Engagement Rings

Not Rocket Science: Beyond the Four C’s

So you’ve read the overview on diamond rings and the Four C’s, right? Tragically, that’s only the beginning. There’s far, far more to learn about diamond rings than any man should ever have to know. Some quick questions…

So if I know the Four C’s, I’m pretty much covered, right?

You’re pretty much still ignorant.

Do you really think you know what you’re doing? Are you buying online or in-store? Can you really look at a diamond under magnification and tell what you are looking at, and more importantly, what it means? If you can, what are you doing reading this article? If not, you might want some help. You should find someone that really knows what they are talking about. It’s probably not your mother, by the way. It’s not your friend who also just bought his first diamond recently. It’s definitely not the store owner, even if he is a close friend of your third cousin (i.e., you “know someone in the business”). If possible, get a gemologist to help you.

Go from zero to hero in five minutes: At James Allen or Blue Nile, you can adjust price ranges and other characteristics to see how many carats your budget buys. Their search tool is great. Their highly competitive pricing is too.

What’s a gemologist?

Gemology is the science, art, and profession of identifying and evaluating gemstones.

To be considered a gemologist, a person must receive a gemologist degree from a professional school or certification program. A graduate gemologist, or G.G., is someone who is thoroughly trained by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in all diamond, gemstone, and pearl types. The distinguished G.G. designation at the end of someone’s name is instantly recognized around the world as the mark of a senior professional in the jewelry industry.

Is a gemologist the same thing as an “appraiser?”

Unlike the title of gemologist, there are absolutely no requirements for someone to call himself or herself an “appraiser.”

Anyone can hang a sign in a jewelry store saying “appraiser” and not be held accountable to anyone. That being said, if you take a diamond that you purchase (with an iron clad return policy) to an appraiser you trust you can have the diamonds specifications confirmed. Still doesn’t mean it’s a beautiful diamond though…

My girlfriend said that she doesn’t want a “conflict diamond.” What’s that all about?

“Conflict diamonds” are diamonds that have been purchased from mining regions where terrorists profit from their sales.

Although one diamond sold from these mining regions is one diamond too many, the percentage of conflict diamonds traded worldwide is now only one percent thanks to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, a United Nations-supported joint initiative that was formed by the international diamond industry, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to ensure diamonds are not used to fund terrorist activities. (And here’s plenty more on conflict diamonds.)

I keep hearing the phrase “certified.” What does that mean?

Although many establishments refer to their diamonds as “certified,” there’s actually no such thing as a “certified diamond.”

What these establishments are referring to is a diamond that has a laboratory-created grading report (or “certificate”) that describes it.

Okay. So what’s a diamond grading report?

It’s issued by an independent laboratory (or one with no vested interest in buying or selling diamonds) that describes the clarity, color, fluorescence, proportions, symmetry and weight of a diamond.

They also provide a plot of the diamond, or a diagram marking all of the stone’s unique, microscopic characteristics and flaws. It’s the best tool to identify a diamond. Loads more on grading reports here.

Do these people have the background to appraise this stuff? Are they “GGs” or whatever?

Good question.

Your hunch is right. Many diamond dealers, jewelry storeowners, managers, and salespeople are not gemologists…and they don’t control the quality of their diamonds. They can sometimes pass enhanced or poorly cut diamonds onto consumers without themselves knowing why the prices are so low. Look for stores with G.G.’s on staff.

Now you know the basics. Time for the ugly stuff: how much money to spend.

Bottom line: You get more sparkle for less dough at James Allen, Blue Nile, and Whiteflash.

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