How to Buy a Diamond
by the editors of DiamondRing.com
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 a better success rate in buying a Diamond for a fair market value and understanding what you bought. Here is a shortlist of the things you need to know.
But beware, just as it can be very tough to buy a new or used car, there is a lot to know about Diamonds and it's not an easy process.
Diamond Buyer's Checklist
Learn as much as you can about Diamonds. Unless you feel that Dollar Bills are like so much paper, I can think of several thousand motivations to "know your stuff" about Diamonds.
Decide which properties of Diamond are most important to you. Write down, in order of importance, which of the following you care most about: Cost, Carat, Color, Clarity or Cut. Most people want BIG. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. But we'd like you to be aware of what you may be giving up in exchange for a big stone. Very often, when we show people two stones with similar properties, one a bit smaller with a better cut and the other a bit bigger, but not as good a cut, they will go for the better cut. If you find a Jeweler who will be willing to show you the difference, it may be worth your time.
Go to Jewelry Stores and get the market price for the type of Diamond you are looking for. Look at the quality of the stones they are quoting you. Make any adjustments necessary to your initial requirements. Note, please make sure when comparing prices that you compare apples to apples. This is actually very hard to do. For example, minor differences in cut, in proportions can have a severe impact on a stone's price and beauty. A most important point to remember is not to compare the price of a certified Diamond with a price of a Diamond which is not certified, or is only certified by a no-name brand Laboratory. You may be in for a surprise.
Ask for a certificate. There are several Independent Laboratories out there. The most well-known is GIA, the Gemmological Institute of America. GIA has done a great service by providing the public a metric to compare Diamonds and Diamond prices from different suppliers / jewelers / dealers. Nonetheless, if you don't know the rules of the game, even this won't help you. For example, you should be aware of the differences between an appraisal by a G.G. (GIA Gemologist) as opposed to a GIA GTL Certificate. Beware of no-name brand Laboratories, no-name brand Certificates and no-name brand Appraisals. You may wind up with something "less" than agreed upon. There are respectable non-GIA Laboratories out there. For example, EGL, the European Gemmological Laboratory. Please note that EGL has several Labs all around the world, each is independently owned, and may have different procedures and even grading.
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. The telephone number of the Rap Sheet is (212) 354-0575.
Look for corresponding Color and Clarities. In other words, don't buy a High Color/Low Clarity or High Clarity/Low Color Diamond. In a similar vein, why pay a premium for an Ideal Cut Diamond, and then accept a lower color and clarity? You pay a serious premium for getting say an E Color Diamond. What's the purpose of paying that premium and then buying an SI2 Diamond? Why not go down a color or two and increase one or two clarities?
Is it safe to buy a Diamond on the Internet? Good question. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. If you make sure you know who you're dealing with, it can be. 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. In those cases you have to judge for yourself if it's safe to do business with them. If you do decide to take the risk, make sure that you only buy a certified stone, and make sure they offer a guarantee that if you don't like the stone after viewing it, that you can return it. By the way, buying a Diamond "off" the Internet is not necessarily safe either.
We hope this information helps you through your purchase. If you would like to learn more about Diamonds, we have extensive information at http://www.DiamondRing.com, the Diamonds Portal built by former GemLab Graders.
All information contained herein is Copyright DiamondRing.com 1999.
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