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Diamonds

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Selecting Diamonds

Diamonds are graded for certification by laboratories using grading criteria.
Four of these criteria are critical to understand when making a diamond
purchase or investment. Known as the "Four C's" these criteria are: color, cut,
clarity and carat.

Color is the result of the composition of a diamond and it does not change.
When a jeweler is describing the color of a diamond they are referring to the
presence or absence of color in white diamonds. Because a diamond with no color
allows maximum light to pass through, colorless diamonds are preferred for their
sparkle.

Cut refers to a diamonds reflective quality. Most diamonds are cut with 58
facets. The brilliance of diamonds is heavily dependent on the cut. The
different angles and the finish of a diamond determine its ability to reflect
light and cause its brilliance and fire. Remember that the cut of a diamond can
have an impact on its durability as well as its beauty. Some cutting faults can
make a diamond prone to breakage. A diamond that is cut too thin can also cause
light to leak out of the back and the diamond will lose some of the sparkle and
appear not to shine. So, as you can see the Cut is probably the most important
of the Four C's.

During the formation process, inner flaws, or inclusions occur in most
diamonds. The number and size of these inclusions determine what is referred to
as the clarity of a diamond. Diamonds that are clear create more brilliance and
therefore are rarer and highly priced. To be considered "flawless", a diamond
must have no surface or internal imperfections visible upon being viewed by a
skilled diamond grader using 10 power magnifications.

Carat is the unit of weight by which diamonds are measured. One carat is equal
to 200 milligrams. A carat is divided into 100 segments called points. 150
points would equal one and a half carats.

When you go to the store to make that all important diamond purchase, do not be
shy! Ask questions, get the answers needed to make an informed purchase.
Shopping for certified diamonds enables you to make an informed selection.
Knowing the "four C's" allows you to comparison shop and purchase the best
diamond at a fair price. But, before making a purchase, shop around and decide
what shapes and styles really appeal to you. Enjoy your diamond for years to
come!

How to Clean your Diamonds

Through our day to day movements our diamonds get smudged and soiled. Even when
we are not wearing them, they collect dust. Lotions, soaps, our natural skin
oils, can cause film and grime on diamonds and inhibit their brilliance.

Want to keep that Brilliance and Shine? Diamonds require cleaning so that
maximum amounts of light can refract fiery brilliance. Remember that all it
takes is a few minutes and a little care to keep that diamond as fiery as the
day you first saw it.

You can use an small soft brush such as an eyebrow or lip stick brush and soap
and water to clean your jewelry. Simply make a bowl of warm sudsy water with a
mild detergent and place your pieces in the mixture. Then brush the diamonds
with the soft bristles of the brush while they are in the suds. You will need
to make certain that you rinse them clear of the suds after cleaning them. You
can use a small kitchen strainer such as a tea strainer to contain them while
rinsing under warm water. Use a lint free cloth, or a jewelry polish cloth to
pat them dry.

If your diamonds are in need of a stronger cleansing, you may want to soak them
for 30 minutes in a solution of half and half water and ammonia. Once they have
soaked for 30 minutes, remove them and gently brush the mountings with a small
brush. Then replace the pieces to the solution and swish them around in the
mixture before removing them to rinse and pat dry.

If you find your self too busy to be mixing soaps and ammonias, many department
stores sell liquid jewelry cleaners. Most are kits, with everything you need
included. You need to read the labels to determine the one that is right for
your diamonds and other jewelry. Read the complete directions and follow all
the precautions.

And if you find yourself more the "high-tech type", even in your diamond
cleaning routine, there are multiple ultrasonic cleansers on the market. These
machines use high-frequency to create a cleaning motion. All machines are not
the same, so please read the instructions before using.

Only you can choose the cleaning method right for you. But, it is essential to
keep your jewelry clean to keep it brilliant and sparkling. Between cleaning,
try not to touch your clean diamonds with your fingers or handle your jewelry 
by its edges. This will help maintain its shine and brilliance for longer 
periods.

How to Care for Your Diamond

Caring for a diamond takes more than occasional cleanings. Diamonds are
forever, but they can be damaged if you are not careful. By learning how to
properly care for your diamond, you will ensure that your diamond is indeed
forever.

First, you should take your diamond jewelry to a jeweler once a year. Have him
check the mountings and prongs that hold your diamond in place. Have him make
any needed repairs. This will prevent your diamond from falling out of its
setting and becoming lost.

Diamond jewelry that is not being worn, or diamonds that are loose should be
stored in a fabric lined jewel case, or in a jewelry box where it can be kept 
separate from other jewelry. Each piece should have its own compartment. This 
will keep diamonds from becoming scratched, and it will also keep your diamond 
from scratching other jewelry as well.

