Diamonds are part of a dynamic trade in an industry that has changed significantly in recent years. The world’s supply of diamond rough has increased tremendously with abundant new sources in Canada and Australia.

New advances in diamond technology, such as new treatments for improving colour and clarity, as well as treatment detection have added to the exciting changes in our business.

The diamond grading system has remained constant throughout the industry and is known as the “4 C’s” which stands for Colour, Clarity, Carat, and Cut. I like to tease my American colleagues by telling them that in Canada, we have 5 C’s: “Canadian” is the 5th one. All diamonds are graded using a letter system for colour (D to Z for white diamonds, “Fancy” for coloured diamonds), clarity is described as “Flawless” to “Included” and carat size is a standardized weight measurement. You would think that if you buy a 0.50ct G/H S1 diamond, no matter where you buy it, the stone will be the same based on these parameters. Unfortunately, that is not the case. There is one more factor that is often not talked about, or explained properly, during a sales pitch: Cut.

Cut is what makes a diamond beautiful. A well cut diamond will sparkle even when it is dirty. A badly cut diamond will never have the eye-catching beauty of one that is well cut. Often, these diamonds are less expensive and that’s why consumers think they are getting a deal.

If this wasn’t enough to confuse the consumer, another aspect of diamond buying needs to be considered: treatments. Today’s technology is so advanced that detecting treatments in diamonds takes special equipment and qualified diamond graders or gemmologists. The same is true for identifying synthetic, lab created diamonds. Not all merchants disclose treatments simply because they may not know the diamond has been treated or is synthetic.

The internet offers consumers the opportunity to buy a diamond online by shopping around and comparing prices. So far, I have not met a client that was completely satisfied with their online purchase or one that got a “deal”. I shopped for a diamond online and these are the results I got for the same carat, clarity and colour but with a different cut grade: $3680 and $1360. Both stones have GIA certificates.

In the diamond industry, you always get what you pay for. Make sure you deal with qualified personnel, preferably a diamond grader or gemmologist, and ask a lot of questions. If you are on a tight budget, you are better off buying a smaller stone with an excellent or ideal cut instead of going bigger with a lower grade cut. A well-cut diamond will shine so bright that it will always look bigger.