What You Need to Know About Loose Diamonds
By Debi Wexler , Friday, September 23, 2011
Whether you are buying your first diamond or your fifth, whether you are planning to treasure the stone in its loose form or have it set into custom jewelry, and whether you are buying for yourself or as a gift, you can always learn more about loose diamonds. For such small pieces of rock, diamonds seem to generate endless discussion and analysis. Just visiting a diamond talk forum can show you enough to make your head spin. Luckily, you can buy a fabulous loose diamond even if you only know the absolute essentials about diamonds and their qualities. But if you are interested in learning a little more about the fascinating diamond, that will only enhance your choice of the perfect loose diamond.
The Four C’s is the absolute minimum anyone needs to know before purchasing a cut loose diamond or any form of diamond jewelry. As most people know, the Four C’s refer to carat, cut, clarity and color. Generally speaking, most experts recommend focusing most on cut, followed by clarity and color, and then looking for the largest carat weight available that suits your specifications and budget. Many first-time diamond buyers do not realize that Novice diamond buyers often focus exclusively on carat weight, but those with a more nuanced understanding of diamond quality know that it is primarily cut that determines a diamond’s light performance and overall impression. And although Ideal cut diamonds perform quite well in many applications, especially in jewelry such as bracelets and earrings where many small diamonds are used together, when it comes to ideal rings, especially engagement rings, nothing can beat the Super Ideal diamond. Super Ideal diamonds are cut to exacting specifications and often exhibit a trait known as “hearts and arrows” in which the precision of the facets reveal a pattern that resembles hearts when diamond is held one way and arrows when it held the other.
Cut is often mistakenly assumed to refer to the shape of the diamond. Shape is in fact a separate, but also important, factor to consider when buying a loose diamond. While over 50% of engagement rings are set with the world’s most popular diamond shape, the round brilliant cut, alternatives are quickly gaining in popularity. The princess-cut brilliant, a square shape with nearly the same brilliance as the round, is now the second most-popular choice, with more exotic shapes like emerald, cushion-cut and marquise available for those looking for an out-of-the-box choice.
Moving beyond the basic criteria, more experienced diamond buyers would do well to learn about factors like fluorescence and certification. Many diamonds show blue fluorescence under UV light. Although this does not directly affect their quality or value, fluorescence can have a few indirect effects on a diamond. In a diamond with a J-M color grade, a small amount of fluorescence can actually counteract the slight coloration of the diamond and make it appear more colorless. In a diamond with a very high color rating, such as D, E, or F, fluorescence is said to make the stone look more murky and less clear.
Certification is another important factor to consider when buying a loose diamond. In fact, many industry experts have come to calling certification “the Fifth C” for its often-overlooked role in determining the true value of a stone. Most people buying diamonds know that a loose diamond must come with a certification from a reliable lab indicating its quality in order for the customer to be sure that he is getting what he paid for. But not everyone realizes that not all labs were created equal. Some labs specialize in grading the highest cut qualities, while others excel in providing computerized 3-D imaging of each stone. The GIA is one of the biggest and best-known labs, and a GIA certificate is certainly a reliable indicator of a diamond’s quality. But for a more developed analysis of stones with the highest cut ratings, the AGS is known for its boutique certifications in that area.
Buying a loose diamond is an important decision and should be weighed carefully, but first-time buyers should not be scared off. With a little research, it is possible to buy a perfect loose diamond that you and your loved ones will treasure for years to come.
For more specific questions ask our experts