Diamonds Sparkle for the Holidays - How to Shop Wisely

Oct 21, 2004, 01:00 ET from Gemological Institute of America

    CARLSBAD, Calif., Oct. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Diamonds are the ultimate symbol
 of love and romance.  If you're thinking of buying one for that special
 someone, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) recommends following three
 basic steps to make the process worry free.
     (Photo: )
     Select a qualified jeweler, learn the Four Cs (Color, Clarity, Cut and
 Carat weight) and ask for an independent diamond grading report.  See for a free online tutorial.
      Step 1:  Choose a qualified jeweler -- Choose your jeweler as you would
               choose your doctor, lawyer or any professional.  Be sure to
               check a jeweler's education and credentials. Ideally your
               jeweler will be a GIA Graduate Gemologist (G.G.) or a GIA
               Accredited Jewelry Professional (A.J.P.).  In addition, look for
               affiliations with jewelry industry groups and professional
               associations.  A knowledgeable jeweler will clearly explain the
               "Four Cs" of diamond quality and encourage you to compare
               diamonds to suit your price range.
      Step 2:  Learn the "Four Cs" -- The key to a diamond's value is its
               rarity, and no two diamonds are alike.  Rarity is determined by
               a diamond's unique characteristics as measured by GIA's
               international diamond grading system, using the Four Cs: Color,
               Clarity, Cut and Carat weight.
     "To the untrained eye, many diamonds look alike.  But in fact, every
 polished diamond has its own unique set of characteristics that distinguishes
 it from other diamonds in the marketplace," says Thomas C. Yonelunas, CEO of
 the GIA Gem Laboratory, where many of the world's diamonds are graded.
     Here is a brief overview:
      Color:   Colorless diamonds are extremely rare and highly valued.  Most
               are nearly colorless with yellow or brown tints.  The
               internationally recognized GIA Diamond Grading System uses
               letters to represent colors, beginning with D (colorless) and
               ending at Z (light yellow or brown).
      Clarity: Created by nature, most diamonds contain unique birthmarks
               called "inclusions" (internal) and blemishes (external).
               Diamonds with few birthmarks are rare-and rarity affects market
               value.  Using the GIA Diamond Grading System, diamonds are given
               a clarity grade that ranges from flawless, to various levels of
      Cut:     While diamonds come in many different shapes, from round
               brilliants to hearts, pears and marquise.  It also can refer to
               the proportions of a diamond.  The well-cut diamond uses light
               to create brilliance, sparkle and flashes of fire.
      Carat:   Diamonds are weighed using metric carats.  A carat weighs about
               the same as a small paper clip.  Just as a dollar is divided
               into 100 pennies, a carat is divided into 100 "points."  This
               means that a diamond of 50 point weighs 0.50 carats.  But two
               diamonds of equal weight can have very different values
               depending on their color, clarity and cut.
      Step 3:  Ask for an independent diamond grading report -- The most widely
               used and respected grading reports are those issued by the
               independent GIA Gem Laboratory.
     "The GIA Diamond Grading Report contains a complete quality analysis of
 each diamond, including the Four Cs," reminds Yonelunas.  "Understanding these
 features is a consumer's best bet when it comes to making an educated diamond

SOURCE Gemological Institute of America