In today’s consumer market you can purchase almost anything on-line but which items are safe to buy?

Pots and pans? Sure!

Used car?  You would probably want to test drive it, maybe have a mechanic take a look at it.

A diamond? Well, if all diamonds were the same then the answer would be easy. But they are not. No two diamonds are the same. There are internationally recognized grading reports such as GIA, AGS, and HRD.  Many other independent gemological labs will give you a description of a diamond that follows a standard grading system to assist in determining the general qualities of a diamond. Most people have heard of the 4c’s; carat, cut, colour and clarity. But did you know, that there are dozens of factors within these 4c’s and hundreds of combinations that affect each unique diamond’s beauty and value? Even seasoned Gemologists who have spent years studying diamonds and reading the hundreds of pages in the GIA textbooks will tell you, the diamond has to be looked at to assess its ultimate beauty. A diamond’s quality, value and more importantly, its beauty cannot be garnered or appreciated from an online picture or a grading report alone.


Diamond e-tailers

When viewing the wide range of diamonds available from online diamond e-tailers.  An online picture or grading report alone does not do the diamond justice.  Often there are multiple diamonds that appear to have the same size and grades but have drastically different prices, sometimes up to double. The majority of these online retailers do not own their diamonds nor have they seen the diamonds that they are selling. They blindly drop-ship stones from various vendors whose business model is geared towards impersonal service, mass distribution and volume sales. Have you ever wondered why vendors would bother to sell the diamonds with the same grading specifications at different prices with the same and various e-tailers?

Question: Why would someone buy the more expensive diamond if both diamonds were exactly the same?

Answer: They are not the same.

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the world’s most recognized laboratory states:

“The convenience of online shopping can’t be beaten if you’re researching your options and trying to narrow your choices. Be aware that diamonds that appear to be almost identical on a grading report − same colour, clarity or cut grades − may look different from each other when viewed in person. Ultimately, your decision is a personal one, so seeing the diamond with your own eyes is the best way to determine if it’s right for you.”

Diamond Grading Report

There are various discrepancies in almost all of the 4c’s listed in a diamonds grading report, with the exception of carat weight.

Carat- Weight is a finite number. A 1.00ct diamond weighs 1.00ct. There’s nothing subjective about that. However, this does not mean that two diamonds with the same weight and shape will be the same size. (We’ll discuss more about the cut of a diamond below.)

Colour– When comparing the colour of a diamond graded by the same laboratory such as GIA the discrepancy in colour for round diamonds is usually small to none; especially in higher coloured diamonds. However, fancy shaped, lower colour diamonds may have a wider discrepancy in colour due to where the colour is concentrated in the diamond and how the colour is dispersed.

Clarity- The factors that need to be considered for clarity is; the type of inclusion, amount of inclusions, and placement. These aspects can vary greatly within a single grade.

When looking to purchase diamonds in the top clarity grade range such as Flawless, Internally Flawless, VVS1 and VVS2, the characteristics of a diamond grading report are few.  Therefore, less to consider. For other clarity grades, such as VS1 to I1, there are many factors that inclusions can affect how the diamond is seen both in laboratory conditions and the natural environment. Many laboratories offer a plot, a map, of a diamond’s inclusions indicating the placement of inclusion and what type. However, a map will not show you what a beach or a mountain looks like.  A diamond plot will not show you what a diamond looks like.

A few important factors that are not described in a diamond grading report is the colour, transparency and concentration of the inclusions. Inclusions can be light, dark, translucent or opaque. Inclusions can also reflect off another facet or multiple facets; all of these variances can impact the sparkle of a diamond. In general, inclusions on a grading report’s plot may be seen and some may not.  There are too many components to list that cannot be accumulated from looking at a diamond grading report alone. Unless you are intending on purchasing a flawless or VVS diamond, the only way to see how inclusions affect the beauty of a diamond is to see it.  

Cut- Similar to clarity, challenges arise when selecting a diamond based on the grading report. Often diamonds with the exact same size and cut grade can look completely different. This is seen in round diamonds but is more pronounced in fancy shapes such as pear, princess, oval, emerald and cushion cuts.

An excellent example of this is the cushion cut diamond. Two cushion cut diamonds can be graded with excellent symmetry and polish yet be totally different shapes. One may be elongated, another more square. There are various influences which give a fancy shaped diamond its brilliance and beauty.  Many laboratories, such as the GIA, choose not to give a cut grade on fancy shapes. Ultimately, choosing a diamond comes down to personal preference and style to decide which diamond is best for you.

Recognize — just because a diamond was graded by the GIA it does not mean that the stone is better than one that has been graded by a different lab.


Pictures and Videos

Photos and videos are tools used by many online vendors to get a view of a diamond. Changes in technology have allowed for various ways a diamond can be captured.  However, these options do not necessarily give an accurate portrayal of a diamond’s individual characteristics.

There are several things to consider when viewing a diamond based on pictures and videos

  1. There are many image capture options available. Different vendors use different systems, software, cameras and techniques.
  2. Depending on the technique used, images and videos are taken in different light conditions, varying distances and magnifications.
  3. Your screen or monitor — keep in mind images vary from computer monitor to a screen on a smartphone. They are different sizes, qualities, colours and each one is different.
  4. Many images and videos cannot actually capture the most important elements when selecting a diamond — fire, brilliance and scintillation, the way it disperses light and colours.  The best way to have an accurate impression of how a diamond looks is to see it in person.

How to know what you are buying

A grading report is a great tool for identifying a diamond, but in order to really appreciate a diamond, it must be seen in person. Buying some items online may be a convenient and sometimes cheaper option, diamonds are not one of those items. This is where your trusted jeweller comes into play.  They will assess your wants, needs and budget. They will discuss with you which diamonds would be best suited for your piece; in addition to providing grading reports by the GIA and other internationally recognized laboratories. We, at Breslauer & Warren Jewellers, select each and every diamond we carry for its maximum fire, brilliance and scintillation. Contact Breslauer & Warren Jewellers, and we will ensure your diamonds are selected with the finest details in mind.

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