How to Buy a Diamond for the Absolute Best Price

Two Parts:Getting the Most Bling for Your BuckMastering Diamond Quality Basics

Some may say that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but shopping around for the best diamond price can drive any girl or guy crazy. There are so many different styles of diamonds, and so many variables that go into the grading systems that determine their price, that it can seem impossible to know when you are staring at the best deal. The best advice is to trust your own eye on what you like, but demand verification of diamond quality; shop widely and negotiate for the best price; and arm yourself with knowledge about the grading systems for diamonds.

Part 1
Getting the Most Bling for Your Buck

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    Trust your eye, but verify. Unless you are buying a diamond as an investment opportunity, your goal is likely to find a stone that you (or someone you care about) will find beautiful for years to come. For diamonds that are destined to be jewelry, then, make sure you are choosing a stone that you like. Only then can it possibly be a good deal.[1]
    • Follow your own opinion on which diamond looks best to you, and take the salesperson’s advice to heart, but always demand verification of a diamond’s legitimacy and quality.[2]
    • Any legitimate diamond seller should be happy to provide you with a report specific to each stone, ideally prepared (in the U.S.) by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the American Gem Society (AGS). Don’t assume a diamond’s quality, or even its existence as a real diamond, without such a report.
    • If you are particularly concerned about avoiding “conflict diamonds” (diamonds mined and sold either by way of or to support violent regimes), look for Kimberly Process Certification.
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    Consider the setting. When the quality of the stone is your first priority, you should always examine loose diamonds.[3] The fact that a setting can conceal imperfections, however, can also play to your advantage when choosing a diamond.[4]
    • If the diamond is for a ring or another type of jewelry, setting the stone will almost certainly conceal or minimize some of the inclusions (dark spots), blemishes, or undesired coloring. A diamond in the mid-range of the color scale, for instance, can save you potentially thousands over a colorless stone, and when set the difference may be negligible.[5]
    • A quality setting can even enhance a smaller stone, again allowing you to save some money. In truth, the only of the “Four C’s” of diamond quality (cut, color, clarity, carat weight) that you should always avoid skimping on is the cut. With both loose and set diamonds, this is usually the most obvious factor in the visual appeal of the stone.[6]
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    Comparison shop in stores and online. In some ways, buying a diamond is just like buying any other product. To get the best price, you have to shop around. The diamond market has long been tightly-controlled, but thanks to more suppliers and more retail options (especially online), things have loosened up a bit in recent years.[7]
    • You may be understandably wary of buying a diamond online, but this is usually where you will find the best prices. Seek out recognized, legitimate sites with available grading reports on their stones and fair return policies. You can visit the websites of retailers such as Zales, or popular online sellers like Blue Nile, among other options.[8]
    • Shop around at a few brick-and-mortar retailers to get an idea on price ranges and the quality levels and diamond characteristics that you seek. This will offer you guidance as you undertake your online search.
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    Negotiate your best deal. You can find good deals on diamonds if you look around. If you want the absolute best price, however, you’ll might have to work a bit extra for it. A diamond is often a major purchase, and just like a car or house, the price is often negotiable.[9]
    • Legitimate online retailers may offer less room for price negotiation, but you can still use them to your advantage. Take evidence of the best online price for the kind of stone you want to physical diamond stores. See if they will match or at least approach that price for a similar stone that you can personally examine.
    • You have to be willing to walk away if you want to maximize your savings. You may be surprised how often this simple tactic can produce a new “absolute best” deal on a diamond.
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    Look into “used” diamonds. Not surprisingly, new diamonds are subject to a retail markup. You may be able to bypass this and get a better deal by buying secondhand.
    • Look into estate sales, auctions (online and physical), police auctions, and pawn shops, among other options.
    • Don’t let yourself be duped. If a deal for a diamond seems to good to be true, it probably is. You don’t want to get stuck with a fake diamond or, even worse, a diamond acquired illegally.
    • Focus your energies primarily on sellers who can provide some sort of evidence of the provenance and quality of the diamond. You’ll still have to trust your eye a bit more, but you can also ask about bringing the stone into a certified gem dealer for an appraisal.[10]

Part 2
Mastering Diamond Quality Basics

  1. Image titled Buy a Diamond for the Absolute Best Price Step 6
    Don’t skimp on the cut. Of the “Four C’s” of diamond quality evaluation, the cut of the stone has the most direct impact on the beauty of the diamond. The right cut can make a good diamond great and a great one fantastic.[11][12]
    • The American Gem Society (AGS) rates the cut of stones on a 0-10 scale, with zero being “ideal” and 10 being “poor.” The amount of detail that goes into rating the cut of a stone is rather astounding.[13]
    • You have not only the quality of the cut to consider, but also the style. Here, personal preference should play the largest role. Choose the style of cut that appeals to you.
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    Choose your color. When it comes to diamond color, less is more — at least when it comes to price. Colorless diamonds are very rare and thus very expensive. There is nothing wrong with seeking out a diamond with some color if that is what you want, however.[14]
    • The AGS also rates color on a 0-10 scale, with zero being colorless and ten indicating a brownish-yellow color. Other groups like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) rely on a scale that goes from D (colorless) to Z.
    • While a lack of color remains the traditional standard for diamond beauty, there has been an increased market interest in recent years for colored stones — such as so-called “chocolate diamonds,” for instance. Again, personal taste should be your guide.
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    Focus in on clarity. The clarity level of a diamond depends upon the number and size of inclusions — dark specks or spots in the stone — and blemishes closer to the surface. By common standards, the clarity level of a diamond is determined by viewing it under ten-times (10x) magnification.[15]
    • The scale for clarity used by the AGS and similar organizations is more complicated than the 0-10 scales used for cut and color. It includes, in order from best to worst, FL (“flawless”), IF, VVS 1-2, VS 1-2, SI 1-2, and I 1-3.
    • Keep in mind that many inclusions and blemishes will be invisible to the naked eye. If choosing a flawless diamond isn’t essential for you, you can save a good deal of money without most people ever even noticing.
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    Weigh your carat needs. We’ve all heard the term “carat” used in reference to gold and diamonds, but few of us know just what it means (other than more is usually better). Carats are a scale of diamond weight, and are thus the most objective of the Four C’s.[16]
    • One carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams (or 0.2 grams), and each carat is subdivided into 100 points. For example, then, a 1.75 carat diamond weighs 0.35 g.
    • When two diamonds are of equal quality otherwise, the heavier one will obviously cost more. But bigger isn’t always better, depending upon the other quality factors.
    • The bigger your diamond is, the higher the quality the other factors will likely need to be for your stone to look just right. After all, every little blemish and discoloration will be more noticeable in a high-carat rock.

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