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Diamond Buying and Cleaning Guide - Colored Diamonds

November 10th, 2011 Jewelry

Appraisal vs. Diamond Grading Report

Those who invest in diamonds for monetary or collection purposes often collect vast amounts of information on their stone. It is important to understand the documentation that comes along with such a valuable stone. For example, most people do not understand the different between an appraisal and a Diamond Grading Report.

A Diamond Grading Report describes a loose diamond and is issued by the Gemological Laboratory. This lab does not issue reports on diamonds already in a setting. The grade issued by the lab evaluates the physical characteristics of a diamond during its time in the lab. The certificate issued with the report stands as long as the diamond is not altered or chipped in any way. An appraisal is given on mounted jewelry or a loose stone.

Again, the physical characteristics of the stone are evaluated and a dollar amount is assigned to the piece, which can easily change over a short period. Appraisals are usually done for insurance purposes. However, it is important to have your diamonds appraised by a non-biased gemological expert instead of your regular jewelry or insurance company.

Breaking Down the Four C’s

Most everyone has heard of the Four C’s used to choose the perfect diamond. However, it can be difficult to remember what those C’s stand for and why they are so important.

Carat: This is the weight of the diamond. The weight of the stone has nothing to do with its size. Additionally, the carats of a diamond are different from those of other stones because each mineral has a different density. When shopping for diamond jewelry, do not always look for the biggest stone -- there are more attributes to consider over size, such as clarity and cut. If you want the exact carat of a diamond, simply ask your jeweler to weigh it in front of you.

Clarity: This is the measure of the number and characteristics of the flaws found in the diamond. In most cases, the more flawless the diamond, the more valuable it is. Flawless diamonds are very rare. Several grading scales are used to determine clarity. However, the most popular is the Gemological Institute of America’s grading scale. Diamond ratings on this scale are:

  • I for imperfect, which means you can readily identify the flaws;
  • SI, which is slightly imperfect, meaning you can quickly identify flaws with a microscope;
  • VS, very slightly included, which means you can see the flaws in the stone with a microscope, but it will take some time;
  • VVS, very very slightly included, which means only a diamond expert can see the flaws in the stone;
  • IF, internally flawless, which means that only external flaws are present;
  • FL, flawless.
Color: This refers to the amount of “yellow” in the diamond. Ideally, a diamond should be colorless. The GIA rates the color quality of diamonds from D, which is a totally colorless stone to Z, which is a yellow diamond. A colorless diamond falls in the range for D-F. The average color in the U.S. for diamond engagement stones is around G or H. To best gauge the color of the diamond, ask to see it unmounted and out of the setting. Then, place the stone next to reference stones on a white sheet of paper and compare the difference.

Cut: The cut refers to the cutting style, shape of the stone, proportion and the workmanship of the diamond cutting. There are two basic cuts: the step cut and the brilliant cut. There are hybrids of both, but these are the average person purchasing a diamond needs to know. Step cuts have parallel facets that can span the entire width of the diamond. A brilliant cut diamond has triangle facets surrounding the stone and come together on a flat top. If you want a super shiny diamond, get a brilliant cut. If you are looking for a glassier stone, then choose a step cut.

Cleaning Your Diamonds

All pieces of jewelry require some sort of cleaning on a regular basis. The rule of thumb is that the more you wear a certain piece, the more you need to clean it. When it comes to cleaning diamonds, getting them professionally cleaned really is the best way to go. However, if you are looking to save time and money, then look for jewelry cleaner made specifically to clean diamonds. Clean one piece of jewelry at a time and utilize the brush that comes along with the cleaning solution to get the grit and grime off your stone. During the cleaning process, check your jewelry for any loose stones or flaws in the setting before it adversely affects your jewelry. For optimal shine, use a polishing cloth to clean off the stone after cleaning before replacing it in your jewelry box.

Cleanliness of Diamond Can Affect its Perceived Value

The cleanliness of a diamond can hugely affect how well it is received. For example, a clean diamond sparkles and shines like its brand new. A new diamond that has collected dust or dirt can looked aged and lacking luster. Water, dirt or grease greatly reduces the brilliance of a diamond. In fact, in the past, some jewelers have had their diamonds graded at a much lower level because of small smudges on the stone. Before a diamond is graded, it should be intensely cleaned and shined. The same applies to the purchase of a diamond.

Before you make a purchase, your jeweler should clean the diamond in front of you and explain the reasoning behind the grading of the stone. This is the reasoning behind why cleaning your diamond frequently can affect its perceived value.

Colored Diamonds are Graded Differently

It is a little known fact that diamonds come in a variety of colors. The ones usually seen in fine jewelry are colorless, but diamond stones found in fashion pieces are vibrant with colors ranging from blue to green to yellow. These diamonds are graded on an entirely different scale.

The first factor in colored diamond grading is the hue of the stone. The second factor is the intensity of the color. The combination of these characteristics determine the value of the diamond. The rule of thumb is the more intense the color of the diamond, the more valuable and rare it is. The GIA rates diamonds on scale starting from faint to very light to light and all the way up to fancy vivid, which is the most expensive of all of colored diamonds.

Deciding on a Stone Setting for Your Diamond

In addition to the choosing the proper metal setting for your diamond, it is equally important to choose the right stone setting. Diamonds are usually set in three basic styles: prong, bezel and channel. While there are other settings, these are the three most commonly used for diamond jewelry. Understanding the components of each setting can assist you in choosing the one that works best with your personal style.

Prong: This is what you normally see on an engagement ring style. There are four to six prongs that essentially cradle the diamond, allowing the light to flatter the stone from any angle. It makes your ring sparkle and look even bigger than it is.

