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How to Choose the Perfect Diamond

September 16th, 2011 Jewelry

If diamonds are a girl's best friend, then it's important to take the time to choose one carefully. Search for a diamond with the highest value for your budget and looks that will wow you for the rest of your life.

There are four main characteristics to consider when choosing a diamond: carat, clarity, color and cut. Of course, considering your budget is always smart, learning the fundamentals about diamonds can help you determine what kind you want and whether you can afford it.

First of all, carat weight is the mass of a diamond. One carat is equal to 200 milligrams. Anything under one carat is measured by points, which correspond with one-hundredth of a carat.

A diamond's clarity depends on the number of defects found in it. These are called inclusions and can range from cloudy-looking cracks to foreign crystal material within the diamond.

A diamond with no imperfections is transparent, but every diamond has minor imperfections, so the color is usually affected. Diamonds with bright, distinct colors are valued much higher than white diamonds with a hint of hue. Most people can't tell the difference between color grades, but the price variation is often significant. The clearest diamonds are in the D-F range, but you can still find near colorless diamonds in the G-J range, and they'll be less expensive. If you want a bigger diamond, sacrificing a great color grade would make sense to stay within your budget.

Because diamonds are found in very rough shapes, they must be cut and polished. The angles used in a craftsman's work determines the cut. Make sure you choose a shape you like and a setting that fits your tastes. If you know roughly what you want, but aren't clear on the specifics, the sales associate at the jewelry store can help you choose one that will fit you perfectly.