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A Gem-Wise Guide To Buying a Diamond

By Richard W. Wise

Who doesn't love a diamond? Known as the traditional gemstone for an engagement ring, diamonds have steadily risen in popularity since the early 1940s, when Harry Openheimer the president of the De Beers cartel visited New York to meet with Gerold M. Lauck the president of N.W. Ayer, a leading advertising agency.

The value of diamond sales had declined 50% by the end of World War I and Openheimer was determined to do something about it, Lauck's suggestion; manufacture a tradition. So successful was the campaign that in 1967 De Beers hired J. Walter Thompson to create a similar "tradition in Japan, a country with absolutely no history of diamond giving. As a result, today over 90% of all Japanese women receive a diamond engagement ring.

Although everyone loves a diamond, few people know how to wisely choose one when standing at the jewelry counter. Here are five tips on how to buy your perfect diamond:

1. Diamonds are graded using the 4 Cs. Color, Cut, Clarity and Carat weight but they are not of equal importance.

2. Cut is the first C. Very well cut round diamonds are called ideals. Diamonds are cut for weight. They have no color and no nutrititional value. Diamond is all about sparkle. Fine cutting delivers the sparkle.

3. Never buy a clarity grade above VS2. Diamonds are graded using a 10x magnifier. A diamond graded Flawless and one graded SI1 (slightly included) are visually identical. The first and last time you will use magnification is the day you buy the stone.

4. Diamond color is based on tonal variations of the color yellow on a scale of D-Z. There is no A, B, or C. The more yellow the lower the grade. The first four colors D-G show no yellow when viewed face-up. Want to save money? Think about a G.

5. Look for moderate blue flourescence. About 1/3 of all diamond flouresce blue in ultraviolet light. While we can't see unltraviolet we can see its affects. Blue is the complement of yellow. Thus, blue flourescene will cancel out yellow and make the diamond appear whiter and more beautiful as well. A flourescent H may look like a D.

About The Author

Richard W. Wise is a Graduate Gemologist and President of R.W. Wise, Goldsmiths, Inc. His early interest in gemstones led him to write extensively about precious stones. For more information visit his website at


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