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

But the choice should be yours to make.

Sharri Woodring, a research gemologist at New York-based Gem Certification & Assurance Lab, reports having found a couple of synthetic diamonds salted in among parcels of natural stones since they installed De Beers’ DiamondSure and DiamondView testers in 2005. That may sound like a reassuringly minuscule number but, as Woodring puts it, “It’s one too many if you’re the unsuspecting person who might have bought that stone.”

With prices tags for each in the tens of thousands of dollars, such technology will only be found in a few labs. We suggest that you ask your diamond report provider if they have such machines on their premises or, at least, at their daily disposal.

In any case, step one nowadays in finding peace of mind about your diamonds is to make sure they have passed a thorough gemological inspection at a lab and have been given a security clearance as all-natural.

Now the lab can move on to step two: quality assurance. Today that phrase has mostly to do with predicting or proving light performance. (see image 7)


If you’re reading this guide, chances are good you’ve already found a sophisticated jeweler who sells diamonds that have been cut to reach maximum performance. Perhaps you are being offered a “perfectly cut” or “brilliantly engineered” diamond. Perhaps your diamond is being praised as an “ideal cut,” a “super ideal cut,” an “AGS zero,” or a “GIA excellent.” Maybe your diamond is called a “hearts and arrows” or is said to possess “optical symmetry.”

All these phrases boil down to one thing: Your diamond’s beauty is primarily the result of a craftsmanship based as much on science as art. Over the centuries, cutters have evolved precise sets of angles and facet configurations for each diamond shape to maximize its potential for optical beauty. What’s more, this beauty leaves tell-tale visual indicators that can be seen in special viewers as well as measured and rated for performance by light-analysis instruments.

Don’t get the wrong idea. Your diamond has most likely been graded for color and clarity. But while these factors contribute to its value and price, they no longer mean as much in evaluating its beauty. Beauty depends on light performance. That’s why diamonds with lower color and clarity grades can still appear brighter and more sparkly than diamonds with high color and clarity grades. What matters most in judging the beauty of a diamond is how well it functions as a light reflecting and refracting object.

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.