How to Buy a Diamond Engagement Ring Before You Propose, Avoid Retail Tricks and Getting Ripped Off
Choose a diamond jewellery supplier that offers a bespoke service and who is prepared to talk to you about the different diamond options. Think about certification, its one of the most important things and choose a diamond that is graded by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America). Choosing the right diamond can be complicated and its a great feeling to make an informed decision before investing in such an important purchase. Before you buy a diamond ask your self do you know who the GIA are? Do you know what the 4Cs are? Do you know about cut grades polish and symmetry? Do you know what enhanced diamonds are? These are just a few of the points that one should consider and if you have answered no to any of them, then please avoid purchasing a diamond until you are well informed.
Its so important to understand the vital attributes of a diamond before choosing the right one and making that investment. You wouldn’t buy a house without knowing the number of bedrooms and dimensions and you probably wouldn’t buy a car if you didn’t know its colour, so why should a diamond be any different. For consumers we suggest that you consider the following before you commit to purchasing your diamond engagement ring or diamond jewellery.
1- Ask for a GIA (Gemological Institute of America) report. The GIA are the creators of the famous 4Cs grading system and the leading authority on diamond grading. You may be surprised to know that the GIA are a not for profit establishment and that they invest all of their revenue in equipment, training and research. Every laboratory in the world is compared to the GIA and its not uncommon for the GIA to downgrade diamonds that have been previously graded by other laboratories because of their superior grading techniques and technology. As a result diamonds graded by other laboratories with apparently the same attributes are usually cheaper than a GIA graded diamond. As all GIA grading laboratories are integrated and strictly monitored for quality control, verifying your diamond report online with the GIA is much easier than with the other grading labs who operate on a more disparate basis.
2- To ensure that you are getting value you must know the Carat (weight), Cut(shape), Colour and Clarity (visible natural inclusions in the stone). Colour and shape are a matter of choice but clarity should be more of a careful consideration. We would strongly recommend that you choose a diamond with a minimum of SI2 in clarity do not purchase a diamond which is graded as I1 2 or 3 as these diamonds have inclusions visible to the naked eye. For round diamonds it is equally important to know the Cut grade (different to the cut shape) other shapes known as fancy shapes such as princess or emerald diamonds dont have a cut grade on a GIA report (beware of retailers who give you a cut grade for shapes other than that of a round diamond as the GIA do not have a cut grade for fancy shapes). Other vital attributes include polish and symmetry this applies to all shapes. We would suggest that you avoid any diamond with poor/fair to good grades across any of these attributes. Why is this important? A diamond is like a tiny set of mirrors that interact with light to create the stones appearance. Every angle and every facet affects the amount of light returned or lost. Therefore the quality of the cut, symmetry and polish determines a diamonds brightness, fire and scintillation.
3 – When you purchase a diamond we want you to make an investment and not to have a depreciating asset. With this in mind please avoid purchasing a diamond that has been set and un graded. It is very difficult to grade a set diamond and it would need to be removed from the ring for it to be accurately assessed. You would also likely be expected to pay well over the true value of the piece of Jewellery.
4 – Enhanced and treated diamonds – Modern technology has made it possible to treat diamonds in a number of ways. You can induce or lessen colour and improve clarity. As these enhancement technologies advance so does the need to advance the detection technology and techniques. Some of the techniques used to enhance diamonds include coatings, combinations of heat and pressure, irradiation and laser technology. The value of an enhanced stone is somewhat less than that of its un enhanced version. Please be careful and check diamond grading reports to see if enhancement has been detected. Its a common trick for retailers to advertise a diamond with all the attributes that sound good but when you check the report it might say that it has been enhanced. How could you have known about this unless you were aware about enhanced diamonds. Retailers love it because you are getting what you think is a great diamond and paying full price but in reality its had an enhancement procedure which massively reduces its value and affects the structural integrity of the stone.
5 – Tricks of the trade – There are a few tricks that unsuspecting customers should be aware of. Most retailers take advantage of the fact that most people are not aware of what to look out for when purchasing a diamond.
Trick 1: Drop down selection – When browsing online retailers and you select your own diamond you have the opportunity to select shape, colour, clarity. Most consumers are aware of these attributes. What you need to watch out for is when you come across retailers offering you a certificate selection menu. You might get offered a number of certificates including their own and possibly a GIA/IGI certificate. This is not acceptable, you need to know exactly what certificate you are getting, insist on seeing the report of the diamond you are buying. When they state that you will get a GIA or another lab report in the same selection box its an excuse to charge you for the price of the GIA graded diamond but you will probably get the other one on offer as it will be cheaper for them to buy.
Trick 2: You can also sometimes select the cut grade of a round diamond, some retailers trick you by offering good to premium grades in their selection criteria. The catch is that within the premium category they can sell you a diamond with a very good cut and charge you for one with an excellent cut because you have been unable to specify your exact requirements. The difference in price between two diamonds with exactly the same attributes but with one difference in grade across cut, symmetry and polish can be as much as £500 or even more depending on the size of the diamond.
Trick 3: The retailer allows you to select most of the common attributes, you buy the diamond but you don’t know the polish or symmetry, you think you might be getting a great deal but if you don’t know these attributes how can you be sure. A diamond trader would never buy a diamond unless all the information on the stone was available so why should you.
Trick 4: You buy a ring to go with your diamond and you don’t know the weight. Metal prices are by the gram. Don’t pay for a 3g platinum ring when you could have had a 5g ring. Also consider the quality of the ring if the ring seems cheap it might look cheap and the quality of the finish not to your expectations.
Trick 5: The retailer offers you their own certificate, you think its a great deal and go for it. Ask yourself why would a diamond with exactly the same attributes as a GIA certificate and another be different in price. The answer is because they are not the same, the inferior grading from another laboratory or in-house retailer grader will never be able to show you the true attributes of the diamond so you think you are buying something that would otherwise be downgraded by the GIA. Also when a retailer grades their own diamond its not an unbiased assessment, its completely in their best interest to upgrade the attributes by one or two grades as to command a higher price.
Ttrick 6: Beware of retailers who claim to offer GIA certified diamonds but cant deliver them, always ask to see the report before you buy. There is a well known retailer online who offers GIA graded diamonds on the site but when you enquire about them, they state that they don’t deal with GIA graded diamonds. Always call the company, speak to someone, if you cant get through before you buy, whats going to happen if there is a problem and you need to contact them after you place an order.
Trick 7 – Look out for misleading initial pricing and then vat being added at the end of your order by some of the companies based outside of the UK.
Other areas that effect value include fluorescence, girdle thickness, and weight to surface area ration. look out for further articles where we will go into detail about these point.
Dont take any chances choose a diamond that is certified by the GIA its the difference between wondering and knowing.