When you buy a diamond, it is a good idea to go for a loose one as you would be better able to ascertain its quality – a mounting could conceal some of the stone’s defects. A loose diamond is an expensive purchase, and in order to get your money’s worth, you should pay attention to some simple rules for selecting the best stone you can afford.
1. Be Sure to Ask for a Certificate
A certificate is a document that describes all quality characteristics of a diamond.
Each of these features is listed and graded on a standard scale. The most trusted and popular diamond certification authority is the Gemological Institute of America (G.I.A.).
A certificate proves that the quality of the diamond has been evaluated by an independent party. Without this document, any claims as to the diamond’s color, clarity or cut remain unverified and may be just speculation.
Our tip: Do not make a purchase decision based solely on the salesperson’s opinion of the stone’s quality, and always ask for a certificate to make sure you know what you are getting.
2. Look for a Laser Inscription
A topic somewhat related to certification is laser inscription, which refers to a unique ID consisting of numbers and letters that are engraved in the stone.
The laser inscription is important because it allows you to recognize your stone among other similar-looking diamonds.
For example, if someone attempts to steal your diamond and switch it for another stone, you can always check the laser inscription to make sure you have the right diamond.
The laser inscription on the diamond should be the same as the ID written on the certification report – this is how you know that the certificate you are reading describes the stone you are looking at.
Tip: Always ask to see the laser inscription on the diamond you are about to buy, and check if the ID matches the one on the certificate.
If the diamond doesn’t have an inscription, you can identify the stone by its diamond plot, which is a diagram that maps all inclusions found in the stone and that is included in a diamond’s certificate.
3. Compare Prices for Similar Diamonds
Go to several jewelry stores and ask about the prices of diamonds in the quality range you are considering. Compare the prices quoted by different jewelers.
Sometimes, a salesperson might tell you that the diamonds are on sale and you will be getting a huge discount. Checking with other stores will help you find out whether you are really getting a bargain or the price has been hiked so that the “discounted” one is actually the price everyone else sells at.
Important: Make sure you are not comparing apples and oranges – the color, clarity, cut and carat of the diamonds whose prices are compared should be the same or at least very close.
4. Inspect the Diamond Under Magnification
You should never buy a diamond before you have examined it closely yourself. Ask the jeweler to show you the stone under a loupe or microscope.
Take a good look at the diamond, and see if there are any cracks within it. (However, any thin, hair-like lines you might spot inside are not cracks but natural flaws.)
Look at the surface of the diamond and make sure it’s not chipped or otherwise damaged. The stone’s thin and sharp parts are more vulnerable to chipping, so pay special attention when looking along its edges.
Look at the diamond’s natural internal flaws (inclusions) and compare the stone with the others you are considering.
You should be comfortable with the level of clarity you are getting and the price you are paying for it. Generally, the clarity grade should be high enough so that there are no flaws visible with the naked eye.
Going beyond that level and shooting for perfect clarity may be a waste of your money, though – nobody would be able to tell the difference without a loupe.
Inspect the color of the diamonds you like, and make a head-to-head comparison. Keep in mind that perfectly colorless stones are rare and very expensive. As long as your diamond is not visibly yellowish, its color will look great when worn.
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).