Have you ever bought a diamond? If your over the age of 21, chances are you have bought one or know someone who has bought one. I distinctly remember the first time I purchased a diamond ring. As a young lad, jittery with nervous energy, I tried to pay off some nefarious deed done to one of my earliest girlfriends with a piece of shiny jewelry… purchased from the local mall. The first time you enter one of those fancy stores like Jared or Kay, the first thing you realize but won’t quite accept is that you are hopelessly outmatched. You browse the display cases like you know exactly what your looking for but in reality you most likely end up buying something that’s both affordable and should look OK on her hand/neck/etc. So what’s the true value and whats just the relative value of the glittering bauble you are thinking about getting? I’ve done the research. Over the past few months I have looked through a mind-boggling amount of data on these otherwise worthless amounts of concentrated Carbon. Like everyone else, the reasons are pretty obvious: I am searching for that “perfect” ring for my beautiful fiancee. I know, pretty stupid considering the opening statements of this article. The problem with logically reasoning is exactly it’s definition. It’s logical. The logical part of my brain that knows this is completely unrelated to the part that thinks it’s perfectly normal to spend thousands of dollars on what amounts to a rock set in a piece of metal. That would be the subconscious. So let’s take a look at the facts. Originally, diamonds and the other precious and semi-precious jewels were used to decorate works of art, garments and even weaponry. They refract light and are pleasing to the eye, they’re relatively rare when compared to other materials and most importantly they are hard. This may not seem that important now that we have plastic and metal that wont deteriorate or corrode for hundreds of years. Things to cherish and that could be pass on to loved ones, pleasing even when first dug from the earth. As we advanced, so did cutting and polishing techniques. What better way to symbolize royal status and religion than materials that last forever? When regular people couldn’t even afford to feed and clothe themselves on a regular basis, what better to separate classes than jeweled swords and gold thread.
So let’s get on to the point. In MY opinion, what is real and what is fake?
In my humble opinion, a diamond is relatively worthless. It has absolutely NO nutrients, and if people weren’t so damn worried about status and being brighter than their peers, it would probably not be worth the time and labor that goes into cutting and shining the things to begin with. It certainly wouldn’t be worth thousands of dollars per karat. Not to me. If anything, you could probably relate it’s value to that of a pretty painting. When done right, it’s beautiful, there’s no denying that. The way light seems to come from within the stones- cut into squares, round brilliants, sometimes flashing hearts and arrows-could definitely be considered a work of art. So in some ways, each individual stone is like a sculpture or a carving.. except this carving will last hopefully forever.
What about all that hokum about how a “diamond is forever?” Or how a diamond is a symbol of love? Even though I know this isn’t true, as said before, it’s kinda stuck in my brain. I can always pretend that I’m primarily interested in diamonds and gold in terms of it’s raw materials and commodities, but why then did I look through all those websites trying to find the “perfect” ring? Something that’s sculpted just right, not to thin and not to thick, has plenty of craftsmanship included and of course is made of excellent raw materials. The idea of buying an imperfect diamond, meaning something of lower than vs2 quality, disgusts me both consciously and subconsciously. What’s the point in buying a painting with a big tear down the middle or has a long scratch off a corner? Exactly, you wouldn’t. Unless that painting was worth $500,000 and they were selling it to you cheap… but you get my point.What could possibly be an excuse for buying lower-grade diamonds, especially below SI1 in clarity or above G in color?
If your girlfriend/fiancee is that desperate for a rock on her finger, she probably either isn’t that bright or just hasn’t done the research on diamonds. If she had, she would have realized by now that the a 0.50k diamond with great symmetry, ideal height and width, vs2 clarity and falls somewhere in the near colorless range is going to be worth near or even more than one twice it’s size with one or more of these values severely flawed. As long as the one your buying doesn’t have any significant flaws/imperfections and has plenty of luster and internal fire, don’t worry about buying the largest one you can find. Just like you would never spend more money based solely on the size of any other object of art, treat this purchase with the same respect and research you would buying an expensive antique. That would be my best guess as to the true value of a diamond.
One more thing, one that a staggering number of people going out for their first major diamond purchase have never done. Even though it’s probably out of your price range, grow a backbone and ask the sales representative to show you the clearest and most dazzling diamond they have to offer. Looking at a diamond in person is completely different from researching them online or even looking at high definition pictures. There’s something about the lighting and the ability to see the stone in 3 dimensions that you can’t see in any other format. The reason you should look at a diamond much better than the ones you might likely purchase is for comparison down the road. Keep that picture of what a diamond should look like in the back of your mind when your examining other stones in your price range for similarities and more importantly, for things they might be lacking. Keep in mind that without this eyes-on comparison, even an obviously flawed and tinted diamond will still outshine just about anything material and will almost magnetically draw you to buy it.
That’s one of the major reasons why jewelry makers sold 8 billion dollars worth of diamond jewelry last year; 8 times what they sold of every other gem combined. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time over the years just wandering into random little jewelry shops, you know the ones that are all around vacationing spots like Ocean City, MD or Atlantic City, NJ. I’m always stunned to the point of silence as I examine most of their wares, some are so bad that they don’t even tell you the carat weight or clarity of the diamonds. Just this past weekend me and my fiancee walked into a shop where they were selling an engagement ring with a single center stone. The point of the solitaire engagement ring is to put all the focus on that one diamond set in the middle. This .52k round brilliant was so riddled with flaws and so colored that it was nearly black; It would have been laughable if the sticker price for it wasn’t nearly $4000! The sales clerk even offered to give me a “Labor Day Discount”: $3500. Wow, thanks a lot. The saddest thing is that some poor schmuck down the road will probably shell out the dough, just to appease their pretty new girlfriend.
With all of this information, hopefully anyone reading this blog will at least learn these few things. 1. Don’t instantly believe the sales representative: their profit margin is only as high as your stupidity will allow them. 2. Don’t rush into a purchase as important as diamond jewelry: it would be an understatement to say this shouldn’t be an impulse buy. 3. Most jewelers will match prices on loose stones. 4. Don’t be lured by a high carat weight on an engagement ring. If it isn’t a single stone or at the very least only a couple stones, more than likely the stones are nearly worthless and therefore the piece of jewelry is too. 5. Taking all these rules into account, take the time to research the material. If you can’t take this relatively small amount of time to get even the jewelry right, how would you ever find the time to make your relationship work?