Marilyn Monroe called them ‘a girl’s best friend’ while others see them as a sign of eternal love. No matter how you look at it, diamonds are the most precious of gems.

The diamond jewellery trade in the Gulf region is ranked fourth in the world today. Dubai is the second largest hub in the world in terms of diamond trade. Diamond trading, which has long been the monopoly of Antwerp, has now found a new competitor in Dubai. The emirate has already tempted a number of companies to relocate to Dubai and is mounting a concerted long-term challenge to make the United Arab Emirates the epicenter of the global diamond market.

Dubai has been attracting a great deal of interest from diamond trading companies in Europe, Asia and the United States.

The word ‘diamond’ comes from the Greek word ‘Adamas’, meaning invincible. This is referring to their hardness, which makes them nearly imperishable. Diamonds are the hardest of all known minerals, 85 times harder than the next closest gem substance, Corundum. Diamonds have long been the standard of beauty and value against which all other gems are measured. The beauty of a diamond lies in its ability to sparkle and disperse light from dozens of minute faces. To get one carat of polished diamond, men have to blast, dig, crush and sort approximately 250 tons of earth.

We are all familiar with diamond engagement rings, but how did this tradition start? Folklore says that it began in 1477 when the powerful Archduke Maximillian of Austria gave a diamond ring to his bride-to-be, Mary of Burgundy. The tradition quickly spread and is responsible for a large portion of diamond sales nowadays.

When choosing a diamond, there are a number of factors to bear in mind. Below is a brief guide to help you get the diamond or diamond jewellery that you’ve always wanted, with confidence. It can be easily remembered as the 11 C’s.

a) (1st C) – Carat weight
Carat is the weight or size of the stone that you are looking for. The bigger the stone, the more expensive is generally the rule. The diamond is weighed in ‘carats’. A carat is made up of 100 cents or 100 points. One carat is approximately equal to 0.2 grams.

b) (2nd C) – Clarity
The purity of the diamond. They come in different grades (with grade no.1 being the best,) they are:

  • Flawless (FL): No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10x magnification
  • Internally Flawless (IF): No inclusions visible under 10x magnification
  • Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2): Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
  • Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2): Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor
  • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2): Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification
  • Included (I1, I2, and I3)

Inclusions are obvious under 10 x magnifications which may affect transparency and brilliance These grading represent the inclusions or natural characteristics in the stone. Since diamonds are natural products, no two stones are alike, for that matter no two inclusions are alike. These could be minute traces of minerals trapped in the diamond during the process of crystallization. The grading of the gemologist is based on a comparative and majority opinion study, but the variations are not more than a few percentage points. The cleaner the diamond or fewer the inclusions, the more valuable the stone (all other factors being constant)

c) (3rd C) – Color
Diamonds occur in almost all colors, from colorless to shades of yellow, brown, pink, blue, orange, green, grey, red and black. Generally the colorless diamonds are more expensive than the colored ones. At the same time the more intense the colors are the higher the price can be. The general rule of thumb is the rarer the color the more expensive the stone. The color grading of a stone are denoted by letters of the alphabet starting from D through to P and Q. It may also be referred to from ‘exceptional white’ going through to ‘tinted.’ In the UK, it is referred to as ‘finest white’ to ‘dark cape.’ Sometimes we can also find grading from 0+ to 16.

d) (4th C) – Cut
This refers to both the shape of the stone as well as the finesse of the polishing itself. The different shapes can be, brilliant or round, heart shape, naiveté or marquise, pear or drop shapes, emerald cut, radiant cut, princess cut, oval shape, single cut or eight cuts, tapers, baguettes, briolette, kite shapes and even more as each day goes by as different cuts are developed and marketed. The prices depend on individual preferences or the importance of the shape for a particular jewellery design. The finesse of the polishing itself depends on how well the polisher has positioned each one of the facets on the stone in order to bring out the best brilliance or light that is being reflected from the stone. Naturally the more lively the stone the more expensive it is. All or any one of the above factors can have a telling effect on the price of the stone. It is advisable to ask the jeweler to suggest the best possible combination to suit your budget. While making the decision you should ask the jeweler to justify his suggestion using the above points.

