Some Tips About Buying Diamonds
Pick the Diamond that's Right for You
So you walk into a jewelry store and see dozens or even hundreds of diamonds - how do you choose the one that's right for you? The short answer is, don't let a sales person guilt you into spending too much for your diamond or selling you what they have in stock today instead of the perfect diamond that is right for you.
Here are some of our thoughts on choosing a diamond.
- For me, it's all about how a diamond looks - not necessarily what a diamond certificate says. Compare diamonds side-by-side and choose the one that "feels" or "looks" best within your budget.
- There are dozens of organizations that grade diamonds and produce grading certificates. Be warned - many of the grades on certificates other than a GIA and AGS certificate may not be accurate. You can end up paying too much for a diamond that is something other than what it says it is on the certificate.
- All but the rarest of diamonds have "flaws" called inclusions. The important thing to know about inclusions is how do they affect the look and durability of the diamond (yes, diamonds can break). When a diamond is graded at an SI clarity or above, that means that the inclusions cannot be seen by the naked eye - they require at least 10X magnification to be seen.
- If you are buying for a gift or engagement ring, know what shape (round, cushion, marquee, oval, etc.) the recipient likes. If you can't simply ask the recipient, then pay attention to the jewelry they wear now or ask a close friend or family member.
- Do some online shopping with reputable jewelers to get an idea of what diamonds should cost, but keep a couple important things in mind - not all diamonds you find on the internet are what they appear to be and many of them are not actually available. The look of a diamond is the result of how light reflects and exits from the top of the stone so it is important to see the stone in person. Consider disregarding diamonds that are significantly cheaper than the average - just like anything else, something that looks too good to be true probably is.
- Have a budget in mind and ask your jeweler to show you stones that are within your price range. There are almost an infinite number of characteristics that impact the price of a diamond. Start with shape and size and look at a variety of diamonds with various color, cut, clarity grades to see how they compare with each other. Often times you will find that one diamond stands out --- and it won't always be the most expensive one.
- Don't let a jeweler "guilt" you into spending a percentage of your income or some other measure of how much you should spend on a diamond. Find the diamond that best fits your budget.
- Don't let a jeweler push you into buying a diamond that they have in stock if it is not the right diamond for you. A jeweler that is interested in helping you buy the right diamondwill be happy to bring additional diamonds into their store (usually within a day or two) if they don't have the perfect diamond in stock. Except for unusual sizes, shapes, or other characteristics, diamonds are not as rare as most in the jewelry business would have you believe.
- Work with a jeweler that you can trust and that will be there after the sale. Buying a diamond, choosing a setting, and setting the stones should be an enjoyable process - not a pressure-filled, agonizing task. Find someone that you enjoy working with and is interested in a long-term relationship; not just a one-time sale.
- We frequently redesign engagement or wedding rings for couples to either completely change the look of the ring or increase the size or quality of the center stone. The message here is that I don't believe it's necessary for anyone to go into significant debt to purchase their engagement ring - for couples that are meant to be together there will be plenty of opportunity to reward yourselves later in life when you may have more disposable income.
Buying Diamonds at Wholesale Price
What should you think when someone at another store tells you that they can sell you a diamond at wholesale price? Could that be true? How would you know?
There are some old sayings that have stood the test of time... if something is too good to be true, it probably is and you can't buy a dollar for fifty cents. Other people in the jewelry business can’t either. "Buyer Beware" is especially true in this type of situation.
So if some someone says they are selling a diamond to you at wholesale, chances are they are cashing in on your lack of diamond buying experience. Furthermore by definition, if they are selling at wholesale, that means that they are not making anything on the sale. I don't know about you, but I find that hard to believe.
So here's our advise. Don't let the word "wholesale" keep you from shopping around. Do your homework. Talk to people you know and trust. Remember that there is more to buying a diamond than price and getting stuck with a inferior diamond at a great price is no bargain.
After all, this is likely to be one of the five most important purchases you'll make in your life. You want to know what you're getting, what you should expect to pay for it, and who is standing behind it. That's the only way to be sure you’re buying the best at the best price.
All Diamond Certificates Are Not Created Equal
For many years, buyers and sellers determined diamond grades by themselves. But in the 1953 the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) established a grading system for color and clarity and began using this system in its independent diamond grading laboratory. Today there are many large and small gemological labs world-wide that offer third party diamond grading services. Trade insiders believe that some labs are stricter and more consistent, while other labs are softer (i.e. give higher grades) or may be less consistent. Consequently it is believed the diamond trade adjusts diamond prices based on the lab that issued grading reports.
Small differences in a diamond grade can make big differences in a diamond price.
Every diamond is unique. Each reflects the story of its arduous journey from deep inside the earth to a cherished object of adornment. Yet all diamonds share certain features that allow us to compare and evaluate them. These features are called the 4Cs.
Diamond certifications or "lab reports" provide a detailed physical description of a diamond so that buyers of diamonds. Diamond prices are dramatically dependent on the 4C's (carat, color, clarity and cut); a difference of only one color or one clarity grade can result in price variations of 3% to more than 25%.Diamond experts, wholesalers and retailers know the reputation of the various grading labs and make adjustments to buying prices based on those reputations, but those adjustments don't always translate to the retail price of a diamond.
So unless you are an diamond expert, can read and understand everything contained in a lab report, and can translate that information into a fair price for a diamond, then you may be overpaying for a diamond without knowing it.
Our best advice is to establish a relationship with a jeweler you can trust and who will give you an honest opinion when you are selecting a diamond.