Buying a diamond ring is a romantic and beautiful experience. A sparkling diamond ring is not just any purchase. It signifies love, appreciation and wonder.
Like any expensive purchase, most of us want to do some basic diligence before buying a diamond ring. We want our purchase decision to be right. We don’t want to get ripped off on our purchase. We want the best quality diamond that will sparkle for life.
In this post, we will cover 3 important things you should know when buying a diamond ring.
- Don’t Ignore Diamond Cut, Color and Clarity
When it comes to buying a diamond ring, we focus on the size of the diamond. Well, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to get a large diamond.
Your friend may say, “Mine is one carat diamond ring.” Another friend may say, “Mine is two carat diamond ring.” What your friends are referring to is the weight of the diamonds.
The weight of a diamond is measured in carats. More carats on your ring, the better off you generally are. However most people don’t give the same importance to the diamond cut, color and clarity.
Let’s discuss each one of them.
A cut of a diamond is more than it’s basic shape. You’ll find diamonds in round, oval, square and even heart shapes. But when purchasing a diamond ring, you want the diamond cut to be “excellent” or “very good”.
According to Gemological Institute of America (GIA) the cut of a diamond determines the sparkle and brilliance that comes off from the diamond when it interacts with light. The GIA cut scale includes Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor diamond cuts.
In addition pick a “full cut” diamond with 56 or 57 facets vs. a “single cut” diamond with 17 or 18 facets. More facets, means greater sparkle. Single cut diamonds are made to save diamond cutting costs or wastage of low quality diamonds.
If want your diamond to sparkle, you must opt for excellent or very good cut and full-cut diamonds with 56 or 57 facets.
Similar to diamond cut, GIA has a diamond color scale. The best quality diamonds are colorless, followed by near colorless, faint, very light and light. Diamond color should be a serious consideration for all buyers. The more colorless the diamond, the greater the value, fire and brilliance.
GIA’s D-to-Z diamond grading scale is one of the most trusted and standardized scale worldwide. Diamonds that with D, E, F color are colorless followed by G, H, I and J near colorless diamonds. To the naked eye, there is no noticeable difference between colorless and near colorless diamonds.
If you are looking for value for money and best quality diamonds, G and H color diamonds fall under the sweet spot. As a general rule, avoid diamonds that are lower than J color.
Aside from white diamonds, you may want a rare, natural diamond with pink, blue, brown, yellow or green hue. These are known as “fancy diamonds” or “colored diamonds”. Unlike white diamonds, these diamonds are graded the hue, tone and saturation. Deep colors are more valuable in comparison to pale colors.
Natural diamonds are formed deep within the earth. Intense pressure and heat conditions cause diamonds to get internal and external “birthmarks.” Diamonds are without birthmarks are very rare. Thus it is common to have diamonds with birthmarks. The value of the diamond goes up with fewer birthmarks.
The GIA diamond clarity scale is divided into Flawless, Internally Flawless, Very Very Slightly Included (VVS), Very Slightly Included (VS), Slightly Included (SI) and Included (I). This scale in further subdivided in VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2, so on and so forth.
SI clarity and lower is commonly available at big box jewelry retailers. However you want to go with VS quality or higher. It is extremely difficult and expensive to source Flawless and Internally Flawless diamonds. Select VS clarity diamonds to get best value for money.
- Consider Long Term Value
When purchasing a diamond ring, pick a piece that will hold or increase in value overtime. You want to select a ring that is so beautiful and precious that your kids will fight for it after you are gone.
- Decide on your jeweler
As you begin shopping for a diamond ring, you’ll face many choices. You’ll need to decide whether you want to shop at a big box retailer at your local mall, a branded jewelry store, a jewelry designer boutique, or your local jeweler. Each of these options has pros and cons that ultimately boil down to personal preferences.
|Jewelry Store Type||Pros||Cons|
|Big Box Retailer
(example: Zales, Kay Jewelers, Macy’s, Blue Nile)
|Wider selection||Generic designs|
(example: Tiffany & Co., Chopard)
|High quality pieces||Expensive|
|Boutique Jewelry Designer
(example: Sampat Jewellers, Brilliant Earth)
|Unique, designer pieces||Limited selections, Expensive|
(example: Any mom-and-pop jewelry shop)
|Easily accessible||Significant variation in terms of experience, quality, and selection|
- Opt for precious metals
Gold and platinum are precious and preferred metals when it comes to high quality diamond rings. You can opt for other metals such as palladium, steel, silver or tungsten. But these metals are significantly less valuable than gold and platinum.
