A Comprehensive Guide To Buying
Diamonds In New Jersey
When it comes to buying a diamond in New Jersey, customers tend to have a lot of questions. From understanding carats to cuts, there are a lot of characteristics you can take into consideration when it comes to choosing the “perfect” diamond.
Without bogging you down in small talk, let’s get right into the details and talk about the various ways diamonds are measured and compared.
THE FOUR C’S
If you’ve ever researched diamonds, I’m sure you’ve come across the term “the Four C’s” before.
The Four C’s are the main way diamonds are described and are:
- ~ Cut
- ~ Color
- ~ Clarity
- ~ Carat
Using these four terms it’s easy to describe how the diamond appears. But, what exactly do they mean?
Simply put, cut is the most important characteristic of the 4 C’s because it effects the brilliance, aka the sparkle, of the diamond. The better the cut, the more the sparkle.
A diamond’s cut grade is an objective measure of a diamond’s light performance, or, what we generally think of as sparkle. When a diamond is cut with the proper proportions, light is returned out of the top of the diamond (which gemologists refer to as the table). If it is cut too shallow, light leaks out of the bottom; too deep and it escapes out of the side.
Regardless of what grade of diamond you purchase, the cut makes a huge difference. A diamond with flawless color & clarity and a poor cut may appear dull. Notice the term poor there – diamond cuts are graded on a scale that range from poor to excellent. As you can imagine, the opposite of a poor cut would be very sparkly.
The biggest take-away here is that cut makes a huge impact, and can take an otherwise perfect diamond and make it appear extremely dull.
The next biggest measurement of a diamond is of it’s color. After the sparkle, the human eye will naturally take in the color of the diamond. One thing to remember is as the color grade improves, so does price. But, there is a certain point where the naked eye cannot detect the color difference. Even under high powered magnification it’s hard to judge the difference in color after a certain point.
Believe it or not, color manifests itself in a diamond as a pale yellow color. So when you’re measure the color grade of a diamond, you’re actually measuring the lack of color.
Coloring is broken down as such:
- ~ D (Absolutely Colorless) – The highest color grade. This is an extremely rare diamond.
- ~ E – F (Colorless) – Minute traces of color can be detected by an expert gemologist. This is a rare diamond.
- ~ G – H (Near Colorless) – Color is difficult to detect unless compared side-by-side against diamonds of better grades. An excellent value for most uses.
- ~ I – J (Near Colorless) – An exceptional value with slightly detectable warmth or tone.
- ~ K – Z (Noticeable Color) – Yellow diamonds fall in this range.
Diamond Color & Engagement Rings
Many people are reading this right now because they’re doing some research before buying an engagement ring. If so, here’s some tips you may find helpful…
Consider platinum or white gold settings when buying higher color grade diamond. A gold setting may show through a colorless diamond and give it a warmer, more yellow appearance. Many people who specifically purchase colorless diamonds do not want this, as it defeats the purpose of such a high quality diamond.
If you are looking for engagement quality near-colorless diamonds grades G – J are recommended because color will be hard to see to the naked eye. These color grades are the best value to maximize your budget. If you’re comparing a color D and color J diamond side by side, a good eye may notice the difference. If comparing them individually, most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. However, if the stones have any inclusions, the may alter the appearance somewhat impacting the perceived color of the stone.
There’s a LOT to consider when it comes to engagement rings. Here’s some other helpful articles on the subject:
- ~ Engagement Ring Costs vs Wedding Band Costs
- ~ The cost of buying an engagement ring in New Jersey
- ~ What should an engagement ring cost?
- ~ How to buy an engagement ring explained!
- ~ How long does it take to get my wedding band or engagement ring?
- ~ How to wear engagement rings & wedding bands.
Clarity is the third most important characteristic because most imperfections cannot be seen unless under professional magnification.
Clarity refers to the tiny, natural imperfections that that are present in all but the rarest diamonds. The less inclusions, the better the clarity. Gemologists refer to these imperfections by a variety of technical names, including blemishes and inclusions to name a few. Since these imperfections tend to be microscopic, they do not generally affect a diamond’s beauty in any discernible way. Inclusions can be various forms of carbons that were growing inside the stone. In other words, small diamonds forming inside the diamond.
As you can imagine, diamonds with the least and smallest inclusions receive the highest clarity grades.
The way I like to describe them is as little “birthmarks” that identify your stone. I say this because the simple fact is includes are not a bad thing. Yes, a lot of inclusions will cloud your stone and be noticeable. For diamond owners with 1 or 2 small inclusions, these markings can almost be a good thing.
We have customers who are terrified of their diamond being switched out during a cleaning, inspection, or a repair.If you have inclusions, these little markings will be able to prove your diamond is yours.
