Yes, we get it, diamonds are a girl’s best friend – we’ve all heard this before and so have jewellers around the world drummed this into our collective consciousness ad nauseum. These beautiful little rocks never fail to make our hearts skip a little, whether as a brilliant-cut gem perched high on an engagement ring, as a square princess cut, or cut in a luscious pear shape and set alongside different coloures stones. The world’s best jewellers never seem to run out of ideas and designs. And we just love them all. Buying them, on the other hand, is a different matter altogether, which can range from mildly stressful to downright nerve-wrecking.
When you are planning on purchasing a diamond it is important that you know as much as possible about how diamonds are classified. There are four topics you need to become familiar with: Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat Weight.
When you’re buying diamond jewellery, it certainly helps to have good knowledge not just of the product but also the industry that deals in it. This is because whether you end up with the best stone for your budget or an overpriced dud depends nearly entirely on how wisely you choose. Exhibiting at the recent Singapore Jewellery and Gem Fair 2018, local bespoke jeweller Infiniti Jewels shares 10 diamond-buying hacks and tips that you won’t get from just any jewellery merchant. Want to be a savvy jewellery investor? Keep reading.
René Boivin Brilliant-Cut Diamond and Emerald Ring in Platinum
The famous four C’s
When we speak of cut we are more interested in the proportions of the diamond as opposed to its shape (Round Brilliant, Marquise, Pear, Princess, etc.) Every diamond regardless of its shape gets it brilliancy and scintillation by cutting and polishing the diamond facets to allow the maximum amount of light that enters through its top to be reflected and dispersed back through its top. A correctly cut, ‘well made’, stone is pictured in diagram 1. As you can see if the angles are correct the light that enters is dispersed properly back through the diamond’s top facets. When a stone is cut too shallow (diagram2) or too deep (diagram3) the light that enters through the top is allowed to escape through the diamond’s bottom and does not allow the maximum beauty of the diamond to be realized.
The number of facets has very little impact on the ultimate value of a stone
It’s a sales gimmick to market a stone as having a lot of facets but while more cuts simply make a stone sparkle more, it’s just maybe three to four per cent more. Today, with the increased understanding of light dynamics and diamond cutting, many companies have developed new, modified round brilliant cut diamonds.
If designed correctly, these extra facets of the modified round brilliant could benefit the overall beauty of a diamond, such as in 91 facet diamonds. But having additional facets doesn’t automatically mean better sparkle because if the facets are not cut in the right proportion, ultimately it sparkles less.
Tiffany & Co Jean Schlumberger Sixteen Stone Briljant Diamond, VS1 clarity, G color, Total weight Approx 1.14ct, Yellow Gold and Platinum Band Ring
Diamonds come naturally in every color of the rainbow. However most people are concerned with diamonds in the white range. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) rates the body color in white diamonds from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow).
The best color for a diamond is no color at all. A totally colorless diamond allows light to pass through it easily, resulting in the light being dispersed as the color of the rainbow. Colors are graded totally colorless to light yellow. The differences from one grade to the other are very subtle and it takes a trained eye and years of experience to color grade a diamond.
If you’re not buying to invest, G coloured stones are the worthiest buys
D, E, F coloured stones are the best, followed by G, H, I, J. But people in the trade do often group G stones in the colourless category because they’re practically colourless and there’s minimal difference between D, E stones and F, G stones.
If you’re buying to invest, go for D, E, F coloured stones
But if you’re getting a stone as an investment, then it makes sense to get the very best that you can, which means D, E, F colour
If the cut grade is poor or just good, even D colour flawless diamonds will not sparkle well
This affects the ultimate sparkle of a diamond. Experts will be able to tell if a stone has been cut well in the way that highlights its best qualities.
Cartier Oval-Cut Diamond 2ct up to 3.99ct 1895 Solitaire Platinum Ring
The clarity of a diamond is determined by the amount and location of flaws, or blemishes, in the diamond when viewed under 10 power (10x) magnification. GIA rates clarity grades in diamonds from Flawless to Imperfect 3 (see chart below). The Diamond Shopping Network offers you diamonds from the Imperfect 1 grade through Flawless.
Most diamonds contain very tiny birthmarks known as ‘inclusions’. An inclusion can interfere with the light passing through the diamond. The fewer the inclusions, the more beautiful the diamond will be.
Diamonds have the capability of producing more brilliance than any other gemstone. A diamond that is free of inclusions and surface blemishes is very rare… and therefore very valuable.
It’s a misconception that the more inclusions, the worse the clarity
Clarity is how deep or obvious the inclusion is. There could be just one but really deep, and the stone becomes an SI quality diamond. Compared to a VS2 diamond that could have had several light dots on the surface, the SI stone may not offer poorer clarity even though it’s graded lower. But very often you can’t see these with the naked eye, so it may not matter so much. However, if you’re buying as an investment, it makes sense to aim for as close to D flawless as possible.
Boucheron 3.91ct Briljant-Cur Diamond Ring in Platinum
This is the weight of a diamond measured in carats. As the carat weight of a diamond increases so does its rarity and therefore its price.
One carat is divided into 100 ‘points’, so that a diamond of 75 points weights .75 carats. The carat-weight of a diamond is the easiest measurement to determine. Most importantly, two diamonds can be of equal carat-weight, but their value can differ greatly due to their cut, color, and clarity.
Carat refers to the weight, not the size
A stone can look larger because it has been cut better but weigh slightly less. It’s not always the bigger the weight the bigger the stone.
Value depends on the best balance of the 4Cs
You can’t just go for carat or colour, or clarity or cut. A 3 carat stone suggests high value but it could be a very low colour and just average quality. It will be far less valuable than a 2 carat D flawless diamond. You have to assess all the variables together and get a balance of what the stone offers.
You’ll get the most bang for your buck by knowing what variables affect you the most.
If you want the best of the 4Cs, prices can and will skyrocket. To work within your budget, you need to decide which of the four Cs matter most to you. For instance, clarity may be less critical because no one can tell with the naked eye if a stone is VVS1 or VS1. On the other hand, carat may be more important in some cases because just by looking, you will be able to estimate the size of the stone.
Prices jump significantly from category to category
There is one pricing bracket for stones under 1 carat, and that makes a big jump when you go into the 1 to 1.5 carat category. Then when you go into the 1.5 to 2 carat category, expect another big jump, and so on. Thus, for maximum savings, what you can consider are stones that come in just under. For instance, instead of a 2-carat stone, go for 1.9 carats.
Certification is important
The most prestigious certification body is GIA. You’ll know that a diamond has been GIA certified when you examine it under the eye-glass and you see its GIA number which has been lasered onto the surface. No two stones have the same GIA number.
Don’t rush into your diamond purchase. Take your time and evaluate your choice carefully. It took billions (yes, billions) of years for nature to form your diamond and the skill of a master diamond cutter to bring your diamond to you. The time you spend now can bring you a lifetime of pleasure, satisfaction, and happiness.