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Diamonds: An expert guide to buying the very best

Find out how to buy a diamond and choose a knowledgeable jeweller.

By LLM Reporters  |  October 6, 2021
Fashion portrait of young beautiful woman with jewelry

Words by James Sanders, founder and managing director of London Diamonds – a bespoke online diamond retailer and diamond broker.

Diamonds are considered to be one of life’s ultimate luxuries, but what is it that makes a diamond luxurious and is the diamond trade just highly adept at marketing them?

Diamonds create glamour; they elevate jewellery and are associated with the rich and famous because they are shrouded in luxury. For these reasons, many think that luxury diamonds are out of their reach because they are considered to be more ‘special’. When you understand what’s special when buying luxury jewellery, it provides the ability to know which diamond will perfectly match your needs.

The diamond you choose can help sweep someone off their feet, make a celebration even more memorable, provide a loved one with a cherished keepsake or help make a lasting impression at an important event. Diamonds become talking pieces; they attract the eye and demand attention, which is why they are so mesmerising.

james sanders
James Sanders is the founder and managing director of London Diamonds – a bespoke online diamond retailer and diamond broker

This captivating sparkle of diamond jewellery is part of what makes them so desirable. Isn’t this what makes them special?

Choosing the right diamond for a specific occasion requires a little knowledge. Although it’s likely you would be using a diamond specialist such as James Sanders of London Diamonds; it’s a good idea to understand what you’re looking for and your expectations, especially if you’re considering bespoke diamond jewellery.

Diamonds may be marketed as rare, but the truth is, diamonds are not particularly rare. At any one time, there can be over two million available for sale. The rarest diamonds used for luxury jewellery tend to be so because of their cut, size, and limited number. These diamonds are, therefore, worth considerably more than the majority on the market.

The rarest and special diamonds

Diamonds are generally classified by the level and type of chemical impurities they contain. They are type la, lb, lla and llb. Around 98% of diamonds are classed as type la and are the most common. The other types, as you can see, are on the rarer side.

The rarest diamonds in the world are the lb type. Type lb diamonds contain dispersed nitrogen atoms, resulting in yellow, orange, and brown hues. An example of this is the Canary diamond, with less than 0.1% receiving this classification. These diamonds can sell for millions of dollars.

The most valuable and considered the purest of all diamonds are Type lla. Not rare, but because they contain high amounts of pure carbon, they are almost devoid of imperfections and can be colourless, pink, purple, yellow or brown. Their exceptional quality is down to them taking longer to form, and because they are so incredible, some are even considered priceless.

Natural fancy coloured diamonds are on the rare side. Around 1 in every 10,000 diamonds in the world are coloured. Their popularity has been increased by celebrities taking a keen interest in fancy coloured diamonds, and many can be seen flashing off their jewellery at red carpet events. Jewellery brands have worked the celebrity angle for decades because they know what a celebrity wears becomes fashion, which creates envy, leading to sales.

diamond ring
A diamond is an emotional and financial investment, so it is imperative that you understand what you are buying

Questions to consider when choosing a diamond jeweller

  • Does the jeweller have good reviews, renowned customer service and strong credentials?
  • Do they have a tailored service and provide bespoke pieces?
  • Does the jeweller use the correct terminology such as the 4 C’s – cut, colour, clarity and carat? Discussing fire, life, brilliance, facets and angles? How the diamond reflects, refracts and disperses light?
  • Do they source conflict-free diamonds?
  • Do they also offer certified lab grown diamonds so you have all options?
  • Are they giving you fair and unbiased advice instead of sales speak?
  • Do they have access to the entire wholesale diamond market?
  • Are they spending more money on marketing and advertising than providing incredible luxury diamonds at fair prices?

Fairly priced diamond jewellery is better than discounted

While jewellery sales events may seem appealing, things are often not what they seem. Some diamond jewellers will charge a fair price year-round. In contrast, others cut their prices to offload pre-made pieces that are last season. The problem with this is you’re likely to be paying more money than it was worth.

Main points to consider when purchasing that special piece

When it comes to buying diamond jewellery, although it’s common to focus on the grades and certificate, this is based purely on one geologist’s opinion. It’s better to focus on how brilliant the diamond looks. Why pay over the odds for a diamond because it has qualities no one can even detect. As long as the diamond displays fire, life, brilliance, reflects, refracts and disperses light, and you get the cut, colour, clarity and carat you want, the piece should bring eternal pleasure to the owner.

diamond necklaceon woman
Every diamond, like a human fingerprint, has certain distinguishing characteristic

Buying bespoke makes it special, but does it cost more?

Buying a bespoke diamond ring could be considered to be far more expensive than a readymade one from a jeweller; the opposite is often true. Jewellers such as London Diamonds are refreshingly different from old-school luxury diamond sellers because they have fewer overheads enabling them to offer a bespoke service that usually costs less than off the shelf. Providing a unique piece but also increasing the future value.

Luxury diamond market retailers often refer to their diamonds as special. When most jewellery retailers purchase their diamonds from the same wholesalers as major luxury brands, how can they make this declaration?

Luxury jewellery brands such as Cartier and Tiffany do, of course, make beautiful jewellery, but when broken down, it’s just gemstones and precious metals that remain. As with all luxury brands, you pay a premium for the name and not necessarily for the product itself. There’s no need to pay a substantial premium to have a special and stunning piece of jewellery.