Remove your diamond jewelry when doing physical work. Diamonds can be chipped
and scratched easily. Also avoid allowing your diamond to come into contact
with bleach or other household cleansers -- this can damage or change the color
of the settings and mountings, and it may even irreversibly change the color of
the diamond!

Are Diamonds Really Rare?

When you walk into a jewelry store and see all the diamonds in all of the
various settings that are for sale, it is difficult to realize that diamonds
are indeed rare. Most people don't even stop to consider how that diamond came
to be sitting in that jeweler's case! There is quite a bit of work that is done
before a diamond is ready to sell to the general public!

For every one million diamonds that are mined, only one will be found that is a
quality one caret diamond. In order to find a two caret diamond, about five
million diamonds must be mined. More than two hundred tons of ore must be mined
to find one small diamond, and even then, more than 80% of the diamonds that are
mined are only good for industrial use, such as diamond drill bits.

So, the next time you visit your local jewelry store, ask to see the one carat
diamonds. You should look at this diamond with new appreciation -- knowing that
it truly is one in a million!

All About the Clarity of Diamonds

Clarity is an important aspect of a diamond, and it is important to know how to
grade the clarity of a diamond before you buy one. It is actually quite easy to
learn how to grade the clarity of a diamond. There are basically two things
that you must understand: Diamonds with visual inclusions and blemishes, and
those that are 'eye clean' meaning that there are no inclusions or blemishes
that can be seen with the naked eye. From there, the clarity of a diamond is
further broken down into subcategories.

Many people mistakenly think that diamond clarity refers to how clear it is.
This isn't so. Clarity actually refers to the internal and external
imperfections of the diamond. The best diamonds, of course get a grade of FL or
IF -- Flawless or Internally Flawless -- meaning that it is perfect. A grade of
I-1, I-2 or I-3 means that the diamond is imperfect, with a grade of I-3 being
the worst.

Other grades are VVS1 and VVS2, which means that the diamond is very, very
slightly imperfect; VS1 and VS2, meaning the diamond is very slightly
imperfect; SI-1 and SI-2, which means that the diamond is slightly imperfect.

About Diamond Weights

Diamonds are measured in Carat Weight. One carat weighs 200 milligrams. If a
diamond is referred to as four grains, this also means that it is a one carat
diamond. The word Carat comes from the word carob. A carob is a bean that grows
on a tree in the Mediterranean. In times past, if a diamond weighed the same as
a carob bean, it was one carob, or one carat.

However, in the far east, where Carob trees do not grow, rice was used to
measure the weight of a diamond. If a diamond weighed as much as four grains of
rice, it was four grains -- or one carat as we know it to be now. The majority
of diamond purchases are for diamonds that are 1/3 of a carat.

Beware when shopping for diamonds that are already set or mounted. If more than
one diamond is used in the piece, the tag on the jewelry will give the CTW or
Carat Total Weight -- it does not tell you the carat weight of each stone in
the piece. You need to ask the jeweler for the total carat weight of the
largest diamond in the piece to truly understand what you are buying.

Insuring Your Diamonds

Insuring a diamond takes a bit of thought, planning, and shopping around.
Diamond insurance isn't like purchasing car insurance. It is quite different.
Depending on the state that you live in, there are basically three different
types of policies that will cover diamonds, and all insurance policies that
cover diamonds are considered Marine type policies.

The first type of insurance policies for diamonds is an Actual Cash Value
policy. If the diamond is lost or damaged beyond repair, the insurance company
will replace the diamond at today's market value, no matter how much you paid
for the diamond to begin with. This type of insurance policy for diamonds 
actually is not that common.

The most common type of insurance for diamonds is Replacement Value insurance.
The insurance company will only pay up to a fixed amount to replace the diamond
that was lost or damaged beyond repair. This does not mean that they will pay
that amount -- it means that they will pay up to that amount. In most cases, 
the diamond can be replaced at a lower cost.

The third type of coverage offered for diamonds is Agreed Value. This is
sometimes called 'Valued At.' This type of coverage is very rare. In the event
that the diamond is lost or damaged beyond repair, the insurance company simply 
pays you the amount that you and the company agreed upon. This is the best type 
of insurance to have, but it is rarely offered. If you can't get Agreed Value 
coverage, Actual Cash Value coverage should be your next choice.

Your rates will be determined by the value of the diamond, the type of coverage
that you select, and the area that you live in. If you live in an area with a
high crime rate, you can expect to pay more for your diamond insurance
coverage. It is important to remember that insurance agents are not qualified
jewelers, and jewelers are not qualified insurance agents. It is best to get a
certificate for your diamond, and to provide the insurance company with a copy
of that certificate. This leaves the insurance company less room for arguments
over the actual value of the diamond.

