Diamonds are one of the biggest purchases a couple will make when they begin their new life together. Because of this, it is important to know how to avoid some common mistakes many first time diamond buyers make. Keep reading in order to save potential problems, scams and disappointment.
Diamond Myth or Fact#1: Blue-white diamonds are better.
Most jewelers do not use this term because it is somewhat inaccurate in its premise. The term “blue-white” essentially has to do with the diamond’s level of fluorescence. It can make slightly yellowish diamonds appear whiter because it offsets the unfavorable coloring, but in reality it can make most colorless diamonds look slightly milky or oily in daylight. If the salesman suggests it is a better quality diamond, opt for a different, more knowledgeable individual or store.
Diamond Myth or Fact#2: “Carat total weight” is listed in the price–but it doesn’t always include the center stone.
This can be confusing for most people, since the term “carat total weight” or “tcw” should include all of the diamonds in the ring and not just the side stones. In an effort to make their prices look incredible, many jewelry stores don’t include the large center stone(s) in the listed price. It makes it difficult to compare rings from store to store because you won’t be able to determine the quality or weight of the center diamond. Our advice? Get the grade and weight of the center stone(s) in writing and use this as a comparison against other diamond rings of the same style.
Diamond Myth or Fact #3: Jewelry stores have fantastic sales
Those big ads in the newspaper or on television often tout huge 50% off or “liquidation sales.” In reality, many stores mark up their original prices before a sale in order to make it look like the sale is better than it really is. Generally, these sales are too good to be true. Think about it this way: if a jewelry store can mark down a ring by 50%, their “regular” prices are too high to begin with.
Diamond Myth or Fact #4: The diamond ring being advertised is no longer in stock
If you arrive at a store and the diamond ring advertised is sold out, it may be a bait and switch move to get you into the store. The salesmen may show you some alternate, more expensive rings with a bigger profit margin. Our advice is to stick with the advertised ring and leave if the store cannot provide you with it.
Diamond Myth or Fact #5: The brighter the lights, the better looking the diamond
All jewelry stores want to make their diamonds look the best. However, depending on the type of bulb used and its use of ultraviolet wavelengths, even lower-grade yellow diamonds can look incredibly white. We recommend that you take the ring away from the special lighting to see its true color. As well, ask for the lab report to see the actual diamond grade. If a jewelry store is unable or unwilling, you may want to consider a different store.
Diamond Myth or Fact #6: Grading – what you see is what you get
According to the FTC, jewelers need to accurately grade all diamonds within one grade of clarity, carat or color. This is a bit of a loophole (albeit legal), since jewelers will most certainly want to bump or inflate the color, clarity or carat grade up to the next higher one. For instance, a jeweler could sell a VS2 diamond when in actuality it is a lower quality VS1, while asking the price of a VS2 diamond. Or a .69 round carat diamond can be “bumped” up and sold as a 3/4 carat weight diamond. The price difference can be significant, between hundreds and thousands of dollars. To counteract this confusing pricing system, always ask to see the diamond’s certificate from a lab such as GIA, EGL or AGS to ensure you get exactly what you pay for.
Diamond Myth or Fact #7: Stores provide their own in-house appraisals.
Some retailers will offer in-house appraisals at a great deal or even complimentary with every purchase. It is recommended you take your ring to be appraised by an non-biased, independent appraiser who does not have a vested interest or is an employee of the retail store.
Diamond Myth or Fact #8: Your diamond isn’t flawed (the flaws are just “hiding” behind the prongs).
All jewelers will want to hide inclusions (flaws) underneath the prongs in the ring. Many times this can make a ring graded with an I1 clarity appear to be more like a VS2. Your best bet? Inspect the diamond without the setting under a jewelers loupe.
Diamond Myth or Fact #9: The grading certificate is legit.
Naturally one would assume the grading certificate is from a legitimate source and is an accurate representation of the diamond. However, if the certificate’s lamination looks tampered with or if it is not fully laminated, it is possibly a scam. As well, stick with grading certificates from the most reputable labs such as “Gemological Institute of America” (GIA), “American Gemological Society” (AGS) or “European Gemological Laboratory” (EGL). Any other names using the same initials but with different words (such as ‘Gemological Institute of America’) are to be avoided at all costs.
Diamond Myth or Fact#10: Not disclosing fracture filling.
Some diamonds have tiny, naturally occurring fractures which can be filled with liquid crystal to make it more structurally sound. Experts are divided on the impact this high temperature technique has on the diamond. Either way, treated diamonds should be sold at a lower price and specifically identified on the grading certificate.
Diamond Myth or Fact #11: Color coated diamonds
In order to enhance the natural color of a diamond, jewelers can place a tiny spot of special blue or purple paint on the culet of the diamond (the lowest tip). This is not visible to the naked eye, but provides a way for the color to go throughout the stone and enable it to counteract any yellowish tint naturally occurring in the diamond. This can can make a lower grade diamond appear as a higher grade and, sometimes, be priced accordingly. We recommend if you suspect this diamond looks a little too good to be true, ask to have the diamond cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner while you watch. If they refuse, you may want to shop elsewhere.