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The Beginner's Guide to Buying Diamonds

Q Report Team
Updated on March 07, 2023
6 min read

In the market for a sparkler?


As you've probably guessed, shopping for diamonds differs from shopping for furniture or clothing or even cars. One of the most significant differences is that no two diamonds are exactly alike. And prices can vary widely between stones that appear similar to the average consumer.


You'll find mountains of online information about the technical aspects of diamonds. Too much information can be overwhelming and leave you feeling frustrated and discouraged. 


To simplify your task and make the process an enjoyable experience, we created this introductory guide to help you understand how diamonds are graded and priced. Additionally, we've included tips on how to find the perfect stone without incurring regrets. Here we go!


The Basics

Diamond quality and value are graded on four universally agreed attributes, often called the 4 C's.

  • Cut
  • Colour
  • Clarity
  • Carat

If you spend any amount of time in a jeweller's shop, you'll hear these terms again and again. Learn their meanings and adopt the lingo for an interesting, engaging and well-informed shopping experience.



Cut describes the shape of a diamond and the quality of its precision and workmanship. In reality, the quality of the cut determines a diamond's sparkle. Precise, even cuts allow the facets to interact with the light. The higher the grade, the more light will be transmitted by the stone.


Common Diamond Shapes

Fashion trends in diamond shape change over time. By far, the most commonly used diamond shapes are Round Brilliant followed by Princess Cut (also known as Square Modified Brilliant). These shapes are designed to reflect the maximum amount of light. Pear and Oval diamonds have increased in popularity lately, but more than anything else, your choice will come down to personal taste.


Why Cut Matters



When it comes to a diamond's value, colourless carries the day. The more colourless, the more valuable. The notable exceptions to this standard are "fancy" coloured stones, which can also be extremely valuable.


If a diamond has a noticeable yellow tint, the sparkle is diminished, and this reduces the stone's value. Colour becomes more important as carat weight increases because it's easier to see colour through larger facets.


Diamond Colour



Clarity describes a diamond's internal flaws and surface imperfections. In many cases, these flaws evade the casual observer's notice and may only be evident to a jeweller with a microscope.


Diamond Clarity

Fewer than 1 in 5000 diamonds are considered Flawless (FL). Flawless and Internally Flawless (IF) stones are identical to the naked eye. Less than 3% of diamonds reach IF grade. In fact, it's not until you reach the Slightly Included (SI1) category that flaws may be visible to the naked eye.



Diamond carat weight refers to how much a diamond weighs. A metric "carat" equals 200 milligrams.

Diamond Carat Size Comparison

The average engagement ring diamond weighs in at slightly less than one carat. This is because the price of diamonds increases sharply at the one-carat mark due to high demand. Many buyers save money by purchasing a diamond in the 0.9-carat range.


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Diamond Buying Tips


Even if you've never purchased a piece of jewellery before, you can successfully buy diamonds when you educate yourself and follow a few precautions.


Don't Consider Diamonds to Be an Investment

Unlike gold and other commodities, diamonds don't qualify as a financial investment. There's no universal world price per gram as with gold, and resale value can be disappointing.


The real return on purchasing a diamond is the experience of owning it. It symbolises your lasting commitment. Your partner is going to wear and see it every day, so make it a good one!


Buy from a Trusted Seller

Buying second-hand or from overseas comes with risks. Beware of fake diamonds, especially abroad. If a bargain seems too good to be true, it probably is.


Unless you're a trained gemologist, it can be challenging to differentiate between the real thing and a cubic zirconia (a synthetic gemstone). You then have the additional complications of differentiating between a natural and a laboratory grown diamond. These days, laboratory grown diamonds can be so difficult to tell apart from a natural diamond that expensive specialised equipment is needed.


Ask to See Certification

Sometimes called the 5th C, Certification provides assurance that a diamond is genuine and worth the price set by the seller. Reputable jewellers offer lab certificates with each of the diamonds they sell. The most well-known diamond lab is the GIA (Gemological Institute of America), but there are several others, such as the American Gem Society (AGS) and Gem Certification and Assurance Lab (GCAL). Don't purchase a diamond without examining its certification.


However, even these certificates can be faked. At the end of the day, the safest bet is to purchase diamonds from trusted local suppliers and jewellers. If you're in doubt about a purchase you've already made, consult an expert.


Set a Budget Before You Shop

Australians spend about $5000 on their engagement rings, on average. If you need to cut expenses somewhere, skimp on the ring, not the diamond. A diamond can last forever, but fashions change. If you tire of the ring's look, the diamond can be removed and placed in a new setting. So focus your efforts on the diamond, which will be a constant reminder of your affection for years to come.


Trust Your Instincts

Trust your instincts and trust your jeweller. It's essential to have at least a basic understanding of the technical details, but the most critical aspect is how the stone actually makes you feel. Find a jeweller you trust, and they will help find that diamond which speaks to you. Our list of Q Certified Jewellers is a good starting point to find a jeweller nearby.


Caring for Your Diamond

Diamonds may last forever, but they are not indestructible. While they might be the hardest known natural substance, they can be chipped, scratched, cracked in half, or loosened from their setting and lost entirely.


Learn more about how to care for particular diamond shapes, and keep your stone clean and well-maintained. If you ever notice that it's loose in its setting, take it to your family jeweller right away for repairs.


Make sure you're covered with insurance – but not only home insurance. If you read the fine print, you might find some surprises. You may not even be covered to wear your jewellery outside the home!


Your best guarantee is to insure it with Q Report jewellery insurance, which covers the full value of your diamond jewellery and allows you to return to your jeweller for repairs and replacement. Get an instant quote, and find out how much your jewellery insurance might cost.

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