By Dana Stone, G.G. of Engagingrings.com
I was shocked when I recently read some articles about how many Americans are buying their diamond engagement rings online. I guess I knew it was going on; I just found it so disturbing that diamonds, the most beautiful and valuable material on earth, have been degraded to a commodity like pork bellies.
I am a Graduate Gemologist and have over 15 years experience in the diamond industry. I have inspected millions and millions of dollars worth of diamonds and viewed countless diamond grading reports. I would not blindly buy a diamond off the Internet, sight unseen. Yet inexperienced Americans are spending up to $50,000 doing just that.
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A diamond is a natural material formed by the earth over billions of years of heat and pressure. There is so much more to a diamond then color and clarity. That is where the general public is vulnerable. You can have 2 diamonds with the exact same carat weight, color, and clarity, yet one can still be far superior to the other. How the stone is cut and the proportions have a large effect on the beauty of a stone. G.IA. has finally come out with a cut grade, but that is only for round brilliant stones. How does the average person tell if a fancy shape is well cut? This is where an expert helps guide the way. To complicate the matter cut is not the only influence on the beauty of a diamond. Most gem quality diamonds contain a number of impurities that are not listed on a grading certificate and not easily detected. It takes a trained eye to decipher the exceptionally fine diamond material from the average. Yet when people are sent a diamond through the mail their uneducated eye will think it looks great even if it’s not. The perception becomes reality for them and they feel they have received a “good deal”. In fact they could have received an inferior stone to match their supposedly inexpensive price. The untrained eye would not be able to detect an off make, see that a stone is florescent, or that it doesn’t have the scintillation that it should, especially when that inexperienced eye has nothing to compare it to.
It surprises me that people are handing over loads of money to anonymous internet diamond sellers. There are so many scams over the internet. There is not enough time to get through listing all of them. But, the thought of receiving a cubic zircon or fracture filled stone should be enough to scare anyone off. What happens to customer service on the internet? My customers know that if their ring needs servicing- sizing, loose stones, I will immediately take care of it. If you have to send your ring away every time you want your stones checked you could be without your jewelry for weeks, if they even offer that service.
I could go on forever about the nuances that only a trained eye can detect in diamonds. Even though we try to, in order to establish value, diamonds don’t always neatly fall into precise categories. Every grade is a range and an opinion for that matter. Some labs are much more lenient than others. Think about your occupation and what your years of experience offer. Now think about someone with no experience being upgraded to an instant expert over the internet.
Retailing over the internet certainly has its place. I enjoy surfing Amazon for a new book or DVD, but one should leave the more perplexing merchandise to an expert whom they trust.
Images: Engaging Rings