Don't rely on separate coverage to cover your diamond. For instance, if you
diamond is stolen from your home, it is probably covered on your home owner's
insurance policy -- but the diamond probably won't always be in your home, and
once it leaves your home, there is no coverage.

Synthetic Diamonds

The first synthetic diamonds were produced by General Electric in 1954. A
synthetic diamond is basically a rock that has the durability, refractive index
and hardness of a natural diamond -- but it is made by man. A synthetic diamond
should not be confused with stimulant diamonds, such as glass, cubic zirconia,
or moissanite.

Although the technology for synthetic diamonds came into play in 1954, no
synthetic diamonds were ever seen on the market until the 1990's. This was due
to the fact that it took many years for General Electric to produce a synthetic
diamond that could compare with the quality of a natural diamond -- and when
they figured out how to do it, they found that it cost more to produce a
synthetic diamond than it did to mine and cut natural diamonds.

Finally, a small company by the name of Gemesis Corporation figured out a way
to produce synthetic diamonds that were of the same quality as natural
diamonds, at a cheaper price. Today, Gemesis produces synthetic white diamonds,
and colored diamonds as well. These diamonds sell for about 1/3 of the cost of a
natural diamond, but there is a shortage of them, and they are hard to find. In
fact, it seems that synthetic diamonds are rarer than natural diamonds!

What Are Dirty Diamonds?

A dirty diamond is one of two things: a rough diamond, or a diamond that hasn't
been cleaned in a while. Rough diamonds are uncut and unpolished -- hence, they
are dirty. But that type of dirty diamond will soon be cut and polished and
sitting in a beautiful jewel box in a display case. Then someone will purchase
it, and before long, it will become a dirty diamond once again.

Diamonds become dirty. When you wash your hands with a diamond ring on, soap
scum clings to it. When you put on hand lotion, it gets grease on it. Shower
with your diamond earrings or necklace, and again, you get soap scum. In one
short day, your brand new diamond could be dirty!

Purchase an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner the same day that you purchase your
diamond jewelry, and use it every single day, without fail. The clarity of the
diamond changes when the diamond is dirty -- it loses its sparkle. By taking
one minute each day to clean your diamond jewelry, you can avoid this, and your
diamonds will never be dirty!

How to Spot A Fake Diamond

In this world of advanced technology it is almost impossible to simply look at
a diamond and determine whether it is real or not -- especially if you don't
know much about diamonds. There are some steps that you can take to avoid
buying a fake diamond, however.

First, only deal with reputable jewelers, and when you find a reputable
jeweler, stick with them. Avoid buying diamonds or other jewelry from jewelers
that you have never dealt with before in the past. Ask to see the certificate
for the stone. If no certificate exists, walk away.

Look at the setting that the stone is in. Fake diamonds, such as zirconias, are
usually set in low quality metals. Take a close look at the stone. Fake diamonds
are not durable -- natural diamonds, on the other hand, are the most durable
stone on the planet. Look for scratches or nicks.

After purchasing a diamond, take it to another jeweler for appraisal. In fact,
take it to two or three other jewelers for an appraisal to make sure that the
appraisals are all fairly close. If you find that you have purchased a fake
diamond, you may be accused of making a switch when you return to the store of
your purchase; therefore, it is important to have a certificate for the
diamond. No two stones are alike.

How to Sell A Diamond

There are many reasons why you may want to sell a diamond that you own. Perhaps
you've gotten divorced, or you are strapped for cash. The reasons why don't
really matter -- getting the best possible price is what counts! The way to 
obtain the best price for the diamond is to not be in a rush. Slow down, and 
carefully consider all of your options -- there are many.

First, have the diamond appraised. In fact, have it appraised by two or three
jewelers to get an accurate idea of the diamonds value. Tell the appraiser that
you want the Rapaport Value. This is the wholesale value of the diamond, and it
basically tells you the highest price that you can sell your diamond for. If
your diamond has no certificate, you should consider getting a certificate from
GIA. This may help you get a better price for the diamond as well.

First, try to sell the diamond yourself, to people you know. Friends and family
members may be interested. If you don't have any luck with friends or family
members, you should turn to outside sources. Absolutely avoid pawn shops! A
pawn shop will only offer you about 10% of what the diamond is worth! Also
avoid offers of selling the ring on consignment. There are many things that can
go wrong, and there is no shortage of diamond scams -- even in well known
jewelry stores.

