Diamond Buying Guide
Gemstone fire refers to the stunning reflection of dazzling colors produced by light dispersion in a cut gemstone. You know a good diamond when you see it – nothing compares to its fire. This is why iced-out watches and diamond chains seem to glitter like icicles; it’s impossible to ignore.
Diamonds are the hardest gemstone and the most optically brilliant. But how do you know if a diamond you’re buying online is going to produce the eye-catching rainbow light spectrum they’re famous for?
All diamonds sparkle, but some shine brighter than others. Different cuts and clarity levels capture the rays of light better than others. Different colors of diamonds are rarer than others, but what are the qualities to look for to choose the best diamonds?
To help you know how to choose a diamond, we’ve put together a guide with buying tips for picking the best diamonds and diamond jewelry.
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- How To Choose A Diamond
- How to Determine if a Diamond is Real
- Questions To Ask A Seller When Buying Diamond Jewelry
- How To Care For Diamonds
How to Choose a Diamond
When deciding which diamond will look best in your jewelry, there are a few different categories to consider. You’ve probably heard of the 4C’s – carat weight, cut quality, color, and clarity grade, but what exactly do they mean? And what should you look for in addition to the 4C’s?
Below you will find our guide to buying a diamond. A lot goes into whether or not diamonds and diamond jewelry are good quality, so you’ll need to consider a variety of properties, rather than focusing on a single trait.
Some sellers attempt to upsell their most expensive diamonds, so they’ll claim that only the highest clarity and carats are worth it. Other sellers will accuse lab-created diamonds of being fake diamonds, which is a lie. Truthfully, most people can’t tell by looking at a diamond, so it’s no use breaking the bank when you can find the perfect diamond for your budget by learning about diamonds.
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Diamond jewelry today is all about self-expression and showing off your individual style. What are the different diamond shapes? How do they affect a diamond’s brilliance? Looking at the different types of diamond shapes can help you pick which one fits your personal style.
- Round Diamonds: One of the most popular diamond shapes, round diamonds provide excellent brilliance and a classic look that’s always in style. Round diamonds pair well with a brilliant cut, which gives it the facets to maximize shine. These round cut diamonds make great choices for engagement rings, gold necklaces, chains, watches, and other fine jewelry.
- Oval Diamonds: Considered a fancy shape, oval diamonds are one of the most durable shapes for diamond jewelry. They’re cheaper than round diamonds, yet still provide the elegant round shape.
- Emerald Diamonds: The emerald shape is great for making diamonds appear large. Diamonds that are emerald-cut will look bigger than diamonds of the same carat weight, and are a bit more affordable. If you want big diamonds, emerald diamonds are a great choice.
- Princess Diamonds: This cut features a square shape that offers almost as much brilliance as round diamonds. Princess cut diamonds are great statement diamonds because the price for this shape is typically a bit lower per carat, since it’s an easier cut to achieve.
- Cushion Diamonds: These diamonds have a luxurious appearance that’s also more modern. Cushion cut diamonds can add a personalized element to any diamond jewelry, making it look unique. These are a great choice for people who want a less traditional but still brilliant diamond.
- Asscher Diamonds: These diamonds have a deep pavilion and precise cut. They’re more sparkly than emerald diamonds and also appear a bit larger than other diamonds of similar carat weight. Perfect for a balance of size and shine.
- Pear-Shaped Diamonds: It’s hard to find well-cut pear-shaped diamonds, so when you own one, it stands out. The shape is hard to ignore and makes the diamond even more eye-catching than some traditional shapes. You can also get away with a slightly lower-quality diamond in a pear-shape, because the shape can hide inclusions better than some others.
- Radiant-Cut Diamonds: These diamonds look similar to ice, and any diamond flaws can work in favor of this shape by making the ice look more realistic. These cuts have many angular facets, and are pretty stable. It’s a good diamond choice for daily wear if you have an active lifestyle.
