How to buy diamonds


If you're buying a diamond, you'd better know your four C's: carat, color, clarity, and cut. Helena Krodel of the Jewelry Information Center will show you what you need to know to make a sparkling choice when you buy diamonds.

How to buy diamonds

Helena says the 4 C's are the top things to look for when buying diamonds: cut, clarity, carat and color.

  • Cut is arguably the most important because it’s what unleashes the brilliance. Round, princess and pear cuts are currently the most popular.
  • Clarity measures the little imperfections, nature’s birthmarks. A diamond may have little carbon fissures or dark spots, but you want them to be not visible to the naked eye.
  • Carat weight is important because when looking at a diamond, size does matter.
  • The last C is color. Color is graded D to Z, the closer to white the better the color. A good tip for judging a diamond's color is to place it on a sheet of white paper. The closer the diamond matches the whiteness of the paper, the better the color.
  • Any diamond over a carat should come with a certificate from an independent laboratory, grading the 4 C's so you know what you're getting.
  • In addition to buying diamonds already mounted or set in jewelry, they can be purchased loose as well, so you can set them in ring mounts or other jewelry of your choice.
  • Currently the most popular cuts are round, princess and pear cut diamonds.

EILEEN: I'm Eileen Wu for Diamonds are a girl's best friend, but shopping for them, well you may need a tip or two. Here to help us with Diamonds 101 is Helena Krodel from the Jewelry Information Center. Hi Helena. Okay tell us about the bling.

HELENA: Well, the most important thing when shopping for diamonds is the, I'm sure you've heard, is the four C's. That's cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. Cut is arguably the most important because that's what unleashes the fire and the brilliance. Making them sparkly and that's why we love diamonds. And then we have clarity. Now clarity are the little imperfections, we sometimes call them nature's birthmarks. Those are what have little tiny marks, that could have little carbon fissures or little dark spots. Now it's okay if they have little spots, but they should be somewhat not visible to the eye. And then we have carat weight. Now for some carat weight is the most important because when you're looking at a diamond, size does matter. If you do buy a diamond over one carat, it should come with a warranty or certificate. And then the last C, that's color. Now the color is graded from D to Z and here I have a couple of examples of loose diamonds and the reason why we put them on a white piece of paper is because the closer they are to the white paper, the better. The better the color. Now we have two examples here, one is a round, and one is a princess cut. Now these are the two most popular cuts out there today.

EILEEN: And you mentioned earlier a certificate. What type of certificate?

HELENA: It should be by an indepedent laboratory and they look at the diamond and grade it. They actually grade those four C's so that you know what you're getting and you know what you're paying for and that you are getting the most for your money.

EILEEN: And what are some tips for getting the most for your money?

HELENA: Well, it's a subjective process. So some people like to look at cut because it's what makes it sparkly, but if carat weight is the most important, you can go a little bit less in terms of quality on the other three C's. So it's really up to you.

EILEEN: So tell me a little bit about these mounts. I see that you have loose diamonds and some that are mounted. Is it easier for you to save money if you choose loose diamonds?

HELENA: Not necessarily. Some people like to pick and choose the two separately so that they can pick their diamond and have it set into the mounting that they want. So here I have a couple of examples, I showed you the loose diamonds and here is the semi-mount which some stores actually sell them just like this. And you can have your diamond set right into it. And the we have three examples of preset diamonds. Now this is how most jewelry stores sell rings and that's great. We have one example of the round which is the most common. And then we have the princess cut which is the second most common; 24% of people choose this cut. And then in the center we have the third most common today which is a very modern cut. This is a pear. Now it's not so much the cut I want to talk about, but the pave diamonds which are set around the main center stone and makes it look larger, which of course we all like.

EILEEN: Helena, thank you so much for all of your helpful tips.

HELENA: You're welcome.

EILEEN: I'm Eileen Wu for

meet theexpert
  • Helena Krodel

    Helena Krodel Jewelry Information Center Helena Krodel's the Associate Director for Media and Spokesperson for Jewelry Information Center, the public relations arm of fine jewelry and watch industries. A non-profit trade association in NYC, JIC is the objective authority on fine jewelry/watches.
    more about this expert »

make the most of MAKEUP

get more fromexperts