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Diamond Buying Guide

 

 

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See The Difference Diamond Quality Makes

 
 
Diamond Info.
Diamonds: Stone sober

Six keys to buying a diamond ring.

When you were a kid, your dad probably gave you pointers on how to buy a car. Too bad he didn�t teach you how to buy a diamond as well. An engagement ring can cost more than your first car, so knowing your way around a jewelry store can save you thousands of dollars. Here are six tips that will ensure you don�t get stuck with a lemon:

 

Forget about the silly guideline that says you should spend two-months� salary on your fianc�'s rock.

That so-called rule was a marketing ploy developed by the diamond industry back in the 1940s to guilt guys into paying more than they could afford. If it puts your mind at ease, retailers say the average customer spends around $2,500 on a ring, which gets you between a quarter and half carat, depending on grading.

Diamonds are graded on criteria known as the four Cs: carat, cut, color and clarity.

Carat is the weight, cut is how well the diamond was shaped, color is how clear it is and clarity indicates the number of imperfections in the stone. Trouble is there are several grading systems out there, so it�s hard to compare a diamond at one store to another. �There�s a lot of abuse to this,� says Paul Lombardi, master gemologist.

Anyone operating below a millionaire�s budget should devote most of his attention to two of the four Cs � cut and color.

These are the two factors that have a direct impact on the amount of sparkle a ring gives off, which is how most non-experts judge a ring�s beauty. Buy a diamond with at least a �good� or �very good� cut grade from the GIA. Color refers to how much of a yellowish tinge is visible. Diamonds are graded from D to Z, with D being the best because it�s colorless. But an E or F diamond will do just fine, says Lombardi.

Save money by being choosy in the size of stone you buy.

Diamond prices spike at predetermined weights, such as a quarter carat, half a carat and one carat. Diamonds that are slightly smaller than those benchmarks are significantly cheaper. For example, a ring that's 0.98 carats costs about $4,000 less than its one-carat equivalent (which goes fro $16,000). The difference in size isn't noticeable.

Stick with round diamonds.

They never go out of style and they sparkle and glitter more than any other shape. A round diamond should have 58 facets, because that gives off the most sparkle,  Some jewelers claim their rings are better because they have up to 144 facets; don�t believe them.

Before you buy, take the ring out of the light.

Jewelry stores have bright lamps over their sales counters for a reason. Even an average diamond will glitter like a priceless gem in strong light. The correct way to judge a diamond is to look at it under indirect light. �If it�s a good diamond,� says Lombardi, �it will still have plenty of sparkle.�

 

 
 
Getting engaged is one of the happiest and most exciting times in a couple's life.
Many men go to painstaking efforts to ensure the moment is memorable.
If you have an engagement story you think is interesting, funny or incredibly romantic,
we'd like to hear about it. We'll update this section regularly, so come back to read new stories.
Generally speaking there are seven principle diamond shapes for jewelry:
Round, Marquees, Emerald, Princess, Pear, Oval and Heart.
Many people are confused about how diamonds are priced. The best explanation is that
asking for the price of a diamond is like asking for the price of a house.
A real estate agent can't quote you a price for a house without knowing its size,
condition, location, etc. This process is the same one used when buying a diamond.
A diamond's beauty, rarity, and price depend on the interplay of all the
4Cs�cut, clarity, carat, and color.
The 4Cs are used throughout the world to classify the rarity of diamonds.
Diamonds with the combination of the highest 4C ratings are more rare and,
consequently, more expensive. No one C is more important than another in
terms of beauty and it is important to note that each of the
4Cs will not diminish in value over time.

Once you have established those 4C characteristics that are most important to you,
a jeweler can then begin to show you various options with quoted prices.

THE DIAMOND QUALITY PYRAMID
A Tool to Help Understand a Diamond's Value

The Diamond Quality Pyramid is a framework to help you compare diamonds.
While all diamonds are precious, those closest to the top of the pyramid�possessing
the best combination of cut, clarity, carat weight and color�are the earth's rarest and most valuable.

CARAT
Refers to the weight of a diamond.

