HOW TO CHOOSE THE PERFECT DIAMOND
Buying a diamond is a thrilling occasion. However, with so many factors to consider when buying one, it’s important to know what to look for in a diamond. Knowing how to choose a diamond will help you make an informed decision when doing your jewellery shopping, whether you are planning on proposing or you want to buy a diamond as an investment.
The momentous occasion of choosing a diamond is one of the most important parts in our engagement ring buying guide, since the unique character, style and value of the ring is based on what sits at its centre. However, we know that finding the perfect diamond can be a task on its own. We are here to guide you through the process of choosing a diamond for an engagement ring and equip you with the knowledge you need to make the best choice.
As one of the top luxury jewellery shops in Cape Town – and South Africa, Shimansky offers outstanding expertise when it comes to diamond buying tips. This diamond buying guide uncovers each important factor there is to consider when diamond shopping – from diamond clarity and carat weight, to certification, diamond colour, cut and shape.
CLARITY – THE DIAMOND’S FINGERPRINT
The extreme conditions under which diamonds were formed deep within the earth are responsible for naturally occurring inclusions, or ‘birthmarks’, giving each diamond its unique character, or fingerprint. The size, number and nature of these imperfections, which are believed to have formed during the crystallisation process of the gem, determine the diamond clarity grade. The clarity grade spans from F, which represents Flawless, to I, which indicates Included. These grades are further divided into different categories – Flawless, Internally Flawless, two categories of Very, Very Slightly Included, two categories of Slightly Included, and three categories of Included.
The fewer inclusions a diamond has, the more freely light can travel through the stone and, therefore, the more brilliant its shine. Most inclusions are not visible to the naked eye, which is why jewellers inspect diamonds under a 10x magnifying loupe to determine their clarity. Aside from the size and number of inclusions, the position can also impact the gem’s value. An inclusion directly below the diamond’s table (top face), for example, will impact the diamond’s clarity more than a similarly sized one positioned off the side.
When buying a diamond, it’s important to distinguish between inclusions and blemishes. Inclusions are naturally occurring tiny white points or dark dots within the stone, where blemishes refer to imperfections on the surface of the diamond resulting from the cutting and polishing process. This most commonly occurs where a diamond cutter or polisher has not yet mastered the craft.
As a general rule of thumb, Shimansky recommends choosing a diamond with a clarity not lower than SI2 (Slightly Included) for a diamond engagement ring.
COLOUR, TINTS AND FLUORESCENCE
Diamonds have different shades of colour, ranging from colourless to varying shades of yellow. Although these subtle differences are hard to identify to an untrained eye, a diamond’s colour grade is one of the important factors to consider when you go diamond shopping – the closer to colourless, the more rare and valuable the stone.
Diamonds are graded on a universally accepted colour scale, from D (white or colourless) to Z (heavily tinted yellow). In addition to the D – Z colour scale, there is another scale for extraordinary diamond colours, such as deep yellows, pinks, greens and blues. These extremely valuable, natural fancy colour diamonds are graded according to the intensity of their colour – the more vibrant their shade, the higher their value. One of the most important diamond buying tips when it comes to diamond colour is to note the difference between a diamond with a subtle yellow tint and a natural fancy colour yellow diamond, which could be any shade of rich and vibrant yellow.
Another characteristic that influences the colour grading, is fluorescence, a natural phenomenon affecting almost a third of all gem-quality diamonds. Fluorescence originates from the presence of Nitrogen, causing a diamond to emit a soft-coloured glow when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light.
A diamond’s fluorescence varies according to colour and strength. Most diamonds with a fluorescent glow have a blue tint (95%), followed by yellow. Choosing a diamond with blue fluorescence could be a good thing for the buyer where the diamond is naturally tinted yellow in colour, since these diamonds tend to appear whiter, and therefore, more valuable than their grading suggests. On the flip side, whiter diamonds diamonds with yellow fluorescence appear more yellow in UV light, which is not desirable, since yellow-tinted diamonds are less valuable than colourless diamonds. For this reason, fluorescence may increase or decrease the value of a diamond, depending on the colour and strength of the glow. When buying a diamond always ask for a diamond certificate from an independent diamond grading laboratory such as the GIA or EGL as these grading reports will clearly state whether there is a presence of fluorescence.
CARAT WEIGHT – DOES SIZE MATTER?
Carat is the standard unit of weight used for gemstones. One carat is equal to 0.2 grams, or 200 milligrams. Larger diamonds are more rare and, therefore, more valuable. In fact, diamonds of one carat or larger only represent around 1% of all the diamonds mined on the planet.
Although a diamond’s size is likely the most obvious aspect that determines its value, knowing how to choose a diamond takes more than merely considering the carat weight. The way in which a diamond is cut can really maximise its beauty, and can transform an average-sized stone into a marvellous desirable jewel that shines with brilliance. Shimansky’s expert diamond cutters apply the same passion and attention to detail to every stone, regardless of their size. This ensures that whichever diamond size you choose, you will end up with a true work of art.
