Buyer Beware: What to look for when offered cheap diamonds and engagement rings
Buying diamonds can be tricky, especially if you have not really bought high end jewelry before. When looking at diamonds for sale, no matter whether you want them for an engagement ring, some other piece of jewelry or as an investment, there are some points you should consider before buying, especially if the price seems to be too cheap.
It’s a Bad Diamond
The stone you are being offered may well be a diamond, but if you are examining it in normal room light, with no specialist testing equipment, you are unlikely to be able to tell if the diamond is the good quality that the seller is trying to persuade you that it is. You may think something along the lines of: well, if it is a diamond is it really important if it is not quite as good as the seller is claiming? After all, a diamond is a diamond, is it not? The short answer to that, unfortunately, is not at all. A good diamond, rather D or E color, can cost as much as three or four times as much as an other identical (regarding cut, carat weight and clarity) diamond that is rated K or more. And you will not be able to tell unless you are in the right laboratory conditions, with a jeweler’s loupe that gives you a minimum of 10x magnification, and preferably 20x!
It’s a Lab Diamond
You may find the price to be suspiciously cheap and arrange for a jeweler to examine the stone for you under the best conditions, being pleasantly surprised when the jeweler confirms that it is not only a real diamond, it is a rather good quality one. Your next question should immediately be about the price: why is it so low? If they seem evasive, ask them directly if the stone has been grown in a laboratory. If the answer is yes, the stone’s value instantly plummets, despite the good look and sparkle of the stone. Now, you may be quite happy with a lab-grown stone, and agree to fix a mutually satisfactory price between, with all parties going away happy with the deal, but bear in mind, the investment value of lab grown stones are iffy, with purists refusing to deal in them, and others rejecting them the second they hear the word ‘lab’. Every stone grown in a lab should have a certificate of provenance similar to those offered to natural, mined diamonds offered by GIA or AGS (who, it must be noted, do not certify lab-grown diamonds).
It’s Not a Diamond at All!
Finally, of course, there are those brave pretenders to the throne, stones that look like diamonds but are not. The most common diamond substitutes are synthetic moissanite (if you are offered natural mined moissanite, it is almost more valuable than diamonds, so snap it up!) or cubic zirconia, both of which sparkle almost as beautifully as the real thing. The only real way to be sure that you are getting what you are paying for is to use a reliable supplier, insist on a certificate from one of the two institutions mentioned above, and avoid any deals that are conducted in doubtful conditions and seem too good to be true – they almost certainly will be dodgy in one way or another!