How to Select a Diamond

Don't let all that sparkle fool you: There are good diamonds and bad ones.

Photo: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Diamonds might be a girl's best friend, but choosing a quality stone is tricky and complicated if you don't know what you're doing. You don't want to be ripped off, but you want something that is worthy of the occasion. Understanding how to choose the right diamond comes down to some basic education on diamonds themselves and how they are sold.

1.

Determine what shape you want. There are lots of different cuts of diamonds: round, princess, heart, oval, emerald, marquise, radiant and pear. Then there's the depth of the diamond in the setting, referred to as shallow cuts, ideal cuts and deep cuts. Ask a jeweler to show you all the different shapes and decide which one you like best.

2.

Decide what color of diamond you would like. Diamonds range from colorless or clear to light-brown in color. The clearer the diamond, the more expensive it is, because colorless diamonds are the most sought-after and rare. Jewelers use a color rating system of letters: "D" is the best (most clear), and "Z" is the most brown.

3.

Pick the clarity. The clarity scale ranges from flawless and internally flawless to imperfect and slightly occluded. Most diamonds have imperfections in them. Some have imperfections that can be seen on a magnifier but not by the human eye. The lower end of diamonds are slightly flawed to the discerning eye.

4.

Determine how big of a diamond you want. This is where the carats come into play.

5.

Take all these factors into consideration with your budget, and decide what is most important to you. If size is all that matters, buy a huge diamond with flaws, discoloration and cut in the cheapest cut (often an oval or pear shape). If quality is more important, buy a nearly flawless diamond that is clear but small.

6.

Visit several jewelers in stores to get pricing, then go online and look at online jewelers. Type in all the specifics of what you want, now that you have it narrowed down, and get quotes back. Make your selection and then present the beautiful diamond to your loved one.

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