With 15 years in the diamond and fine jewelry business, I have encountered every type of buyer imaginable. From the client who walks in not knowing anything about diamond grades, to the client looking for the biggest diamond for his budget, to the savvy client who has done enough research on diamond quality to “know” it all. While each may have a different personality and approach to the process of buying a diamond, all have one thing in common. They all want the best value for their money without sacrificing on the diamond’s beauty. Today, I want to focus on the third client, which I call the Engineer. Too many times I have seen this client come into a diamond showroom, research fresh in their mind, knowing exactly what they want and refusing to be “sold” anything else. They made up their mind sitting from on their computer doing research that any graduate school professor would be proud of, but without ever actually having a real diamond in front of them. Their intention is always in the right place. Wanting to make sure that they get the highest quality diamond for their soon to be fiancé, but at a price that only the truly diligent can find. While they may indeed find an incredible price for that quality, they rarely find incredible value. Let me explain why.
Diamond clarity is graded on a scale as follows: Flawless, Internally Flawless, VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2, SI1, SI2, I1, I2, I3. For this discussion we are going to ignore flawless and internally flawless because these are typically more investment grade and cheap not something for everyday wear. From VVS1 through I1 the definitions given for these grades by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) are:
VVS1-VVS2: “minute inclusions that are difficult even for experienced graders to see under 10x magnification.”
VS1-VS2: “small or minor inclusions observed with effort under 10x magnification.”
SI1-SI2: “SI diamonds contain inclusions that are noticeable to an experienced grader under 10x magnification.”
I1, I2, I3: “Diamonds that fall in the I range contain inclusions that are obvious under 10x magnification.”
It’s very easy to understand what qualities someone might choose based on these descriptions alone. In my experience, around 90% of the “Engineer” or self-educated buyers come into a showroom determined to purchase a VS quality diamond. Why? Because the definitions are simply not properly understood. There are two important terms in these definitions—“experienced graders” and “10x magnification.” The Engineer seems to push these very important words aside and cheap jerseys focus instead on phrases like “inclusions that are noticeable”, as found in the definition for SI quality diamonds, and never notice that they are visible “to an experienced grader under 10x magnification.” What most never realize is that even to most experienced graders, without magnification, could not tell the difference between an SI1 or maybe even describe SI2 and a flawless diamond. So, unless your plan is to place a 10x magnification loup in the box with the ring with instructions that your new fiancé is to allow everyone she comes across to take an expert a look, why pay all that extra money? All other elements of the diamond being equal, a 1.00 carat VS1 clarity diamond may cost you up to $9100, while the same size SI1 stone would cost around $7100. That’s a real savings, and not a single person, including you, will ever be able to tell the difference with the naked eye.
Now let’s look at a diamond’s color. Diamond color begins with D and moves through the alphabet all the way to Z, after which you begin to get into fancy colored diamonds. The color scale goes as follows:
D-F are considered colorless diamonds. By definition these diamonds have “virtually no color, and F has a nearly undetectable amount of color.”
G-I are considered near colorless. According to the GIA, these diamonds “look colorless face up and nearly colorless face down.”
K-M grades are faint yellow face up and face down, however very small mounted K-M color diamonds may appear colorless.
It is important to note that color does not describe the actual color of a diamond or its hue, but instead its depth of color, or how noticeable it is. When determining color, a diamond grader will evaluate the diamond upside down under white light, against a pure white background known as a color trey. Each diamond is then compared side by side with a master stone before its true color grade is given. According to the GIA, “When mounted, G,H, and I diamonds might look colorless face-up.” You can see that grading color is cheap mlb jerseys not an easy process, and that even to a professional, when a diamond is face up, it’s is almost impossible for the human eye to distinguish the difference in color grades. So again, while the definitions of color will compel the Engineer to want to choose something in the D-F range, or even G-H (if he is being frugal), I and J color diamonds are often the better value. Let’s use our 1.00 carat, SI1 clarity diamond from earlier. As an F color this diamond would be priced around $8200, while an I color diamond would be $6600. Is it worth the price difference to own something that an experienced graduate gemologist has to take out of the setting, turn upside down, place in a color trey, hold under white light, and compare next to a master stone to see? Not to me. So let’s recap before moving on. Engineer cheap jerseys #1 who will not be “sold” anything other than the F color VS1 diamond that his research says is the best has paid $9100 for his 1.00 carat diamond, and Engineer #2 who decided to trust his eye has purchased an I color, SI1 clarity diamond for $6600. Yet to the naked eye, they both look exactly the same.
Are you starting to understand how this works? In part two of this lesson, I will explain how you can gain even further value with your diamond purchase through cut and carat weight.