you: Should you pick a loose diamond first and then have it mounted in the ring setting of your choice, or should you buy a diamond ring with a stone that’s already set? One of these options is going to be easier, but the other is going to be safer to purchase.
Mounted Diamonds: Easier to Buy, Harder to Evaluate
Although it’s easier to buy a piece of jewelry with an already mounted diamond, you will have a harder time assessing the stone’s quality.
The problem with mountings is that they can often hide a good portion of the diamond. You will not know if the stone has flaws, cracks or chips hidden within the mounting.
Another problem is that the mounting will often reflect light into the diamond, making it harder for you to assess the stone’s clarity or color.
For example, certain settings can make the diamonds within them seem whiter or shinier than they really are.
As a rule, never buy a diamond that you haven’t seen from all sides.
If the diamond has already been set in a mounting, and you have decided that you want to buy it, at least ask the jeweler to remove the stone so you can inspect it when it’s loose.
How Are Loose Diamonds Better?
The biggest advantage to buying a diamond loose is that you will be able to take a good look at the stone.
It is especially important to be able to evaluate the cut and proportions of the stone as they influence how light interacts with it and determine its sparkle.
You will also be better able to see what defects the stone has and how visible they are.
In general, it is recommended that you buy your diamonds loose and inspect them closely before you make a purchase decision.
After all, diamonds are expensive and you don’t want to take any chances by spending your money on a stone that might not be worth its price.
How to Evaluate a Loose Diamond
When buying a loose diamond, above all, make sure that you ask for a certificate, preferably issued by the G.I.A. (Gemological Institute of America).
A diamond’s certificate is the best source of verified information about the stone’s quality characteristics.
Also, it’s good if the diamond is laser inscribed. A laser inscription is the unique ID of a diamond and is also included on its certificate – just another way to make sure that the stone you are looking at is the same as the one described in the certificate.
The major quality factors you need to look at are the 4 Cs – Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat. A lot has been written about these criteria, and each one of them warrants a separate article.
Here we will only try to give you a brief overview of the most important things you should be paying attention to when evaluating these quality indicators:
Color – Make sure the diamond’s color is white (i.e. colorless); the lower you go down the color grading scale, the more yellowish the diamond will look.
Clarity – Look for diamonds that don’t have visible flaws inside them. Go with the lowest clarity stone whose flaws are invisible to the naked eye – the difference between such a stone and one of the highest clarity will not be discernible unless you use a loupe, but the clearest diamond will cost a lot more.
Cut – Be sure to see how the cut is graded and avoid diamonds graded Poor on this indicator. Bad cuts will detract from the appearance of the stone by diminishing its sparkle. The same goes for asymmetrical cuts; if there is a Symmetry grade in the certificate, take a look at it, and avoid stones with grades below Good.
Carat – How big you want your diamond to be depends entirely on your personal preference; one-carat diamonds are pretty standard. However, keep in mind that the larger your stone is, the more expensive it will be; not to mention that if your diamond has visible flaws, they will be more apparent if it is larger.
Where to Buy Diamonds and Diamond Jewelry?
For diamond jewelry, we highly recommend James Allen because it shows real photos and videos for each diamond so you can take a 360-degree look at any stone before buying it.
For colored diamonds, we recommend Leibish & Co., which specializes in fancy color diamonds (use code JewelryNotes200 at checkout to get a 5% discount).