If the diamond is important, you should strongly consider auctioning it off
through one of the famous auction houses, such as Christie's or Sotheby's. If
it isn't what is considered an 'important' diamond or a high-end diamond, you
should try to sell it to an individual using classified ads, or even eBay.
However, selling to an individual that you do not know could put you in danger
-- especially if the diamond is worth a lot of money.

Your final option should be a jewelry store. It is vital that you not let your
diamond out of your sight while in the jewelry store -- you might find that the
diamond you walked in with is not the same diamond that you walk out with! The
jeweler will try to tell you that your diamond is of poor quality or low
weight. Inevitably, there will be some problem with the diamond. This is where
your appraisal and/or certificate will come in handy.

If the jeweler is fair, they will offer you between 60% and 80% of the value of
the Rapaport Value. Do not accept anything less than this. Again, do not let the
diamond out of your sight until you have been paid for it.

How to Buy Diamond Engagement Rings

There is much to consider when purchasing a diamond -- especially diamond
engagement rings! The tradition of presenting a woman with a diamond engagement
ring when proposing began in 1477 when Archduke Maximilian presented a diamond
ring to Mary of Burgundy -- and in most cases, the woman you plan to propose to
will expect a ring to accompany that proposal!

First, determine how much ring you can afford. Most people use the 'two months
salary' rule. This means that the ring should cost the equivalent of two months
of your current salary. Because you have other bills to pay, saving up this
amount of money may take quite a bit of time. You should consider financing.
Simply go to the jeweler of your choice and tell them that you plan to buy an
engagement ring, and that financing will be necessary. Go ahead and get the
credit check out of the way, find out what your payments will be, and how much
of a down payment is required.

Now, have your mother, sister, or your girlfriends best friend take your
girlfriend shopping, and make sure that they gaze at the engagement rings to
get an idea of what she might like. Make sure that the jewelry store you buy
the ring from will allow you to return the ring, if that is required, or allow
your girlfriend to exchange it for another if she isn't happy with it!

How Diamond Prices Are Determined

Pricing most products is quite easy. Determine how much it costs to make the
item, how much it costs to market that item, and then mark it up by 15 -- 30%
or more. Simple, right? Well, pricing diamonds isn't quite that simple. There
are many factors that are considered when diamonds are priced.

Diamond prices are determined first by adding the cost of the rough diamond,
the cost of cutting the diamond, and all other costs necessary to turn the
rough diamond into a marketable diamond. Depending on the importance of the
diamond, an independent company may be called in to certify the grade of the
diamond based on color, cut, clarity, and weight.

At this point, the diamond becomes more expensive each time it changes hands,
until it finally reaches a retailer, where the price is raised a bit more.
Before reaching the retailer, however, the diamond must travel from the mine,
to the cutter and polisher, to the independent grading company, and then to the
Primary market. Once it has reached the primary market, it will be purchased by
diamond dealers and wholesalers, and from there it will be sold to retailers.

As you can see, the earlier you can purchase a diamond in the process, the
lower the cost of the diamond will be -- but not the value. The value is based
on what the diamond will sell for in the market place -- through a retailer.

If you own a diamond, and you have no idea how much it is worth, you can have
it appraised, but the appraisal may not be accurate. You will be better off
obtaining a certificate through GIA -- Gemological Institute of America. With
the information on this certificate, you can use a cutter's guide to accurately
determine what your diamond is worth.

There are also many diamond price calculators available. These can be found on
the Internet, and many diamond dealers use these as well. You must realize,
however, that before you can accurately price a diamond, without a Diamond
Grade Report, you need to know quite a bit about diamonds, such as different
cuts, clarity, color, and weight -- and how each of those aspects adds to the 
value of a diamond, or decreases the value of the diamond as the case may be.

Again, you will be better off if you get a Diamond Grading Report on the
diamond, and use that information to look up the price in one of the guides
that the diamond cutting industry uses. This will give you the most accurate
value of the diamond in your possession, or of the diamond you are considering
purchasing.

Where Diamonds are Mined

Argye mine located in the Kimberley region in the far north east of Western
Australia. Owned by Rio Tinto, this mine is the world's largest single producer
of volume of diamonds. However, due to low proportion of gem quality diamonds it
is not the value leader. It does produce 90-95% of the world's supply of pink
diamonds.

Diavik is also owned by Rio Tinto, located in Canada it is a very large mine.
It is located north of Yellowknife and south of the Artic Circle on an island.
The island is connected by an ice road. It is also an important part of the
regions economy employing more than 700 people and producing more than 8
million carats annually.

Ekati diamond mine is owned by BHP Billiton and located south of the artic
circle in the Northwest Territories of Canada. The Ekati is Canada's first
operational diamond mine. Diamonds mined here are sold under the Aurias trade
name Authenticity is verified through Canada Mark service. CanadaMark service
is also owned by BHP Billiton Diamonds, Inc.

