Learn how to buy a diamond so that you purchase exactly the kind of diamond you want, whether you are buying a diamond for an engagement, for yourself or for investment commodities. Educating yourself before walking into the jeweler's shop will give you the confidence you need to make such a major purchase.
The Four C's
Diamonds are sorted and categorized by what is known as the four C's: color, cut, clarity and carat:
Color: Color is an official designation that describes the whiteness of the gemstone. Whiter diamonds refract more light, making them more brilliant.
Cut: A diamond's cut indicates the type of reflective qualities the gem has been given. Some people refer to this as the diamond's "fire," and the difference between a good cut and a poor cut can affect the diamond's price.
Clarity: The clarity of a diamond refers to the amount of natural flaws it has. Formed by heat and pressure in the depths of the earth, diamonds will almost always have small inclusions within. The clearer the diamond, the more valuable it is. However, if it seems too clear, it might be a fake.
Carat: Carat weight is the easiest to determine, as the bigger the diamond, the more expensive it generally is.
Always shop for diamonds from reputable and licensed jewelers, never from an independent dealer or street merchant. Also, avoid buying diamonds overseas, as there are not the same consumer protections abroad as in the United States. The jeweler should show the diamonds loose, not in settings, so you can evaluate each of the four C's. Examine the diamonds with a loupe, and compare what you see to the official certification that is required for each diamond. Look at the diamond under a variety of different lights, as different lighting can affect the diamond's appearance.
Finally, ask for an independent appraisal of the gem rather than from the in-store appraiser to ensure that the diamond is exactly as represented. It will cost you some extra money, but it guarantees the gem is authentic. If there is anything you don't understand about the diamond's certification, ask for an explanation.