An expert guide to buying diamonds: The essential questions you need to ask
Beyond considering price versus grading, here’s what you shouldn’t neglect to enquire about when searching for the diamond of your dreams.
In partnership with Tiffany & Co.
Shopping for diamonds can be a daunting or even confusing experience for many, especially for those doing so for the first time and have little to no knowledge of the gemstone. If you’re in the market for some good-sized bling, which is likely going to cost a pretty sum, you’d definitely want to do your research and take your time to track down the most ideal stone.
While it is easy to find basic information on diamonds – such as the 4Cs, as well as brand names and jewellers that you should be considering, the real challenge lies in the actual process of shopping – what do you look out for when viewing diamonds in the boutique? Also, what you should ask to ensure that you’ll end up with not just a beautiful diamond that you’ll love, but also a shrewd purchase to appreciate for a lifetime?
CNA Lifestyle rounds up the quintessential questions to put forth when shopping for bling.
QUESTION 1: WHAT IS A GOOD BALANCE BETWEEN THE 4CS?
The fundamentals of diamond knowledge that one should know are naturally the 4Cs. Cut, colour, clarity and carat weight are terms that most people are already acquainted with, but there’s more you can do beyond simply determining which grade you’d prefer for each of these categories.
While they all are important aspects that contribute to the overall beauty of a diamond, what’s more crucial is understanding how they interplay with each other.
You might already have your heart set on specific grades for each C but it’s wise to leave a little space for consideration. Discerning diamond buyers don’t necessarily head straight for the best in each category, but know which among the 4Cs should take priority.
Take, for example, how a diamond’s cut is prized at Tiffany & Co. It is the only C that is within human control and is what can make a diamond truly extraordinary – according to the jeweller, a diamond of high colour and clarity grade will appear dull if it is cut poorly. Which is why it may be worth taking an interest in special or superior diamond cuts (we aren’t talking about fancy cuts and shapes, but how a diamond is faceted and proportioned), instead of putting the premium straightaway towards a larger gem of better colour and clarity.
You might have researched everything there is to know about diamonds but, in all honesty, the best way to understand what separates a good diamond from a truly exceptional one is to view as many of them in person.
Often, slight differences in diamond colour and size are usually imperceptible, unless you compare two stones side by side. The price disparity between them, however, can at times be quite significant. Comparison can help you decide which is a better choice.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask to see a range of them with a variety of gradings and price points, so you can see if there’s a visible difference and thereby find one that you’re prepared to pay for.
QUESTION 3: WHAT SETTINGS ARE AVAILABLE?
So you’ve decided on your diamond. The next task is to nail down the best showcase for it. Whether your gem is to be set into a ring or perhaps a pendant or earrings, the setting plays a vital role in bringing out its full potential.
The choices are aplenty – from modern designs like a bezel setting, in which the diamond sits flush with the setting’s rim, or classic styles like a prong setting, which elevates the diamond so that more light can pass through it. There’s good reason why the latter is a popular choice as it is known to maximise the sparkle of the stone.
Fun fact: Tiffany & Co is the first to create a ring design (the famed Tiffany setting) that lifts the diamond off the band. Arguably the world’s most famous example of the prong setting, the six-claw setting designed with small openings at the base that reveal the culet, makes the stone appear as if it is floating. Said to provide the ideal combination of prong security and light exposure, it was so widely copied by other jewellers when it was released all the way back in 1886 that Tiffany and Co had to release statements warning customers against counterfeits.
QUESTION 4: WHAT CERTIFICATION COMES WITH THE DIAMOND?
An essential part of your diamond purchase is certification. Without which, there is no proof of the authenticity, quality and value of a diamond. Certification should be issued by an internationally recognised diamond-grading lab – the two most reputable and widely trusted entities are GIA and AGS.
Some jewellers, however, offer in-house certification for their diamonds. Tiffany & Co offers its own certification for its diamonds because it holds itself accountable for the accuracy of its grading standards, which are stricter than that at other international diamond-grading companies and reinforces a full lifetime warranty for its stones, a guarantee that even companies like AGS are unable to offer.
QUESTION 5: WHERE DID THE DIAMOND COME FROM?
As consumers becoming increasingly more aware about the social, environmental and ethical issues that exist behind diamond supply chains, more people, in recent years, are demanding information about the source of the diamonds they buy.
There’s good reason why it should matter to you: The diamond trade has long been known for its lack of transparency, which is why it says a lot about the reputation, ethics and reliability of a jeweller if it makes an effort to provide insight into the provenance as well as the journey of the diamonds they sell.
Tiffany & Co is the first global jeweller to share information about the source, as well as the full craftsmanship journey of its newly sourced, individually registered diamonds. In addition, it has also pledged a 20-year investment in operational functions to uphold ethical and sustainability standards in production.
QUESTION 6: CAN I UPGRADE MY DIAMOND IN THE FUTURE?
Diamonds may be for eternity, but one’s tastes in jewellery are not as likely to remain unchanged forever. Which is why it’s a good idea to check if you can trade up your diamond purchase in the future, before you put down the money for it.
You’ll find that quite a number of jewellers provide such a service – Tiffany & Co, for example, allows upgrades of a diamond engagement ring at any time. Upon review, you will receive a credit up to the original purchase price, which can be used toward the purchase of a new engagement ring from its boutiques.