Baken diamond mine is located along the lower Orange River in South Africa. It
is owned and operated by Trans Hex. The average size stone for 2004 was 1.29
carats. In 2004, this mine produced a 78.9 carat D color flawless diamond that
sold for more than 1.8 million dollars (US), as well as a 27.67 pink diamond
that was sold for over 1 million US dollars.

Merlin is the second of only two diamond mines in Australia. No longer
operating it was owned by Rio Tinto and sold to Striker Resources, who has
explored the possibilities of reopening the mine.

Orapa is the world's largest diamond mine. It us located 240 Km west of
Francistown. The mine is owned by "Debswana" which is a partnership between
DeBeers and the government of Botswana. This mine operates 7 days a week. It
maintains pre primary and primary schools for its employee's children. There is
also a 100 bed hospital and game park. This mine began production in 1971 and is
the oldest mine owned by the Debswana Company.

The Premier mine located in Cullinan, South Africa produced the largest gem
diamond ever in 1905. The Cullinan Diamond weighed 3,106.75 carats. This mine
also produced the Golden Jubilee diamond which weighed 545.67 carats. This mine
is owned by the De Beers Company and was renamed The Cullinan Diamond Mine in
2003 in celebration of its centennial.




How Diamonds Are Mined

We seldom think about how the diamonds we wear came to us. Natural diamonds, as
opposed to synthetic diamonds or fake diamonds, are mined from the earth. There
are currently two methods of mining diamonds: Pipe Mining and Alluvial Mining.

When pipe mining is used, the diamonds are extracted from the earth through
volcanic pipes. These are not man-made pipes. These are natural pipes in the
ground. Shanks are put into the ground next to the pipes, and tunnels are
driven into the deepest parts of the pipe. The diamonds are not sorted out at
the mine. Instead, huge rocks that are full of diamonds are brought out of the
mine and moved to a screening plant for separation.

The Alluvial mining method is done in riverbeds and on beaches. Walls are built
to hold back the water and the sand on the bank or beach is moved with a
bulldozer until the level of earth that diamonds can be found in is reached.
Again, the diamonds are not sorted here. Instead, the sand that contains the
diamonds is bulldozed into trucks, and taken to screening plants.

How Diamonds Are Cut

In their most natural form, diamonds are -- well -- quite ugly. They have no
luster or shine, and in fact, look like nothing more than broken glass. A 
diamond must be cut, and then polished before it actually becomes a thing of 
beauty.

Diamonds are cut with saws, into round shapes. From the rounded shape, other
shapes may be cut, such as heart shapes -- but the shape is less important than 
the quality of the cutting that is being done. If the diamond is poorly cut, it 
will lose light, and it will not sparkle and shine very well. Each facet of the 
diamond must be carefully cut into the geometrical shapes that allow the diamond 
to sparkle and shine, then the entire diamond is cut into a specific shape, such 
as an emerald cut or a princess cut diamond.

Once the cut is done, the diamond is put into a dop, which resembles a cup with
another diamond -- only a diamond is strong enough to smooth the edges of
another diamond. Once the diamond has been cut and shaped, and had the edges
smoothed in the dop, it is polished on a scaif or a diamond polishing wheel.

Famous Diamonds

Among the most well known diamonds is the Hope. This 45.52 carat steel blue
diamond is currently on display at the Smithsonian. The legends of the
ill-fortune and curse bestowed on the possessor of the Hop e Diamond are many.
This diamond was donated to the Smithsonian in 1958. The Hope was originally a
rather flat, blocky 110-carat rough.

The Dresden Green stands out among the natural colored diamonds. It is the
largest green diamond in the world weighing 40.70 carats. This diamond is
historic, large and has a natural green color with a slight blue overtone.
These facts make it virtually priceless.

The Conde Pink is a pear shaped and weighs 9.01-carats. This pink diamond was
once owned by Louis XIII.

The Tiffany Yellow diamond a beautiful canary-yellow octahedron weighing 287.42
in the rough (metric) carats discovered in either 1877 or 1878 in South Africa.
The gem after cutting boasts the extraordinary weight of 128.54 carats. And
until recently, was the largest golden-yellow in the world.

The Koh-I-Noor ( Mountain of Light ) is now among the British Crown Jewels.
This diamond weighs 105.60 carats. First mentioned in 1304, it is believed to
have been once set in Shah Jehan's famous peacock throne as one of the peacocks
eyes.

The Agra is graded as a naturally colored Fancy Light Pink and weighs 32.34
carats. It was sold for about 6.9 million in 1990. Since this sale, it has been
modified to a cushion shape weighing about 28.15 carats.

