5 things to know when choosing a diamond
Through the ages, diamonds have continued to hold reign as one of the most sought after gemstones. Are you in the market for one? Theresa Murphy of the Joliet-based Newstar Jewelers explains the 5 Cs when it comes to diamonds:
People often mistake carats as referring to the stone’s size. In actuality, carat refers to the diamond’s weight. Why is this an important distinction? Comparing the value of stones by weight is like comparing the value of paintings by size. A wall-sized canvas by an unskilled artist may be bigger than a miniature by Rembrandt, but it will not be worth more.
The Gemological Institute of America grades diamond color on a scale of D (colorless) to Z (light brown or yellow). The highest quality diamonds are colorless.
“Usually when looking for one it’s nice to be able to stay up towards the top of the scale,” Murphy said.
Cut does not refer to the shape of the stone, but rather how the diamond’s proportions reflect light. To that end, the cut should be a No. 1 priority, Murphy said.
“Because you want a stone that sparkles,” she said. “You can have a big diamond but if it’s not cut well the light will go in the top and out the bottom instead of coming out the top so you don’t get any sparkle to the stone.”
Clarity refers to the inclusions (or blemishes) within the stone. The two most common types of inclusions are crystals and feathers. Crystals are merely minerals trapped inside the diamond, whereas feathers are breaks in the diamond. The fewer inclusions the diamond has, the better the clarity grade. However, said Murphy, when choosing between two stones she recommends letting color guide the decision rather than clarity.
“Because you don’t see inclusions unless you’re looking under a microscope,” she said.
While many think spending three months’ salary is a hard and fast rule, “we don’t buy into that,” Murphy said. “We’re very firm believers in spending what you can afford to spend.”