One of the biggest mistakes you can make when buying an engagement ring is to shop based on a diamond certificate. For people with a larger budget to purchase top clarity grades like IF, VVS1 or VVS2, you probably don’t have to worry about clarity issues.
However, if you intend to shop for value and want to go lower in clarity ratings to save money, you would be taking a huge risk with “blind shopping” when you only depend on a grading report.
A diamond cert will only provide you with information about the diamond’s gemological properties but it doesn’t tell you everything about its appearance!
How would you be able to select eyeclean diamonds within the VS2-SI1-SI2 clarity range when you don’t know how the inclusions look like or how they would impact the diamond’s overall appearance?
In this write up, I’m going to show you why buying a diamond based on a certificate is a bad idea and how you can avoid clarity pitfalls simply by shopping smart. Let’s dive in…
Very often, grading reports for diamonds with carat weights less than 1.00ct do not show a reference plot for its inclusions (e.g. GIA Dossier report). Instead, the clarity features of the diamond would simply be indicated under the “comments section” with a couple of words.
That’s a big problem because it is impossible to judge a diamond’s appearance accurately based on a few descriptive words.
As an illustration, let me show you 2 GIA grading reports for diamonds with the same color, clarity and cut grades. Feel free to download the reports and verify them yourself by clicking the links below.
Based on the GIA certificates alone, these 2 diamonds appear identical to each other and they are both SI2 clarity diamonds. The first diamond has a “Crystal” listed as its clarity characteristics while the second diamond has a “Feather” inclusion.
On paper, you probably can’t tell anything out of the ordinary between these 2 diamonds. However, this happens to be a huge pitfall for unwary consumers who don’t understand how things work.
If you bought the 2nd diamond simply by basing your decisions on the grading reports, you would be in for a RUDE SHOCK.
Diamond with GIA #2141474872
Diamond with GIA #2135963357
Having seen photographs of these two diamonds, which one would you choose now? Would you choose the first diamond with the eyeclean crystal inclusion or the second one with the dark, black feather under its table facet?
I guess the answer will be pretty obvious which diamond is hands-down the better choice!
Even if you are looking at a full grading report with an inclusion plot, there are details that aren’t revealed without closer inspections. Sometimes, harmless looking plots can actually turn out to have unsightly inclusions!
Crystals can exist in different colors depending on the type of embedded mineral. In this particular example, the crystal takes on an awful opaque appearance.
In this example, the crystal inclusions at the center of the diamond aren’t visible to the naked eye as they are transparent. However, the real concern is the cloud located at the 5 o’clock position.
As you can see, the lab report is like a 2D map. It is only able to show you the type and location of inclusions in a diamond but there are no indications about the intensity of cloud particles or the coloration an inclusion has.
Did you know that some online stores (e.g. Bluenile.com) WILL NOT provide any further details (like photographs or videos) beyond a grading certificate for some of their listings?
Even if you are shopping in a physical brick and mortar store, did you know that the SAME PROBLEM applies? You see, most jewelers don’t hold much inventory in their store because of the high costs involved in stocking them.
When most people don’t find what they are looking for, jewelers usually offer to “call-in” a diamond from another location on your behalf and require a non-refundable deposit or full payment. This is a trap that many first time shoppers fall into when they hand over their money. What’s happening here is that the jeweler is shopping blindly on your behalf while you shoulder all the risk!
Seriously, there’s no way you can make rational buying decisions with limited information. If reading this article doesn’t change your mind about buying blind, my advice is to stick with a minimum clarity of VS1 or better.
Whether you are buying your engagement ring in a physical brick and mortar store or online, you MUST ALWAYS request a magnified photograph/video of the diamond. This will not only help you determine whether the stone is eyeclean, it will also help reveal other aspects of cut quality.
The bottom line is, if the jeweler you are dealing with can’t even provide data like these without requiring payment from you, there’s absolutely no reason for you to do any business with them.
There are plenty of great vendors that go above and beyond in providing tangible data to help you make an educated purchase decision.
James Allen’s 360° videos enable you to scrutinize diamonds in a neutral environment.