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Buying a diamond or a piece of diamond jewelry should be a wonderful, memorable experience. Whether marking the beginnings of a new relationship, celebrating a milestone or simply a treat to yourself, our relationships with diamond jewelry are intrinsically linked to happiness and beautiful memories.
With this in mind, it is important to be armed with as much knowledge as possible before starting our search for the perfect stone. The spectrum of prices within the diamond world is vast, and the variables that influence those prices can seem endless. Do not be deterred. The journey you make when buying a diamond is all part of the process, and the results can last an eternity.
The four Cs will become your mantra. They are your guide, your gospel and an essential part of diamond jewelry. Buying a certified diamond is the only way to be sure the price you are paying is equivalent to the quality of the stone. These unbiased reports are completed by expert gemologists and express the exact characteristics of your diamond. Before deciding between set diamonds, rough diamonds, and loose diamonds, it is first essential that certification is understood.
An example. You are comparing two, 1.00ct diamonds: one is GIA certified, the other carries no certification at all. They are both a round brilliant cut.
Appearing the same size, the dealer assured you that the uncertified diamond is 1.00ct and roughly a VVS1 clarity and an F in color. The certified stone is a guaranteed VVS1 clarity and F in color and a ‘Very Good’ cut.
The price of the certified diamond is $8,125 while the uncertified is $6,545.
With only your eyes to rely on, you opt for the no-brainer deal, and take the cheaper, uncertified diamond. After all, the dealer assured you on the quality, didn’t they?
Thrilled by the bargain, perhaps you decide to take the plunge and have your diamond certified later down the line. Maybe you are looking to resell it, or are simply curious.
The results come back. It is ten points shy of one carat. It is a J in color and is a lower clarity grade. Its true value is around $2,850. It is a beautiful diamond, but it is not the diamond you paid for.
This is a best-case scenario with uncertified diamonds. Many are filled with resins to hide internal cracks, compromising the durability of the stone, while others are treated to give the illusion of a higher color grade.
The Bottom Line: Certification guarantees you the best possible diamond for the best possible price.
Also known as uncut or raw diamonds, these terms refer to a stone that has not yet been cut and polished. While stunning in their own way, a rough diamond does not exhibit the qualities we typically associate with a diamond such as light return, sparkle, and smoothness. Nevertheless, contemporary jewelry has seen a rise in the purchase of uncut diamonds, with many modernist designers working the natural, rustic shape of a raw diamond into their creations.
Many diamonds are left raw because they are not deemed cuttable; however, even stones of cut diamond quality typically cost around a tenth of a cut diamond with the equivalent carat weight. Rare and precious, this huge price difference is due to the workmanship that goes into cutting a quality diamond. Painstaking precision is required to get the greatest results from an uncut stone, and only the most skilled diamond cutter will be able to bring it to life. When a stone is cut poorly the value is lost altogether, and diamonds that have not been skillfully manipulated can crack.
It may be tempting to purchase a rough diamond with the intention of having it cut and saving money, but I would advise caution when considering this for your jewelry. Unless you are a gemologist, it can be difficult to tell what the true color and clarity of a rough diamond will be until it has been cut; thus the ultimate value of the stone will not be determined until after it has been cut. Only allow a trusted and established cutter to work on your diamond to ensure the best results.
It also means trusting the cutter to opt for the best quality, rather than a cost-effective shortcut. Some rough diamonds may hold one beautiful, ideal cut stone at their center, but be cut into two standard stones.
If it is the exceptional, irregular and raw beauty of an uncut diamond that sets your heart alight, they can be a stunning and unique alternative to a traditional cut diamond. Sourced for a fraction of the price, they can be made into striking pieces of jewelry; perfect for someone who wants to stand out. However, be wary when purchasing rough diamonds with the intention of sourcing your own diamond cutter as this rarely works out to be a cheaper or more effective option.
The Bottom Line: Choose an uncut diamond for its cost-effective, aesthetic beauty, not to cut corners.
Set VS Loose Diamonds
When it comes to pricing diamonds, the option of a loose stone versus one that is already set is less about price and more about convenience. There are many benefits to both, therefore make this decision based on your personal needs and desires. Diamonds set in jewelry will always demand a higher price than their loose equivalent due to the value of the precious metal they are set in, and the labor that has gone into their creation.
Advantages of a loose diamond
- A loose diamond offers flexibility within a budget. You can spend time moving up or down the color, cut, carat and clarity scales to find a stone that suits your needs.
- Purchasing a loose stone can allow time to find a unique setting. Some jewelers only stock classic designs.
- You can personally oversee the creation of your ring or piece of jewelry, tailoring each tweak to create your masterpiece.
Advantages of a set diamond
- Settings are chosen by experts to ensure the security of a diamond, e.g. larger claws to hold a larger stone. Buying a pre-set diamond can ensure its stability within the setting.
- Convenience is perhaps the greatest benefit of buying a set stone; the structural work and design elements have already been done for you.
- It can be tricky to visualize a stone in a setting, even from a jewelers sketch. A set diamond shows you the finished piece without complication.
The Bottom Line: When you have factored in the cost of having a stone set independently, the total spend will often be the same as a pre-set piece of jewelry. Go for the option that works best for your needs.
After delving into the deep, glittering world of diamond pricing, one thing remains clear: the perfect diamond at the perfect price is out there waiting to become part of your collection.