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Everything to know before buying a diamond

Diamonds Are Forever sung by Welsh singer Shirley Bassey, for the 1971 James Bond film of the same name, beautifully captures the essence of diamonds, doesn’t it?

From ancient emperors to the nouveau rich — you would hardly come across anyone who is not enticed by the dazzling gemstone. However, it is not that simple to buy diamonds. Besides picking the right seller or insuring a purchase, it is important to understand the four characteristics, known as 4Cs — carat, cut, colour and clarity — determining the quality of a diamond.

Each of the 4Cs have minute detailing, the combination of which even though helps you arrive at your desired choice of the stone, can raise or reduce its value. So, here is a quick guide to help you buy diamonds.

Pick the right jeweller

Pick the right jeweller to buy diamonds
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Visit the most reputed jeweller in your city to buy diamonds. A renowned jeweller should serve as the best guide in your journey to purchase a diamond.

Jewellers hold world-class gemology certifications from their respective countries or international bodies. So, you must ensure that their professional training is of the highest standards. Moreover, a trained jeweller can help you through all the steps involved in your buy and even help make up your mind.

Choose the desired shape

Choose the desired shape of diamonds
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This is the first question you should answer when you decide to buy diamonds — whether or not you are being guided by a trained jeweller. The shape of a diamond is entirely based on what entices you and your purpose of obtaining it.

For instance, round brilliant — a cut that accentuates the brilliance of a diamond — is most preferred for engagement rings. Among other top choices are princess and cushion cuts. Selecting the shape will help you narrow down your options too. However, you must remember that the choice of a diamond will determine its price as well.

Next up, the weight

Weight of stone
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In other words, carat. The greater the carat, the bigger the size of the diamond — consequently, the higher the price. To aid you to arrive at the perfect size, you can choose from a list of sizes – depending on the shape – from a particular chart.

Choosing the size of the diamond depends on the purpose of its purchase as well as your preferences. While some would prefer a huge diamond for their engagement ring to give a glamourous look, others might opt for a smaller stone and yet shine in its brilliance.

However, it is important to be financially wise when selecting the carat. Although the difference in size between a 1-carat and a 0.95 carat diamond is hardly noticeable, the price difference could be much higher. Moreover, there is no harm in saving cost when selecting the carat because you would need it to decide on the diamond’s cut — the more important characteristic among others.

Ensure the cut is of the best quality

Best quality cut diamond
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When you go to buy diamonds, you will have to spend a decent amount to get the best cut. But why is it necessary?

A proper cut not only adds to a diamond’s brilliance but is also a major factor that influences its value. If the cut is not up to the mark, it will negatively impact the sparkle of the diamond, even if the stone is of the highest clarity grades.

There are many cut gradings under the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Gem Society (AGS) — the two most reputed diamond grading and certification bodies in the world. Broadly, the highest of the grade is termed ‘Ideal’ or ‘Excellent’. These diamonds reflect most of the light that enters them. The best of sellers won’t sell any diamond lower than the ‘Good’ grade.

Choose your preferred colour

preferred colour
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The colour of a diamond is only second to its cut in terms of importance. In case you didn’t know, diamonds come in a variety of colours, including white, yellow, pink, red and green. It is very rare to find a colourless diamond, and they are the costliest.

Like cut, check the colour grading by GIA or AGS. In the case of GIA, the scale starts at D, which is for colourless diamonds, and ends at Z, which includes diamonds that are yellowish or brown. The rating parameters are the same for AGS, only the markers change. For example, colourless diamonds, categorised as Z in GIA, are classified in grade 0 in AGS.

The AGS scale is similar to the GIA scale, with the only difference being that the former uses numbers instead of alphabets to grade colour. So, the most colourless diamond is ‘0’ in the AGS scale while one graded ’10’ is at the higher end of coloured diamonds.

Many top diamond sellers do not deal in categories somewhere after K. Even when selecting a colour, you can save money by going for diamonds that fall between G and J and appear nearly colourless.

Find the clearest diamond

clearest diamond
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GIA has 11 clarity grades listed under six categories, namely Included Diamonds, Slightly Included (SI) Diamonds, Very Slightly Included (VS) Diamonds, Very Very Slightly Included (VVS) Diamonds, Internally Flawless (IF) Diamonds, and Flawless (FL) Diamonds.

Included Diamonds, the lowest of the categories, are gems that contain some blemishes that are clearly visible to the naked eye. FL Diamonds have zero flaws and are one of the rarest in the world. So, the lesser the flaw, the higher the price.

Moreover, similar to selecting the colour, you can opt for any of the grades of IF or VVS categories. The latter will be cheaper than FL and their blemishes won’t be as prominent as those of Included Diamonds. Generally, it is advised to go for “eye clean” diamonds — the ones in which the blemish is not visible to the naked eye.

The shape of a diamond can influence its clarity too; emerald and asscher-shaped diamonds are more transparent, which means that spotting flaws are comparatively easier than in other shapes.

However, as per the AGS, both IF and FL diamonds are classified as 0 and the lowest grade of Included Diamonds category is marked 10.

Selecting the best of the best

buy diamonds
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After choosing the diamonds based on shape and 4Cs, you can compare the gems to further narrow them down to a select few. The appearance may also be a deciding factor when you want to buy diamonds. You may check for polish, shine, symmetry and price to pick one or more diamonds you want to buy. Simply put, considering that the carat and shape are perfect, the costliest diamond will be of Excellent cut, almost colourless and at least of IF clarity.

A second opinion, maybe?

third-party certified expert
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To be on safer side, it’s advisable to consult a third-party certified expert to help you buy diamonds. This can be done either before you begin shortlisting the diamonds or after you have chosen a few and feel stuck. Like the trained jeweller from whom you may be making the purchase, a third-party expert’s opinion would guide you at all levels of your selection. The advantage here is that you get impartial input on how to buy diamonds.

Check certification

Certification of diamonds
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Always buy diamonds certified by either GIA or AGS. They are more reputed than other certifiers and have offices and laboratories in several countries and regions, including India, Hong Kong, China, Thailand and Taiwan. It is important to obtain a diamond grading report issued by either of the bodies, as it serves as evidence of the diamond’s quality and authenticity you are purchasing.

Get your diamond insured

Buy diamonds and get them insured
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Now that you are a proud owner of this precious gem, get it insured to safeguard yourself from loss or theft. It is after all a valuable personal property. To get the diamond insured or apprised, you would need either the GIA or the AGS report. Both will evaluate the value of the diamond based on the report for insurance or appraisal.

An appraisal is also required in case of reselling the diamond in future. Some owners also laser-inscribe the report number on the diamond as proof of verification, in case it gets stolen.

(Main image: zelle duda/Unsplash; Featured image: Sabrinna Ringquist/Unsplash)

Everything to know before buying a diamond

Manas Sen Gupta

Manas enjoys reading detective fiction and writing about anything that interests him. When not doing either of the two, he checks Instagram for the latest posts by travellers. Winter is his favourite season and he can happily eat a bowl of noodles any time of the day.


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