The Transvaal Blue is pear cut. This blue diamond weighs 25 carats. It was
found in the Premier Diamond Mine in Transvaal, South Africa.

The Great Chrysanthemum was discovered in the summer of 1963, in a South
African diamond field. This 198.28-carat fancy brown diamond appeared to be a
light honey color in its rough state. However, after cutting, it proved to be a
rich golden brown, with overtones of sienna and burnt orange.

The Taylor-Burton Diamond is a pear-shaped 69.42 carat diamond. Cartier of New
York purchased this diamond at an auction in 1969 and christened it "Cartier."
The next day Richard Burton bought the diamond for Elizabeth Taylor. He renamed
it the "Taylor-Burton". In 1978, Elizabeth Taylor put the diamond up for sale.
Prospective buyers had to pay $2,500 each to view the diamond to cover the
costs of showing it. Finally, in June of 1979, the diamond was sold for nearly
$3 million dollars.

Diamond Scams

When it comes to diamonds, there are numerous scams to avoid. Most scams are
minor, but there are some major ones that come up from time to time concerning
the buying and selling of diamonds. Scams occur simply because most people who
buy diamonds -- for whatever reasons -- don't know that much about diamonds.
Therefore, they are easily fooled.

A common scam that most jewelry stores participate in is the Carat Total Weight
scam. The tag on the piece of jewelry, usually a ring, only states the total
carat weight of all diamonds in the piece, instead of listing the total weights
separately for each diamond. This leads consumers to believe that the main
diamond in the piece is actually bigger than it is. Ask what the total carat
weight of the center stone is. Also beware of fractions. Jewelry stores are
allowed to round off diamond weights. This means that if the jeweler tells you
that it is a 1/2 carat diamond, it is probably between 1/4 and 1/2 carat -- but
closer to 1/2.

Jewelry stores often run 'fluorescence' scams to varying degrees. Referring to
a diamond as a blue-white diamond is such a scam. A blue-white diamond sounds
very unique and special, but in fact, this type of diamond is of lesser quality
-even though the jeweler will try to make you think you are getting something
special. Jewelry stores also like to show their diamonds in bright lights.
Lights make diamonds shine. Ask to see the diamond in a different, darker type
of lighting as well.

Some truly unscrupulous jewelers target those who want appraisals on diamonds
that were given to them as gifts or that were purchased elsewhere. They will
try to tell you that the diamond is worthless, or worth less than it actually
is worth -- and offer to take it off your hands or trade it for a much better
diamond, along with the cash to make up the difference. This is called low
balling. Get a second, third, and even a forth opinion before taking any action.

Another common dirty trick is to switch the diamond you have chosen and paid
for with one of lesser quality and value when you leave it to be set in a piece
of jewelry, or leave a diamond ring to be sized. The only way to avoid this is
to do business with one trustworthy jeweler. Avoid jewelers that you have not
done business with in the past.

There are many more scams that jewelry stores commonly pull on unsuspecting
consumers. Just use your best judgment, and purchase your diamonds with the
utmost care and consideration.

Diamond Grading Reports

You've been told that having a certificate or a diamond grading report is
important, and as a responsible consumer, you get one -- unfortunately, you
probably won't understand a word of what is on that diamond grading report,
unless you are a jeweler.

On the color grading scale, D, E, and F mean that the diamond has no color. G,
H, and I means that it has very little color. J, K, and L means that the
diamond has a slight yellow color. P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, and X means that the
diamond is a darker shade of yellow. Z means that the diamond has a
fancy color -- other than white or yellow. On the color grading scale, D is the
most valuable, and X is the least valuable -- however diamonds that get a Z
rating are the rarest and most expensive diamonds in the world.

There are many aspects to a grading report. Figuring it all out can be very
confusing. You should talk to a jeweler you trust, and have them explain
everything on the diamond grading report to you.

Diamond Certificates

A diamond certificate is also known as a Diamond Grading Report. This report
comes from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), and you should require
this report when you are purchasing a diamond.

With a diamond certificate, you can verify the color, cut, carat, weight, and
clarity of the diamond. You don't have to worry about a diamond dealer telling
you anything less than the truth, because the certificate comes from the GIA
-not the dealer. You may be required to pay for the certificate, but the cost
is usually low, and in many cases, it will help you negotiate a better price on
the diamond -- or keep you from purchasing a lower quality diamond altogether.

If you buy a high quality diamond, and then later decide to sell the diamond,
you will need to have the certificate, or you will have a hard time selling it
to someone else. Furthermore, you can use the Diamond Grading Report to look up
the wholesale value of the diamond in question. Use the guide that is used by
the diamond cutting industry.

