11 Sep All That Glitters Is Not Gold: A Real Conversation About Buying Diamonds
So here you are, in a situation where – maybe for the first time ever – you need to buy a diamond. The odds are pretty good that means you’ll be getting married soon – congratulations! – and that you really want the person you’re buying the diamond for to be happy with it. That being said, you’ve got a budget to work with. Let’s talk about how you can make the most of it.
Diamond Buying Rule #1: You Need to Know What You Want
When you go to buy a vehicle, you don’t just walk into the closest dealership and say “Give me whatever you’ve got!” You want a vehicle that fits your lifestyle – whether that means an awesome pickup for weekends in the country mudding or a sleeker set of wheels for a great time in Bricktown. Engagement rings work the same way. Thinking about how and when the ring’s going to be worn influences the style choices a couple makes, and those style choices dictate the size, shape, and color diamond you’re going to need.
Here in Oklahoma City, the average engagement ring diamond is one carat. Some couples choose slightly larger diamonds – one and a half carat diamond solitaires are very popular locally – and there are those designs that demand even larger stones. Diamond size is the first thing you really need to know.
Diamonds come cut in a variety of shapes. There are standard forms, such as the princess, round, and marquis cut, as well as more obscure shapes, including one of a kind cuts called fancy cuts. Again, what’s interesting to you at this point is the shape diamond you need to fit the design you’ve selected.
Color works the same way: there are many diamond colors to choose from. The vast majority of engagement ring diamonds are colorless to near colorless, but couples can choose other diamond colors, including yellow, pink, blue diamonds and even green.
Once you’ve determined what size, shape, and color diamond you need, it’s time to start shopping.
Diamond Buying Rule #2: Remember That You Know How To Shop
Even if this is the first diamond you’ve ever purchased, it’s hardly your first time shopping. You’ve been a consumer all of your life, and that means you’ve got some skills. You know how to search for a good deal. Lots of times that means going online.
Here’s where things get tricky. Diamonds are a natural product. Natural diamonds are mined out of the ground, and no two are exactly alike. This means some diamonds are better than others. You want to get the best quality diamond you can for your budget. Comparison shopping is a smart strategy.
Diamond Buying Rule #3: Take Advantage of the Retail Tools Available To You
You know how people get obsessive about building the perfect fantasy football team? They have to know every little detail about every player or they’re just not happy. People obsess over diamond quality the same way. Professional diamond graders assess every aspect of a diamond, identifying super-subtle differences in color, cut, clarity and color to determine a stone’s value. This information is recording on a diamond’s grading certificate. There are several highly reputable diamond grading authorities around the world. Here in the States, the ones you’re most likely to encounter are GIA – the Gemological Institute of America – and AGS – the American Gemological Society.
You wouldn’t buy a vehicle that doesn’t have a title. Don’t buy a diamond that doesn’t have a grading certificate. Just don’t. The grading certificate is your guarantee that what you’re paying for is what you’re actually getting.
A grading certificate is essential but not sufficient information to act on when choosing a diamond. Some stones look fantastic on paper but lackluster in person. Two diamonds that are rated the same, or very nearly the same, can have dramatically different appearances. You don’t need to be a jeweler or have any special tech to the differences between the stones: they’ll be immediately apparent to the casual viewer when viewed side by side.
The key point here: don’t buy diamonds sight unseen. Before you spend a single dollar on a diamond, it’s essential to see it in person for yourself. The ideal option is to choose the diamond you find most visually appealing from a selection of diamonds that all meet your size, shape and color criteria.
Currently, there’s no viable way to do this online. There’s just not. Image quality varies so much that you’re never sure that what you’re looking at on the screen matches what you’re going to be able to see for yourself in person. People who buy diamonds on a regular basis – including jewelers like myself – don’t purchase stones sight unseen ever. The potential savings just don’t outweigh the very real risk that you’ll be disappointed with the diamond. Always remember if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t!
Keep your money where you live. You can get the same pricing locally and have a jeweler that will always be there to take care of you when you need a cleaning or service. Trust yourself. With a little bit of research and a commitment to looking at a diamond before you buy it, you can absolutely choose a stellar diamond!