Diamond Buying Basics

Diamond Buying Basics

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Cincy Chic: What are the first things someone should look for when diamond shopping?
Jimi Merk, owner/designer, Shine Your Light by Jimi Designs in Covington:
First and foremost, go to someone that's been recommended, or someone you can find a track record on. Also, for security measures, look for stones that are certified. When you're looking for an engagement ring, look at the diamond; the ring is just its podium.

Of course, you have the traditional "four Cs" with which most people examine and rate diamonds: carat weight, color, clarity and cut. However, in my opinion, quality matters most when you're looking for a stone. I wouldn't do anything less than an SI1. A good range to aim for is between VS1-SI1. As for color, there are colorless stones, which are DES, but you can get "near colorless" stones. I wouldn't go any more than H, for quality reasons. To ensure that the diamond will give off a good fire, shoot for a color in the range of D-H.

In general, make sure you look at a diamond through a loop, and you should see any serious flaws with it. Also, I don't recommend online diamond shopping unless you're a gemologist or you know how to read the scales. Otherwise, you run a high risk of getting a misproportioned diamond because you didn't know what all the numbers on the posted scale meant.

Cincy Chic: Can you dispel any myths about diamonds?
Merk:
Platinum is not usually the best option. It's a mineral that is three times more expensive, but it dulls out faster. And because it's more expensive, it's more expensive to fix. I tell people to go with white gold. Yes, you might need it dipped in a few years, but that's a lot less expensive than the high costs associated with platinum. White gold is more durable than yellow gold because it has more nickel in it. But it polishes out a lot easier. If you are rock climbing every day, you'll need to get platinum or titanium. Otherwise, white gold is your best option.

Also, with last year's box office hit, "Blood Diamond," there has been a lot of skepticism about the diamond industry and how our diamonds are acquired. I have to tell you, most aren't taken from those types of mines. There are, and always will be dark corners of any industry with high dollar items, but this is a very reputable and trustworthy business.

Cincy Chic: Any trends in the diamond industry we should be up on?
Merk:
From Europe, I've been seeing more pear shapes coming through. In addition, I've been seeing random cuts being matched together. For example, triangles with ovals and squares. The biggest trend are one-of-a-kind pieces. In the commercial fields too, they're advertising more custom-made pieces.

Cincy Chic: Are there any "tricks of the trade" people should know about diamonds?
Merk:
If you want the most for your money, I would buy the stone separate. Also, I recommend going to to a broker for diamonds if you want better leverage on pricing. Brokers help out on diamond prices because there's less overhead. You can get a good stone anywhere, but it's the price that will differ. You can save 30-40 percent when going through a broker, in most cases.