With the Certificate, or Diamond Grading Report, there won't be any doubts when
you are trying to purchase a diamond. You can easily find out what the diamond
is worth. This will prevent you from overpaying, and it can prevent a seller
from under-charging as well.

A copy of the Diamond Grading Report should be given to your insurance company
as well, when you insure the diamond. This provides absolute, unquestionable
proof of the value of the diamond should it be stolen in the future. Insurance
companies cannot argue with the report.

Avoid diamond dealers who seem reluctant to provide a certificate! Also avoid
sellers who tell you that a certificate diamond will cost you more -- the only
additional cost should be the cost of the certificate, which is low. If the
dealer doesn't want to provide a certificate, then you don't want to do
business with that dealer.

Don't accept certificates from Gemological Laboratories other than GIA. There
are many fly-by -night Gemological labs these days, but in the end, GIA has
been established as the most respectable and trustworthy -- not to mention
oldest -- of the lot. So avoid dealers who don't want to use GIA for
certification purposes as well.

Don't buy an expensive diamond without paying the extra cost of the
certificate. If a dealer tries to convince you to make the purchase without the
certificate, or if they want to use a company other than GIA, you can be sure
that the dealer has probably greatly inflated the price of the diamond -- they
have something that they are hiding from you.

Diamond Brands and What They Mean

Diamonds are one of the few products that simply cannot be 'branded.' Even
though there are different cuts, different grades, and different values placed
on each and every diamond in existence, no diamond is any specific brand -just
as gold is not a specific brand.

Branding is actually based on who owns the diamond. For instance, if DeBeers
owns the diamond, it is a DeBeers Diamond -- but it is still just a diamond. If
the diamond was cut by a specific well known cutter, then it might be branded in
that way as well -- but it usually isn't. It is still branded based on who owns
it at the time. So basically, when it comes down to it -- diamond brands mean
absolutely nothing at all.

Do not allow a jeweler to try to talk you into paying an exorbitant price on a
diamond because it is a specific brand. This is a bit of trickery used by
unscrupulous jewelers when they know that they are dealing with people who
don't know much about diamonds. Remember that diamonds are not actually 
branded -- unless mother nature has her own brand!

Colored Diamonds

Fancy colored diamonds are all the rage these days. Gemologists have developed
new ways to create versions that are affordable for the average person -- by
treating less desirable diamonds. These less desirable diamonds are treated
with irradiation followed by intense heat. This turns brown and yellowish
diamonds into beautifully colored diamonds that you can afford. This produces
stunning greens, blues, yellows, reds, purples and other colors. These colors
are considered permanent, but there is a possibility they could change during
repairs if a high heat is used.

Treatments like irradiation make it possible for more people to own these
vividly colored diamonds. Most natural colored diamonds are rare and also
extremely expensive. When shopping for colored diamonds you need to assume that
any affordable fancy color diamond has been treated. Ask about the stones origin
and request to view a lab certificate to verify authenticity.

Synthetic colored diamonds are another option if owning a colored diamond is
something you desire but cannot quite afford. They are real diamonds, but they
are created in a lab.

Natural fancy color diamonds get their coloring from different trace elements
present in the stones, such as nitrogen, which produces a yellow diamond.
Diamonds can be colored by exposure to radiation during its creation. An
example of a diamond affected by radiation is a Green diamond.

Another way that a natural colored diamond gets color is by its inclusions.
Regarded as flaws and undesirable in a colorless diamond, inclusions give
unique tones and brilliant flashes of color in a fancy color diamond. Remember
that Natural fancy colored diamonds are very expensive, any colored diamond
labeled to be sold as natural should be accompanied by a certificate from a
respected grading lab.

A "fancy" diamond is a natural diamond that has color. These colors vary from
red, green, purple, violet, orange, blue and pink -- and most shades between.
Fancy color shades vary from faint to intense.

The most famous diamonds in the world are Color diamonds. The Tiffany Diamond,
which is yellow and the Hope Diamond which is blue are colored diamonds. Color
diamonds have an amazing financial track record. The value has never decreased
on wholesale level in more than 30 years. Blue and pink diamonds have doubled
every 5 years of a strong economy. In the 1970's you could have bought a very
high quality blue diamond for about 50K and today the very same stone would be
worth between 2 and 3 million.

Choosing The Cut of A Diamond

There are many different cuts of diamonds to choose from. The cut essentially
refers to the shape that the diamond is cut into -- unless you are in the
diamond or jewelry business, but this shape has a great impact on the much the
diamond sparkles.

The most popular cuts are heart, marquise, oval, pear, princess, round,
trillion, and emerald cuts. The shape has an impact on how much the diamond
sparkles, but the actual cutting itself -- when the diamond cutter actually
cuts the diamond into a particular shape -- also matters a great deal. If the
diamond is poorly cut, it will lose its sparkle.

