Diamonds speak louder than words! They’re the ultimate symbol of love and can make anybody look classy and elegant. Diamonds will probably never go out of fashion, making them a worthwhile investment. When it comes to gifting diamonds to your partner, doing your research before settling on a particular brand and model can prevent cunning shopkeepers from making a quick buck out of you.
How Are Diamonds Formed?
The process of how diamonds come to be made is quite interesting. Most of these precious stones were formed 3 billion years ago in the Earth’s mantle. In this layer, intense heat of more than 1,300 degrees Celsius and pressure of about 45 to 60 kilobars act upon carbon atoms to crystallise them. This form of carbon is what we call a ’diamond’. During volcanic eruptions, magma bursts out, bringing diamonds to the surface. And after that, they find their place in jewellery shops.
What Are the 4 ‘C’s of Diamond Quality?
Diamonds are graded and compared for their quality on the basis of 4 ‘C’s. These terms are quite simple and even having basic knowledge about these can make your buying decision easier.
When diamonds reach the surface from the inner layers of the Earth, they are in their raw form. To set them in a piece of jewellery like a necklace or ring, they need to be shaped and polished. The cut of a diamond refers to the design and shape it is given by a jeweller. It directly affects the diamond’s monetary value. Only when this precious stone is well-cut does light enter and reflect back out of the diamond, creating a captivating sparkle. The different cut grades used to compare diamonds are Ideal/Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor.
Diamonds may be pure white in colour or have a tinge of other colours too, like yellow or brown. Usually, they are classified on a GIA Colour Grading System that starts with D and ends with Z. The D category stands for “completely colourless” and Z stands for “very discoloured”. Among these, those belonging to categories D-K are considered the most valuable.
This characteristic refers to the interior flaws (inclusions) and exterior flaws (blemishes) a diamond has. The lesser the flaws, the more the clarity. The Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA) clarity grading system (add link) is as follows:
|Grade||Full Form||What It Means|
|FL||Flawless||No inclusions or blemishes detectable under 10x magnification|
|IF||Internally Flawless||No detectable inclusions but some surface blemishes under 10x magnification|
|VVS1/VVS2||Very Very Slightly Included||Inclusions and blemishes are extremely difficult to detect|
|VS1/VS2||Very Slightly Included||Inclusions and blemishes are detectable under 10x magnification but aren’t visible to the naked eye|
|SI1/SI2||Slightly Included||Inclusions and blemishes are easily detectable under 10x magnification and may also be visible to the naked eye|
|I1, I2, I3||Inclusions and blemishes are obvious under 10x magnification and are easily visible to the naked eye|
4. Carat Weight
Carat weight refers to the actual size and weight of the diamond. One carat is subdivided into 100 points, and 5 carats make 1 gram. This should not be confused with the term ’karat’ which is used to indicate the purity of gold. The carat weight determines the size and appearance of the diamond jewellery.
What to Look Out for While Buying Diamonds
Diamonds are forever. So, it’s important that you take your time to choose and not buy them in a hurry. Because diamonds cost a few thousand, many jewellers are tempted to mislead their prospective customers by selling faulty pieces. If you’re looking for diamond buying advice, these tips will give you the upper hand when you next visit the store.
1. Low-priced Diamonds Also Have a ‘Low Carat Weight’
You may have a tight budget, but it’s often worth saving up a little more to buy a bigger and heavier diamond with higher carat weight. The question here is, more often than not, about the recipient’s own preferences. When it comes to diamonds, uncertainty often leads to disappointment. So ask your partner whether they would like a one-carat diamond, or if just a half carat would make them happy. Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you want to buy according to your liking or budget.
2. Fancy-shaped Diamonds Are Attractive But ‘Don’t Sparkle’
The regular diamond shapes are the round brilliant, princess cut, oval cut, to name a few. You might find the fancy-shaped diamonds more attractive. However, the truth is that some of these like the emerald cut and Asscher cut have less sparkle. Though you may take a “fancy” to such a diamond shape, it may not give you that brilliance you want.
3. Cheaper Diamonds Are Also ‘Poorly-cut’
Price and quality have a direct correlation even for diamonds. Diamonds with a poor cut cost less but look dark, dull and lifeless. Such stones don’t give excellent value for money. So, think of putting in a little more and going for a round diamond with Excellent/Very Good cut or a fancy-shaped one with a Good/Fair cut.
4. ‘Rare-coloured Diamonds’ May Cost Less Than Colourless Ones
Diamonds are also available in a variety of fancy colours. It’s a myth that all fancy-coloured diamonds are more expensive than the pure white ones. Jewellers might try to trick you into paying more for a “colourful” diamond, so it’s essential that you know a bit about them. Fancy yellow or brown diamonds are very common and tend to be less expensive than the colourless ones. On the other hand, pink, red, blue and green diamonds are considered rare and valued more than colourless diamonds. Also, fancy colours are much more attention-grabbing than white, don’t you think?
5. Check For ‘Scratches’ Caused by Improper Polishing
Once the diamond is cut, each of its facets is polished; in case this is not done perfectly, it may lead to easily visible scratches on the exterior surface of the diamond. These blemishes are similar to those left behind on a car after waxing. Therfore, it’s best to go for diamonds that have no or few scratches.
6. Too Many ‘Interior Flaws’ May Affect Value and Durability
Assuming that the jeweller informs you about the interior flaws (inclusions) of the diamond, there’s a chance you may ignore it thinking, “As long as it doesn’t show on the outside, why bother?” That’s where some customers make a regrettable mistake. A flaw is just that, and inclusions such as air bubbles, cracks and non-diamond minerals may not let the light enter and reflect, thus reducing the diamond’s brilliance over the years. Sometimes, ignorance isn’t bliss!
7. ‘Certified Diamonds’ Guarantee Peace of Mind
People prefer buying brands and labels because they give assurance and guarantee of good product quality. Likewise, a diamond with a certificate is always better. A certificate from accredited gem labs such as Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or American Gem Society Laboratories (AGSL) points out all the unique characteristics of the precious stone including its exact measurements, weight, clarity, colour, cut, symmetry, polish and quality. This lets you make an informed decision about which model to buy.
There’s no doubt that diamonds are a timeless and beautiful gift you can give your partner. But it’s equally important to make a practical decision and not an emotional one, keeping the long term in perspective. After all, diamonds are a one-time and excellent investment, so make sure you get the value-for-money trade-off right.