Buying Diamonds & Gemstones
Here you’ll find everything you need to know to find the diamond or gemstone that’s perfect for you.
Many gemologists consider cut to be the most important property to note when choosing a diamond. The cut of a diamond determines how it reflects light, which is responsible for its sparkle or brilliance. Diamonds can carry cut grades of Excellent, Ideal, Very Good, Good, or Fair.
A diamond’s clarity is determined by the presence or absence of inclusions, marks that are often invisible to the naked eye. Fewer inclusions mean better clarity. The greater a diamond’s clarity, the greater its brilliance and value.
Diamonds come in a wide range of colors; however, colorless diamonds have traditionally been considered the most valuable. Any diamond you buy should have a good balance of cut, color, and clarity, so as to impart the most brilliance and dazzle possible.
Although larger stones are often more highly valued, size should not be your only consideration when choosing a diamond. High brilliance, which varies according to clarity, cut, and color grade, is very desirable in a diamond.
Round. Emerald. Pear. Princess. Different shapes can emphasize a diamond’s many features. Choose a shape based on your personal taste and the design of the jewelry.
It is a good idea to have your diamonds cleaned once a year by a professional jeweler, at which time the security of the setting can be checked as well. Diamond jewelry should be stored in a soft cloth pouch to ensure that the stone will not scratch other jewelry.
Diamonds purchased from a jeweler at the Jewelers Center can be certified by the Professional Gem Sciences Laboratory. A diamond certificate represents independent verification that the stone purchased has all the qualities of cut, color, clarity, shape, and weight expected.
Jewelers describe the color of a gemstone in terms of three characteristics: hue, saturation, and tone. A gemstone’s basic color is its hue, and those with purer hues (for emeralds, green; for sapphires, blue; and for rubies, red) are generally considered more valuable. Saturation is a measure of the intensity or purity of a gem’s hue; value tends to increase with saturation. The tone of a gemstone is a measurement of its lightness or darkness.
Like diamonds, most gemstones have inclusions, or tiny mineral flaws, that can be seen under magnification or by the careful eye. Be sure that any inclusions in the stone do not penetrate deeply into the gem, as this may cause it to break or crack.
The cut of a gemstone should be symmetrical in all dimensions so that it will appear balanced. If a stone is symmetrical, its facets will reflect light evenly, providing good brilliance.
Although a gemstone’s weight is usually given in carats, this may not give an accurate idea of its size. Different types of stone have different densities. For example, a one-carat sapphire will be smaller than a one-carat emerald, though they have the same weight, because sapphires are more dense than emeralds. It is important to know the dimensions of a gemstone to ensure that the weight will be visible and well proportioned in the setting.
Store your gemstone jewelry in a soft cloth pouch or jewelry case so it does not touch other pieces. As with all jewelry, normal wear and tear can loosen prongs and settings, so it is a good idea to have it evaluated by one of our jewelers, who can make repairs as needed.
Are you looking to have a special piece of jewelry made—a one-of-a kind design that’s uniquely yours? Here is some advice to help you get exactly what you want:
- Participate in the creation of your jewelry. It will mean that much more to you if you are involved, and be that much more unique
- Remember that what looks good in a photo may not look or feel how you expect. Try on pieces that resemble what you want to have made
- When describing the jewelry you envision, it is helpful to bring drawings, photos or models
- Don’t assume your jewelry will be identical to a photo; however, it should have a close resemblance
- If you want your jewelry to have any special features on the inside, be sure to tell your jeweler beforehand
- While it’s best not to rush the creation of custom-made jewelry, be sure to work out an acceptable delivery date—and have it in writing
- Ask for a written estimate of the cost of your jewelry. Your jeweler should obtain your permission before doing anything that would increase the estimated cost
- If you are having a ring custom made, see if you can try on a wax model before casting. Make sure you’re happy with the height, width and comfort of the ring
- Be sure you are familiar with the refund policy of your jeweler
- Develop a relationship with a jeweler you can trust; this can make all the difference