Okay, picking up where I left off in Part 1 of this two-part series, let’s look at what you don’t want to do when buying a diamond. Before I get started here, let me encourage you to pat yourself on the back for even thinking about getting out there and shopping for a diamond. It can feel daunting.
There is so much to absorb in such a relatively short amount of time. I’m here to tell you, however, that buying a diamond is not a mystery. It’s legwork! And when you do it right, it pays off. You will likely save money and certainly get a far greater value for what money you’ve spent.
Top 10 “Don’t Do” Things Before You Buy a Diamond
- Don’t buy an ‘ideal cut’ diamond unless it is clearly more beautiful than the other diamonds you compare it to. Just because a diamond has Tolkowski or ideal proportions does not mean it has more brilliance. Ideal cut diamonds are more expensive per carat but not necessarily more beautiful.
- Don’t buy a diamond from Tiffany or Cartier unless you must have the name stamped in the ring and you want to pay thousands more. The markup on Tiffany and Cartier jewelry is typically 300%. Acceptable markup in a typical jewelry store is 100%, so do the math. Also, many of the diamonds in Tiffany and Cartier are already mounted. (See item #3 below.)
- Don’t buy a diamond that has already been mounted. It makes it hard to accurately tell the real color and clarity of the diamond. Diamonds tend to pick up metal color from the mounting and it is common practice to hide an inclusion (imperfection) behind or below a prong so it doesn’t show. This can become a real problem if the inclusion is big enough to affect the durability of the diamond.
- Don’t buy a diamond online if you can help it. Online retailers like Blue Nile are honest and their prices are great, but you are only buying that one stone based on a description of color, clarity etc. There is no opportunity to compare the diamond side by side with any other diamonds. Online shopping may be great for air fares and shoes, however, it is not the optimal way to buy a diamond if the appearance of the diamond really matters to you.
- Don’t buy a diamond, or put money down on a diamond that you have never seen. You may think I covered this one in the last statement about online diamond buying, however, you might be surprised. People often put serious money down at a store to purchase a “certified 1.00ct, F, VS2” diamond. Until you have seen the stone AND it’s certification, please do not put your hard-earned money on the table.
- Don’t buy a diamond from a pawn shop without considering the bigger picture. Think about it, a widow goes to a pawn shop with her wedding ring, perhaps the last valuable thing she owns. She needs money to buy food and pay her electricity bill so her power is not cut off. If the value of the diamond is legitimately worth $5000, the pawn shop will give her $500, then turn around and sell her diamond for $4500 to $5000. Before you buy, ask yourself if you really want to buy one of these diamonds.
- Don’t buy a diamond that is D or E in color, or is VVS1, VVS2, or VS1 in clarity. Diamonds with these colors and clarities cost so much more per carat. F,G and H diamonds are still basically white/colorless and often a much better value. Diamonds with VVS1, VVS2 and VS1 clarities require a microscope or a 10X jeweler’s loupe (10 times magnification) to see their inclusions. When a diamond is offered by a reputable dealer, a VS2 and a properly graded SI1 diamond are both clean to the naked eye. So why pay thousands more when you’ll need a microscope to see the inclusions?
- Don’t believe the hype. The diamond industry spends billions of advertising dollars every year to make us believe that you “have to have” this, that or the other. Please look past the publicity to what you can see, in person, for yourself. Make up your OWN MIND!
- Don’t compare a GIA certified diamond on equal ground with an EGL certified diamond. All certifications are NOT created equal. As mentioned on the DO-list, GIA tends to be more conservative in grading its diamonds, therefore the GIA stone may have sell for a bit more. That’s why you want to find a trusted professional… someone who, while in business to do business, also wants to be YOUR advocate. Ask yourself, “is this person out for a fast buck or in it for a long term, professional relationship?” The later is more likely to present you with sound advice.
- Don’t part with your money until you’ve seen an original certification for the diamond. Photocopies or printouts may be ok while you are shopping and comparing stones, however, make sure the ORIGINAL grading certificate and the diamond are in front of you before you sign on the dotted line.
Bonus “Don’t Do” for After You Buy Your Diamond
Don’t ever leave your diamond ring leave your sight to be cleaned or serviced. It takes only a few minutes to swap out one diamond for another. It is important that the person receiving your diamond ring sign and date a photocopy of your grading report; acknowledging that they have received this particular stone into their care. Diamond swapping happens, especially with older stones which may not have the ID number engraved around the outer edge (the girdle) of the stone. Both of you need to examine the stone right before you drop it off. Never assume; you know what they say!
The Bottom Line When Buying a Diamond
Everything considered, the most important consideration in purchasing a diamond is the way it looks. It would be nice if you could spend your hard earned thousands from afar and buy the most beautiful diamond based on the descriptions on a diamond certification, but you really can’t.
The only way to really choose the best looking, most brilliant diamond is to compare it, side by side with other diamonds and let your eye decide. Remember that the diamond with the best pedigree often is not the most brilliant but probably the most expensive.
Now that you know what NOT to do when buying a diamond, you might like to learn what you DO want to do in Part 1 of this two-part series: Top 10 “Must-Do” Things Before You Buy a Diamond.
David D. Bull, GG
By appointment in Aspen, CO
Call (970) 456-5700
Innovative, artistically original jewelry & accessory
designs of high quality and exceptional value.