With a large selection of diamonds available on the market, finding the one that is right for you may seem to be a challenging task. People often get confused and don’t know how to choose a diamond, but the truth is that there are some simple rules for selecting a good stone which we have brought together in our step-by-step guide.
Step 1: Decide on a Shape
First things first, you should decide what diamond shape is more desirable for you.
As the most popular diamond shape is round, let’s take it as a reference while selecting the right stone for further steps as well. Of course, most steps in this guide also apply to other shapes, but for more specific guidelines on colour, clarity and cut grades check out the following links: round, oval, pear, cushion, emerald, princess, marquise, Asscher, radiant, heart.
Step 2: Set a Budget
Most likely you already have an idea of how much money you are going to spend on your diamond. However, you should also remember about any import duties if ordering from overseas, taxes and shipping fees. Don’t forget that your total budget includes the prices of both the diamond and fees.
Total Budget = Diamond Budget + Import Duties/Taxes/Shipping Fees
Think about what you can afford to spend. Start your diamond selection process by filtering out the diamonds that fall out of your budget. This will help you save your time and efforts.
Step 3: Decide on Carat Weight
After you set your budget, you can decide on the carat weight of the stone.
Most people want to buy the biggest diamond they can get for their money. However, it’s recommended to start working with a carat range and narrow down your choices later.
Step 4: Choose Cut Quality
The cut is the biggest indicator of a diamond’s beauty and should be made a priority over the other characteristics.
Cut quality is the most important factor that determines how light enters the stone and is reflected. The better a diamond’s cut, the more brilliance and sparkle the stone has. A diamond with no inclusions or colour tints will still look dull if it’s not cut exceptionally well which is why you should always go for the best cut quality.
Step 5: Set Minimum Colour
Now, it’s time to set a minimum colour range.
If your diamond will be set in platinum or white gold, the colour minimum should be I colour – any lower than that will show yellowish or brownish tints.
However, there is an exception to the above recommendation. If you are going to have your diamond set in a setting other than solitaire (side-stone setting, pavé setting, halo setting, etc.), the minimum should be H colour.
If the diamond will be set in yellow gold, you can go as low as J, K or L colours. Since diamonds tend to absorb the colour of yellow gold, most likely you won’t see the difference between H and K colour diamonds when set in a yellow gold setting.
Step 6: Set Minimum Clarity
You can also find an eye-clean diamond in SI2 range, but you will need to sort through more diamonds until you find the right one.
Step 7: Examine Additional Characteristics
Now it’s time to examine additional features you should be paying attention to.
Diamond fluorescence is the ability of a stone to emit light and change its colour when subjected to ultraviolet (UV) rays. It is described by its intensity on the following scale: None, Faint, Medium, Strong, Very Strong.
Although fluorescence doesn’t affect the quality of a diamond for an average observer, it is recommended to choose a stone with either None or Faint fluorescence level. Stones with Strong fluorescence will appear hazy under normal light.
Stones with Medium fluorescence usually look fine, but to be on the safe side, avoid Medium fluorescence diamonds if they are in D-E-F-G range. However, for diamonds that are H colour or lower, Medium fluorescence can improve colour, making them appear whiter.
The culet is a small facet at the bottom of a diamond placed parallel to the table. It prevents chipping and abrasion to the point.
The culet is described according to its size using the following grades: None, Very Small, Small, Medium, Slightly Large, Large, Very Large and Extremely Large. When there is no culet, it may be indicated as a pointed culet.
Make sure that the diamond you are going to buy has None to Small culet size. Bigger culets will be visible through the stone’s top and look like a dark hole.
The girdle is the middle portion of a diamond, narrow section separating the crown from the pavilion. It is graded using the following an eight-grade scale: Extremely Thin, Very Thin, Thin, Medium, Slightly Thick, Thick, Very Thick and Extremely Thick.
Girdle thickness should fall within Thin to Slightly Thick grade range. Very Thin girdles are at higher risk of chipping, while too thick girdles negatively affect diamond’s proportions.
Step 8: Compare Diamonds and Choose
After you have shortlisted several stones that fit all the above-mentioned criteria, choose the one that you will buy.
If you are comparing diamonds with the same colour, clarity and cut, the choice is pretty much clear: either get the cheaper one or the bigger one.
If similar diamonds defer only on colour and clarity, go for the better colour. Why not better clarity? With clarity, the stone should not have inclusions visible to the naked eye. And most likely you won’t be able to tell which stone has a higher clarity grade just looking at it. With colour, you will still be able to notice a slight difference.