- Marquise Diamonds: This shape is like an elongated oval diamond, but with points at either end. This makes it look larger than other stones of similar carat-weight. On engagement rings, marquise diamonds can make the wearer’s fingers appear longer and leaner. The shape makes the diamond really stand out on a ring.
- Heart-Shaped Diamonds: A premium shape, heart diamonds are associated with romance. It takes a lot of skill to cut a diamond like this, so its value tends to increase.
- Baguette Diamonds: The long rectangular bar shape gives diamonds a good amount of size, even if they’re low in carats. This makes baguette diamonds a great choice for diamond accents. You can buy jewelry with many baguette-diamonds for a lower cost than one large round diamond.
- Trillion Diamonds: These diamonds have a very sharp and angled shape. They appear wide, which makes them stand out on jewelry. They also have an interesting optical effect due to the angles.
Diamond shape is sometimes confused with diamond cut, but they’re not the same thing. The shape refers to the outline, while the cut refers to the facets and symmetry. For example, a marquise diamond can have a shallow cut or a deep cut, dull or brilliant. It’s still marquise-shaped.
The cut of a diamond is a key to its magical brilliant glow. The diamond is cut to maximize its natural sparkle. A diamond may have a perfect color and clarity but a poor cut dramatically worsens the diamond’s brilliant appearance.
A diamond may be cut in many different shapes: round, princess, baguette etc, but any shape it may be turned into must be of perfect proportions. All ItsHot.com diamonds are carefully selected and cut to perfection to emphasize the dazzling beauty of a diamond.
When a diamond is shallow, the light is lost out the sides and the diamond loses its captivating brilliance.
When a diamond is cut deep, the light escapes out the bottom and the diamond appears dark.
The ideal cut allows the light to travel freely through the diamond and exit in a rainbow of sparkles.
Polish and Symmetry
Just like a cut, Polish and Symmetry dramatically affect the appearance of a diamond. Poor polish will leave a diamond’s facet dull and that will have a diamond appear blurry and sparkling poorly.
Symmetry allows the light to travel freely through the diamond and poor symmetry will dramatically subtract from the diamond’s appearance.
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The most famous diamond color is colorless, but diamonds come in different colors. Some diamond colors are rarer than others in nature, even though they might not sell for as much as a clear diamond, since they’re not as brilliant in terms of color dispersion. The diamond’s color is defined according to a scale from D to Z.
- D is an absolutely colorless and a rare diamond.
- E is also a colorless diamond that can be detected by an expert gemologist, also a rare diamond.
- F is considered to be colorless, however very slight color can be detected by an expert gemologist.
- G-H, these are near colorless diamonds. The color is noticeable only when compared to diamonds of higher grade, at the same time these diamonds provide the greatest value. Most of the diamonds used in jewelry items carried by ItsHot.com are G-H color.
- I-J quality diamonds are near colorless. Color is slightly detectable.
- K-Z grade diamonds are not carried by ItsHot.com. These diamonds are considered to have a noticeable color to them that detracts from the beauty as well as the value of a diamond.
ItsHot.com also carries fancy yellow and other colored diamonds. Colored diamonds are graded according to a different color grading scale than white diamonds. The scale presented here offers the range from the best to the worst quality of white diamonds and it doesn’t reflect the quality of fancy colored diamonds.
When it comes to fancy colored diamonds, such as blue, canary yellow, chocolate, black, etc; the most important factor is deciding how much you like the hue of the diamond’s color, its shape, and cut. Colored diamonds are gaining popularity as people look for more personalized jewelry and customization options.
Red diamonds are the rarest color of natural diamond, while blue is the second rarest.
Just as color, clarity defines the natural quality of a diamond. Absolutely clear diamonds are rare and therefore are most expensive. Clarity means that the diamond may or may not have the natural inclusions such as scratches, Trace of minerals or other characteristics that can detract not only from the beauty but also from the value of the diamond.
There is also a scale on measuring the clarity of a diamond:
- FL, IF means flawless, with no internal or external flaws. These diamonds are rare.
- VVS1, VVS2 means very very slightly included. It is very difficult to see inclusions even under a 10x magnification. These diamonds are considered of excellent quality.
