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).

Diamond Appraisals

A diamond appraisal is a way of getting an approximate value for your diamond. Many of the caveats that apply to appraisals in other areas such as real estate, apply equally well to diamonds.

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An appraisal is performed by someone who has gained certification from any one of a number of diamond appraisal organisations. Diamond appraisers are very different to diamond certifiers. Diamond certifier is a trained gemologist who analyses the properties of the diamond. They don't actually set a price – the market decides how much each of these properties are worth, and that's how a numerical price value comes out.

Like in real estate, when you get a diamond appraised, you have to be aware of who you're getting to appraise it. If you're looking to sell your diamond, and you get the diamond appraised, you're likely to end up with an undervalued diamond. Likewise, the store that sells your diamond may overvalue the diamond in an appraisal to make it seem like you got a better deal.

The appraisal process involves an appraiser examining the diamond using a microscope or loupe. The appraiser will look at all the properties of the diamond that a certifier will, but with the end intent of putting a value to the diamond.

It is generally good practice to get an expensive item appraised by several different people to get an idea of whether anyone is playing funny business.

So why appraise a diamond in the first place? Probably the most common reason is getting a value for insurance purposes. This can be a specific type of appraisal known as an insurance replacement appraisal. The appraisal looks at how much it would cost to replace the item.

Another reason you might seek an appraisal for a diamond is if you have inherited a diamond ring from a relative or friend. If the diamond ring has an interesting history, the appraiser will attempt to determine it, and this may add significantly to the value of the ring.

If you have an expensive diamond ring and you want to stay insured, you should periodically get your ring appraised. This means, if for some reason, you need to claim on your insurance in the future, you're not left out of pocket because your appraisal value was out of date.