How to Buy Diamonds

Three Parts:Knowing Your Ideal DiamondEvaluating Potential DiamondsPurchasing Your Diamond

A diamond ring is a traditional gift to a person being asked for marriage. You may already be familiar of the four C's of diamond evaluation: color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. However, when it comes to buying a diamond, there are other factors you'll want to be aware of before you make your purchase.

Part 1
Knowing Your Ideal Diamond

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    Consider discussing the style of diamond and ring setting with the recipient. Although you may want to surprise your future-spouse with your proposal, purchasing a diamond is a large investment and signifies a lifetime commitment. If you are unsure on the style that she wants, it may be best to check with her to ensure that you make the right choice.[1]
    • If you do choose to surprise your future-spouse, make sure that the diamond will look flattering on her.
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    Set a firm budget. Though many claim that you should spend approximately three months of your salary when buying an engagement ring, this idea is the result of clever campaigning by the De Beers diamond company. While spending that much on a diamond will surely show your partner you care, a less expensive diamond might suit your lifestyle and pocketbook better. In any case, have a firm idea of the price range you are willing accept before you go diamond shopping.[2]
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    Take style into consideration. For diamonds that will be worn by you, your spouse, or a romantic interest, you'll want to think about other diamond jewelry in the recipients wardrobe. The diamond and setting you buy should match other jewelry as broadly as possible.
    • What is the main color of the jewelry that she already wears? Silver or gold? Take this into account when choose the setting color.
    • Consider asking the family and/or friend of the recipient what kind of diamond and setting they think would be best. Only do this if you trust them to keep your secret.[3]
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    Use trends to your advantage when deciding. If you're unsure what style of diamond the recipient of your stone will want, you might want to use trends to direct your search. Today's diamond market is defined by more natural and whimsical designs, like floral and celestial motifs. For a special occasion, you might give your significant other diamonds in the shape of:
    • The stars and moon
    • An astrological sign
    • Bejeweled butterfly wings[4]

Part 2
Evaluating Potential Diamonds

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    Maximize beauty and sparkle with the cut of your diamond. The cut of your diamond refers to how the stone was shaped to direct the light back to your eyes, creating a brilliant sparkle. It is the most important factor in deciding how dazzling your diamond will be. If a diamond is cut too shallow or too deep, light will be lost out of the bottom or the sides of the diamond, making the stone sparkle less. The main categories of diamond cut are:[5]
    • I deal cut (also sometimes known as 'Excellent') will reflect the highest proportion of light back to your eyes, making the diamond sparkle brilliantly.
    • A very good cut will reflect approximately the same light as an ideal cut.
    • A good cut can be counted on to reflect most of the light that enters the stone.
    • A fair cut will noticeably less brilliant than a good cut, but is still considered to be a quality stone.[6]
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    Be smart when choosing the color of the stone. When a diamond expert refers to a stone's color, they are actually talking about a lack of color. Diamonds are graded on a scale of D - Z, with diamonds that are perfectly white earning a D rank, while diamonds ranked Z are yellow. The difference between different color grades can be very small, so choosing a diamond of a slightly lower color grade can save you a significant amount of money.
    • Diamonds ranked F to E are considered colorless and will have only minimal traces of color which will be detectable by a gemologist, but not by a layperson.[7]
    • Diamonds ranked H to G are considered near colorless, and will be difficult to tell apart from higher quality diamonds unless compared side by side.
    • Diamonds ranked J to I are considered near colorless, but are differentiated from higher rank diamonds by a somewhat detectable warmth to the color tone.
    • Anything below an I will have warm tones that are easier to see.
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    Choose carefully with clarity. Nearly all diamonds have minute flaws and imperfections, which are known as "inclusions". In most cases, these can only be seen through a microscope, but enough flaws can make the diamond appear cloudy. If no flaws can be seen with the naked eye, then it is known as "eye clean".
    • Clarity ranking, from flawless to visibly flawed, are: FL (flawless), IF (internally flawed); VVS1, VVs2 (very, very slightly included/flawed); VS1, VS2 (very slightly included/flawed); SI1, SI2 (slightly included/flawed); I1 (included/flawed).
    • Many SI1 clarity diamonds will have imperfections that are only visible under magnification, making these a more economical purchase in many cases.
    • Be sure to contact the seller before purchasing a diamond with a SI clarity rank or lower to verify there are no imperfections visible to the naked eye.[8][9]
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    Consider the fluorescence. Fluorescence is a natural property of diamonds, caused by tiny amounts of boron being trapped while the diamond formed. Fluorescence is graded from Faint to Very Strong. Some diamonds with Strong or Very Strong fluorescence may appear slightly "milky" in daylight. Unless you can examine the diamond in natural light and verify that no milkiness is present, you should avoid Strong or Very Strong fluorescence.
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    Appraise carat weight with top down viewing. While carat weight refers to the actual weight of the diamond, with one carat equivalent to 200 milligrams, the cut grade and shape of the stone will also impact how the stone looks when placed in a setting. To ensure you are getting an accurate representation of what your diamond will look like, view the stone from the top and asses the width of the top.
    • Each carat diamond is made up of 100 points, so diamonds that are a ½ carat will also be equal to 50 points.
    • A ring may be listed with "CTW" next to the carat value. This stands for "Carat Total Weight" and is a combined total of all of the diamonds in the ring, including side stones. #* If the listed price of a diamond is only carat total weight (CTW), be sure to ask for the weight and quality of the center stone. If the store cannot or will not provide this information, it may be a sign that the diamond is less high quality than you suspected.[10][11]
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    Choose your shape. Different diamond shapes have different attributes. For example, a "round brilliant" shaped diamond offers the most sparkle, while "step cut" diamonds, like the Asscher and emerald cut, reflect flashes of light rather than sparkle. Longer shapes on the other hand, such as the oval, pear, or Marquise, can complement slender fingers.[12] Other shapes you might consider:[13]
    • Round
    • Princess
    • Emerald
    • Asscher
    • Marquise
    • Radiant
    • Oval
    • Pear
    • Heart
    • Cushion[14]
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    View your stone in different lighting environments. The shape and cut of a stone will influence how light enters it and is reflected. These factors can make your potential purchase look stunning under direct light, but average in normal lighting. You should verify the diamond looks good in poor light, too, before you purchase it.[15]