Carat is often confused with size even though it is actually a measure of weight.
One carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. One carat can also be divided into
100 �points.� A .75 carat diamond is the same as a 75-points or 3/4 carat diamond.

A 1-carat diamond costs exactly twice the price of a half-carat diamond, right?
Wrong. Since larger diamonds are found less frequently in nature,
which places them at the rarest level of the Diamond Quality Pyramid,
a 1-carat diamond will cost more than twice a 1/2-carat diamond
(assuming color, clarity and cut remain constant).

 

CLARITY
Refers to the presence of inclusions in a diamond.

Inclusions are natural identifying characteristics such as minerals or fractures,
appearing while diamonds are formed in the earth. They may look like tiny crystals, clouds or feathers.

To view inclusions, jewelers use a magnifying loop. This tool allows jewelers
to see a diamond at 10x its actual size so that inclusions are easier to see.
The position of inclusions can affect the value of a diamond.
There are very few flawless diamonds found in nature, thus these diamonds are much more valuable.

Inclusions are ranked on a scale of perfection, known as clarity,
which was established by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
The clarity scale, ranging from F (Flawless) to Included (I),
is based on the visibility of inclusions at a magnification of 10x.

Some inclusions can be hidden by a mounting, thus having little effect on
the beauty of a diamond. An inclusion in the middle or top of a diamond
could impact the dispersion of light, sometimes making the diamond less brilliant.

The greater a diamond's clarity, the more brilliant, valuable and rare it is�
and the higher it is on the Diamond Quality Pyramid.

COLOR
Refers to the degree to which a diamond is colorless.

Diamonds range in color from icy winter whites to warm summer whites.
Diamonds are graded on a color scale established by the
Gemological Institute of America (GIA) which ranges from D (colorless) to Z.

Warmer colored diamonds (K�Z) are particularly desirable when
set in yellow gold. Icy winter whites (D�J) look stunning set in white gold or platinum.

Color differences are very subtle and it is very difficult
to see the difference between, say, an E and an F.
Therefore, colors are graded under controlled lighting
conditions and are compared to a master set for accuracy.

Truly colorless stones, graded D, treasured for their rarity, are highest on the
Diamond Quality Pyramid. Color, however, ultimately comes down to personal taste.
Ask a jeweler to show you a variety of color grades next to one another to help you determine your color preference.

CUT
Refers to the angles and proportions of a diamond.

Based on scientific formulas, a well-cut diamond will internally reflect light from
one mirror-like facet to another and disperse and reflect it through the top of the stone.
This results in a display of brilliance and fire, thereby placing well-cut diamonds higher
on the Diamond Quality Pyramid than deep or shallow-cut diamonds.
Diamonds that are cut too deep or too shallow lose or leak light through the
side or bottom, resulting in less brilliance and ultimately, value.

 

Cut also refers to shape�round, square, pear, or heart for example.
Since a round diamond is symmetrical and capable of reflecting nearly
all the light that enters, it is the most brilliant of all diamond shapes and
follows specific proportional guidelines. Ask a jeweler to find out more about these guidelines.

None-round shapes, also known as �fancy shapes,� will have their own guidelines to be considered well-cut.

What to Spend
Diamond Buyer's Guide

When you start to think about buying a diamond�and the love it will symbolize�
you naturally want the best you can afford and a beautiful stone you will treasure forever.

Hartgem.com can be found in a range of price�and you're certain to find one
within the Diamond Quality Pyramid that suits your taste and what you plan to
spend. If you're about to buy a Diamond Engagement Ring, you may want to
consider spending the commonly accepted guideline of two months salary.
But it's up to you to settle on a diamond that will truly represent your
deepest emotions and the promise for the future you will share.

A good jeweler is the first step to a smart diamond purchase. To find a jeweler
you can trust, ask your family and friends for recommendations.
Your jeweler should be knowledgeable about diamonds and help
you feel comfortable making this important purchase.

