The Perfect Diamond: A Buyer’s Guide

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The Washington DC Diamond Expert’s Guide to Buying Diamonds

You may purchase a diamond for different reasons — to convey love and affection, as an investment — but whatever the reason, you want to be sure you’re getting the best value for your money. You don’t want to wonder if you’ve made the right decision, you want to feel good about your purchase.

 The best way to remove the worry from the diamond buying process is to become an educated, well-informed consumer. That’s why we’ve prepared this booklet — to familiarize you with diamonds and with our company so that you can make intelligent choices in selecting your gems.

 You see, we firmly believe the more you know about diamonds and the diamond business, the more you’ll appreciate the quality of our diamonds, the professionalism of our staff, and the fairness of our prices.

 Washington Diamond is a family business owned by diamond professionals. We’ve been in business since 1969, providing quality diamonds to customers in Washington, DC and the northern Virginia area, including Alexandria, Arlington and other nearby cities.

Over the years, we have become known in for our honesty and accuracy, as well as for our expertise in buying, selling, and brokering diamonds. Because we’re direct importers of diamonds, we’re able to offer you a large selections of exquisitely cut diamonds— at highly competitive prices.

But judge for yourself. Study this information, then call us for an appointment at (703) 536-3600. You’ll enjoy a relaxed atmosphere where our diamond experts will answer all yourquestions about diamonds and provide you all the information you need to make a confident, informed decision.

We don’t believe in high pressure sales tactics. We prefer to give you our stress-freediamond education, then let you decide for yourself what the best deal is for you. We’ll even invite you to shop other dealers and compare, We’re confident that you’ll discover whatother clients have — that we’re the best place to buy diamonds.

Diamond Grading Reports - The Gemological Institute of America

While the difference between one grade of color or clarity of a diamond and the next can be virtually undetectable to the untrained eye, the difference in value between two grades may be hundreds or even thousands of dollars. How can you be sure that you are getting the grade you are paying for? Look for a GIA Diamond Grading Report.

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is a non-profit organization for the betterment and education of the diamond, gemstone, and jewelry industry. GIA is the largest and most respected educational institution serving the jewelry industry. They have:

●     Invented the diamond grading system used worldwide today

●     Established a special school to train Graduate Gemologists

●     Founded an independent diamond grading facility called the Gem Trade Laboratory

 The GIA system for grading diamonds is recognized worldwide. Its diamond program is the most comprehensive in the world and contains everything a well-educated diamond professional needs to know concerning the technical characteristics of diamonds.

The Washington Diamond team includes GIA Graduate Gemologists to guide you through the entire buying process and to ensure your 100% total satisfaction.

GIA Diamond Grading Report

Diamonds examined by the Gem Trade Laboratory receive a report attesting to their color, clarity, cut and carat weight and other technical characteristics. The GIA Diamond Grading Report is recognized worldwide as the standard of excellence and integrity. It is so highly regarded by the jewelry industry that many diamond dealers will buy and sell diamond sight unseen, based solely on the GIA report.

Dealers have this confidence in the GIA certificate because the GIA is truly independent and has no direct connection to any trade, sales or manufacturing organization. This means that when the highly trained GIA gemologists examine a diamond, they are concerned solely with determining its quality, regardless of who submitted it for grading. This report will give you confidence in your purchase because it provides an objective analysis of the quality characteristics of a diamond.

The process of acquiring a GIA certificate can take one to three and additional money per diamonds. For these reasons, many jewelers do not carry a wide assortment of GIA diamonds. At Washington Diamond, however, our loose diamonds have GIA reports.

We believe that the investment in GIA diamonds is important for both ourselves and our customers. It enhances our reputation for honesty and it assures our customers of the value of the diamonds they are purchasing. And when our customers have confidence in the grading of our diamonds, they will appreciate how excellent our prices are.

Don’t Be Misled

A diamond appraisal alone, even if done by a GIA graduate using GIA grading terms, represents only the opinion of the appraiser. Grading by those who claim to follow GIA standards, but who have a vested interest in the outcome, is no substitute for the accuracy and integrity of an independently determined GIA Report.

Diamond Appraisals & Insurance

It’s important to see the same grade, size, and shape of stone, and be sure you receive paperwork showing the exact size, color, and clarity of the diamond you’re thinking of purchasing.

Only accept the GIA grading system. If a merchant uses a different system, ask that your receipt be translated to GIA terms. Then, take your diamond to a qualified gemologist to be analyzed. An “appraiser” isn’t necessarily a gemologist, so make sure you ask for credentials. Graduation from a recognized institution, such as GIA, should be a minimum requirement.

