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Trying to buy a diamond, maybe for a ring? Deciding between two or three diamonds? Or two different jewelers? Or do you have your eye on a stone at Jeweler A and want to see if another jeweler has a similar stone at a better price?
The diamond you’ve marked as contenders should tick all the boxes you want as far as the Four C’s — clarity, color cut and carets — with only minor discrepancies.
But now’s the hard part: you have to compare diamonds, apples to apples, scrutinizing differences often barely discernible, despite the fact that their impact on price can vary greatly. A little change in clarity, cut, color or caret can shave off dollars or pack them on. And you don’t want to just go by the on-paper facts alone, or how the stone looks to you personally, because you could end up paying more than you need to.
The solution is to do all your homework and follow the directions below:
Check out two or three dealers—not seven or eight.
Limit your first foray into the district to just a few doorways or booths to avoid sensory overload and exhaustion. If you know the type of diamond you’re after, checking out three dealers should net you plenty of good options.
Look up the business on Instagram or Facebook.
Don’t know where to go? A referral from someone you trust is ideal, but failing that, consult shopping guides written by local media. From there, Yelp reviews can help narrow the field. Looking up the business on Instagram or Facebook can also give you a sense of the ambience (or lack thereof) to expect.
Confirm business hours before you arrive.
If you’re shopping in Manhattan’s Diamond District, call any jewelers you hope to visit to confirm when they are open. Many are closed on Saturday, for example, or do business only by appointment.
View the stone with a loupe.
Borrow the jeweler’s (or get your own on Amazon for around ten bucks) and scrutinize the diamonds with your naked eye in both indoor and natural light scenarios.
Yes, you can use your phone.
Jot down your impressions.
But use the evaluation form we created below; fill in all fields. We’ve included “tangibles” like diamond clarity, cut, color and carats as well as “intangibles” like “how much do you trust the jeweler” and “is the discount offered substantial?” When you’ve returned home, you can look at your answers to objectively compare and contrast the options and make a decision that you, your fiancé and your bank account can feel good about.
Ask for a write-up of each diamond’s specs and the price.
You are entitled to a quote—this info may be on a bill of sale, which should clearly state the jeweler’s return policy. If it’s not on there, take note of the terms somewhere on this worksheet for easy reference when you need it.
Finally, use the form below to compare diamonds.
For each gem you’re looking at, take down the store info, including price. Ask for a business-card and take a photo of it.
You will never be sorry that you gathered too much information. If you hate taking notes, ask for a business-card and take a photo of it. Make sure it includes the following:
- Contact Info
- Jeweler/Store Name
- Contact/Salesperson Name
- Diamond Price(s)
- What is the clarity grade?
- How many inclusions are there?
- Where are they on the diamond?
- How visible are the inclusions?
- How bright and clear does the stone look to you?
- What is the color grade? (Note: If the stone has a fair-low color grade but still looks white to you it might be worth looking at stones a color grade lower—to save money.)
- How clear does the stone look to you?
- What is the cut grade?
- How would you rate the stone’s sparkle in natural light?
- How would you rate the stone’s sparkle in artificial light?
- What is the carat weight?
- How close does this come to your fiancé’s desired carat weight?
- If the stone is lower in carat weight – how much smaller does it look to you when compared to a stone in the target carat weight?
- How big does the diamond look on the hand?
- What is your sense of the return policy?
- How much did you like the jeweler?
- How much do you trust the jeweler?
- Do you feel like you’re getting a good deal?
- Is the jeweler willing to give you a discount?
- How big is the discount?
- Turnaround time?
- Do you and your fiancé care about ethical mining/sustainability? If so, is there adequate certification/documentation tracing the stone’s origin to ensure that it is ethically sourced and conflict-free?
Finally, take the time to compare all the data and even give scores of 1 to 5 (the downloadable for below has space for this). Don’t wait until you get home; you’ll forget much of what you learned by then. If you’re visiting legit jewelers, they should be glad you’re taking notes and coming to the store educated about the subject.
Download the printable Diamond-Buying Guide.