- VS1, VS2 means very slightly included. The inclusions are not visible to the unaided eye, and barely visible under 10x magnification.
- SI1, SI2 means slightly included. Inclusions are not typically visible to the unaided eye, although they are visible under a10x magnification. These diamonds provide a very good diamond value; most of the diamonds used in jewelry items carried by ItsHot.com are SI clarity and some are vs clarity.
- I clarity means that there are slight inclusions to the diamond that are visible to the Unaided Eye.
In diamond jewelry, inclusions in diamonds are not usually much of a problem, since the gold, silver, or platinum holding the diamonds adds elements of design and structure. Most people will not notice diamond inclusions, but people who collect loose diamonds tend to care more for high-grade clarity.
It’s generally much easier to obtain high-clarity in lab-grown diamonds, so the imperfections in natural diamonds are one of the things people enjoy.
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The total carat weight (ctw.) determines the total weight of diamonds that you have in your diamond jewelry. There can be one diamond or a numerous amount of diamonds. For example: If you have 5 diamonds in your ring each weighing 0.25 carats, then total carat weight of diamonds in your ring is 1.25 carats.
Carat weight does not always correspond to how big the diamonds appear or how much space they take up in the jewelry. As mentioned previously in the section on diamond shapes, different shapes can make lower-carat diamonds appear much larger than their weight. Accent diamonds are a great way to add to the overall dazzle in diamond jewelry, while keeping a cheaper price. Why not have more real diamonds for a lower cost?
The best way to tell what a diamond’s grade is involves sending the diamonds to an independent lab to evaluate them and provide a certificate. Certificates help the buyer ensure that they’re paying the right amount for the specific quality of the diamond.
The most common diamond certificates are from labs GIA, AGS, IGI, HRD, and HRD, though there are other valid diamond grading labs. The lab report certificate will describe the 4C’s of the diamond, as well as its length and width. These measurements are done by trained professionals, but sometimes there are differences in their evaluations.
When looking at a certificate issued by a lab, make sure to research the particular issuer to see if they’re reputable and consistent. Diamond grading is always a subjective topic, so the price, consistency, and overall look of the diamond and jewelry are the most important aspects for choosing a diamond.
Price of Diamonds
Diamond prices should correspond to their grade (clarity, color, shape, carat, etc). If you want to know how to buy diamond jewelry, you should figure out a balance of the beauty, craftsmanship, materials, and your budget.
Typically, as carat weight (and rarity) goes up, so does the price, but it’s not always exact. This is why a heart-cut diamond may be more expensive per carat than an oval-cut diamond. It’s trickier to cut a heart shape while avoiding losing some of the diamond.
It can be tricky determining if the price per diamond is fair if the jewelry also has gold or other precious metals or gemstones in it. Ultimately, all of these materials follow the market price. You’ll want to do a price check to compare something you’re looking at buying with similar diamond jewelry to figure out if the quality and craftsmanship comes at a fair price.
For example, two engagement rings might be the same price; are they both solid gold, or is one gold-plated? Maybe you’re buying a diamond necklace but you’ve found a cheaper one in a similar style with the same diamond carats. How professional is the craftsmanship? What is the warranty? Research the sellers before buying based on price.
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How to Determine if a Diamond is Real
- All you need to do it will cost you up to $20
- The process will take about 30 minutes
- glass of water
- UV light
- magnifying glass
Since diamonds are an investment, you want to know if the one you’re buying is real or fake. Sellers are bound by laws to be transparent in describing diamonds. They have to tell you if it’s synthetic, natural, or lab-grown. If you have a diamond and aren’t sure if it’s fake, you can do a few tests.
Conduct a Fog Test
Put the stone in front of your mouth and breathe on it until it fogs up. If it clears up after a few seconds, it’s real. If it stays fogged up for over three seconds, it’s fake. Diamonds disperse heat quickly, which makes fog disappear. Make sure your diamond and hands are clean before doing this, as oils can tamper with the results.
