TOP TEN Issues when Purchasing a Diamond

Here are the Top Ten Issues When Purchasing a Diamond:

In this blog we have looked at the top ten issues when purchasing a diamond that you should consider, if it is a great diamond that you want.

1) Certification

GIA should be the standard applied in most cases. More about this in Certification

2) Colour

Most people want a white diamond. In GIA certified diamonds, that means diamonds that are graded D, E, or F. Depending on the cut type, we can also possibly go to G.

3) Clarity

This refers to inclusions within the diamond and/or marks in the surface or around the edge of the diamond. There are 11 clarity levels in GIA certification, BUT within most levels there are really good examples of the grade, and really bad examples too… Careful selection is critical.

4) Cut

The cut is one of the main determining factors as to how good the diamond is in appearance – how much it “sparkles”.

“Excellent cut” is best, but we can possibly look at VG ( Very Good ) as a minimum. Only Round brilliant cut diamonds are graded for cut.

Other diamond shapes are NOT graded for cut. This does not mean that the quality of the cut is not important in other diamond shapes. How good the cut is, is critical to the look of the diamond. However, this aspect of the diamond’s qualities is not covered in the certification documentation. This is a critically important area to get good advice in, from a professional.

Purchasing a Diamond Engagement Ring
Purchasing a Diamond Engagement Ring

5) Polish and Symmetry

For round brilliant cut diamonds, it is easier for the cutter to achieve EX EX in polish and symmetry. Combine this with a cut grading of “Excellent” and you get triple excellent. EX EX EX is the best you can have as far as the GIA is concerned, but EX VG VG or EX VG EX, looks pretty much the same. The target is EX EX EX first, for a round brilliant cut as works on budget.

It is preferable to have a minimum grade of VG ( Very Good ) in polish and symmetry for fancy shape diamonds, like cushion cut, pear shape etc. A mix of EX VG in polish and symmetry is fine, (remembering that there is no grade for cut in these diamonds shapes). This is because that area will give us the biggest pool of great options to choose from. A polish and symmetry grade of EX EX in fancy cut diamonds is pretty rare and markedly limits the options available to us.

6) Additional cut issues

Diamonds can have high grades but still have issues that are not mentioned in the certification documentation that are a major negative. For example, extra facets that have been cut ( perhaps to improve the diamond’s clarity grading by removing a mark on the surface ), can give the diamond a poor look.

There are many other issues, such as culet facets and what is known as the “crushed ice” look etc. I won’t get too detailed here, as this is a vastly complex area. Basically the grading on certificates gives very limited information about how a diamond actually looks. There is a lot more that has to be covered to know if the diamond is any good.

7) Additional luster issues

Incredibly, diamonds can be graded as “flawless”, but still look cloudy / milky, or have a green or brown tinge. So it is REALLY, REALLY critical that a person does not simply rely on “Clarity” as the only measure of how clean and bright a diamond looks, especially as milky issues are NOT assessed in the certification.

8) Fluorescence

Not such a big issue in fact, if the fluorescence is only faint to medium. Mostly fluorescence is avoided by jewellers and their clients. It is best to target “none” to “faint” unless the budget can’t get the specific size required… If an engagement ring design requires a larger diamond, fluorescent diamonds may prove to be a reasonable choice. Again careful selection is critical, as in some cases (by no means, all), fluorescence can have a negative affect on the look of a diamond.

9) Diamond size

Well, we generally think about weight (i.e 1.00 ct.), but care needs to be taken that the diamond’s diameter does not drop too low, otherwise you might as well buy a 0.90 ct of better cut than a poorly cut 1.00 ct that in fact has a smaller diameter than the 0.90ct. This is because at the end of the day, weight is just a weight: it doesn’t determine how big the diamond looks or necessarily its actual diameter.

In the example just given, a poorly cut 1.00ct. will have a lot of the weight distribution at the back of the diamond or a thicker girdle and higher crown. This is why the diameter is smaller than the 0.90ct.. Equally, a diamond can have too big a spread for its weight, which means it is possibly very shallow at the back or low crown and a very thin girdle ( edge ). This also can have a detrimental affect on the look of the diamond.

Choosing a diamond with EX cut will help in this regard (remembering that this grade only relates to the round brilliant cut), but this still can vary depending on which lab assessment is used. Even GIA certified “Excellent Cut” 1.00 – 1.04 ct can be from 6.2 – 6.7 mm in diameter and with diamond types like the Cushion cut, radiant cut, etc., the differences in weight versus diameter are vast.

10) Good quality

Engagement rings that are a complicated design, or filled with smaller diamonds, swallow a lot of the available budget, meaning less will be available for the main diamond. Often a simple design is going to give a better diamond outcome… of course it is personal, the bigger the budget the more options you may have. However, you should consider the implications of an intricate ring design and what impact this will have on what is possible for the main central diamond.

Once we have considered all the above issues, we can assess what the best balance in quality is. Then it is just a matter of what size the diamond can be for the budget you have. Provided the main boxes above have been ticked and are satisfied correctly, it is just a question of how large you feel works for you visually and financially.