How to Assess Diamond Quality

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Purchasing a diamond can be a serious investment, so you should know what you are buying so that it is not just a pretty piece of jewelry, but also a quality piece.

  • Consider the 4 C’s: cut, color, clarity and carat weight.

  • The way the diamond is cut will make the difference in how much light it reflects, and the more light the better. Cut also refers to the shape you prefer: pear, round, marquise, princess or brilliant heart.

  • The grading scale for color ranges from D to Z. A “D” grade is the most desirable and colorless, while the “Z” is dark yellow and the least desirable. Fluorescence, or a glow, is another factor in the grading scale, ranging from the best “N” for no fluorescence to “EF,” meaning extreme fluorescence. “EF” diamonds may appear cloudy or hazy.

  • Clarity is how clear and sparkly the diamond is and how many flaws are in the diamond.

  • Carat weight refers to how much the diamond weighs, not necessarily how big it is. Sometimes a certain cut may make one 1-carat diamond appear bigger than another.

  • Learn the diamond grading abbreviations. Diamonds range from a perfect, very rare and expensive diamond, which gets an “F” rating, to the cheapest diamond that has large inclusions (flaws) that are visible to the naked eye. There are 14 grading levels in all, according to Diamonds-are-forever.org.

  • Get a certificate. To be sure of a diamond’s quality, you can buy a diamond certified by the Gemological Institute of America.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not purchase a Blood Diamond or a Conflict Diamond. These diamonds are used illegally to fund civil wars and human rights abuses in Africa. Do not buy diamonds from Sierra Leone. It is impossible to be 100% sure that you are not buying a conflict diamond; however, you can ask the jeweler for a written guarantee of his suppliers or for a “Certificate of Origin,” according to StopBloodDiamonds.org.

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References

  • Photo Credit Jeffrey Hamilton/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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