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: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20041021/NYFNSF03 ) Select a qualified jeweler, learn the Four Cs (Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat weight) and ask for an independent diamond grading report. See www.gia.edu 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 inclusions. 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 purchase."
SOURCE Gemological Institute of America