What you need to know about buying a Diamond


Buying an engagement ring is one of the biggest decisions you'll make. There is so much to know about diamonds, it can be confusing and somewhat overwhelming.

Before you even enter the store, set a budget and take some time to learn about what determines the value of a diamond so you have a better idea what to look for when shopping. 

Understanding the 4 C's of diamond grading will help you choose the best stone for your budget. Colour, Clarity, Cut and Carat weight are the four factors that determine a diamond's value. 


The diamond colour scale ranges from "D" - colourless (white) to "Z" - heavily tinted shades of yellow, gray or brown. The closer to colourless, the higher the value. Completely colourless stones are very rare and most diamonds used in fine jewellery are in the "near colourless" range with a slight yellow tint. Some diamonds emit a visible light when exposed to UV light. This is called flourescence and is not associated with the colour grade, but is usually noted on appraisals. 


Natural diamonds are formed deep in the earth and commonly grow with internal "inclusions" that appear as dots, feathery cracks or embedded crystals. These are not imperfections in the stone, rather they show the diamond's character and make it identifiable as no two stones are alike. Diamonds with no inclusions are extremely rare, so inclusions help identifying natural stones vs. simulants and synthetic diamonds. Clarity is determined by the number, type and placement of these inclusions. Fewer inclusions equals higher clarity and higher value. 


Cut should not be misinterpreted as shape. The fact that several shapes are referred to as "cuts" (emerald-cut, round brilliant-cut, cushion-cut, for example) can be confusing. Cut actually refers to proportion and finish. 

The diamond cut grading scale ranges from "Excellent" to "Poor". A diamond's proportions have a direct effect on its ability to reflect light. Fine proportions, symmetry and polish optimize the light performance within a diamond. This results in greater brightness (white light), fire (flares of colour) and scintillation (pattern of light). It goes without saying that a better cut diamond is of greater value. 


Diamond weight is measured in carats. Carat weight is broken down into points. One carat equals 200 milligrams and 100 points. A half-carat diamond then, for example, is equal to 50 points. As size increases, so does value, based on similar quality. But it's actually possible to buy a larger diamond of lower quality at a lesser price than a smaller one of higher quality. Size is not the most important factor in choosing a diamond. 

Buying Diamonds Online: Yes or No? 

In our increasingly digitized society where almost everything seems to be available for purchase online, does it make sense to buy a diamond this way? After all, the prices seem to be cheaper on some sites and as long as the specs are listed, don't you know exactly what you're getting? 

The most important thing about a diamond or any precious stone is its beauty. There is absolutely no way of telling how beautiful a stone is without seeing it in person.

No two diamonds are alike. The individual characteristics of a diamond are what distinguish it from all others. You can learn all about diamond characteristics by doing research online, which will be very helpful in making your purchase, but diamond grading is subjective. Even though appraisers all follow the 4 C's in grading, it is not unusual for different appraisers to issue different grades for the same stone.

The proportions of a diamond when it is cut can be so varied that its weight can be misleading. A one carat diamond may not look as large as it should because it could be cut with a deeper pavilion to add to its weight. Photos don't always portray items accurately and photo editing programs can make anything look good. So there is really no means of knowing exactly what you're buying without seeing a stone with your own eyes. Seeing the sparkle is the most exciting part of buying a diamond! 

But if I purchase from a reputable name brand, won't I be assured of the quality? Buying a name brand will almost always be more expensive and not always mean superior quality. You're paying solely for the name association. And you still haven't seen the real thing when you buy online.  

Trust is everything when buying jewellery, especially diamonds. Finding a reputable jeweller who will take the time to explain the 4 C's, show you a variety of diamonds in different qualities and let you look at each one through a loupe to identify its individual characteristics, is key to your peace of mind in making your purchase. 

Ethically Sourced & Canadian Diamonds


Most diamonds today must pass through a strictly enforced journey from mine to market to ensure they are ethically sourced. It is not always possible to know exactly which mine a diamond originated in, but its journey to market is closely tracked and monitored along the way. Documents of authenticity and ethical sourcing are required for entry into each country a diamond travels through on its way to market. 

Each diamond of significant value should be accompanied by an appraisal by a certified gemologist showing its place within each of the 4C's scales noted above. A jeweller can help you make the best decision by showing you the internal characteristics of each diamond with a loupe. 

With the recent discovery of diamonds near the Arctic Circle, Canada is fast becoming a world leader in the diamond market. Each Canadian diamond must meet specific standards for colour, clarity, finish and symmetry. Every CanadaMark diamond is given a registered certificate and laser inscribed with a unique serial number. Avalon Fine Jewellery is very proud to be an approved CanadaMark dealer. This means you can choose your very own Canadian diamond and have it set into a piece of jewellery truly unique to you.