WHAT DIAMOND SHAPE ARE YOU?
Just like their admirers, every diamond is unique – in size, colour, clarity, as well as shape. It takes the handiwork of a skilful diamond cutter to transform a rough diamond’s natural contours into a symmetrical artwork that glimmers at every angle. The diamond cutting process will determine the diamond’s shape – its physical form; as well as its cut – the diamond facets and angles, their proportions, number and symmetry – it’s what makes a diamond sparkle. Getting this perfect – crafting the stone to reflect as much light as possible – is one of the most difficult processes in jewellery making, and an important factor to consider when evaluating a diamond for purchase. Understanding what a magnificent difference a diamond’s cut can make to the final product plays a key part in knowing what to look for in a diamond.
At Shimansky you will find a wide variety of different diamond shapes and cuts to suit each and every bride-to-be. As masters in the diamond industry, we have a number of patented diamond cuts ideal for diamond buyers who are looking for something truly special and unique. The Shimansky patented Brilliant 10 diamond, for example, has 71 facets, makes it the world’s most brilliant diamond cut. The My Girl diamond cut, created by Yair Shimansky, is an eight-sided, square-cut diamond with a matchless reputation as one of the world’s most coveted and distinctive diamond cuts. The My Girl diamond is square in shape but unlike the princess cut, which draws dark light to its corners, the My Girl has an even distribution of light in the diamond and is a superior alternative to the princess cut.
When it comes to choosing a diamond that truly reflects your soul mate’s personality, the diamond shape is an important consideration. Extraordinary diamond shapes like the elegant marquise shape diamond or the gorgeous pear shape diamond (also known as the teardrop diamond) has been associated with adventurous, outgoing, adaptable, independent and fun people. First created in the 15th century, the 58-faceted pear cut resembles the marquise and round diamond cut as it has both the narrow and rounded points of each stone.
If you are looking for a more contemporary design you may consider the Princess diamond cut. Brides who are drawn to this versatile cut tend to be lively, independent, confident and trendy. Another exquisite choice is the radiant cut diamond, a masterpiece with 70 facets, which takes a talented craftsman with years of experience to create. Considered a modified brilliant diamond, the radiant cut combines the elegance of the emerald cut diamond and the brilliance of the round brilliant cut diamond, displaying a fiery brilliance and kaleidoscope of colours.
The emerald cut, criss cut diamond and the square emerald (asscher) cut diamond shapes are truly exceptional due to their unique step-cut that creates flashes of light with a ‘hall of mirrors’ effect. A bride with an emerald cut diamond ring is usually very confident and has a good sense of what she wants in life.
Brides who lean towards a vintage-style design will love the cushion cut diamond. This timeless 58-faceted design, created in the 1830s, has a square shape with rounded sides resembling a cushion or pillow. The cushion cut, or the beautiful heart shape diamond cut is perfect for the modern-day bride looking for a soft, romantic design.
A creatively inclined woman will fall in love with the oval shape diamond. This modified brilliant cut diamond design has 56 to 58 facets giving the wearer the beauty of an elongated round cut diamond, but with a unique and classical twist.
Many people who ponder over the do’s and don’ts of buying the perfect diamond may lean towards a traditional favourite with timeless beauty that never goes out of style, like the Eight Hearts diamond, a true Hearts and Arrows diamond. This round brilliant cut diamond features 57 facets that are perfectly proportioned and aligned to reveal a perfect eight heart pattern when viewed from the bottom and an eight heart pattern when viewed from the top through an Ideal Scope.
THE IMPORTANCE OF DIAMOND CERTIFICATION
When buying a diamond it is wise to get assurance of the gem’s quality and proof of its identity before you make the purchase. This is what the diamond certificate is for. Also known as a diamond dossier or grading report, this formal document details the diamond’s unique characteristics, including its cut, carat weight, colour and clarity, and may also include its finish (polish and symmetry), fluorescence and additional comments.
The most widely recognised diamond grading laboratories, and favoured among the world’s most famous and reputable jewellers, are the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) and EGL (European Gemological Laboratory). These grading laboratories are completely unbiased and the buyer can be certain that the information stated on the certificate is accurate and that the diamond will not fall victim to inflated grading.
GET EXPERT ADVICE
The best way to buy diamonds, whether for an engagement ring or as an investment, is considering all the factors that play a role in the unique character and value of the stone. Since a diamond engagement ring is a symbol of your love and commitment that is worn for many years to come, it’s important to choose a cut and shape that reflect her personality and style; while considering the size, colour and clarity, which will ensure you get a great quality stone that will grow in value as the years go by.
If you need guidance, a specialist at Shimansky would be honoured to give you diamond buying advice. You will also have the opportunity to browse the Shimansky collection of patented diamond cuts. By considering all the factors in our diamond buying guide – from carat and clarity to colour, certification, shape and cut, you will discover how to buy a diamond with confidence – the same type of confidence a diamond should be worn with. For more information visit your nearest Shimansky store.