Tag Archives: carat

Diamond No-No’s

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So you’ve got a diamond.

A beautiful, sparkling, glorious diamond.  It can twinkle in the dimmest of light.  It can turn heads from across the room.  It is absolutely perfect.

Except for one little thing.  It has __________.

“Well, what’s the ‘blank’?” you indignantly wonder.  “My diamond has great specs!”  That may be, but there are factors that go beyond just the basic 4C’s that can have a surprisingly drastic affect on a diamond’s value. 

Let’s now take a look at some of the most prevalent and also some of the more obscure things that can negatively impact your diamond and its overall resale value.  

Fracture Filling

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If your diamond has undergone fracture filling, you yourself may end up filled with despair.  This is a process that is applied to natural diamonds to essentially ‘fill up’ internal cracks within the stone (to improve their clarity – ergo, this is a brand of “clarity enhancement”).  The fractures are filled with a substance (a lead oxychloride glass epoxy) that has a similar refractive index to diamond (thereby maintaining its normal sparkle), in order to best mask the flaws to the naked eye.  If these cracks run all the way up to the surface, the glass-based glop can just be injected right in; if not, then the stone must be “laser drilled” to get in there (we’ll get to that whole practice in just a minute).  “So, what’s so bad about that?” you justifiably may be thinking.  The problem is this; the solutions used to fill in those fractures do not have the same remarkably high heat index that diamonds have.  So, when a jeweler is positioning a diamond into a new piece of jewelry, or even just fixing a banged up old band or what have you, they use a torch.  This torch doesn’t damage diamond at all, but the heat can cause the diamond to ‘sweat out’ the filling material, like a fat man on a treadmill after a night of drinking spiked egg nog.  Hence, the fractures are now visible again and the stone’s clarity grade takes a nosedive.  Just how bad is this?  It’s so bloody awful that the GIA won’t even issue certificates for stones that have undergone fracture filling.  The most aggravating part of this whole mess is that some companies do not inform their customers that the stones they are purchasing are fracture filled.  So there you are, ignorantly walking around with a diamond that’s filled with other stuff.  Please at least attempt to refrain from murdering anyone who sold you one of these fracture filled farces.  

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Laser Drilling

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While this process sounds quite high tech (and a little James Bond-ish), it’s nothing to be that excited about.  It’s another method employed to remove ugly, nasty or just mean spirited inclusions in diamonds.  By drilling to the root of the undesired blotch in the stone (which is just a piece of black carbon that came together as the diamond formed), you expose the inclusion.  The you can pour a little, good ole fashioned sulfuric acid down the hole and burn that droll smudge out of there.  The drill that’s used is, of course, an infrared laser, and the hole that it bores into the stone is microscopic.  Meaning, you can’t see these channels without the aide of a loupe, microscope or psychically charged ‘third eye.’  The dilemma inherent in laser drilled diamonds is that their internal structure has now been messed with.  Who’s to say that the drilling process didn’t corrupt the integrity of the diamond; incipient cracks could be on the cusp of erupting at any time.  The stone may be fine, but there’s just no way to tell.  So as a result, professional diamond buyers are reluctant to acquire such stones – which may vengefully come back to bite them in the tuckus later.  

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Irradiation

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Take a long hard look at your diamond…do you suspect that it’s been violently blasted with neutrons and electrons?  Irradiation is a type of “color enhancement,” and if you have a white diamond, logic would dictate that you probably don’t have to worry too much about this (meaning that the process improves colored diamonds, not that it ameliorates a not so great white diamond’s color grade).  It’s a procedure that utilizes radiation in order to alter colored diamonds at the atomic level, amping their color up from a dull and listless hue to a bright and boisterous shade.  Aside from very rare cases where diamonds can actually undergo irradiation naturally, while still in the ground, stones that have been through this intense tanning bed experience are considered ‘altered,’ ‘treated’ and ‘fake-baked’ to diamond purists.  Translation: valued less.             

 

HPHT

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This abbreviation stands for “High Pressure High Temperature,” and is a procedure that has been riddled with controversy since its inception.  Scientists working at General Electric at the end of the 20th century discovered that they could, more or less, heat and squeeze all the hideous tints out of diamonds, thus making them clear as day.  A bit of an oversimplification, but the overall HTHP operation, which somehow zaps poor color out of white diamonds and also intensifies shades in colored stones, became embroiled in scandal when many of the diamonds that went through this molecular rigamarole were passed off as naturally occurring.  Again, within the milieu of diamond connoisseurs, these rocks just don’t fly as the real deal, and are intrinsically worth significantly less than their organic counterparts.  HPHT stones are given an intaglio on the girdle which demarcates their altered nature, but this can be easily removed, further fueling the ire directed at these augmented diamonds.  

