Quick and Easy Buying Guide

Carat weight: 1 carat = 200 milligrams = 6.5 mm diameter. Doubling weight doesn't double diameter.

Diamond clarity: FL/IF/VVS/VS = super expensive, near perfect. SI = best value if you can check a photo for obvious inclusions (defects).


Color: D-G = colorless, expensive, only if you have money to burn. H-J = best value. Can go lower in gold metal settings than white metal.

Cut: Better cut ratings let more light into a diamond, making it sparkle more. Very important property, don't skimp here.

Set a budget and minimum cut (Premium). Go J color for gold and I/H for white metals. Go searching for SI1/SI2 clarity diamonds at James Allen. Pick a diamond with small/no inclusions. Choose a ring setting and buy it risk-free (60-day returns).

Conflict Diamonds Or Blood Diamonds

For the average first-time buyer of diamonds, there is a good chance they have never even heard of conflict diamonds. If they have heard about conflict diamonds, odds are it is because they were mentioned in a James Bond film (Die Another Day), or in the film almost entirely about conflict diamonds, Blood Diamond (2006, Leonardo DiCaprio). Kanye West even has a song about the trade in conflict diamonds.

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Conflict diamonds are diamonds that have been dug up in war zones, usually under highly undesirable human rights conditions. Part of the definition also involves a blood diamond being sold in order to provide funds for military operation, usually of a highly doubtful nature (think warlords). Generally speaking, conflict diamonds are synonymous with Africa where most of the world's diamonds are mined.

There are a large number of African countries which have been associated with the trade in conflict diamonds. These include the Republic of Congo, Cote d'Ivorie, Sierra Leone and Angola. Generally speaking, the trend in each of these countries has been for insurgents or illegitimate governments to run mining operations and use the proceeds from the sales of diamonds from these mining operations to further finance their military operations.

At the start of the 21st century, significant movements were made internationally to halt the trade in conflict diamonds. The Kimberley process certification scheme was introduced in order to make government more accountable by having them keep track of all the diamonds that they export and import. A number of other moves are made internationally as well. For example, Canada has their own certification scheme that proves that the diamond was mined and processed in Canada. The United States under president Bill Clinton also specifically banned the import of diamonds from Liberia in 2001.

The general consensus nowadays is that significant steps have been made towards reducing the trade of blood diamonds, and there has been reported decrease in the number of blood diamonds making it to market in Western countries. However, the problem is still not solved and continues to be a source of significant human rights violations in several African countries.