Whether you're a man looking to find the perfect ring to propose or a woman treating yourself to a right hand ring or a fabulous pair of earrings, it's important to gain a little knowledge about diamonds before making a purchase. These beautiful stones can add fire and brilliance to your life as long as you know what to look for when buying them.
The Four C's: Cut, Color, Clarity And Carat Weight
Almost everyone who's window shopped in a jewelry store has heard about the four C's of diamonds. The four C's are cut, color, clarity and carat weight and refer to how the stone looks to the naked eye.
Cut is often the first thing people think about when making a purchase. The cut refers to the shape of the stone and can be round, princess, oval, emerald, pear, asscher, marquise, radiant, heart and cushion. The round brilliant cut is the most popular around the world and is cut to maximize and highlight each stone's sparkle and fire.
Color is graded on a scale ranging from D to Z. A D color stone is the highest color grade and therefore the most valuable and rare. Stones in the E through H range are close seconds because color variations can only be detected by a trained gemologist or when compared to a colorless stone. Stones in the I through M range may have a faint color, although that doesn't mean they can't be beautiful.
Clarity is the third C and is graded on a scale of flawless to included with every step in between.
Only the last grade has inclusions visible to the naked eye so it's important to realize you can still get a quality stone even if you can't afford one that is considered flawless.
The final C is all about size! Carat weight refers to the stone's size, and the size is rounded to the nearest one hundredth of a carat. The larger the stone, the more valuable it is, though it's possible to find a beautiful diamond at any size.
Diamond Experts And Gemologist Diamond Certification Standards
Certified diamonds are the most valuable because the stones have been graded by a qualified gemologist to make sure its cut, color, clarity and carat are all recorded. In the United States, it's most common to find certified diamonds from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). It's also possible to find them from the American Gem Society (AGS), Hoge Raad voor Diamant (HRD), the European Gemologizal Laboratory (EGL) and the International Gemological Institute (IGI).
Buying certified diamonds means you can rest easy knowing you're making the most out of your jewelry budget. Although GIA is the most common certification in the United States, don't shy away from certified stones from other sources. The certification process is the same no matter which laboratory does the certification. It's also important to realize that certified diamonds will be sold with the certification documentation. If the salesperson tells you a stone is certified, ask to see the certification and make sure the process was completed by one of the known laboratories.
When you begin your search, you may be overwhelmed about all the different options such as certified diamonds, loose diamonds and pre-set diamond jewelry.
It's common to find jewelry such as engagement rings or earrings that are pre-set with the stones. These stones may or may not be certified diamonds, so if that's important to you, make sure and ask. What you see is what you get with these jewelry pieces because the stones and settings can't be changed.
If you want your jewelry to be a truly custom piece, choose the stone and setting seperately. Your jeweler will present you with empty settings to select from first. Once you've chosen the setting, you'll be given multiple loose stones for consideration. It's commonly thought that all loose stones are certified diamonds, but that's not always the case, so ask to see the laboratory certification before making your final decision.
Natural Vs. Treated Or Enhanced Stones
You may be given the option of choosing from natural or enhanced stones. A natural diamond is one that's been cut to maximize brilliance, but no other enhancing measures have been taken. These types of stones are the most valuable.
Recently some people have started to sell enhanced or treated stones. These stones should not be confused with natural ones. Enhanced stones may have had laser drilling to remove flaws, sealant applied to fill cracks or color treatments applied to improve the stone's color grading. All this is done to improve the stone's overall appearance.
Enhancing stones is a controversial process in jewelry circles. An enhanced stone is typically much less valuable than a natural one. All enhanced or treated stones sold in the United States must have any enhancements disclosed before a sale is made because of Federal Trade Commission regulations.
After reading this, you should now be armed with all the important information surrounding diamond buying. Whether you're looking to buy something for yourself or as a token of your love, buying a great piece of jewelry should be a fun and easy process!
Christine O'Kelly is an author for Brilliance.com, an online store offering a wide selection of certified diamonds and other diamond jewelry. The site aims to educate buyers about what to look for before purchasing diamonds and offers an unparalleled customer service record with free personal shopping services.