The other thing about inclusions, if you’re with friends, at a dinner party, or out for the evening, they’re usually incredibly hard to see. Unless people are coming around inspecting your ring up close with a loop or microscope, the inclusions are hardly something to worry about.
And yes, clarity, just like the other aspects of a diamond, is graded. Grading is done at a 10 times magnification level as such:
- ~ Flawless (FL) – Free from all blemishes and inclusions. The rarest clarity grade.
- ~ Internally Flawless (IF) – Free from all inclusions, minute blemishes.
- ~ Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1) – Minute inclusions, very difficult to see. Inclusions in bottom half (pavilion).
- ~ Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS2) – Minute inclusions, very difficult to see. Inclusions in top half (crown).
- ~ Very Slightly Included (VS1) – Minor inclusions, difficult to see.
- ~ Very Slightly Included (VS2) – Minor inclusions, somewhat easy to see. Somewhat detectable, but not easy.
- ~ Slightly Included (SI1) – Noticeable inclusions.
- ~ Slightly Included (SI2) – Noticeable inclusions, very easy to see. May be visible with unaided eye.
- ~ Included (I1) – Obvious inclusions, very easy to see. Visible with unaided eye.
- ~ Included (I2) – Obvious inclusions, easily visible to unaided eye.
- ~ Included (I3) – Prominent inclusions, extremely easy visible with unaided eye.
Additionally, there’s some terminology regarding inclusions you should be familiar with as well:
- ~ Feathers – Feather inclusions typically have a feathery appearance and can be highly reflective, colored, white, or transparent.
- ~ Crystals – A crystal is a mineral crystal contained in some diamonds. Crystals can be almost any size, colored or colorless, and can occur alone or in groups. They can sometimes look like bubbles or black dots.
- ~ Clouds – A cloud consists of many tightly grouped pinpoints. The pinpoints might be too small to distinguish individually at 10 times magnification, but together they look like wispy white or gray patches. Some clouds look like a light haze, while others are dense and almost impossible to see through.
- ~ Natural – Small remains of the original rough stone’s surface, left unpolished on the surface of the finished diamond.
When it comes to buying a diamond, and concerning the clarity, in order to maximize your budget, choose a diamond in VS to SI range that you feel has little to no inclusions under 10 times magnification.
For top quality diamonds, Flawless (FL) to Very, Very Slightly Included (VVSI) will come at a premium since they are rare, but free from inclusions or very difficult to find under magnification.
Finally, carats! Despite what you may thing, carat refers to the diamond’s weight, not its size. When discussing the diamond’s carat, there are two main factors to take in:
- ~ Diamond’s Top Diameter – It is important to measure, in millimeters, the distance across the top diameter of the diamond as this is how it is viewed when set into a ring. This top facing part of the diamond is what’s referred to as a table.
- ~ Diamond’s Cut Grade – When a diamond is well cut (grades Very Good or higher), the light reflected out of the top making it appear larger. Smaller carat weight diamonds will appear larger with higher cut grades. Conversely, the opposite holds true as well.
How do these two carat weight factors help when purchasing a diamond? Both the diamond’s diameter and cut grade can make smaller carat weight diamonds appear larger with higher cut grades (Excellent, Very Good, and Ideal). On the flip side, a larger carat weight diamond could appear smaller with lower cut grades (Good, Fair, and Poor). Remember we said earlier that cut had a lot to do with the appearance?
There’s some other factors when it comes to buying a diamond and considering the carat. For example, if a large carat weight is important to you, yet you’re working within a strict budget, consider a diamond with a good cut, SI1-SI2 clarity, and an I or J color grade. You can play around with the options and usually find something that looks beautiful and fits within the budget.
Also, diamond prices jump at the full- and half-carat weights. Diamonds just below these weights cost significantly less, and, because carat weight is distributed across the entirety of the diamond, small size differences are almost impossible to detect. To maximize your budget, consider buying a diamond that is slightly below your ideal carat weight if you can get your hand on one. This is called “buying shy”. For example, instead of a 3.0 carat diamond consider buying a 2.9 carat weight.
Additionally, keep in mind that the smaller the finger, the larger the diamond will appear. A 1.5-carat diamond solitaire looks much larger on a size 4 finger than a size 8.
Additional Diamond Details
There’s some additional details regarding diamonds that are outside of the realm of the 4 C’s, but just equally important.
The actual shape of the diamond can make a difference, not only in how it looks, but pricing. Here’s a list of the most common shapes diamonds come in.
- ~ Round – This shape is what we based our information off when we talk about diamonds
- ~ Cushion
- ~ Oval
- ~ Emerald
- ~ Princess
- ~ Pear
- ~ Marquise
- ~ Asher
- ~ Radiant
- ~ Heart
- ~ Side Stones – Can really be all the above shapes, but I’ve never seen a heart shaped side stone. Also, you’ll hear terms such as baguettes, kites, shields, half-moons, and trapezoids, all of which are common side stones that are never used as center stones.
