Monday May 21, 2007

Choosing a Diamond

A diamond is so much more than a simple pretty stone. It’s a metaphor for what is brilliant and perfect in life. As a symbol of love and commitment, the diamond has inspired generations of artists who have immortalized it in song and prose. When one of your life’s landmark events demands a diamond, here are some tips to keep in mind.

1. Do some preliminary studying.
Learn about the 4 “C’s” of diamonds: Cut, Color, Clarity and Carats. Educate yourself about the ways diamonds are rated for these characteristics and how they affect cost, value and beauty. The cut refers to the proportions, symmetry and finish of the stone which influence the brilliance. Color is graded from D to Z, with D being perfect. D, E, and F diamonds are considered colorless, and the most desirable. The clarity of a stone indicates the purity of a diamond, meaning the absence of inclusions, cracks or other flaws that prevent light from passing through. Carat is the weight of the diamond with one carat equal to 200 milligrams.

2. Look at lots of different diamonds.
Look at them uncut, under magnification. Go to stores, talk to friends, and think about which kinds of diamonds you prefer. Then decide which aspects will be the most important to you when choosing a diamond. You should have a good idea of your budget, so try to learn what you can expect to find in that price range. Imagine a grid that charts the size, clarity and color of stones, and determine what will be the best stone you can expect to find at your price point.

3. Never feel pressured.
Jewelers appreciate having the opportunity to educate their customers, because informed consumers have more confidence in their choices.

4. Decide whether your diamond will be a surprise for your loved one.
If you’re surprising someone you love, cover all the bases. Know what she or he likes in the way of color, shape, style, and setting. Find out ahead of time whether the jeweler will allow you to exchange the stone or setting if you are not completely satisfied with it. Sometimes it’s a good idea to bring along a trusted advisor, like a sister, a good friend or a daughter. After you do the research and choose the diamond, bring your loved one to the store for final approval.

5. Color can be very confusing.
There are colored diamonds occurring in nature, and these are rare and valuable. The Hope Diamond, for instance, is a blue diamond. Canary and Pink Diamonds are also prized, and priced accordingly. These naturally occurring colors are not graded on the D to Z spectrum. They should always come with a certificate from one of the reputable labs certifying them as natural fancy colored diamonds. Buyers can also buy artificially colored diamonds. Called “treatment-produced” colors, these are genuine diamonds that usually began as less desirable colors and are irradiated to change their color to be yellow, green, red, even black. While not considered investment diamonds, they do make colorful diamonds affordable to those who enjoy them.

6. Choose a setting that fits in with your lifestyle.
Most people choose a setting in platinum today because of its durability, but trends do change. The style might be traditional, contemporary, or antique. Although diamonds are the hardest surface occurring in nature, that just means they are hard to scratch. But a diamond can still become chipped, cracked or lost if the setting doesn’t protect it.

7. Take the time to understand the documents that certify and describe diamonds.
Certified diamonds have already been graded by independent labs. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is the most recognized laboratory. The American Gemological Society (AGS) is another reputable lab that offers rating and certification services for diamonds.

8. Make sure you love the way your diamond looks.
Does it have warmth? Does it speak to you? There’s much more to a diamond than the certified paperwork. Make sure the diamond you decide to buy is one you will truly admire and enjoy as you live with it in the years to come.

9. Insurance is worth the price.
Most homeowner’s or renter’s policies don’t cover jewelry completely, but a “schedule” or rider can offer insurance against loss, theft or damage, at the full value of the piece of jewelry, without a deductible. Typically you’ll pay one-and-a-half percent of the retail cost per year.

10 Once you have chosen your diamond, keep it looking its best and brightest with regular care.
Daily buildup of soap and moisturizers can dim the sparkle of your diamonds. A good ammonia-based cleaner is available from jewelers to keep it looking its best. It’s also a good idea to have it thoroughly cleaned by a jeweler now and then. Once a year is recommended, but if you accidentally hit the stones against a hard surface or think some of them might be loose, go directly to a jeweler for help. They are more than happy to give it a cleaning and check the prongs to ensure its beauty and safety for years to come.

Before choosing a diamond, consider consulting one of these local diamond experts, some of whom contributed to this article. They include: Kurt and Neil Anderson of Anderson’s Jewelers, Wellesley; Albert DePrisco of
A.M. DePrisco, Wellesley; Neil MacIsaac of DeScenza Diamonds, Framingham; Deb Sidorowicz of Lux Bond & Green, Wellesley; Steve Varriale of O’Neil Jewelers, Wellesley; and David Walker of David & Company, Chestnut Hill. You also might want to learn more by reading How to Buy a Diamond on the Gemological Institute of America’s website (



© 2006 Elm Bank Media