However, in the diamond industry, the cut of a diamond doesn't refer to its
shape at all. Instead, this is a reference to the stone's depth, width,
brilliance, durability, clarity, and other aspects of the diamond. Common
cutting problems include a missing or off center culet, misalignment, a diamond
that is too thick or too thin, cracks, or broken culets.

When shopping for a diamond, you should of course choose the shape that you
like the best, but then look at several different diamonds of that shape to
find the one with the best cut -- the one that sparkles the most, in all types
of lighting.

Bonded Diamonds

Before you start shopping for diamonds, consider dealing with a bonded jeweler.
Bonded jewelers sell bonded diamonds, and there are very few bonded jewelers in
the world. In fact, out of all of the jeweler's in the world, only about 5% of
them are bonded. Buying a bonded diamond will cost more than buying a
non-bonded diamond, but when you look at what you get with the bonded option,
you will see that it is well worth the extra expense.

First, bonded diamonds have a buy back policy for the life of the diamond. No
matter how long you have had the diamond, you can take it back to the bonded
jeweler and sell it back to him or her, for a 100% refund. If a jeweler does
not offer a 100% buy back guarantee, for the life of the diamond, then you
should take a closer look at the diamond to see what is wrong with it.

Bonded diamonds also have a breakage policy. If the stone breaks or chips, the
bonded jeweler will replace it with a new one
-- one time. No jeweler would ever offer such a policy on any stone that was
not 100% natural, so just the offer of such a policy should give you piece of
mind concerning the quality of the diamond. Bonded diamonds are natural and
untreated.

Bonded diamonds increase in value, with a fixed appreciation rate that is
designed to keep up with inflation. This means that a diamond that is worth a
certain amount of money today will be worth more in the future, as the price of
diamonds continues to rise. This generally does not apply to buy backs, however.
It typically applies to trade-ins.

Alternately, by purchasing a bonded diamond, you are protected against the
possibility of a market crash. If a market crash occurs, the value of diamonds
will drop. However, the bonded jeweler guarantees to refund you the difference
between what the diamond is now worth and what you paid for it before the
market crash.

It may be difficult to find a bonded jeweler in your area, but if you can, this
is who you want to deal with, as opposed to dealing with an un-bonded jeweler.
Specifically tell the jeweler that you are only interested in bonded diamonds.
You can find a bonded jeweler in your area by using various online resources,
or by calling the local jewelry stores.

Buying Diamonds Online

With all of the potential for scams concerning diamonds, buying diamonds online
almost seems unthinkable! However, you actually can purchase diamonds online,
without any problems -- as long as you are careful.

First, think about your reasons for wanting to purchase the diamond online, as
opposed to making a purchase from a local jewelry store. The most common reason
is price. Due to low overhead costs, online jewelers and wholesalers are able to
offer lower prices. However, you must be careful -- sometimes a price that is
too low is a sure indication of a scam.

One of the best things about purchasing online is the unlimited selection. When
shopping offline, you are limited to the selection in the stores in your general
area. Online, there are no limits. But again, you must use a great deal of care
and consideration before handing your money over to someone that you cannot see
and have never met!

Before shopping, learn as much as you can about diamonds -- especially cut,
color, clarity and carat weights. When you are knowledgeable about diamonds, it
will be harder for a con artist to rip you off. Once you know more about
diamonds, you will be ready to start shopping.

Take your time. Don't purchase the first diamond that you see that interests
you. Instead, look for similar diamonds for sale. Do some comparison shopping
to find the lowest prices. Once you have found the lowest price, start doing
your investigation. You know about diamonds, you've found a diamond that you
love, and you've found the lowest price -- but you are still quite a ways away
from actually purchasing that diamond!

Ask about the seller's credentials, such as professional jewelry associations
that they belong to. View and print the seller's return, refund, and upgrade
policies. Also inquire about additional services, such as settings and
mountings, sizing, and free shipping. Do a search for customer reviews on this
particular company around the Internet. Also check with the BBB Online to see
if there have been any complaints.

Ask for a diamond grading report from an independent laboratory such as GIA,
HRD, EGL or AGS. You should see this before making a purchase. Finally, use a
re putable escrow service for high dollar diamonds -- preferably one that will
have the diamond appraised while it is in their possession. The seller sends
the diamond to the escrow service, and you send the money to pay for the
diamond to the escrow service. The escrow service has the diamond appraised,
sends the diamond to you, and sends the money to the seller. This is the surest
way to protect yourself: again, make sure that you use a reputable escrow
service!






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