Diamonds for Dummies…
Are you looking for a diamond engagement ring and don’t know where to start? What is all this talk about 4 or 5 c’s, certifications, RAP, appraisal price vs actual price and more? Well stay tuned cause I am going to give you a rundown of what to look for and what to ask.
4 C’s, or do we plead the 5th?
The 4c’s of diamonds are Cut (Shape), Color (Color), Clarity (Inclusions), Carat (Weight) and the 5th is Cost ($$$). I will explain briefly so you will understand and I won’t torture you with boring details.
What is the shape of the stone? Round is most common with Princess (aka Square) not too far behind. Cushion and Emerald have become popular because of the celebs. So that’s the easy one right? She can tell you the shape and you are good. Nope. It is important to see how a diamond is cut because if it is not cut proportionally, than the light will do into the stone and never come back out. The diamond will look dull and that’s not what you want. You can find the Cut, Symmetry and Polish on a certification. Make sure they are all “Good” or better.
Color is easy to figure out, but sometimes tough to see. Colorless diamonds that are more valuable. The diamond color scale starts from D (colorless) and goes all the way to Z+ (fancy yellow). For white diamonds, try to stick from D (the best) to I (faint yellow) color. I color is not bad. The faint yellow is tough to see under normal light. Once you get into the Jm to K range, a light yellow may be noticeable. K and below aren’t too bad if you buy a yellow gold setting. You will see it more in a white gold or platinum setting.
Just like every person is not perfect, neither are most diamonds. And there is no need to be. Imperfections in a diamond make it yours. They are like a person’s birthmarks. BUT… just like too many birthmarks can be bad, so can too many inclusion as they will prevent light from going through the stone. Light bounces in and doesn’t come out. And, even more of a problem is that the diamond can get worse like a windshield. The more impact can cause more cracks and may even dull the stone completely after time. You don’t want that. Stay with a stone that is SI3 or better. Some I1’s are ok but you have to look at the diamond with a loop to get the real picture of it.
Carat is the weight of the stone. Size matters but not in this case. It’s all about the next C to find a happy medium. We have had customers come in and not know what size looks like what. “I want a 2ct.” After they leave happy with a beautiful 1.50ct, they are very happy. See this chart to see how they measure up against what you really think.
The crucial C. Everyone thinks that have to spend 10’s of thousands of dollars on a ring. Well, I am going to tell you that’s not the case. Everyone has a budget. Each jeweler should be able to work with your budget to make you happy. Some jewelers will work with you and in the end, you walk out unhappy. Engagement rings are the start of a long term relationship for us, we want you to walk away happy and proud. And we want everyone else to see that rock and want to choose us. We make our customers look good cause when you look good, we look good.
Now that we are done with that… how do you trust that you are getting what you are getting? You get a certification see!! You also ask the important question. How much is that on RAP? (Shhhhh – it’s an industry secret that most won’t tell you). This is how you get the appraisal value of a diamond.
What is a certification? A certification assure that you are getting what you paid for. It is an analysis from an independent company that looks at the diamond at 60x magnification to make sure the 4c’s are documented correctly. A certficate and an appraisal are much different. An appraisal is done by the jeweler so don’t confuse the 2.
The most popular certification is GIA but others like EGL USA and IGI are close to being as good. EGL Israel does not accurately document the 4 C’s and have been known to not be as accurate. Check out this certificate to see how it looks.
RAP and Appraisal Price
RAP (stands for RAPAPORT) is a diamond sheet that gives you the current value of the diamond. This price varies up to 20% depending on the rarity of the diamond. When diamond shopping, ask the value on RAP. See what the jeweler says. Also, ask to see the sheet to be sure. It looks like your simple spreadsheet. It has carat weight at the top, color is vertical and clarity is horizontal. The values will be right there in front of you. This is what we use in the industry to value diamonds. This sample is from 2006. So don’t use as a reference.
Now you know the basics about buying a diamond. I tried to make it dummy proof and simple so I hope it worked. People have written books and there are courses that are years long so don’t worry knowing too much. Know what questions to ask, ask me if you have any questions (my email is firstname.lastname@example.org) or just come by.
Knowing a jeweler you can trust is 3/4 of the battle; the other 1/4 is finding out what she wants and getting it right. We tried to cover all styles with details on each. Good luck.
Cory Schifter – Casale Jewelers | 1639 Richmond Road – Staten Island, NY 10304
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