How to Choose a Diamond?

The idea of trying to choose a diamond, or any piece of jewelry containing a diamond, can sound impossible to many people.  What’s important, and what may not matter so much?  How will I know which item is better than another?  I need to make an informed decision but how is that possible?  The “average” person may feel that they have no idea how to answer those questions.  This is what stops many people from buying any jewelry containing gem stones.


At E.D. Marshall Jewelers our staff can help answer any question you might have about choosing the right piece of jewelry.  Our staff is trained to assist you in every way possible as you pick out the perfect piece of jewelry for your loved one, or yourself.  You will not need to worry about whether you are picking out an excellent article of jewelry with high value when shopping with us.

Before you come to our store let’s cover some of the important points in choosing a diamond, or any other gem stone jewel.  This will give you time to think through some of the issues so that when you arrive at our store you are really ready to start looking at the jewelry pieces.

First step

The very first thing you must do is think about the recipient.  Unfortunately, our staff at E.D. Marshall Jewelers probably will not be able to help you with this part.  Only you know the recipient.  Even if you are looking for something for yourself you may want to run through some thoughts to better pinpoint your own wishes.  Be sure to be honest with yourself.  If your heart is set on a full carat diamond, a smaller stone may not satisfy you.  It could be better to decide on a piece, find out the price, then work on saving until you can afford it rather than buying something you can afford today.

If the jewelry is going to be for someone else you will have to consider their wishes.  This could mean putting your own desires on the back burner while shopping.  If you are shopping for a person who prefers a large, trendy piece and you prefer smaller, traditional items you could look at all the wrong jewelry if you are not keeping the recipient in mind.  Let the sales person know what you believe the recipient will like so they will steer you towards the right items.

Now the next step…

You will need to decide on the diamond’s shape.  E.D. Marshall Jewelers offers many different shaped diamonds for you to choose from.  Look at any jewelry the recipient already owns.  This may give you a great idea as to what stone shapes they like.  With an expensive stone like a diamond you do not want to experiment as to whether they will like “something different.”  If you are not sure then consider a traditional round or princess cut diamond as they are the most popular.

If you are unsure about stone shapes, have the staff at E.D. Marshall Jewelers show you various diamonds of different cuts.  Our staff are trained experts and can help you work through which shape you want to get.

Once you have the diamond shape in mind, you will need to pick a minimum carat weight.  Snoop, snoop, snoop.  Play detective in trying to determine what the recipient wants.  If they are hoping for a one carat diamond ring but you buy only a half-carat it probably will not matter how nice the setting is, they will still be disappointed.

To refine your search, start with clarity

You have the shape and carat amount in mind, but how will you be able to afford this jewel?  Start with the highest quality diamond then start making concessions on the following items, in the stated order, to come down to your price range.  When you are unsure of differences, ask the staff at E.D. Marshall Jewelers to show you different stones with the various attributes you are considering.  Then let your eyes make the choice.

First thing to consider is clarity of the stone.  If you seriously hate imperfections you will need to buy a VVS2 or better diamond.  Only about 10% of all diamonds purchased fall into this class of clarity.

The most popular range of clarity is VS1 to VS2.  To the naked eye these diamonds will appear flawless so unless your recipient is going to be using a jeweler’s eyepiece to look at the stone you should be just fine.  Luckily, this standard of clarity costs a fraction of the price compared to the best clarity.

The next most prevalent type of diamond clarity is SI1.  For a casual viewer the inclusions are not substantial enough to impact the look of the diamond.  When you consider that very few people will look at the piece of jewelry up close you can see how this clarity will work fine.  It is not unusual to choose this clarity classification in exchange for a higher color or cut grade.  If you are considering a diamond of less than 1 carat you can use a clarity of SI2 and still have an excellent look.

The larger the diamond, the more important clarity becomes since seeing imperfections becomes easier.  When shopping for a diamond more than 2 carats in size a clarity grade of VS2 or higher is usually needed in order to avoid easily seen imperfections.  Clarity grades of SI1 or better will not have inclusions that are quickly seen to the naked eye in diamonds between 1 and 2 carats so you can opt for a slightly lower clarity and still be quite happy.

Certain cuts will hide inclusions better.  These are the round, cushion, pear, princess, marquise, and oval.  With the larger faces of the emerald or asscher cuts you will want to opt for a higher clarity if you want to avoid visible inclusions.

Next, the color of the diamond

The color of the diamond can be sacrificed and still give you an excellent appearing diamond.  This is the next area in which you can consider scaling down in order to be able to afford to purchase the jewelry.

Most people, this includes many gemologists, are not able to distinguish a color rating from the one above or below it when casually looking at the stone.  Even when diamonds are compared side by side in a controlled environment defining color can be challenging.  Once a diamond is set in a ring or pendant it becomes even more difficult to pick out its color grade.  Add in environmental colors and everyday lighting and the average person will never know what the color of the stone actually is.

All of this means that you only need to choose a color in the range G-J in order to have a colorless appearing diamond to the naked eye.  Choose G-H color when purchasing a diamond over 1 carat and consider I-J color for diamonds under 1 carat.  Once placed into a setting in a ring or pendant, the diamonds will look just like greater color ranked diamonds.

Another consideration is that when a diamond has more facets they will reflect more light.  This will tend to hide lower color grades better.  So you want to consider a round, pear, princess, marquise, or oval cut when purchasing a lower grade color.  The emerald or asscher cuts will need a better color grade to keep their crystal clear appearance to the naked eye.

You might hear someone talk about fluorescent diamonds.  Fluorescence is considered a defect, but in reality, the visible effects of weak to medium fluorescence are observable only to a gem expert using a special UV light.  Curiously, the bluish fluorescent glow can make diamonds in the I-M color range appear up to one grade whiter, in turn making them sell at a slightly higher price.  Overall, fluorescence should not make a major impact on your diamond choice.

Finally, the diamond’s cut

Unlike carat, color and clarity, cut grades are not uniformly defined.  This means you must be very careful when comparing cut grades from one retailer to another.  Diamond merchants will tend to use common terms to describe cut, but they may not be the exact same cut from one store to another.  A seller can assign any cut grade, based on any set of criteria they wish, to a diamond.  So one seller’s ‘excellent’ does not have to be the same as the next seller’s ‘excellent.’  Needless to say, this can be confusing.

Cut grade is the top factor in determining the look of your diamond.  If you have a poorly cut diamond it will appear dull even if you have excellent clarity and color.  With a well cut diamond you may be able to have slightly lower color or clarity and still look great with excellent sparkle and brilliance.

The cut grade incorporates a variety of factors such as polish, symmetry, culet, polish, and girdle.  It is a simple yet very important tool in evaluating a diamond.  Avoid trying to evaluate each of these factors by themselves.  Instead, rely on the cut grade.  Use individual factors only if pushed to compare two diamonds of an identical cut grade.

You may feel more confused now, after reading this brief article.  Don’t worry.  Come to an E.D. Marshall Jewelers store near you and ask questions.  We will show you different pieces of jewelry in different categories, whether you are wondering about shape, clarity, color, or cut.  We are here to help you make the right choice in diamond jewelry.

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