In addition to the metal choice, you must pay attention to the metal purity. The purity of gold is measured in Karats and denoted by the letter K. Pure gold is 24K. Gold is then mixed with other metals to make it more suitable for jewelry making.
Premium quality diamond rings are usually made of 18K gold. You can opt for 12K or 14K gold, although this is not recommended. The type of metals that are mixed give gold different colors such as while, lemon or rose gold. Gold color is a matter of personal choice.
Platinum rings are made of 95% pure platinum and mixed with other alloys such as cobalt or ruthenium to make the ring stronger.
- Don’t Let Diamond Certificates Deceive You
Many retailers will tout about their diamond certifications. In many cases, you’ll end up paying extra money because the diamond ring came with the certificate. However you first need to understand what basic components of the diamond certificate, the organization issuing the certificate and when it is necessary to have a diamond certificate.
- Synthetic vs. Natural Diamonds
At a minimum, you must check if the diamond you are purchasing is natural or synthetic. Natural diamonds are formed deep inside the earth. Synthetic diamonds are man made in a laboratory.
Both synthetic and natural diamonds can be certified. A diamond certificate must clearly state whether it is natural or synthetic. Synthetic diamonds are roughly half the cost of natural diamonds. This becomes even a more important consideration when you are purchasing larger diamonds as you can easily waste several thousand dollars. You don’t want to pay natural diamond prices for synthetic diamonds.
- Entities Issuing Diamond Grading Reports or Certificates
There are world renowned laboratories such as Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and American Gem Society (AGS) that grade diamonds and issue diamond grading reports, commonly known as certificates. GIA and AGS are nonprofit organizations whose mission is to protect consumer interest by having strict diamond grading standards.
In contrast, there are other for-profit organizations such as European Gemological Institute that also issue diamond grading reports. However their grading standards tend to be looser since they are for-profit entities and consumer interest is not their primary focus.
Sometimes retailers have their own branded certificates. These certificates are not issued by an independent laboratory but created by the retailer itself. Generally speaking, you don’t want to trust these certificates because the diamonds are not graded against a worldwide standard or by an independent gemologist.
If the diamonds are as great as the retailer claims them to be, they should have no trouble getting the diamonds certified by an independent laboratory such as the GIA or AGS.
- Diamond Grading Reports – When They Matter
Grading a diamond is an expensive process. If you are purchasing a ring with smaller diamonds (less than 0.2 carat each), it becomes cost prohibitive to get the diamond certified. The cost of the certificate will exceed the cost of the diamond. An invoice from a jeweler that clearly states the diamond cut, carat, color and clarity should be sufficient for smaller diamonds.
For diamonds greater than 0.5 carat, you must go with the certified diamond option unless there is a strong reason for you to trust the jeweler or the brand.
To conclude, we’ve covered the following 3 things you should know while buying a diamond ring:
- Don’t ignore diamond cut, color and clarity. They are equally important as the diamond carat.
- Consider long term value of your purchase. Understand different categories of jewelers and then pick the one you feel most comfortable to work with. Opt for precious metal rings made of gold or platinum.
- Don’t let diamond grading reports or certificates deceive you. It is recommended that you opt for natural GIA graded diamonds. GIA issued diamond grading report is strongly recommended for diamonds greater than 0.5 carat.
Author Bio: Kunal is part of the Sampat Jewellers Inc., a family business since 1977. He writes regularly about diamonds and gemstones to increase consumer awareness and education about fine jewelry. Kunal also enjoys interviewing industry gem and gemology industry experts. In his free time, he enjoys raising backyard chickens. You can find him on Instagram