The value of a diamond is determined by a set of four conditions known as the four C’s: cut, clarity, color, and carat weight.
When choosing a diamond for purchase, look for one that balances these four qualities without straining your budget. Perfect quality diamonds are rare and extremely expensive, but you can select a slightly less perfect diamond that still appears brilliant to the naked eye and fits within your budget.
These 13 tips will help you decide which grade of diamond to buy:
1. Determine your budget
Knowing how much you can spend initially will ensure that you receive the best diamond for what you can afford.
2. Select the cut
The cut determines a diamond’s shape and brilliance. A well-cut diamond reflects light from one facet to another. If cut too deep or too shallow, light escapes from the diamond prematurely, reducing the stone’s quality. Don’t confuse diamond “cut” with “shape.” Shape refers to the general outward appearance of the diamond, (such as round, emerald, or pear) while a good cut gives a diamond its brilliance. This is the brightness that seems to come from the very heart of a diamond
3. Pick out the right shape.
While cut refers more to quality and level of brilliance, the shape is one aspect of the cut. Review the possible shapes available on the market, and choose the one you like best.
4. Choose the highest quality of cut you can afford.
A diamond’s cut determines the vast majority of its brilliance, and many consider the cut to be the most important factor when choosing a diamond.
5. Check the grading report
Ask the jeweler to see the Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA’s) diamond grading report for any diamond you consider purchasing. This report will give you a rough grade on cut, even though more precise grading is hard to find.
6. Select Clarity
Clarity refers to the purity of a diamond. Most diamonds have some surface blemishes known as “inclusions,” but extremely high quality stones have no visible marks and are considered flawless.
7. Purchase a stone without visible imperfections.
Many imperfections are not visible to the naked eye, however, and can only be seen by using a 10-power magnification glass. Consider a diamond with an SI1 or SI2 rating for a stone with small inclusions that are still invisible to the naked eye, but easy to spot with a magnifier. These stones appear high quality to the vast majority of individuals looking at them, and are also less strenuous on your budget.
8. Choose a Colour
The highest quality diamonds are colorless, since colorless stones are rare and reflect light better than tinted diamonds. Most diamonds have slight tints of yellow, which are often impossible to see with the naked eye.
9. Purchase a diamond that balances colorlessness with price.
Since most tints are extremely difficult to see, a higher grade for color does not make much difference in quality. It can, however, make a huge difference in price.
10. Ask the jeweler about a diamond’s fluorescence.
Fluorescence appears when a diamond is exposed to ultraviolet light, but usually has no effect on a diamond in regular light conditions. On rare occasions, strong fluorescence can alter the appearance of a diamond’s color, sometimes causing it to look milky or oily. Consider a diamond with medium fluorescence or strong fluorescence if on a tight budget, since these diamonds are often discounted.
11. If you have the budget, consider purchasing a “fancy” diamond, which is a type of rare stone with an especially deep hue.
Red and pink fancy diamonds are rare, beautiful, and expensive.
12. Choose a Carat Weight
The weight, or size, of the diamond is measured in carats. The more carats a diamond has, the more expensive it will be.
13. Take carat weight into consideration last.
This does not affect the quality of the stone in any way, so a heavier weight does not necessarily indicate a higher quality stone.