Bezel: This is a more unusual setting, in which a rim of metal encircles the girdle of the stone. Bezel set diamond jewelry usually has straight edges with backs that can remain either open or closed. This is the most common style for earrings or necklaces.

Channel: You see this style on most diamond wedding bands. The Channel set puts the diamonds right next to one another with nothing separating them and then adds a metal ridge around the edges to hold them in place.

Give the Gift of Diamond Inscription

As if giving the gift of diamond jewelry isn't fabulous enough, a new trend is emerging in fine jewelry and with regards to diamonds in particular: laser inscription. Available through local jewelers and performed by the Gem Trade Laboratory of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), this service gives diamonds a personal touch never found in jewelry before. Essentially, a micro-lasered beam etches an inscription along the girdle of a diamond weighing in at .25 carat or higher.

Many consumers inscribe special messages or poetry to add a romantic aspect to the jewelry. Additionally, it provides a unique form of identification as the GIA Lab can inscribe the Diamond Grading Report number on the stone. This is a unique new service that can add a romantic --- and safety --- element to your diamond investment.

Sizing Engagement Ring (Secretly)

Most diamonds are purchased in engagement rings. One of the most pressing questions when it comes to choosing the perfect diamond engagement ring is how do you get the right size without blowing the secret? After all, this is a huge investment and one diamond that will be worn for a lifetime. Here are a few tips to secretly sizing a diamond engagement ring:

Take one of her rings and push it as far down on your finger as it will go. When it hits a stopping point, make a mark on your finger and have the jewelry measure your finger at the mark. Take one of her rings with you to get her ring size, but make sure its one that actually fits her ring finger.

Ask a good girlfriend to find out the ring size. Friends employ a number of sneaky methods to gain access to this kind of information. Be sure you choose a friend who can actually keep the secret!

Tips for Buying a Quality Diamond

The process of buying a diamond requires the purchaser to have done a certain amount of research. A quality diamond is expensive and hard to find, so keep these tips in mind before you lay out your hard-earned money for a piece of diamond jewelry: Learn all you can about diamonds, including any history, info on the current diamond market and more. Any information you can get your hands on will assist you in your purchase.

Write down the four Cs and determine which is most important to you. Visit several jewelry stores and talk with jewelers about what you are looking for. Talk with customers to get an idea of the shop’s reputation and take stock of their inventory. Do they carry quality diamonds? How far up and down do their prices fluctuate? Take note of how much time they spend showing you their stock of diamonds and how much detail they get into explaining each piece.

Always, always, always ask for a certificate. While you are looking for more quality in one of the Cs, do not settle for low quality in any of the others. Even a great price is not worth it for a low quality diamond.

Valuing Your Diamond

One of the biggest components of purchasing a piece of diamond jewelry is the value of the stone. It is important to note that a qualified gemological appraisal expert should only determine the value of a diamond. This will give you the most accurate determination of how valuable your diamond is. The value of a diamond increases with the uniqueness of the stone as well as its place within the four C’s: color, clarity, cut, and carat. Prices are set according to the value of the stone, so the more expensive the jewelry, its likely the higher the value of the diamond.

What are the Various Diamond Shapes?

Diamonds come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Choosing a shape usually depends on the personality of the person wearing the diamond. Common diamond shapes include: round, pear, emerald, heart, princess and marquise. Most of the shapes are brilliant or hybrid cuts, with the exception of the emerald shape.

If you are purchasing diamond jewelry for pure pleasure, choose the that shape matches your personality. However, if you are choosing a piece for investment purposes, a round brilliant cut is your best option. According to Saul Spero, a New York diamond appraiser who interviewed more than 50,000 people about their preference for diamond shapes, has devised the following correlations between diamond shapes and personalities. He published the results in his book, Diamonds, Love and Compatibility. According to Spero, people with feminine, trusting and sensitive personalities opt for heart-shaped diamonds. Those who are honest, efficient and disciplined usually gravitate towards rectangle or square-shaped diamonds.

What is the Best Way to Sell My Diamonds?

Selling diamonds is big business. However, it is important to know where and when to sell your diamond jewelry. Diamond experts recommend conducting a sale through an auction house, preferably one that specializes in selling jewelry, or through a classified ad. Selling such expensive jewelry through classified advertising does not seem like a good match, but it is the opportunity to meet with a potential buyer face to face to carry the transaction through to completion. It is imperative that you have all of the documentation pertaining to your diamond jewelry and meet the potential buyer in a safe place to conduct the transaction. Auction houses make the transaction easy for you, usually only requiring the appropriate paperwork and then leading you through the rest of the sale.

What Kind of Metal Should You Choose for Your Diamond Jewelry?

The setting in which your diamond sits can be as important to the overall appearance of the stone itself. These days, platinum is a very popular choice, with many people opting for it over the traditional gold settings. Either metal is reliable and a good pick to display your diamond jewelry. However, knowing the differences between the two can ensure that you are satisfied with your diamond jewelry purchase.

Gold: Most jewelry settings are not made of pure gold --- as gold in its pure form is soft and can be easily manipulated. Karat gold is gold in an alloyed form that increases the hardness of the metal. It also accounts for the varying colors of gold metal. The amount of gold in any setting is measure in codes of 10K, 14K, 18K, 24 K and more. The K represents the amount of pure gold by weight in 24 parts of the alloy. Gold is a strong metal, not easily broken; however, it is easy to dull if worn frequently. White gold is often used as a substitute for platinum.

Platinum: Platinum is a more expensive, highly regarded metal setting found in many high-end pieces. It is rare and much more expensive than gold. Some of its popularity is found in the fact that it is a hypoallergenic metal, making it perfect for just about any skin type. It is also a pliable metal, which enables jewelers to create unique pieces with platinum settings. It has quickly grown to be a top choice for many fine jewelers.