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Rare and fascinating, mysterious and magical, the diamond has ignited romantic passion throughout history. The word alone conjures up a thousand images of rare, precious, desirable, beautiful, sparkling tokens of love. This guide from Jewelers of America details what you should know when buying diamonds or diamond jewelry for yourself or someone you love.

One of the most important aspects of buying quality diamond jewelry is where you shop. A trustworthy jeweler or jewelry store, like members of Jewelers of America, will walk you through the jewelry shopping experience and take you on an educational journey about diamond information.

The information in our diamond jewelry guide is intended to help you browse for diamond jewelry in advance of your purchase and understand the basic diamond quality factors so you can feel comfortable starting a dialogue with any jewelry salesperson.

A Diamond’s Unique Characteristics

Diamonds might not be the rarest gemstone known to man, but they have a set of unique characteristics that sets diamond jewelry apart from other gemstones and gives them a value beyond price. When considering a diamond jewelry purchase, a jeweler might first inform you of these special features of a diamond:

Unique Beauty 

The beauty and inner fire of the diamond has made this precious gem prized for centuries. Each stone, like its owner, is endowed with a personality and character uniquely its own. 

Durability

A diamond is the hardest substance known to man (ranking 10.0 on the Mohs Hardness Scale) and is resistant to deterioration. When cared for properly, diamond jewelry can be worn every day and passed on as an heirloom to future generations.

 

Enduring Value

Gem-quality diamonds have consistently retained their value, and most often have increased in value, after years of being worn and enjoyed.

The Diamond 4Cs

There are four factors that determine the value of a diamond, collectively known as the Diamond 4Cs. The best way to shop for a diamond is to have a good understanding of the 4Cs and determine which factors are most important to you, as each of the “Cs” means something different for each individual. For example, some women care most about the carat weight and diamond size, while others might consider the clarity and cut more important. A diamond jewelry purchase should never be based on the specifications alone.

A jeweler is your best source of information, but review each page dedicated to diamond 4Cs to learn what you should look for when searching for your next diamond jewelry purchase – whether online or at jewelry stores near you. Here's a handy guide to the Diamond 4Cs charts (pdf) to bring with you as you shop.

Diamond Carat Weight

Carat weight measures a diamond’s weight and size. Because large diamonds are rare, they generally have a greater value per carat.
Learn about diamond carat weight >

Diamond Clarity

A diamond’s clarity is affected by any external and internal characteristics created by nature when the diamond was formed or as a result of the cutting process. Learn more about diamond clarity and see diamond clarity charts in this section.
Learn about diamond clarity >

Diamond Color

While the most popular diamonds are colorless, diamonds come in every color of the spectrum. Diamond color grades are determined by professionals under ideal circumstances, a situation seldom duplicated outside of a laboratory. Choose a diamond based on its appeal to you, rather than on a technical color scale.
Learn about diamond color >

Diamond Cut

Each diamond is cut to very exacting standards. The cut is one of the most important quality factors of a diamond, as it affects the diamond’s optical and physical properties, like brilliance – how a diamond reflects light.
Learn about diamond cut >

Where to Buy Diamond Jewelry

Since expertise in the grading, selection and sale of diamonds takes years of training, always purchase diamond jewelry from a professional you can trust. Choose a retailer who has demonstrated a commitment to professionalism and has an established reputation. Ask if the jeweler is a member of Jewelers of America. Our members commit annually to a Code of Professional Practices, so you can buy jewelry with confidence.  Search our “Find a JA Jeweler” directory, or look for the “J” logo on company’s door or website.

The jewelry store experience should be relaxed and fun. The best jewelers are passionate about their craft and love sharing their knowledge with customers. They will show you a selection of diamonds and be able to explain the subtle differences in grade and value. The knowledge and expertise you gain in the jewelry store will guide you in choosing the perfect diamond for a lifetime of wearing pleasure.

A big plus of establishing a relationship with a jewelry store near you is that they will be there for your future purchases, repairs or custom design needs.

Caring for Your Diamond

Diamonds may be the hardest substance known to man, but they still can be damaged, abraded or scratched. Use the following guidelines to ensure your diamond jewelry retains its beauty for years to come:

  • Don’t jumble your diamond jewelry with other pieces, because diamonds can scratch other jewelry and each other.
  • Keep your diamond jewelry in a fabric-lined jewel case or in a box with compartments or dividers.
  • Don’t wear your diamonds when doing rough work. Even though a diamond is durable, a hard blow can chip and damage it.
  • Diamonds look best when they are clean, revealing the diamond’s fire and brilliance. Clean your diamonds regularly using commercial jewelry cleaner, a mix of ammonia and water, or a mild detergent. Dip the jewelry into the solution, and use a soft brush to dislodge dust or dirt from under the setting.
  • Keep diamond jewelry away from chlorine bleach or other chemicals that can pit or discolor the mounting. Do not wear your diamond jewelry in chlorinated pools or hot tubs.
  • See your professional jeweler at least once a year to have your diamond jewelry professionally cleaned and checked for loose prongs and wear.

Visit our Jewelry Care section for more information on how to clean and care for your fine jewelry.
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