The 5 C’s of Buying a Diamond

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 12:12:09 PM America/Los_Angeles

While planning a diamond purchase, it is beneficial to learn about five key elements of valuing a diamond—carat, color, cut, clarity, and rarely discussed in public literature, cost savings. This knowledge will enable you to properly select a diamond and be confident of its value prior to purchase.

The first key element is carat weight. Most people want the highest carat weight they can get within their budget. In general, larger diamonds are perceived as a status symbol and a reflection of how a fiancé values the relationship. As they say in Texas, the heavier the diamond, the deeper the love.

The word carat is derived from the Greek word “keration” meaning fruit of the Carob. The weight of one Carob is precisely 200 milligrams—one carat or 100 points. Members of the diamond trade usually refer to diamonds weighing under one carat in points (Ex: .97). To confirm the quality of a diamond, it’s recommended that every purchase is accompanied by an independent laboratory grading analysis ( grading must be penned by a GIA graduate gemologist) Customarily, diamonds that are purchased for engagement rings are one carat or higher. However, you may find a smaller diamond that appears prettier than a larger diamond which may be more suitable for your budget. This leads to the discussion of our next key element, color grade.

The second key element is color. All certified diamonds are given a color grade starting at D. D –F grades indicate the absence of color. Absence of color usually increases the price of a diamond, as colorless diamonds are rare in nature. Higher letters of the alphabet, for example, J-K, indicate subtle tints of color. J-K diamonds are much more common than their colorless counterparts, therefore, they are priced less. There are exceptions are richly colored diamonds which are very expensive, even priceless. Blue diamonds, or, the most valuable, red diamonds, are examples of fancy colored diamonds. People in the trade refer to these stones as “fancy colored diamonds.” Most shoppers looking for an engagement or “everyday” diamond will browse stones anywhere from D to I in color, as these colors usually provide the most value for the price. Although color is vital to the diamond’s beauty, keep in mind that a very well cut D-I graded diamond will appear similar when mounted in platinum or white gold.

The third key element of a diamond is cut. The exuberance of a particular diamond depends more on cut than anything else. The cut of any diamond has three properties:
1. Brilliance (light reflecting from the diamond)
2. Fire (the distribution of light into the colors of the spectrum)
3. Scintillation (a flash of light, seen when a diamond is moving slowly.)
The diamond’s cut is directly related to the diamond’s shape. The traditional round brilliant is the most popular cut, and therefore, priced more than other cuts. The other cuts are referred to as “fancy shapes.” Fancy shapes include princess, cushion, asscher, radiant, pear, oval, marquise, emerald and trillion cuts. Although round diamonds are most popular, all fancy shapes are just as stunning and desirable.

The fourth key element of a diamond is clarity. Diamonds are assigned a clarity grade that ranges from “flawless” to “included.” Inclusions are like birthmarks or fingerprints that give each stone its own unique personality. Ideally cut diamonds that will face up white and be clean when viewed with the naked eye are usually the best option for most when considering clarity grade. In reality, no gem is perfect, regardless of the grading. If a larger carat size with a flawless appearance is important to your individual taste, you may want to consider a clarity enhanced (CE) natural diamond as the option choice.

Clarity enhanced diamonds are genuine, naturally mined diamonds. As mentioned earlier, flawless diamonds are rare—meaning the majority of natural diamonds have blemishes. There have been recent ground-breaking discoveries in technology where scientists have been able to carefully remove certain flaws from a select few diamonds. The diamonds become more brilliant with this process, with many appearing flawless. The material that is used to enhance a suitable stone adds no carat weight, thus keeping the weight true, and consists of a diamond-like substance. This development gives diamond buyers more choices in regards to size and clarity—enabling many people the option of affording large, beautiful, genuine diamonds. The CE process has been found to be stable, with over twenty years on the market. CE diamonds are enhanced to last a lifetime and are proven to stand up to every day wear and tear like any other diamond. Purchasing a CE diamond with the same “4 C’s” of a traditional diamond will cost 30%-50% less—allowing the buyer to purchase a stone up to 2x the size. Diamond dealers all over the country are experiencing an increased demand for CE diamonds in the new economy. As a result, savvy diamond industry leaders are now embracing the CE process.

The fifth and perhaps most crucial element one must consider when buying a diamond is cost savings. With the information we presented, you will be better-suited to select a diamond based on the best value for the cost. By understanding the 5 key elements, you will know how to buy right and be able to tell the seller what you want, rather than the seller making the selection for you.

Buyers who want a genuine diamond, but find the traditional diamond of their choice is out of budget, a CE diamond fills all of their requirements for the “perfect diamond.” Whether you want a higher carat weight, a better cut, a more beautiful color or higher clarity than a traditional diamond can offer within your budget, you will be able to get the visual qualities you have your heart set on with a CE diamond. All of this while still knowing that you have a genuine, natural diamond.
Posted in Articles By

Arman Navruzyan