Conduct a Water Test
An easy way to tell if a diamond is real or fake, but not a guaranteed method. Fill a glass with water and drop the diamond into it. If real, it will sink to the bottom. Fake stones may float, but not all fake diamonds float, so you’ll want to do more tests.
Use a Magnifying Glass
Using a magnifying glass, look for imperfections or flaws in the diamond. If there are none, it could be fake, since most diamonds have flaws. Lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds and may have few flaws, so you’ll need further tests.
Use Black Light
Turn off all the lights in a room and put your diamond under a UV light. Most diamonds emit a bluish glow, but not all do. If you see a greenish, grayish, or yellow glow, the gem is probably not a diamond. This test is not conclusive, however, and you may still need to go to an expert.
Conduct a Scratch Test
Scrape the diamond against a mirror. If it scratches it, it could be a diamond, since diamonds are the hardest material. Some fakes, however, may also be harder than the mirror, so you should look at other tests to identify a real diamond vs. fake as well.
There are quite a few other tests you can do to determine if a diamond is real or fake, but a quick way to do so is to simply take it in to an expert, who can use a loupe to look at minute details of the diamond, as well as other tests.. You can also buy your own jeweler’s loupe, but you might not know exactly what to look for, so do some research.
Questions to Ask a Seller When Buying Diamond Jewelry
Asking questions is a good way to ensure you’re buying quality diamond jewelry. Some websites don’t provide enough information, but asking the seller questions can assure that you’re buying the product you want.
- Ask if there’s a grading certificate on the diamonds you’re interested in.
- Ask if the seller sells natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds, or synthetic diamonds.
- Ask what diamond colors the seller offers and if there are customization options.
- Ask about the carat weight, shape, and cut of the diamonds if they’re not listed.
- Ask about any warranties or what the return policy is. The seller should be up-front with you and these policies should be listed on the website or in the store.
- Ask how long they’ve been in business or what their qualifications are.
- Ask about jewelry care and if their jewelry has any specific requirements (for example, some white gold diamond jewelry is rhodium plated, and would require re-plating every few years).
- If there aren’t many product reviews or there is other missing information, don’t be afraid to ask the seller about it.
A good seller should welcome questions, as it shows a buyer’s interest in their diamond jewelry. If they get annoyed at your questions or take forever to respond, you should probably check out a different seller. Most sellers know they have to be honest about if the diamond is natural, lab-created, or synthetic, but some sellers may not be following the legislation.
How to Care for Diamonds
As you know, diamonds are the hardest substance on earth. They are uniquely resistant to damage by heat or scratching, and can be cut or polished only by another diamond. Only an extremely hard blow to the girdle can cause a diamond to chip. By having your diamond set in a relatively protective setting, and remaining conscious of it on your finger, you can keep your diamond intact for a lifetime.
Note that exposure during ordinary wear to perspiration and household chemicals, like chlorine and hair spray, can cause buildup that dulls the surface of a diamond. We suggest periodic cleanings to keep the diamond brilliant and refractive.
If you decide to clean your diamond jewelry at home, You can use a solution of one part ammonia and six parts water. Simply dip your diamond jewelry into the solution for a short period of time and that should take care of the build up that forms on your diamond jewelry as you wear it. Another way of cleaning your diamond jewelry is by hand, scrubbing gently with a soft brush to loosen most dirt and greatly increase the brilliance of the diamond, but be careful not to scratch the metal of your setting.
We advise that at least once a year you have your diamonds cleaned and setting checked by a professional.
It is also a good idea to have your diamond jewelry stored individually in soft cloth pouches when not being worn. That will prevent the diamond or diamonds from scratching or dulling other jewelry.
Founder of ItsHot.com
Denis Stepansky is a founder of ItsHot, a diamond jewelry and watches store based in NYC. He has been in the jewelry business for about 20 years and owns such high-end jewelry brands as Luccello and Luxurman. As a jewelry expert, he has citations on well-known magazines and newspapers like Insider and Daily Mail.
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