Internet shopping is somewhat new in the diamond trade. Diamonds, with their unique qualities and values, used to be considered unsuitable for internet sales. Over time, as technology has improved, online diamond buying has become a large part of the retail market. Even though the practice has become more popular, purchasing an item online which is as unique as a diamond can be perilous. There are numerous factors which determine a diamond’s quality and appearance. Without adequate insight into these factors, you may encounter difficulty when trying to identify the best diamond for your budget and needs.
There are a number of national online diamond retailers. Large cities may also have local stores which offer an online shopping option. As a rule, you should not shop on any site which does not clearly display the prices of their diamonds. These sites often require you to call or come in to the store before they reveal values. If their prices were truly competetive, they wouldn’t hide them.
Only look at GIA certified diamonds when shopping for diamonds online. A diamond’s value is a direct result of its color, clarity, cut and other quality factors, which are determined by a gemologist. Relying on a single gemologist, or an inferior laboratory’s report to ensure you are getting a good value is never a wise decision. GIA (Gemological Institute of America), is the only internationally recognized diamond certification laboratory whose reports are considered unchallengable. This is especially important when shopping for a diamond online, because you are completely reliant on the gradings they provide to determine whether or not the diamond you are buying is a good deal.
Remember, there are no ”steals” in the retail diamond market, just fair values and rip-offs. If you see a non-GIA certified diamond with the same specifications as a GIA certified diamond, but for less money, it has almost certainly been improperly graded.
Apart from the 4 C’s: color, cut, clarity and carat weight, there are a number of other, less known factors which can impact a diamond’s appearance and value. These include but are not limited to: fluorescence, table %, depth % and dark or centrally located inclusions.
Diamond fluorescence refers to the emission of visible light from a diamond when subjected to ultraviolet light. Ideally, your diamond would have no fluorescence. However, this only becomes a real issue when a diamond has medium, strong or very strong fluorescence. When present in these levels, fluorescence can effect a diamond’s brilliance, and value as a result. While shopping for a diamond online, you should be sure to check for the presence of fluorescence.
A diamond’s Table % and Depth % refers to its proportions. Depending on a diamond’s shape, its ideal table and depth percentages can vary. If one of these percentages is far off from its ideal parameters, it can have negative implications on the diamond’s appearance.
Once you have identified which diamond shape you would like to buy, whether it be round, pear, marquise or any other, you should look up that shape’s ideal table and depth percentage ranges. Then, when shopping for a diamond online, you should use those percentages as a guide.
Diamond Inclusions are imperfections located within a diamond. A diamond’s clarity grade reflects its quantity and degree of inclusions, but it does not necessarily account for the inclusion’s location or color. Any inclusions which are black or centrally located should be avoided. If you are shopping for a diamond in the Slightly Included (SI), or lower clarity grades, the diamond’s inclusions may be eye-visible, making this is an important consideration.
When a diamond is within these lower clarity grades, you should inquire about the location and appearance of any inclusions. Some online diamond sites include interactive images, allowing you to view a zoomed picture of the diamond, and inspect its inclusions yourself.
Every diamond is unique. Knowing how to fully interpret a diamond certificate, even one from GIA, can take years of experience to master. While following these guidelines should limit any risks when shopping for a diamond online, there is no real alternative to seeing it in person. That is why buying from an online diamond site with a clear and free return policy is a must.