Read this article in full if you are planning on buying a Canadian diamond.
It’s going to save you money and help you make the best decisions when buying a diamond ring.
When diamonds were first discovered in Canada during the 1990s, it triggered one of the biggest prospecting rushes in recent history. Fast forward to the present day, Canada has established itself as one of the largest producers of rough diamonds in the world (currently ranked 5th by volume and 3rd by value).
Now, if you had done some jewelry shopping, you probably came across Canadian diamonds being marketed by jewelers as “premium” jewelry products.
So, what’s the deal with these diamonds from Canada?
If you ever wondered whether they are any different from regular diamonds or whether they are worth the money, you are not alone.
Recently, I received a number of emails with recurring questions about Canadian diamonds and it’s about time to clear the air about misconceptions people have and address misleading claims used by jewelers.
Before we delve into deeper details, let’s get down some facts about Canadian diamonds. So, what are some of the benefits of buying a Canada-mined diamond as opposed to buying one that’s mined in another country?
There are basically 3 reasons:
1) Sustainable development and strict environmental laws on mining operations – The Canadian government imposes the toughest regulations on mining companies to protect wildlife, water and fishing habitats of the mining environment.
2) Social benefits and local economic prosperity – The aboriginal communities have benefited from the mining operations with the influx of fair labor jobs and infrastructure development.
3) Accountability and traceability – As soon as the rough diamond is mined, they are tracked through audited processes at every stage production to the end product of a polished stone.
Well, there’s actually one main issue with Canadian diamonds – cost.
If you start comparing diamonds from Canada against those from other countries like Russia or Africa, you will quickly see that Canadian diamonds are significantly more expensive (usually 10-20% more).
There are quite a number of factors behind this…
Firstly, mining in the Northwest Territories is a huge challenge because of harsh arctic conditions. The mining operations require specialized machinery and costly equipment. There are no proper roads leading to the remote mine locations and logistics have to be performed in dangerous conditions via ice roads (History channel created a TV series called Ice Road Truckers about the people who perform the supply delivery).
Secondly, concessions and tariffs are imposed onto the mining companies by the Canadian government. The higher labor costs and employee benefits also contribute to higher operation expenses.
Thirdly, there are additional costs involved with the tracking and certification process. Because of the way Canadian diamonds are marketed for transparency, each step of the manufacturing process has to be audited.
At the end of the day, the consumer is expected to pick up the bill as these costs will be factored into the retail pricing of the diamond products.
Now, I want to go on record saying that I don’t have anything against diamonds originating from Canada. In fact, I respect and applaud the laws laid down by the government to ensure sustainable mining practices.
What I do have a beef with, is the way diamonds are marketed to consumers by end retailers. Here are the 4 most common misconceptions people have and marketing tricks that salespeople use to mislead consumers…
Blanket statements like this are commonly used by salespeople to market Canadian diamonds in better light and to justify the higher prices they are charging.
Well, let me tell you that such statements are complete rubbish and misleading.
The fact is, it doesn’t matter where it originated from… a diamond is a diamond.
Just like rough diamonds mined in other parts of the world, Canadian roughs also come in all types of shapes, clarity, color and carat sizes.
Diamonds are graded individually by the 4Cs and this is how their quality/value is determined in the market. If a polished Canadian diamond has been graded by GIA to be 0.5 carat, G color and VS2 clarity, its “quality” is no different from another diamond mined in Botswana that’s graded to be 0.5 carat, G color and VS2 clarity.
If you follow along the lines of the same argument, a high quality D color VVS1 diamond from another mine is going to be better than a poor quality L color I2 diamond from Canada.
While I find the idea of a diamond that originated from the Arctic regions of Canada to be romantic, I don’t see the need to pay more for them because of practical reasons. Why should I pay 15%-20% more for a Canadian diamond when I can get an identical diamond from another legitimate mining operation at cheaper prices?
If someone says that to you in an attempt to convince you to buy CanadaMark diamond jewelry, you better think twice because that person is BSing you.
First of all, what’s a CanadaMark Diamond?
CanadaMark is an origin hallmark program created by the owners of the Canadian mines to track and document diamonds that are produced in Canada.
The following quote basically summarizes what CanadaMark is all about:
“The CanadaMark program represents the company’s commitment to category marketing of Canadian diamonds,” said chairman and CEO Robert Gannicott. “Through this program, the company aims to highlight the long-term environmental stewardship and social responsibility of the Canadian diamond mining industry, which ultimately will help achieve the highest prices for the company’s diamond production.”
Yep. You heard it straight from the horse’s mouth.
The CanadaMark program is nothing more than a marketing strategy to brand Canadian mined diamonds and to sell them for higher profits. It has nothing to do with guaranteeing a diamond’s “beauty”.
