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).

Synthetic or imitation diamonds

As everyone becomes more conscious of saving money wherever they can, the option of synthetic or imitation diamonds has become increasingly popular. Synthetic diamonds look very similar to real diamonds but are made artificially in a laboratory.

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One of the most popular artificial diamonds are cubic zirconias. The material cubic zirconia is a special crystalline form of zirconium dioxide. Cubic zirconia used to be found naturally and was discovered late in the 19th century.

Cubic zirconia, also know as CZ, is very hard, optically flawless, and is usually colourless but can be artificially made in any color.

So what are the differences between cubic zirconia and a real diamond? Well, cubic zirconia, although it is very hard, is still not as hard as a real diamond, and will easily be scratched by a real diamond. A cubic zirconia also weighs almost twice as much as a diamond of the same size. And most importantly, a cubic zirconia is usually much cheaper than a real diamond.

One recent innovation in the production of cubic zirconias has been a production of coated cubic zirconias, that have a thin layer of diamond-like carbon on the surface. The result of this process is supposed to make the cubic zirconia harder and more optically suitable.

Another type of synthetic diamond is the material moissanite. Like cubic zirconia, moissanite was initially discovered in nature. Nowadays, moissanite is artificially created in a lab, as the naturally occurring material is very rare.

Moissanite has been available in jewellery since the late 1990s and is another alternative to cubic zirconia.

If you’re a budget but you’d like to have a real diamond on your ring, one possibility is to combine both real diamonds and synthetic diamonds in the same piece.

If you plan to use only synthetic diamonds in your piece of jewelry, just don’t make the mistake of getting a ridiculously large stone. Nothing is more obvious than a 10 carat diamond ring –it just stands out too much.