 

Fluorescence  

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In all honesty, this one is a little baffling.  Here is an extensive run down on what fluorescence is and how it can affect your diamond – but the bottom line is that in today’s market, diamonds that exhibit strong fluorescence are unfortunately less desirable.  In the most basic, rudimentary terms, fluorescence is what turns a diamond blue when placed under a black light.  That’s it.  Once in an unfavorably blue moon, a diamond that has strong fluorescence may appear a bit milky when viewed in regular light, but this fickle property of fluorescence is usually just invisible altogether.  The reason why this currently is viewed as a negative is rather up in the air, but if your diamond has fluorescence, you’re up a creek sans a rowing device.   

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Doublet

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This is extremely rare in the diamond world, as it would seem that not even the most disreputable jeweler would try to dupe you with one of these, but stranger things have happened.  This is where the top portion of a diamond (the table) is a real, authentic stone; the bottom (the pavilion) however, is a simulant.  Either C.Z. or quartz or some other damnable fake.  The two parts are glued together and violà; a gem that reads as real when viewed from above, but is a total sham when you look up its rear.    

The only way to know for sure if your diamond has been cursed with any of these dastardly traits is to have it evaluated by a knowledgeable professional.  Thankfully, the expert gemology staff at Diamond Lighthouse is at your disposal.  If you possess a sizable diamond (1 carat and higher) that you’re looking to sell, we can perform a comprehensive test on in, making sure that it is not afflicted with any of the aforementioned natural or man-made maladies.  This evaluation and shipping are both totally free as well.  How’s that for service?  We’ll also find you the absolute best price imaginable for your diamond.  Find out more here

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-Joe Leone 

10 reasons why you should sell your diamonds IMMEDIATELY

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All across the country, many people can be found who own diamonds.  Some women wear them on the forth finger of their left hand to indicate that you shouldn’t ask them out; others sport large versions of the stones, hanging from their ears, as an alternative to “spacers”; certain gentlemen, who recite lyrical words for a living into microphones, have diamonds embedded into miniature avatars of themselves that hang from gilded chains around their necks.  Then there are the people that have diamonds hidden in their attics, in tiny treasure chests, saving them in the event of a complete economic breakdown where we must resort back to a pre-civilized barter system.  Of all the multitude of the diamond hoarding human classifications, there is one thing that unites them: they all should sell their diamonds ASAP.

Here’s why:

1 – Walking around with valuable pieces of glittering, sparkling glass fragments on your body is a surefire way to draw the attention of criminals looking to make an easy score.  Just look at what happened to Batman’s parents.  Ditch those pricey pieces post haste, before you become the prime target for a malicious mugging/horrendous hugging.  

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2 – In the same way that you become the pièce d’ résistance for professional bandits, you make yourself ready bait for bothersome relatives and deadbeat friends.  They won’t rob you in quite the exact aggressive manner as the aforementioned gem-snatchers, but they will bombard you with nonstop requests for monetary assistance.  The ugly, glittering truth is that they are not even to blame; by wearing diamonds you turn yourself into a walking billboard for ostentatious luxury and arrogant opulence.   

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3 – You work hard every day at your job.  You put in extra hours, you follow up with all business leads that may benefit the company – you even attend the damnable Holiday Party every year with a warm (however forced and obsequious) grin on your face.  Think you’re due for a raise, right?  NOPE.  Not with that huge rock on your finger/ear/nose.  You look like you have too much money already.  Sorry, you can email HR though – who’ll promptly delete your complaint, for all the same gem encrusted reasons. 

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4 – Diamonds are very hard, and in some cases, very sharp.  Now, what do you think happens when you lose weight?  Your digits shrink and your rings become loose.  The harmless activities of every day life can cause your ring to droop down, and when you go to close your hand around a plump orange or send a hilarious (in your mind) tweet – OW!  Your backwards set diamond has just stabbed ye, and it’s off to the E.R. for an afternoon of agony.  