You should be more concerned with how the diamond “grades” than its appraised value. Because an “unset” diamond is more accurately graded, you might consider having it appraised before the diamond is mounted

Finally, beware of merchants who offer special “limited warranties”. The best protection for your fine diamond is full-risk insurance. This may be purchased from your insurance agent as part of your homeowner’s policy and usually costs between $50 and $100 a year.

The Perfect Engagement Ring - How Much To Spend on Diamonds

While most purchases you’ll make depreciate in value over the years, your diamond is an item of value — which, like love, grows more precious with time. So consider buying the most beautiful diamond in your price range — regardless of its size.

 

A good “spending guideline” for an engagement ring is approximately two months of your gross salary. But it’s really up to you. Diamonds are available in such a wide range of prices, you can be sure to find one that suits your taste and budget. You should also keep in mind that Washington Diamond has an “upgrade” policy under which you can later trade in your diamond for one that better fits your lifestyle as your relationship grows.

 We’re happy to discuss your budget and financing options with you anytime.

The Six C’s of Diamonds – It’s Really More than Four…

In determining the value of a diamond, experts and laymen alike agree the most important characteristics are the Four C’s:

Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat Size

These four C’s provide a “yardstick” that gemologists use to assess the grading and worth of a diamond. If you know how diamonds are graded, you’ll a big advantage in selecting your diamond.

Of the Four C’s, precision cutting and color are the most important factors in determining a diamond’s beauty and value — with the clarity being the least important and carat always being an important factor.

Washington Diamond feels that in addition to these four technical qualities, there are two other factors that should be considered —

Cost and Confidence

We call these the “Fifth and Sixth C’s”.

Diamond Color

Color, the most important factor contributing to the value of a diamond, is the first characteristic noted by both the consumer and the expert.

The color grading scale developed by the GIA is the most widely accepted in the United States. It uses alphabet letters to indicate color. “D” color refers to diamonds with a total lack of all color, generally the more valuable diamonds. The best value in a diamond for adornment would be one that falls within color grades D to J, or colorless to near colorless.

 As the diamond’s yellow tint increases, the color grading proceeds through the alphabet to “Z”, with the value decreasing accordingly. Diamonds beyond Z grading have a strong yellow color intense enough to be considered “fancy”. The value of these “fancy” color diamonds then increases.

Color grading of diamonds is a difficult and specialized procedure. The best way to accurately determine a single color grade of a diamond is to compare it with a master set of diamonds; color graded and register by GIA.

A diamond can’t be color-graded face-up (table up) because the brilliancy (return of light to the eye from various facets) and dispersion (spectral colors) confuse the eye. Therefore, color grading is done through the pavilion (table-down), with the diamond placed in a V-shaped white tray or on a white card. For proper illumination, a color corrected fluorescent light free of ultraviolet rays should be used. This light has a spectral composition roughly equivalent to north daylight.

Diamond Clarity

Clarity refers to the presence or absence of inclusions, which are spots or flaws within or about the diamond. The majority of diamonds contain some flaws, but most are inclusions of other minerals created during crystal growth. These flaws decrease the diamond’s value, but not its beauty — unless the flaws are visible to the naked eye.

The system for clarity grading established and implemented by the GIA is accepted by all diamond trading centers as the standard for diamond grading. It assesses diamond clarity according to size, location, and number of inclusions or flaws present.

 Diamonds devoid of inclusions or flaws are graded “flawless” (FL). As the size and number of imperfections increase, the grading decreases down the scale towards imperfect. The equipment needed for determining the clarity of a diamond is:

 ●     a 10% triplet loupe corrected two ways, spherically and chromatically (this is

●     sometimes referred to as a “Jeweler’s Loupe”);

●     a pair of tweezers;

●     a white color card; cool white fluorescent light;

●     and a trained eye for observation.

Remember, a diamond doesn’t have to be flawless to be beautiful, as long as the diamond’s flaws aren’t noticeable to the naked eye and don’t interfere with the diamonds’s light-handling capabilities.

Washington Diamond generally handles only diamonds with no visible flaws (Flawless to SI2).

Diamond Cut

While color is the most important characteristic in determining a diamond’s value, we feel that the proportion of a diamond — that is, how well it is cut — is the most important in determining its beauty.

The proportions of a diamond are determined according to precise geometric angles and proportions, as specified by the GIA. These standards allow for maximum “brilliancy” (brightness), “dispersion” (fire) and “scintillation” (sparkle) in properly cut diamonds.

Precise cutting allows the diamond to reflect and retract intense flashes of prismatic light, which is the core of the diamond’s beauty. An ideally proportioned diamond will reflect a maximum amount of light, giving it a maximum brilliance, sparkle, and fire.

