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How to grade investment diamonds

How to grade investment diamonds

Engagement rings are, in many cases, the third highest single purchase most people make, behind a car and a home. Understanding this valuable gem is critical when making an investment.

Becoming acquainted with investment in this rare gem means getting to know the “Four Cs” of diamond grading.

The Four C’s

The Four C’s are broken down as follows: the carat, colour, clarity and cut of the stone.

This is probably the most important, and most challenging, of the Four Cs to understand. In the first instance, it can refer to the shape of the diamond you desire, however, the brilliance of a diamond depends heavily on its cut. You don’t want a stone that’s either too shallow or to deep. You need to ensure the proportions are correct and this is often stated in the diamond report.

Most diamonds contain some inner flaws, or inclusions, that occur during the formation process. The visibility, number and size of these inclusions determine what is called the clarity of a diamond. Diamonds that are clear create more brilliance, and thus are more highly prized, and priced.

As a guide, most people will have inclusions in their diamond, however it’s the size of the infusions which matter. Any diamond which is graded as ‘vs’ shouldn’t have any illusions which the naked eye can see. A VS2 or SI1 is a good starting point for “eye clean” clarity.

Colourless diamonds are traditionally considered the most desirable since they allow the most refraction of light (sparkle). Off-white diamonds absorb light, inhibiting brilliance. I tend to recommend you go for a colour grade between F and G; however, the price difference can be considerable between colours. Make sure you can see the difference.

A carat is the unit of weight by which a diamond is measured. Because large diamonds are found less commonly than small diamonds, the price of a diamond rises per carat the bigger you go.

And then there’s the 5th and 6th ‘C’

The 5th C: All purchases should be completed with the receipt of a laboratory certificate. Certification ensures the quality of the diamond, listing the specific unique features of the diamond – the ‘finger print’ of the stone.

The 6th C: And finally it’s about confidence – confidence in your diamond dealer, confidence in your diamond, and confidence in your investment. This means ensuring that you deal with a member of the Diamond dealers Club, the Jewellery Council of South Africa, and the World Federation of Diamond Bourse.

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