Tuesday, 18 November 2008 | Tags: , , , , ,

The world is fascinated with diamonds, and the most valuable are very rare. There's a lot to know about this major purchase, so we hit the jewelry shops to find out why diamonds really are a girl's best friend.

The Basics

  • Buy the stone, not the ring. Buying an unset stone will allow you to verify colour, clarity and proportions in a way that simply can’t be done when a stone is in a setting.

  • In a ring, the yellow or white metal colour of the setting will affect the colour and appearance of the stone. Also, parts of the diamond are covered with claws or a bezel, so flaws may be hidden.

  • Commit the 4 Cs of diamond shopping to memory:

    • Cut: the styling and workmanship of the diamond. Some say this is the most important of the 4C’s. Others maintain the colour is crucial.

    • Colour: the amount of yellow that appears in a diamond. The less yellow, the more valuable the stone. Diamonds that are totally colourless are among the most valuable.

    • Clarity: a measure of a diamond’s flaws (or inclusions). Just about every diamond you will see has them, a natural occurrence, but the fewer the flaws, the more valuable the diamond.

    • Carat: the weight of the diamond (not the size). One carat is 200 milligrams. Other gemstones are measured in carats too, but since density varies, a one-carat diamond looks different than a one-carat topaz. (And don’t confuse carat of diamonds with karat of gold.)

  • If there’s a gemologist onsite (typically found at most high-end, specialty jewellers), the store will have a microscope. Ask to use it to inspect any stone you’re considering to help you see its flaws, color and characteristics.

  • If you’re purchasing a half-carat diamond or larger, make sure the stone has been certified. Not all certifications are created equal, however. Our experts recommend certifications from any of these independent institutes: the Gemological Institute of America, the American Gem Society, or the Diamond High Council in Belgium.

  • Have the stone you’re considering examined by an independent, certified appraiser (one who doesn’t work for the store) to confirm its value.

Be Aware

  • To spot a fake, hold the stone above a newspaper. If you can read the print, don’t buy it.


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