When it comes to jewelry its hard to beat something as archetypal as the diamond engagement ring. However as younger people find themselves saddled with student loans, rising housing costs and a weak job market many wonder if walking into a jewelry store and plunking down three months salary is worth it; and most find that it is. Many American couples collectively spend billions on diamond engagement rings each year. In 2012 alone, they spent nearly $11 billion on diamond engagement and wedding jewelry, according to Olya Linde, lead author of Bain & Co.’s 2013 Global Diamond Industry Report.
Online sales a driving force
When it comes to online jewelry sales, diamonds make up 50 percent of the purchases. When you look at why diamond sales online are such a large percentage of the market you only need to consider costs to see why. “A ring with a 0.7-carat diamond that cost $4,895 with an online jewelry retailer, might sell for 20 to 25 percent more at an average brick and mortar retailer, while the same size and quality ring could command at least 40 to 50 percent more at Tiffany or Cartier,” said David Wu, a luxury goods and beauty analyst at the Telsey Advisory Group in New York.
Yet while diamonds might be less expensive through online retailers, the process can seem difficult because the customer cannot see the brilliance and sparkle of the stone in person. But this does not seem to hinder those who know what to look for when buying diamonds online.
The four Cs
Most people have heard of the four Cs of buying a diamond, but don’t really understand what they mean. For someone buying their stone online, having a solid understanding of what each tells about the diamond can mean all the difference in how happy you are with your purchase.
Carat tells the size of the stone. Buying from a local store allows you to see how big the diamond is, but when buying online your best option is to find a measuring guide to gauge how big it will actually be.
Color ranges in a scale from D to Z with D being a rare, colorless diamond and the opposite end, Z, having much more yellow color in the stone. Stones with a color of E or F are virtually colorless while G and H rated stones have such a faint color that they aren’t usually picked up by the naked eye. It is important to see a picture of the stone and look at the certified color rating before buying.
Like color, clarity is something that you need to know the rating for in order to have an understanding of what you are going to get from your purchase. The way that clarity is rated is by the flaws, or inclusions, in the stone. Nearly flawless diamonds are considered VVS or very, very slightly included. On the other end of this scale are the I rated diamonds that are included. Flawless stones are given the F rating. If you are buying online there is almost no way to tell what type of flaws a stone has unless you understand this scale.
Like carat, most people assume that cut is something that you can easily see by the picture of the stone on the website you are buying from. While the cut does describe the shape of the stone, it can also be used to rate the workmanship of the diamond as well. Check the site to see which rating system they use to describe this to tell just how well the stone was formed into the shape you are looking for.