Looking to invest in a beautiful diamond (or diamonds) can be intimidating because most buyers don’t have the trained eye of a gemologist. It can feel like you’re at the mercy of the jeweler’s knowledge, and frankly, their honesty. We’re going to empower you with everything you need to know to choose the best diamonds.
The Basics: Learning The 4Cs
You can’t talk about diamond quality without the fundamentals, the 4Cs: Clarity, Cut, Color, and Carat. Let’s dive right in.
The majority of diamonds have blemishes called inclusions. Some inclusions are not visible to the naked eye, but luckily, diamonds are graded at 10x magnification as an industry standard, so you’ll be able to determine the clarity without having to see your diamond under a microscope. The diamond clarity scale ranges from 0 (also called Flawless/IF by the American Gem Society), representing a diamond with zero inclusions, to a 13 (Included 3 in AGS) for a diamond containing many inclusions.
A diamond that has excellent clarity will appear whiter and shinier than a diamond with poor clarity, which will appear darker. It can be helpful to ask to see different clarity diamonds in a similar cut, color, and carat side-by-side while you’re shopping, because you’ll likely be able to see the distinction right away and will develop a better understanding of what clarity represents. However, the cut and color will also greatly impact the sparkle of your diamond, so let’s continue with those.
The cut of your diamond is one of the most important factors in its luminosity because it affects the way light enters and is reflected by the diamond. The right cut can make diamonds of lesser clarity appear more brilliant, and it can also make a diamond appear larger than it really is. If a diamond is too deep or too shallow, it will lose in brilliance, so finding the right height and proportions is key, as is the precision of the cut.
When cutting diamonds, some cutters will opt to maximize the size because most customers are willing to pay more for a bigger diamond, but this can sacrifice its appearance and quality. If your diamond has a GIA cut grading, which ranges from poor to excellent, that can be very helpful in determining whether the cut is both optimal and precise.
Diamonds come in all kinds of colors, but colorless white diamonds are rare and are generally the ideal. You may be wondering about yellow diamonds, which have gained in popularity over the recent years. If they’re so undesirable, why are they so valuable? It is because vibrant, deep yellow diamonds are also rare, and therefore also a valuable type of diamond. A fair yellow diamond will not be as valuable or desirable.
The diamond color grading ranges from D (colorless) to Z (yellow). Most often, jewelers will recommend sticking somewhere between D and K for the best quality diamond. While D is obviously the optimal grading, some individuals actually prefer a lesser grading due to the perceived warmth of the diamond. If you’re purchasing for an investment, however, we recommend getting as close to a D grading as your budget allows.
This tends to be the most widely known factor taken into consideration when choosing a diamond, its weight. The larger the diamond, the higher its value, right? Well, not always. If the three Cs above aren’t there, its carat won’t matter as much. It’s much better to have a quality diamond that is clear, colorless, and exceptionally cut, than to have a dull or tinged larger diamond—not only in terms of its appearance, but in terms of its financial value as an investment. It’s a delicate balance between size and quality, but as far as we’re concerned seeing so many clients borrow against their diamonds or sell their diamonds, quality will always win. You’ll be glad to have that financial safety net, and it’ll be a highly valuable gem to pass down to future generations.
Beyond the 4Cs
Another factor besides the quality of the diamond is the shape you’re going to choose. Not only will this affect its appearance—for example, a round brilliant diamond will always outshine an emerald cut—but it will also affect its retained value. Round brilliant diamonds are the highest in demand by far for the reason we just mentioned, their sparkle, and also because they require more raw material to cut from, so they will always outvalue other diamonds of similar clarity, cut, color, and carat. Princess cut diamonds are the runner up.
When you’re making such a large and important purchase, choosing a reputable jeweler that you fully trust is key. Even with training, it can be very difficult to see the quality of a diamond in the store. In fact, the lighting is often designed to make gems sparkle their brightest, so you might find yourself thinking that all the diamonds look great. How do you ensure that you’re getting a quality diamond from a retailer?
If your budget allows, we recommend turning to a luxury brand for diamond jewelry, such as Tiffany & Co., Bulgari, Cartier, or Van Cleef & Arpels. These are some of the luxury jewelry brands we accept most frequently at Qollateral as collateral for loans and for purchase, so we can attest that they hold their value exceptionally well and make solid financial investments. Their unparalleled reputation is also a foolproof way to ensure you’re getting the quality diamond you’re being promised.
Another way to find a reputable seller of loose diamonds or diamond jewelry is to look for a dealer that is AGS (American Gem Society) or GIA (Gemological Institute of America) certified. Fun fact: GIA is our neighbor here at the International Gem Tower. Both certifications are a surefire way to protect yourself when purchasing a diamond.
We hope this helps you feel more confident in your next diamond purchase. Diamonds are not only beautiful, they’re an incredibly smart investment. At Qollateral, we help clients turn their diamonds into same-day cash for a short-term collateral loan, and then pick them back up when they’re ready like nothing ever happened. We also purchase diamonds, including diamond engagement rings that could be bringing you same-day cash instead of memories you’re ready to put to rest. We’ve seen over and over again how well quality diamonds retain their value and provide a financial safety net to our clients, so we highly recommend considering a diamond’s investment potential as well as its appearance when going into the purchase.
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