 

 
Generally speaking, the naked eye can not tell the difference between three
color grades in a mounted diamond. This means you can buy an
"F", "G", or "H" color diamond and not really be able to see the difference.
A colorless diamond is colorless due to its ability to absorb rays of light equally.
These diamonds are rare and expensive. Diamonds are evaluated according to
a letter scale and graded. Diamonds that are in the "D-F" range are considered
colorless and carry a slight premium. Diamonds in the "G-J" range will face-up
completely white and are a much better value than colorless diamonds. Diamonds
that are "K" color or below will face-up with a slight tint. We recommend diamonds that are color graded as "J" or better.
 


 



If carat is not king, than why do we all try to buy the largest diamond available
within our budget? Larger diamonds are found in nature much less frequently
which, in turn, makes them more valuable. A three-carat diamond is always
more expensive than several diamonds which add up to three carats.
Please use the charts below as a guideline in assisting you in your search.
The dimensions of the diamond should tell you how large the diamond will appear.
The chart is not to scale and should only be used as a reference.


 




Did you know that the difference between finding an inclusion in a diamond at
60X magnification and one at 10X magnification is absolutely nothing to the naked eye,
yet the price difference is staggering? Clarity refers to imperfections in the diamond.
Lack of imperfections raise the cost of the diamond where as visible inclusions lower the cost.

FL / IF Flawless or Internally Flawless. Best reason to buy one is so you can say "I have a flawless diamond!"
VVS1 / VVS2 Very, Very Small Inclusions. Requires 60X magnification to clearly see inclusions. Usually not practical, but some VVS diamonds sell for only a slight bit more than VS diamonds.
VS1 / VS2 Very Small Inclusions. Requires 30X magnification to clearly see inclusions. A good choice for someone wishing to balance high quality with relative affordability.
SI1 / SI2 Small Inclusions. Generally requires 10X magnification to clearly see inclusions. Many larger SI diamonds are not completely eye clean. SI1 diamonds are some of the best values to be found anywhere. SI2 diamonds can be great diamonds, but should be considered individually to ensure quality.
SI3/ I1 Imperfect. Eye-Visible Inclusions. Usually the most practical choice for earrings, pendants, or folks shopping on a budget. Many GIA "I1" diamonds have tiny, subtle inclusions that are difficult to detect.
I2 / I3 Imperfect. Borderline drill bit material. Should only be purchased when a "bluff" diamond is the primary objective.



Did you know that if the diamond is poorly cut, the color and clarity can not make up for it?
The cut of a diamond is what makes a rough diamond sparkle and shine.
If a diamond is poorly cut, the light that enters the diamond from above will leak
out of the sides and bottom of the stone, and the diamond will not have the
optimum amount of sparkle or fire�regardless of its color or clarity. Please
use the charts below as a guideline in assisting you in your search.


Preferred Proportions Round Diamonds
 

  Ideal Proportions Acceptable
Depth Percentage:  60.2% - 62.7% 57.0% - 64.0%
Table Percentage:  53% - 57.0% 53.0% - 64.0%
Polish: Very Good to excellent Good to Very Good
Symmetry: Very Good to excellent Good to Very Good
Girdle: Thin to medium Thin to Thick
Cutlet: None to very small None to medium



Preferred Proportions for Oval, Pear, Marquees, and Heart-Shaped Diamonds
 

Depth Percentage:  58.9% - 65.4%
Table Percentage:  53% - 64%
Polish: Good to excellent
Symmetry: Good to excellent
Girdle: Thin to thick



Preferred Proportions for Emerald and Radiant Cut Diamonds
 

Depth Percentage: 59.9% - 69.0%
Table Percentage: 59% - 69%
Polish: Good to excellent
Symmetry: Good to excellent
Girdle: Thin to thick



Preferred Proportions for Princess Cut Diamonds
 

Depth Percentage: 64.0% - 75.0%
Table Percentage: 59% - 72%
Polish: Good to excellent
Symmetry: Good to excellent
Girdle: Thin to thick

 
On The News

Oh, the course of true love never runs cheaply. The decision to marry is rapturous, thrilling and wickedly expensive. Before you even begin budgeting for a wedding, buying a fabulous gown and planning a honeymoon, there is the daunting expense that your fianc� faces: buying an engagement ring.

