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A Consumer Guide to Diamonds
Today the 3P’s are as important as the 4C’s.

Many have stressed the differences between the AGS and GIA cut grading systems. But research gemologist Michael Cowing says their points of agreement and areas of overlap are far more numerous. AGS uses a ten-grade system from 0 to 10, GIA a five-grade system from excellent to poor. But the vast majority of stones which receive a 0 or 1 from AGS receive an excellent from GIA. Yes, there are some disagreements between the AGS and GIA standards, but these usually can be resolved by backup analysis with a direct assessment light measurement device.

All in all, fine diamonds today have been cut to quality standards impossible a generation ago. Perfection is no longer an unverifiable aspect of diamond beauty. We live in an age of proof. Your jeweler depended on such proof when he purchased the diamonds he is showing you. Now make him prove to you what he proved to himself. (see image 12)

Moral & Ethical PRINCIPLES

Until 2000, the term “clean diamond” referred to a stone that had no visible imperfections when viewed with the naked eye or under a 10x jeweler’s loupe. Today the term has as much of a geopolitical as a gemological meaning. A clean diamond comes from mines or mining areas that do not sell to, or are controlled by, ruthless rebel armies or despotic regimes.

A clean diamond is also distributed in accordance with the Kimberley Process, a United Nations-approved treaty with 44 member nations that took effect in 2003. It pledges each member country to ban the import of diamonds from any country with an active trade in illicit diamonds. Already one country has been suspended as a treaty member.

A decade ago, your chances of buying tainted diamonds were nearly one in twelve. You heard right. At least 8 percent of all the gem diamonds coming to market were from African conflict areas such as Angola, Sierra Leone, the Congo, and Liberia. In a world where annual diamond production has been running at 130 million carats for more than a decade, 8 percent adds up to a lot of bad karma.

Today your chances of buying what are known as “blood diamonds” are less than one in a hundred. That’s an incredible achievement for a commodity so easily concealed, smuggled, and transported.

Yet there are groups inside and outside the jewelry industry that want diamonds to become even cleaner than they are today. The call for squeaky-clean diamonds is part of a broad new moral movement on the march in every sector of free-market capitalism. It started long before consumers realized that contraband diamonds, like any valuable natural resource, could subsidize war and suffering.

Diamond ring
Image 1 - Diamond ring from the “Rose” collection by Dalumi.
Image 2 - Ring featuring a Crisscut center diamond by Christopher Designs.
diamond ring bridal set
Image 3 - Bridal set featuring marquise-like shaped Calla cut diamonds from Nelson Jewellery.
diamond circle necklace
Image 4 - Diamond circle necklace featuring a Lady Heart three-stone diamond pendant from David Arabov & Sons.
diamond engagement ring
Image 5 - Princess cut diamond engagement ring by Amy Levine.
diamond earrings and pendant
Image 6 - Earrings and pendant with Rand ideal cut diamonds from Rand Diamond.
swirl diamond pendants
Image 7 - Stylish swirl diamond pendants from Stuller.
cut diamond
Image 8 - Under very favorable, high contrast white illumination, the ideal cut diamond is capable of emitting fire from every facet of its crown. Photo by Michael Cowing, ACA Gemological Laboratory.
diamond engagement ring and wedding band
Image 9 - Diamond engagement ring and wedding band from Uneek.
diamond engagement rings
Image 10 - Engagement rings featuring invisible set diamond side accents from Jewelex.
diamond brilliance
Image 11 - The Isee2 light measurement system from Overseas Diamonds gives diamond brilliance, fire, and sparkle ratings.
14k white gold engagement ring with baguette diamonds
Image 12 - Semi-mount 14k white gold engagement ring with baguette diamond sides from Dora Wedding Bands & Rings.
rose and white gold diamond ring
Image 13 - Rose and white gold diamond ring by Doron Isaak.
heart shaped diamond pendant
Image 14 - Heart shaped diamond pendant by Uneek.