Three stones settings are timeless and so classic that a round center stone with one baguette on each side has been coined as the Harry Winston, a famous designer of engagement rings & wedding bands. A three-stone ring can be any combination of any cut center with 2 side stones that are identical to each other. The three stones are meant to represent I love you, now, and forever.
Diamond fluorescence refers to a diamond’s tendency to emit a soft colored glow when subject to electromagnetic radiation, also known as ultraviolet, or UV light. Some common sources of UV radiation include black lighting from night clubs, fluorescent bulbs, and natural sunlight. So if you’re ever out and you think your diamond is glowing, that’s why.
Overall, diamond fluorescence should not be a major factor in the purchase of a diamond since its effects are negligible, if not slightly positive. The exception would be to exercise caution in purchasing a diamond with strong fluorescence in D-F color diamonds. Medium to some fluorescence in G-H color diamonds is okay. Any degree of fluorescence in I and lower color grade is a good thing and will make the stone look whiter instead of yellow.
Your diamond will likely be certified by an agency, which is most likely one of the three following:
- ~ GIA – Gemological Institute of America- has the highest standards
- ~ AGS – American Gem Society
- ~ EGL – European Gemological Laboratory
Depending on who you talk to, people prefer one over the other, or claim one is better or worse than the other. The simple fact is they are all great, but some are more renowned and strict with their requirements, therefore their higher standards hold more value in the diamond. Learn more about diamond certifications in our article Diamond Certifications & Certification Agencies.
What this means is your diamond, depending on the certifying agency, may have different grading characteristics, which will impact the price you pay, as well as the appraisal value of the diamond.
Diamond Buying Tips
You can read guides like this all day, but the best advice we can give you is this: choose the diamond that looks best to you. Don’t judge characteristics, don’t get overly technical with the details, just choose the diamond that looks beautiful to you at first glance. Sometimes a diamond can call to you, and when that happens, the choice is easy.
Buying Diamonds in-Store vs Online
The simple fact of the matter is, going into a store and developing a relationship with a jeweler can help you get the best deal possible. When buying something as important or technical as a diamond it is good to go into a store and form a relationship with a retailer – some place you can trust to educate you and sell you a diamond at a fair price.
However, there are online options out there where you can buy a diamond blindly, and for many people that’s fine. In fact, if you’re one of those types of people, I encourage you to check out our Diamond Link page to see what we offer, or our Build a Ring page to see how a diamond would look in a ring, or to buy it online.
We just published an article covering the ins and outs about buying jewelry online. While it doesn’t specifically focus on buying a diamond, it still offers some great advice for anyone who’s thinking about buying any type of jewelry online.
The long story short is we recommend you visit a local jeweler whenever possible.
A good jeweler can get you close to what you want within a realistic budget by showing you various sizes, clarity, cuts, and color options. This is considerably harder to do on your own online, especially if you’re setting out to buy a diamond for the first time. You might find our article the cost of buying an engagement ring in New Jersey helpful in this regard.
Buying Engagement Rings in Stores
You can 100% buy an engagement ring online and get a great deal. You can buy a beautiful, high quality ring at a competitive cost without ever taking your pajamas off.
But, when you visit a jewelry store and get to talk to a sales associate, you might learn some new things, or get asked some questions you may have never thought of. For example:
- ~ What size mounting would you like your stone put in?
- ~ Do you know your fiancées ring size? If not you better get a mounting that can be sized in the future.
- ~ Do you want side diamonds? This may compromise sizing possibility down the road. It also could distract from the wedding band that will be worn against it.
- ~ Can the engagement ring be worn flush against a wedding band?
For the simple reason that you’re spending a lot of money, and want to make sure you spend it wisely, you’re better off visiting a local jeweler to at least start the process. We cover this topic more in depth in our article Your Guide to Buying Jewelry Online.
Final thoughts on buying diamonds in New Jersey.
I cannot stress enough to find a jeweler you trust. Making a purchase of this magnitude, you’re going to want to find someone who’s educating you, giving you good guidance, and of course, giving you the best deal possible.
If you’re in the market for a diamond, I encourage you to come by either of our New Jersey jewelry store locations in Morristown or New Providence to see for yourself and talk to any of our expert jewelers. We can assist with every step of diamond buying, from initial education like you’ve received here, to showing you examples, discussing options within your budget, and much more.
If you’d like to talk to someone sooner about buying a diamond, you can contact us online anytime by emailing us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply filling out our contact form and we’ll answer your questions quickly.