As cliched as it might be, there's a reason why Marilyn Monroe's "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" has remained such a classic ditty even after so many decades. And like its twinkling and deceptively simple-looking exterior, the art of understanding and shopping for a diamond goes beyond just knowing whether it's square-cut or pear-shape.
Ms Preeti Kurani, Head Gemologist at Mondial sheds a little more light on what's possibly the most precious and sought-after gemstone in the world and the nifty tricks to spotting a good one.
It starts with the 4Cs - Cut, Clarity, Colour and Carat Weight
We've all at least heard of the four Cs that are often used in the grading of diamonds, but do you really know what each term means?
Colour: Truly colourless diamonds are uncommon, and most diamonds take on a slight yellow or brown tint. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) Colour Scale extends from D (colourless) to Z (light yellow or brown).
Clarity: Flawless diamonds are extremely rare to come by due to its formation under tremendous heat and pressure. As a result, most diamonds come with internal and external characteristics and the diamonds' clarity is compared against eleven clarity grades on the GIA Clarity Scale.
Cut: The brilliance of a diamond is dependent upon a combination of brightness (the combination of all white light reflecting from the surface and interior of a diamond), fire (the "flares" of colour emitted from a diamond) and scintillation (the flashes of light you observe when the diamond is moved). Naturally, the best diamonds have increased brightness, fire and scintillation.
Carat weight: Basically, one carat equals to 200 milligrams in weight.
It's possible to spot a good diamond just by looking at it
"Sometimes a customer sees a diamond, and just go 'I want that'", says Preeti. For the layman, it may just be to see the sparkle. The more bright areas and sparkle you see in a diamond, the better the cut of a diamond. "However, It takes an experienced eye to actually spot a good diamond and determine the contrast between dark and bright areas of a diamond, a factor important for its scintillating sparkle."
But of course, the sparkle and brightness of the diamond is just the tip of the iceberg to picking a good diamond, and the 4Cs still forms the guide to choosing the best one.
"The technical aspect [the 4Cs] is something that retailers often explain to customers because it's important to know that while you may get a diamond with a good cut, you might not have the best colour and clarity, and an excellent diamond is a package of the 4Cs."
Diamonds that scores high in all the four categories are extremely rare
Ladies, before you get upset with your man for not getting the best possible diamond there is, do know that diamonds that score high in the cut, clarity, colour and carat weight categories are few and far between.
"Diamonds with the top grade are rare in their respective categories of 4 Cs. To get them all in one diamond, it's even rarer. Therfore when you have a diamond that rates high in its 4 cs, the prices tend to jump," Preeti elaborates.
"Customers with a budget will often need to make a choice - high color-clarity over size or size over color-clarity - there's a tradeoff. But of course, it is possible to obtain a high-scoring diamond in all 4 Cs, so long price isn't a criteria.”
However, size isn't everything, even in the case of diamonds, and size difference is sometimes negligible.
"For instance the diameter of a 1.30ct is about 7.1mm as compared to the 1.55ct that is about 7.4mm. The difference is only 0.3mm, a difference a layman can barely notice with naked eyes. And especially once set in, one cannot tell [the difference]," explains Preeti.
It's always important to do due diligence before purchase
Like with making any other big purchase, it's important to do sufficient research to ensure that the diamond you're paying for is worth its value and you're getting it at the most reasonable price. To put it simply, you wouldn't pay for a branded bag that costs S$2,000 here when you know you could buy the very same one somewhere else for S$1,500 would you? It's all about research, research and more research.
"Nobody overcharges based on the 4Cs. It's on the customer to compare the prices of diamonds of similar quality amongst the different retailers."
Based on Preeti's estimations, a 1.00ct; F colour, VVS2 clarity [diamond that has very, very slight characteristics] and GIA triple excellent should range from S$19,000 to S$22,000.
Also, one need not be embarrassed to ask for the pricing of diamonds -- it's your right as a customer, and no retailer should have a problem with that. "Here at Mondial, we offer the details and prices for customers to compare. However, It's important to first understand what a certain quality [of diamonds] cost. One can refer to the Rapaport Diamond Price Report for that. Rapaport is a globally used diamond price list."
Diamonds make for a great investment
Prices of diamonds of higher quality are almost guaranteed to appreciate over time, usually in three to five years. According to Preeti's decade of experience in the industry, she's only seen prices of top-notch diamonds increase over time.
"Customers who are looking to invest usually know what they're looking for -- they tend to go for the top quality diamonds. For customers who are unsure, I always recommend investing in high quality diamonds because diamonds last you for a lifetime and are also you pass on from one generation to another, so you might as well invest in fine quality diamonds."
"The beauty about diamonds is that it’s the only investment you can enjoy -- you can't wear your other investments, but diamonds you can and at the same time reap the benefits of its investment over time.”
Ms Preeti Kurani, held the role of Resident Gemology Instructor at the internationally renowned Gemological Institute of America (GIA) for 5 years and has more than 11 years of experience in the jewelry industry.
Mondial can be found at Paragon Shopping Centre (+65 6734 2034) and The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands (+65 6688 7898).