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Buying Diamonds

by Kate McCoy |

Buying diamonds can be a daunting task. So this blog post will aim to educate on what you should be aware of when the desire for diamonds arises.

Most people have heard of the 4 C's; Colour, Clarity, Cut and Carat. All these parameters are factored into the grading system and are what comprises a grading certificate.

The most reliable grading certificates are produced by GIA, Gemological Association of America. The next most reliable are IGI, International Gemological Institute. Diamond Grading certificates said to be less accurate are those from the European Gemological Laboratories. The most important thing is to get the right advise from the right source and not to rush into buying a diamond online if you don't know what you are doing.

Let's begin with Colour.

Diamonds are colour classified by how "white" they are. The whitest begins at D and goes all the way to Z. Any stone below J, the colour really becomes noticeably yellow... and not in the nice canary yellow way. 

When stones are colour graded they are viewed table (top) facing down and assessed from the side. Stones are graded against Master stones which set the world standard for each colour classification. These master sets are limited and highly valued.

Check out this link and cool diamond colour grading chart from GIA:

It is good to know a bit about what you are buying, but understanding where the value is in your spend is where advice from an expert really comes in hand. Work with someone you trust who is a qualified grader, has the right industry contacts and has experience in buying stones, otherwise you risk the possibility of not getting what you thought you were and at the wrong price.

Clarity is the next C... 

Clarity will determine an aspect of the price, but not always how good the stone actually looks to the naked eye. This will make more sense soon.
In the same way that we are unique individuals, so too is each Diamond. A stone has "life" and sparkle like we have personality and style. Sounds crazy, but look at a few diamonds with the same grades and you will better understand how unique each one is.

It is the life and sparkle of the stone that counts when we look at the finished product.

For those of you thinking of buying a diamond online.... think it through a couple of times and get some advice.... If you want my advice.... don't buy diamonds online if you don't know what you re doing, come and see me....Remember you will pay GST on the stone (often not factored in on the online price) and the postage. If the stone arrives and you aren't happy, you have to pay to send it back. You really don't save much more than a few hundred in the end and risk not getting what you 'thought' you bought. In the grand scheme its a risk I wouldn't take.

Its not enough to just judge a stone by the certificate, you should see the stone first to assess the "life" of the stone and also the type of inclusions as mapped on the certificate. Why?

Some inclusions that look like they are in a good position on the certificate might end up being reflected right throughout the stone, making one inclusion look like multiple inclusions.... But since it is only one inclusion, it will be classified as such on the certificate. 

Check out this link to GIA for more info on clarity

DON"T let the clarity on paper be THE defining element of your purchase. You don't have to buy VVS1 or Flawless to get a beautiful looking stone.

Set your budget, then seek advice.


Lets look now at the Cut.

Cut is often confused with shape... The cut actually determines how much "light return" there is from the stone.

When a stone is cut from the rough it goes through a lengthy process before it emerges a beautiful faceted beauty.

This amazing image is from

Firstly a master planner polishes a window into the rough to look inside and plan the best shapes to get the most yield from the rough. A master cutter then cuts the diamond from the rough into the planned shape/s with mathematically calculated precision. The exact angles and proportions ensure the best sparkle (light return) from the stone.

Cut therefore plays a very important role in the "life" of the stone and is just as important if not more important than the clarity.

image courtesy of GIA cutting school.

And finally the Carat weight.

Carat is the measure of a diamond's weight but it is not always an accurate indicator of the diamond's size when viewed from the top. 
A carat "weight-to-size" discrepancy is due to the cut. Some stones may have a thick girdle, other stones may be deep in the pavilion (see cut chart for scale).

Making sure the cut is excellent will mean that weight is not "wasted" in the girdle or depth of the stone or height of the crown and will generally ensure you get the most light return from the stone.

As well, we tend to evaluate diamonds for their size once they've been set in a ring etc, so the design of the setting is also important to make the most of the stone, ensuring that the stone is also safe and secure for a life time of wear. You should get your rings cleaned at least once a year and at the same time have the settings checked.

How big should it be?

Depending on your budget, and your priorities, and your knowledge, when it comes to diamonds, size is not the only thing that matters. 

A problem shared is a problem halved... if you need help or know someone needing help to buy a diamond get in touch.