Imagine the pressure. As your sweetie is all-too aware, this is a ring you will wear and look at every single day of your life. It is a purchase that must not only seal the engagement deal, it must somehow symbolize his vast love for you, demonstrate his attentiveness in knowing what you would like and express his appreciation of your style. Of course, if he could, he would buy you a diamond as big as Kim Kardashian's to represent all the love that lives in his heart for you. Yet somehow, he has to achieve this while remaining a financially responsible (and solvent) future marriage partner.

While the choice and expense of a ring is traditionally up to the man in question, we know you have your own thoughts on the subject. According to a Weddingbells Magazine survey, 59 per cent of Canadian brides admitted "size matters." Furthermore, 65 per cent were involved in selecting an engagement ring and 25 per cent of brides made the final decision on their rings.

With that in mind, we sought the advice of Hilary Druxman of Hilary Druxman Design in Winnipeg (HilaryDruxman.com). Hilary has designed private collections for Saks Fifth Avenue, Banana Republic and Club Monaco and for 25 years, has helped couples design their dream engagement rings. So here are a few tips from Hilary for designing an engagement ring that won't bankrupt the poor boy. Feel free to discreetly pass these tips along�oops, did I leave that sitting on the printer?

1.       Cost realism � Despite the diamond industry's dictum that a reasonable amount to spend on an engagement ring is three months' salary (did you tell him three years' salary, you naughty thing?), the averageexpenditure of an engagement ring, according to Hilary, is between $2,000 and $6,000.

2.       Diamonds are forever � The cost of the gem is directly related to its rarity and its availability on the market. White, round brilliant diamonds are the most popular and therefore most abundant on the market, so you will have a greater range from which to choose. A coloured diamond or fancy-shaped diamond will be tougher to find, meaning fewer options within your price range. Gems other than diamonds can be less expensive, but Hilary warns that none match the hardness and durability of a diamond. Sapphires and rubies are the next best choice for lasting power, while aquamarines and emeralds are quite vulnerable to heat damage and other environmental effects.

3.       Carat accumulation � Small stones that together add up to a carat will cost less than a single diamond that weighs a carat. A pretty diamond eternity ring or a vintage-look cluster can cost a fraction of the equivalent carat-size solitaire, while providing high-wattage dazzle factor. For the same reason, three-stone rings, once known as "anniversary" rings, are also now popular for engagement.

4.       Magic weights � You will pay a premium for diamonds whose carat weights hit quarterly increments, such as 0.5, 0.75, 1.0, 1.25 and so on. If you buy a 0.68-carat diamond, you will not likely be able to see any difference in size from a 0.75-carat diamond, but you will pay a lot less. If you want a 1.0-carat diamond, look for something around 0.93. You can still roughly call it a one-carat diamond without paying the one-carat premium.

5.       Balancing the C's � As you compare diamonds, you will find that the price can suddenly jump just by moving one grade up on the clarity or colour scale. Hilary says that clarity between SI1 and VS2, with a colour of G or H is a popular combination for a diamond that (assuming it's well cut) will appear lovely and sparkly to the eye.

6.       All that glitters � While platinum is the costliest, white gold can provide more "warmth" to a setting and is traditionally less expensive. However, with the price of gold hovering near the stars, many couples are turning to silver settings. As a softer metal, it is appropriate only for certain types of mounts, but you can always choose to re-set in gold or platinum at a later date (anniversary perhaps?). For more lasting power, Hilary offers a new product called "elite silver" which is an alloy of three precious metals. Elite silver has the same tarnish resistance, durability, look and polish of 10 karat gold at a fraction of the gold price.

Long-term benefits

The key to designing a ring that fits your fianc�'s budget and your inimitable personal style is to find a jeweller you trust. Meet with a few different jewellers to find just the right person - someone who listens, is reliable and comes with great references. You want someone who makes your fianc� feel relaxed, comfortable and doesn't make him feel judged on how or where he chooses to spend his money.

As a bonus, when your fianc� makes friends with a jeweller, the prognosis for a more jewelry-filled future becomes even brighter. Who else is going to call your hubby to remind him of your anniversary and suggest a lovely tennis bracelet to match your engagement ring? Hmmm?!


 


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