2) (5th C)
Combination Jewellery (using smaller diamonds or a combination of stones, having more designer value)
While choosing jewellery from a fashion point of view the customers should bear in mind that the emphasis is more on the design and intricacy of the manufacturing technology. Hence a lot will depend on the aforementioned aspects as well as the points mentioned below:
a) Designer or Brand Value
Designs from celebrated or well known brands carry a premium on the value due to the rarity of the jewellery. They at times take on collector’s value and evaluation will depend on personal preferences.
b) Stone Housing
Diamond jewellery is usually made in 18k white or yellow gold. But it can also be made in silver, platinum etc. This will naturally affect the price.
c) Retailer Incentives
The kind of guarantee the retailer offers in terms of exchanges, returns, buy-back programs, certification of jewellery, after sales service, etc, can also influence the price.

3) (6th C) – Confidence
Choose a jeweler whom you find to be trustworthy and who has won your confidence, since a lot of aspects are involved other than what can be seen on the surface: the quality of the product, product knowledge, sales personnel, after sales service, and guarantee on the product.

4) (7th C) – Certification
As far as possible if the customer is unable to examine the stone for any reason, then it is advisable to go for ‘certified’ stones from an international gemological institute like:
(1) GIA (Gemological Institute of America)
(2) HRD (Hoge Raad voor Diamant)
(3) IGI (International Gemological Institute)
(4) EGL (European Gemological Institute)
In the case of mounted jewellery, there are quite a few gemological labs who will issue a certificate. The least you could go for is to get the retailer to provide you with an in-house certificate.

5) (8th C) – Crystal
There are quite a few imitation stones or diamond stimulants available like glass, crystal, white sapphire, cubic zircon, American diamond, Moissanite, etc. Make sure your retailer is giving a full description of the diamond or diamond jewellery that he is selling you. It can be on a commercial invoice attached to a well known gemological institute or an in-house certificate mentioning the weight of the diamonds, number of pieces, appraised clarity and color of the stones, the cut or shape of the diamonds, the purity of metal and weight consumed in the jewellery.

6) (9th C) – Caring for your Diamond Jewellery
It is advisable to keep the jewellery safely under lock and key. If loose diamonds are around it is better to keep them as set pieces of jewellery even on a simple mounting to prevent misplacing them. Diamonds do cut diamonds. So even though they are the hardest substance, they will get scratched by one another. Diamonds are really forever! They never lose their shine, brilliance or purity. They may look duller due to external deposits like dust or finger prints but a cleaning cloth can get all the beauty and shine back. Due to heavy usage the jewellery might accumulate dirt around the metal. You can take care of this by giving it a dip in a jewellery cleaning liquid or even by brushing with an old toothbrush in soapy water. A jeweler would recommend doing this twice a year. Once in a while it is also advisable to have the jewellery polished, preferably at the same outlet where you purchased it, so that the proper care will be taken while cleaning the joints and settings. For expensive jewellery, it is crucial to have good insurance. Insurance companies even provide cover during storage as well as while being worn. The insurance company might ask for the original invoice, a recent appraisal and certification from an independent and reputed agency. It is also a good idea to keep photographs of the jewellery for your records

7) (10th C) – Change
If the diamonds are set in normal jewellery (i.e. not brand or designer) and the wearer would like to go for a newer design, it is advisable to have the set remodeled. This will help in the changeover, with the least expense to the owner. If the old set is dismantled with reasonable care the chances of damage to the stones and metal is limited. There have been instances where stones have been slightly damaged. A slight repolishing can be undertaken to minimize the total damage.

8) (11th C) – Collectors Value
Designer or brand jewellery are best kept as they are, because they may appreciate in value due to their collectable value. However, if you attempt to sell the jewellery on the open market the jeweler will value it according to its material value which might well be much lower than its purchase price or its new collector value price.

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