An engagement ring is one of the most important purchases a person makes in their life. Like any big purchase, it is important to do your research before buying. However, while educating yourself using digital resources can be incredibly helpful, when it comes to actually buying the diamond, an in person experience is paramount. You can compare certifications all you want, but at the end of the day this won't tell you exactly what the diamond looks like in person. Even photos, while great, can often be misleading depending on light conditions and touch up work. The only way to truly know what a diamond looks like is to see it in person.
Take the diamond comparison featured in our video above. As you can see on the GIA certificates below, both diamonds have identical grades for Color, Clarity and Cut:
On paper, these diamonds are exactly the same! And yet you can clearly see big differences between the stones:
A certification describes the characteristics of a diamond, but it doesn’t capture how it looks. It’s like saying a man is 175 pounds and 6 feet; this gives you a general idea of his shape and size, but you can’t picture what he really looks like in detail.
No matter where you go to buy a diamond, make sure you see several diamonds side by side to make a proper diamond comparison. You will immediately see the differences for yourself. This gives you the chance to decide on the best diamond for you and your budget. Don’t let a brick and mortar or online store trick you into seeing only one stone in person because they may be taking advantage of you.
Seeing a diamond in person is also the best way to judge its size. Since diamonds are measured by weight not physical dimensions, not all stones of the same carat size will look alike. For example, a 1 carat diamond can look 10-20% larger or smaller than another 1 carat diamond based on their diameters. Imagine a tall person vs. a short person; they could weigh the same, but look totally different. A side by side comparison is the only way to see the trade-offs between visual size and sparkle as the diameter range dictates the maximum sparkle and light return.
You should also see every diamond under some magnification (we recommend 10x) because the differences become much easier to see and understand. For example, an SI2 clarity diamond will have inclusions that are easily visible under magnification and sometimes visible to the naked eye. You might love a diamond that has small white inclusions or twinning wisps that do not take away from the beauty of the diamond, but you might not like a diamond that has a black inclusion right in the middle of the diamond. Both have the same SI2 clarity grade even though they look very different!
Every diamond is unique, and the current grading system used to define them does not always do a great job painting a complete picture. Seeing and doing a diamond comparison in person is the only way to truly know what you're getting. It's important to understand this when shopping for a diamond so that you can find the best stone for you and your soon to be fiancé.