When a diamond is poorly cut, the light (and its fire) “leak” from its sides or bottom, causing a dramatic reduction in the diamond’s sparkle. It may even look glasslike, with very little sparkle at all. Any diamond that appears “lifeless” or “foggy” or sparkles more in some places than others is not well cut.

Only a scientifically cut diamond with correct angles and precise proportions will reveal all its fire, brilliancy, and beauty. And while some diamonds which are slightly out of proportion or poorly cut may “look” good to you, the accurately cut, finely proportioned diamond is more beautiful, as well as more valuable, and will hold that value.

A diamond’s finish is also important. Facets should be matched or well-joined. A medium girdle is far more desirable than an extremely thick or thin one. Girdles are usually unfinished or frosty looking, although sometimes they’ll be polished or even faceted.

Diamond Carat Measurement

Carat is not a measurement of size. It’s a unit of weight of diamonds and other gems. A carat is divided into 100 points. For example, a one-half carat diamond weights .50 carats or 50 points.

There are five carats in one gram; i.e., one carat equals 200 milligrams. A diamond’s carat weight directly affects its value. Smaller diamonds of high quality color and clarity are easier to find than larger ones. So, the larger the diamond’s size and weight, the greater its value — and cost. Large diamonds are rare, and, accordingly, are more valuable than smaller diamonds. Thus, a single, one-carat gem may be worth three times as much as two, 1/2 carat diamond!

Washington Diamond specializes in diamonds of all shapes and sizes from 1/2 ct. and up for engagement rings. We also sell diamonds under 1/2 ct. in groups totaling at least 1 ct. Over the years we have found that the average diamond bought for engagement rings in the Washington Metro area weighs between 1.09 and 1.16ct.

Diamond Cost

Diamonds have a powerful, romantic value — they are purchased as an expression of love and affection. When you purchase a diamond, you should feel good about it because you’ve bought an object of beauty at a good value.

Many people pay far more for diamonds than they’re worth. Some merchants mark up their diamonds by as much as 70-150%! At Washington Diamond we believe in buying the finest diamonds at the lowest cost and selling them for a better price. We back this up with our 100% Money Back Guarantee.

Confidence in Your Diamond Dealer

The “sixth C”, and one of the most important, is the confidence you have in your dealer. Washington Diamond strives to take the confusion and anxiety out of the purchasing process. Our customers often comment on how pleasant and informative shopping at Washington Diamond is compared to the average jewelry store.

When you visit us, you’ll meet in a quiet, comfortable atmosphere, one-on-one with a highly knowledgeable professional who has years of experience in diamonds. Instead of trying to sell you something you may not want, he’ll use his expertise to help you choose the diamond or piece of jewelry that is right for you. He’ll patiently educate you about diamonds, answer any questions you might have, then let you decide what is best.

We’re confident that once you’ve learned the basics of what determines a diamond’s value and beauty and once you’ve dealt with our courteous, helpful staff, you’ll see and appreciate what we have to offer, in both merchandise and service. If for some reason you’re not satisfied, we offer an Unconditional Money Back Guarantee.

Our reputation fortifies our philosophy —

Provide diamonds, gems and jewelry of superior quality and beauty, with uncompromising service at the most affordable prices in the Washington area.

Caring for Your Diamond

Diamonds have an affinity for grease and should be cleaned once every week, at a minimum. Ideally, they should be cleaned every other day.

A clean diamond not only reflects light better, but actually looks bigger than one that’s been “dulled” by skin oils, soap, cosmetics, and cooking grease.

The Best Way to Clean Diamonds

Jewelry can be cleaned by soaking in mild household detergent and gently brushed with a Toothbrush.

The safest, easiest, and most thorough method, though, is to use a good quality home ultrasonic cleaner. You should also bring your jewelry into Washington Diamond periodically for professional cleaning, inspection, and polishing.

Washington Diamond --We’re Not Just Diamonds

Washington Diamond offers in-house custom jewelry design and manufacture by our own master goldsmith. After you’ve selected your diamond, our specialists can create an exquisite setting to show off your diamond at its maximum beauty.

We also offer a wide range of jewelry by noted international designers. In our showroom you’ll find a wide array of engagement rings, tennis bracelets, diamond earrings, anniversary bands, and custom jewelry creations.

Colored Gems

Among the hottest items in the gem world today are colored diamonds, and Washington Diamond has them. Colored gemstones have become a very fashionable and versatile accessory. Cut in unique and unusual styles in a wide range of colors, these stones provide many opportunities for color-coordinating jewelry with wardrobe, eye color, make-up and so forth. And they are surprisingly affordable.

So when shopping for diamonds, jewelry, or colored stones, compare our prices, our quality and our selection. You’ll see why Washington Diamond is your last place to shop and your first place to buy.

Mark Fortune