Part 3
Purchasing Your Diamond

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    Consider online retailers for choice and value, but exercise caution. Online diamond providers can provide a vast choice of diamonds to choose from at competitive prices, due to their lower overheads. The disadvantage when buying from an online diamond provider is that you won't get to inspect the diamond in person before making the purchase.
    • Ensure that any online retailer that you are considering is well established, has positive reviews online, and sells diamonds from a reputable certification authority.
    • The diamond industry frequently uses price guides to set the total cost of the stone. Some trusted reports include: the Rapaport Diamond Report, the Troy Diamond Report, Ajediam Antwerp Diamonds Monthly, and the Gem Guide.[16][17]
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    Choose small retailers and mom-and-pop shops if you like to bargain. Larger diamond stores will likely have a larger selection, but these can be intimidating and rigid when it comes to bargaining. Smaller diamond retailers and those privately owned by individuals will be more willing to deal with you on a personal level, and might even be willing to negotiate the cost of some of your diamond related expenses.
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    Be wary of designer fads and designer names. As with most products, when a certain designer is popular, the price of that designer's products become more expensive. This is also the case with designer jewelers. The name attached to a certain diamond can drastically increase its price compared to an identical diamond from another jeweler, with no increase in quality.[18]
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    Visit several diamond retailers. Different stores will have different selections, but some stores might be more willing to accommodate other requests you have, like using a combination of metals in the band to cut down on overall cost. As with any major purchase, you'll want to be sure you've found the right fit for your situation before you even begin to negotiate.[19]
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    Negotiate with the diamond seller when appropriate. Some stores and providers might have clear policies forbidding the negotiation of listed prices, but that doesn't mean you can't get some freebies in addition to your purchase. As an example, you might inquire about diamond upkeep and request the store include some diamond/jewelry cleaner with your purchase.
    • Be wary of diamond sellers trying to convince you to spend more on a diamond through convincing your partner.
    • Stay firm to your budget, even in the face of special deals. These are often a gimmick to increase sales. If you ask about a specific sale, it will many times be available even outside of the sale time limit.
    • Don't allow an emotional/pushy salesperson prevent you from asking questions and taking your time when deciding if a diamond is right for you. If you feel uncomfortable, you can always walk away and come back later or take your custom elsewhere.[20]
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    Cut your costs to save up for your stone. Even if you've decided to go with a more affordable diamond for your purchase, it's likely that you'll have to accrue some funds before you're ready to buy. This can be a delicate part of the diamond buying process, as too many changes to your lifestyle can tip off a romantic partner and spoil your surprise.
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    Make sure that your diamond is certified with a grading report. When purchasing a diamond, make sure that it is accompanied by a "grading report" from an independent grading authority, which lists the 4 Cs and other attributes of the diamond. The grading report (also known as a "certificate") is extremely important to ensure that you are getting a diamond of the correct quality that you are paying for.
    • The two grading authorities with the best reputation are GIA (Gemological Institute of America) and AGS (American Gem Society).
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    Purchase your precious stone. Depending on the seller, there may be payment options that you can take advantage of to cut down the time spent saving. Inquire with your diamond retailer to find if these options are available to you. Once you've saved enough, purchase your diamond and enjoy your glittering new investment.


  • When purchasing your diamond, there are many outlets that you can choose from: online; mall jewelers; designer stores or mom and pop stores.
  • Always ensure that you check prices across several retailers before purchasing.
  • Do not get talked into buying a diamond with higher clarity or color than you need. Ensure that you only pay for things which make a visible difference to your diamond
  • Don't put an engagement ring purchase on a credit card—it could ruin your enjoyment of the engagement and make saving for a wedding more stressful.
  • Consider saving on the setting, new advancements in technology and procedure have made it possible to non-traditional metal combinations in the bands of diamond settings. In many cases, these can give the appearance of a precious metal without costly price tag.[21]
  • If you have chosen a more affordable diamond, take time when choosing your setting. Try to choose one that covers imperfections in your diamond.[22]


  • Avoid designer names: they add extra expense without adding any extra quality.
  • Diamonds are not a very good investment. They go down in value dramatically once purchased.[23]

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Jewelry and Watches