Buyer’s Guide to Ethically Sourced Diamonds

All over the world, giving gifts is a clear sign of love, care and respect. And when it comes to material gifts, many people see diamonds as the physical embodiment of appreciation. These gems are rare and expensive, but it can be difficult to know how to choose a good one or avoid buying one that has been mined using mining practices. If you feel lost in your quest for the perfect diamond, this is a good place to start.

How to appraise a diamond

The Gemological Institute of America created the globally accepted diamond grading standard known as the the 4Cs. This method measures four crucial factors that determine a diamond’s value: clarity, cut, carat weight and color.

Clarity takes into account the existence and visibility of any internal or external defects. Cut refers to the choices made by the artisan who fashioned the gem from its original raw shape, particularly the arrangement and proportions of its flat surfaces (facets). These affect the stone’s ability to reflect light and shine. The carat weight is simply the physical weight of the diamond.

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Color is a little more complicated, as it only applies to white diamonds and their colorless. Diamonds of other colors are much rarer and are valued differently. When it comes to these stones, professionals are looking for saturation – the brighter the color, the more expensive the gem. those with pink, blue, orange, green, red and purple hues are the rarest and therefore the most valuable.

Appraising the quality of a diamond is a complicated and nuanced process, making it difficult for buyers to determine a gem’s value on sight. In general, heavier and lighter stones are more expensive, but you need the advice of a qualified jeweler to get the full story, ideally a graduate of the GIA Graduate Gemologist program and/or certification as a gemologist. applied jewelry. These experts will be able to tell you how a particular stone performs with each of the 4Cs and show you the differences between similar specimens. They can also provide or obtain an official diamond grading report from a lab to verify a stone’s quality and value, protection you should insist on before buying.

Synthetic diamonds and simulated diamonds

If you want to buy a brilliant accessory for yourself or someone else, but natural diamonds are out of your budget, you can get similar diamonds at much lower prices.

Lab-grown diamonds, white or colored, look similar and are chemically identical to stones that were formed over 3 billion years ago under extreme heat and pressure deep within the earth’s crust. The difference, of course, is that they’re made by people in a lab. Because there is no limit to the number of stones that can be made, these gemstones are not as rare as natural diamonds, which makes them at least 40% cheaper.

There are also simulated alternatives such as glass crystals, cubic zirconiaand moissanite. These are chemically different from diamonds and don’t sparkle as brightly, and while an expert jeweler or lab can tell the difference, casual observers probably won’t.

Know the source of your diamond

Humans would never have discovered diamonds if Earth hadn’t made them available to us. Magma eruptions push rocks containing diamonds closer to the planet’s surface, where they can be mined. Major mining companies use state-of-the-art methods to surface and underground miningwhile alluvial extraction is done by hand and may be unregulated. When diamonds are mined in a war zone, often by poorly paid workers in dangerous conditionsprofits help fund violence, creating a vicious circle that further incites violence. These diamonds are known as blood or conflict diamonds.

One way to know that the diamonds you are buying are from ethical sources is to seek certification by the Kimberley Process. This stamp of approval guarantees that a stone has suffered no conflict at all stages of its production, from extraction to polishing, cutting and sale. So, before buying a diamond, ask your jeweler to see their certificate and all the accompanying documentation.

[Related: This rare blue diamond is practically a miracle of nature]

The country of origin of the diamond is also important. If you are dealing with a stone mined in Africa, Botswana is currently one of the best countries to source due to its strict labor laws and high environmental standards. Canada is another good source of ethically mined diamonds, although these gems are more expensive than African ones, mainly due to stricter labor regulations.

If you are looking for a more durable option, you may prefer a recycled or used diamond. You can find them in antique stores and at jewelers specializing in vintage jewelry.

As with any major purchase, the diamond you choose will depend on your taste, but also on your budget. Let the jeweler know what you can afford and what your preferences are for appearance and style. Don’t forget to shop around and ask questions. Experts will guide and help you select a sparkling stone that will suit you and your loved one.

Sarah C. Figueiredo