There are a great many things to know about Diamonds and the Diamond Industry. By reading books and the information available on the Internet, you can learn a lot, but that still doesn't help you much in physically grading a Diamond or going through the Diamond buying process. Nonetheless, if you know the right things you can have better success rate in buying a Diamond for a fair price. Here is a shortlist of the things you need to know.
Diamond Buyer's Checklist
- Learn as much as you can about Diamonds. Unless you feel that Dollar Bills are like so much paper, there are several thousand motivations to "know your stuff" about Diamonds.
- Decide and write down, in order of importance, which of the 5C's are most important to you: Cost, Carat, Color, Clarity or Cut.
- Once you know what you are looking for, physically visit jewelry stores. Identify a jeweler who is willing to spend some time with you showing you diamonds. Look at as many diamonds as you can that match your specs and budget. Make sure when comparing prices that you compare apples to apples. This can be more difficult than it sounds. For example, sometimes relatively minor differences in cut/proportions can have an impact on a stone's price and beauty. Most importantly, do NOT compare the price of a certified Diamond with the price of a Diamond which is not certified, or is only certified by an unknown Laboratory. You may be in for a surprise because the quality asserted by a no name lab may not match the quality asserted at a reputable lab. Which would translate into paying more money for something that is less than you thought it was.
- Always ask for a certificate. There are several Independent Laboratories out there. The most well-known is GIA, the Gemological Institute of America. GIA has done a great service by providing the public with a metric to compare Diamonds and by extension Diamond prices from different suppliers / jewelers / dealers. AGS (American Gem Society) follows the guidelines set by the GIA when they issue their certificate, as do all reputable labs. Nonetheless, if you don't know the rules of the game, even a lab report may not help you. For example, as mentioned in one of our articles, you should be aware of the difference between an appraisal by a G.G. (GIA Gemologist) as opposed to a report issued by GIA GTL (Gem Trade Lab). Many people believe they have a GIA-backed report when in fact all they have is a report written by a graduate of the school, which is a different branch of the organization.
- The Rapaport Diamond Report (Rap Sheet). There is a standard report of Diamond Prices known as the Rap Sheet. This officially lists high wholesale diamond prices in the NY market. The reality is that usually wholesalers speak to each other about prices in terms of the percentage discount to the Rap Sheet. How much of a discount to Rap? It really depends on the quality of Diamond you are looking for. On the wholesale market, Diamonds of some qualities are sold at a deeper discount to Rap than other qualities. There are market fluctuations which change according to supply and demand. The best way to know prices for the specific Diamond you are looking for is to shop around for a Certified Diamond of a quality range you desire, within your budget.
- Don't pay a premium for one of the C's only to turn around and get low quality in another C. While there are exceptions to this rule, for example if you are getting a great price, why would you pay a premium for a branded ideal cut diamond and then get a low color or clarity? Save some money on the brand name and upgrade the other C(s).
- Is it safe to buy a Diamond on the Internet? Definitely. When this tutorial was first written, there were many caveats. But these days there are so many choices and jewelers with a good track record, that you can watch the process as other consumers purchase and get a pretty good idea of what to expect. Also, just because you found a good supplier on the Internet, it doesn't mean you can't make an effort to visit them in person. Of course sometimes distances make it impractical.
The best advice for an Internet purchase is:
*Select a reputable jeweler
*Choose a Diamond that carries a GIA report
*Make sure you can work with the return policy
*Have an independent appraiser picked out who will verify that the Diamond matches the certificate.
One important warning about selecting an appraiser. Make sure the appraiser is not closely tied financially or openly associated with other vendors nor one that sells jewelry themselves. They may just try to make you feel bad about the purchase in order to get a commission or sale for themselves. Since most of the business an appraiser gets comes from referrals by jewelers, many appraisers consider the jeweler a better "customer" than you who are actually cutting them a check. The sad economics of appraising causes a conflict of interest far more often than you might expect.
DIAMONDS TUTORIAL NAVIGATOR
Real Graders Don't Drink Kool-Aid
Lesson 1, The 5Cs:
Carat, Color, Clarity, Cut, Cost
Lesson 2, Shapes:
Round, Asscher, Cushion, Emerald, Heart,
Marquise, Oval, Pear, Princess, Radiant
Lesson 3, Articles:
How to Buy a Diamond, How to Sell Your Jewelry,
How to Read a Diamond Certificate,
The difference between a Certificate & an Appraisal,
What is the SI3?,
World's Largest Polished Diamonds,
World's Largest Rough Diamonds, Diamond Facts
Gem labs and the science, art and marketing of diamonds