Sitting with a well-earned coffee in the studio the other day, I was flicking through some old jewellery magazines, as I often do, looking for design inspiration and checking out how styles have changed, or in some cases, stayed the same.
I came across this copy of Perfect Brides & Weddings and remembered that I had actually been asked to write an article on purchasing a diamond for this premiere issue.
Rereading it, I realised that although it was published some years ago, the information is still very relevant today, so I thought I’d share it with you.
So grab a coffee and enjoy.
It’s so romantic…. you and your true love have decided to make it official and travel life’s journey together and it starts with that perfect symbol of love…..a diamond.
Nature’s own creation, a symbol of your commitment and love for each other, not always flawless, but always shining brightly for the world to see and admire.
Unfortunately, for many couples this image is far from reality and the process of choosing and purchasing a diamond becomes something of a nightmare, certainly not the ideal start to this period of romance and elation. For many brides, a less than satisfactory diamond buying experience can leave them with such a negative image of their diamond that they lose the emotional connection with their engagement ringand the pleasure of wearing it is diminished.
The simple fact of the matter is you can avoid complication and disillusionment by arming yourself with some basic knowledge. It is indeed a shame that the jewellery industry has fast become one soured by misrepresentation and secrecy. With the emergence in popularity and dependence on the internet, consumers are now self-educating themselves to a certain degree, but with such an influx of information, it is easy to become confused. So who should you trust…. and why?
Firstly, relax and accept that you don’t need to be a diamond expert, you simply need to be confident and comfortable with your ability to separate the good guys from the not-so-good guys. Remember, it is virtually impossible, in the short space of time you have been researching, to achieve a professional level of competency in diamond technology. What you can achieve is the ability to spot potential problems and misinformation, those small details that could cost you a lot of time, money and heartache.
Secondly, trust your judgement. If a deal appears too good to be true, it often is. That’s not to say there are not some great bargains out there, but beware, the age-old expression “you get what you pay for” certainly rings true o the diamond industry.
How a diamond seller communicates with you is a major indication of his or her honesty and integrity. If your questions are answered flippantly or they approach you with a haughty “trust me, I know what you want” attitude, let that serve as a warning. Ensure you speak to a real person so you can really get a feel for the company you are dealing with. Remember too that websites are often not built by the retailer, but by experts in commercial appeal and may not accurately reflect the true nature of the business. Let a website serve as an introduction to the business, then deal with them personally.
Most importantly, it is the responsibility of the diamond seller to ensure that you leave completely secure in the knowledge that you can confidently identify your diamond and understand its characteristics and individuality. Their philosophy should be that this process is not just about selling a diamond, it is about sharing knowledge, providing peace of mind and building the foundation for a trusting relationship with you, which will hopefully see you happily return for future purchases.
So what do you need to know?
No doubt you have read numerous accounts of the importance of the Four Cs. This consumer-friendly checklist was developed years ago and, although still very relevant today, has over time become frequently misunderstood, especially in terms of the fourth C, the Cut. Unfortunately, being a somewhat complicated feature, the cut is easily misrepresented by unscrupulous dealers. Why is such importance placed on the cut? Often viewed and promoted mainly as an indication of shape, this category is actually the most important in terms of a diamond’s appearance and the amount of life and fire the diamond exudes. The cut grading relates to the symmetry and perfection of the faceting of a diamond and this is the only quality and factor that does not rely on nature alone, instead determined by the skill of the diamond cutter. A diamond’s unique refractive properties, in simple terms, allow each facet to act like a mirror, bouncing light around and back out of the gem, giving it that brilliant sparkle diamonds ar famous for. A slight miscalculation in the angles can seriously affect the outcome and overall look of the diamond. If you have looked at a few diamonds you will have noticed that some are almost alive with brilliance, while others have shadowy or glassy areas and may seem a little dull. This is the effect that the “Cut” can have on the diamond. Not unlike the kaleidoscopes we had as children, if an internal mirror is misaligned, the effect is marred – so too that of a diamond. It is stated in diamond and jewellery industry publications that the quality of the cut can impact on the price of a diamond by up to 50%. Remember though that the visual impact is also severely affected and it essential to be aware of this if buying on price alone.
So how do you decipher the grading of the cut? This question brings us to the unofficial “Fifth C” – Certification.
Certification – What is it & why do I need it?
Unless you are a diamond aficionado, or have bo regard for the technical qualities, it is essential that you purchase a diamond that has been independently certified by a recognised Diamond Grading Laboratory. This certificate, or grading report, will state all of the identifying features of your individual diamond. Ideally, it will provide a map of any clarity characteristics, which you should make yourself familiar with, as this is the simplest and most accurate way you can identify your diamond. As well as categorising the colour and clarity, it will give a grading on the accuracy of the cut of the diamond.. You should familiarise yourself with the wording that each grading laboratory uses, as unfortunately the terminology varies from one laboratory to another. For example, some use the term “excellent” as the highest cut grading, whereas others use “very good” which can cause untold confusion and ambiguity. The main thing is to ensure that you know each laboratory’s term for the highest cut grade, and compare on this level rather than by the actual words they use. Ask to see copies of any certificates you are unfamiliar with and ask questions if you are not sure.
It is also most helpful to visit each diamond grading laboratory’s website to ascertain their individual grading scales. These diamond grading laboratories are independent, so there is no advantage for them to bamboozle you with fluffed up information. they are not trying to sell you the diamond so they have no need to influence your decision and will only state the facts. Take notes if you need to, and don’t be afraid to refer to them while viewing the diamond and its documentation. Not only will this give you the confidence to accurately discern the quality of the diamond, it will also display to the vendor that you are interested in, and aware of such variations is terminology.
Finally, beware of in-house certificates, those which are prepared by the person or company selling the diamond. Most of these documents are little more than glorified receipts, and often cannot be relied upon to accurately grade your diamond. Upon completion of your ring, you should also be provided with another document, and independent certificate of appraisal, performed by a registered National Council of Jewellery Valuers (formerly J.A.T.V.C) member. This will confirm that the diamond in the ring is indeed the diamond you purchased, as well as providing a replacement value for insurance purposes.
In summary, although purchasing a diamond can be a harrowing experience, with the right approach it can be interesting, exciting and truly enjoyable. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take time to digest the answers. Buying a diamond engagement ring is a major financial and personal investment. Take your time, do the right research and enjoy the ride.