The problem is that many jewelry retailers use the hallmark as a misleading sales tool. In fact, many unsuspecting customers simply assume that a CanadaMark diamond has to undergo strict selection processes.
The truth is, it is anything but stringent.
Did you know that the CanadaMark can be used on polished diamonds with a cut grade of Very Good or better, L color or higher and I2 clarity or higher?
Here’s the kicker…
Round diamonds with a “Very Good” cut grade simply imply a mediocre cut quality. There are literally hundreds of thousands of diamonds exhibiting a similar low level of cut quality in the market today.
In case you don’t know yet, diamonds in the G-L color range aren’t rare nor are they perceived as high “quality”. In fact, most jewelry businesses won’t even consider selling L colored diamonds because of their yellowish tints.
Lastly, the fact that CanadaMark allows a bottom of the barrel I2 clarity grade reveals a lot about their quality standards. Personally, I would never recommend an I2 diamond to anyone in good faith and that should give you an idea of how bad it is.
The bottomline is, you shouldn’t blindly believe the marketing fluff just because the sales person told you so. Most salespeople are there to sell you stuff without placing your interest as the top priority.
I absolutely hate it when companies that actively market Canadian diamonds harp on the issue of conflict diamonds as if Canada is the exclusive source of “conflict free” diamonds.
Don’t get me wrong, conflict diamonds were a serious issue back in the early 2000s. However, the civil war in Sierra Leone is long over and the collective effort of international communities to implement the Kimberly Process has curtailed the sale of conflict diamonds since.
From my personal shopping experience (as well as those by other readers), it feels like jewelers who market Canadian diamonds often do so by taking advantage of people’s emotions that conflict diamonds are still prevalent in the current market.
This is plain wrong.
In reality, it’s impossible to buy a “blood diamond” even if you want to. The Kimberley Act established in 2003 has leveled the playing field in the trade by ensuring that rough diamonds only come from legitimate sources.
Besides, there isn’t a single jeweler that I know of who doesn’t comply with the Kimberly Process. Whether a diamond is mined from Australia, Africa, Russia or Canada, you can be assured that the diamond is conflict free.
There are a number of jewelers (some big brands are guilty of this as well) and “experts” who market Canadian diamonds as premium products that offer the best “fire and brilliance” because of their material properties.
In my experience, these are usually marketing gimmicks that fall short on expectations as soon as you perform some analysis and apply basic common sense.
The beauty and overall appearance of a diamond is influenced largely by CUT and has nothing much to do with its origins. Whether a diamond is mined in Canada or in Africa, a skilled cutter is required to bring out the true beauty of the rough.
For readers who had been following my blog, you will know I’m an advocate for cut quality and take on a scientific approach to analyze diamonds. In essence, sparkle and brilliance of a diamond are my utmost priorities when I buy diamonds.
With the current standards of the Canadian cutters and polishers, I can tell you that it’s extremely unlikely to find a Canadian cut diamond that passes my standards to be purchase worthy.
To illustrate this, here are some examples to give you an idea of the typical cut quality you can expect…
Read this to find out why they aren’t the kind of diamonds I would buy.
Now, I’m not saying that well cut Canadian diamonds don’t exist but finding them is like searching for a needle in a haystack. They are extremely rare and difficult to source for.
To show you the kind of cut standards you should be looking for, here’s one example I found on Blue Nile…
If you are looking for a truly well cut diamond with super ideal standards, you will need to get educated and understand the details that go into cherry picking one. Even then, expect to fork out a huge premium for stones from Canada.
If you made the final decision to buy a Canadian diamond engagement ring, the next question on your mind is probably where to start looking. Who can you trust to reliably deliver a high quality engagement ring?
To get you started, these are 3 companies I recommend for their range of loose diamond selections, exemplary customer service and excellent craftsmanship on finished jewelry products.
Click here to view James Allen’s entire inventory of CanadaMark™ diamonds…
James Allen is one of the best places to shop for a diamond engagement ring because of their vivid 360° videos. The high definition videos will enable you to scrutinize the smallest details and cherry pick the perfect diamond.
Click here to browse BlueNile’s inventory of Canada-mined diamonds…
Blue Nile is the pioneer in selling diamond jewelry online and they have a sizable range of certified diamonds from Canada. If you are looking for diamonds that have better cut quality and light performance, check out their signature diamond series.
At the end of the day, it boils down to personal preferences and your own belief system. Whether it is worth it to pay the premium for a Canada diamond is something that’s subjective to different people.
My advice to you is to evaluate individual diamonds on their own merit and to look beyond the marketing fluff that jewelers will feed you just to close a deal.
Good luck with your engagement ring search!
If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch via email or simply drop a comment below. I would love to hear your opinions about buying Canadian diamonds.