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5 – Let’s paint a similar scenario: you’ve dropped some pounds and all your clothes are now hanging on you.  You casually attempt to hail a cab and – whoosh – your ring goes flying off your slender finger and into the night.  Oops.  You are not even aware of this until later, when you realize you’ve just lost an item that cost thousands upon thousands of greenbacks.  

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6 – You may be grinning to yourself at this point, thinking “Ha!  I never lose weight – in fact, I’ve been steadily gaining girth for years!”  Well, touché.  Oh, you may want to consider this though; those who have amassed extra poundage and have rings that are now permanently stuck on their fingers are at a great risk of losing circulation entirely and, ultimately, needing to have their finger amputated.    Won’t be so funny anymore, when you’re walking around giving people ‘High Fours.’

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7 – Diamonds are forever.  That is, until you can’t find them anymore.  If you happen to fall into the grouping of people who squirrel away your diamonds in remote corners of your cellar, attic or furnace, there may come a day when you are ready to remove said stones and: WAH?  They’re missing!  From actual squirrels (and other pesky varmints) that just love to burrow into tight places and pilfer shiny things to similarly rodential children and grabby roof shingle repairmen, there’s a whole host of creatures/people who can get to your gems before you do.  Sell those rocks before they get their grubby little mitts on them first.  

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8 – For every old diamond that doesn’t get sold, a “new” diamond must be excavated from the ground to meet diamond consumer demand.  This endless stream of terrestrial destruction has anything but a positive impact on the environment; in fact, it wreaks havoc on certain sensitive ecosystems, which can ultimately lead to the decimation of endangered species and worldwide environmental devastation.  So, essentially, every time you don’t sell your old diamonds, the air we breathe becomes poisonous and a baby seal dies. 

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9 – Owning a diamond engagement ring leads to divorce.  Statistics show that out of all divorced couples, over 80% of them had a diamond engagement ring exchanged (well, this documentation refers to ‘married coules,’ but all divorced couples were married at one time, so whatever).  The numbers don’t lie.  Sell your diamond engagement ring right now, or the chances are highly in favor that you will get divorced.  Already divorced?  Well, there you have it then.  Best to sell any residual diamonds before they can do any more damage.  

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10 – Finally, we have the most substantial (and serious) reason.  While diamond demand has not waned dramatically in the U.S., international diamond prices have seen a significant downward spiral.  This is no passing trend; it’s just the way things are.  Take a gander at what some of these news sources have to say on the matter: Forbes, Time, MarketWatch.  The smartest economic decision you can make in this very moment is to sell your diamonds now, before things get exponentially worse.  The good news here is that at Diamond Lighthouse we can help you recover the absolute highest value for your diamond jewelry (typically any piece that features a diamond 1 carat and higher).  Our unrivaled open bidding platform will get you the best price for your diamond, every single time.  Find out more, right…NOW!  

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-Joe Leone

How Much Should You Spend on Jewelry?

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The average U.S. household spends only $167 on jewelry per year, but that number varies greatly by region. The northeastern U.S., southern and central coastal California, and the east coast of Florida, for example, spend the most on jewelry per year, while the northwest region spends less than $50 annually per household.

The popular concept of smarter spending has a lot of people taking a closer look at how much they spend on everyday items, and jewelry is often an impulse buy. Self-help and finance blogs discuss budgeting and making realistic financial plans, which often results in cost-cutting or looking for ways to get some of your money back.

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But when you’re buying new jewelry, how much should you be willing to spend? What’s the price tag on feeling pretty or scoring a compliment from your moody boss? The obvious answer to this dilemma is: spend the amount that makes sense for you, whether that’s based on your region, your social circle, or your personal style. The decision, however, is more complicated than that, and probably varies with every piece you look at. It’s not easy to choose between shelling out more cash for nicer, longer lasting jewelry over less costly, trendier pieces. It’s hard to place a number on the value of the little boost in self-esteem you might get.

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Websites like Pinterest and Instructables make Do-It-Yourself a viable option for saving money on a lot of important items including jewelry, but there are certain pieces that are essentially impossible to DIY. And that’s one element of DIY that people often overlook before diving in to a project: the cost of the materials and tools, which is one part of what goes into jewelry-making. When you’re deciding how you want to better your budget, consider how original you would like your jewelry collection to be. If originality is important to you and you want handmade jewelry from an artist or smaller manufacturer on a site like etsy, plan to spend a little bit more than you might for a similar piece from a larger manufacturer, like Forever 21, who outsource their work and user cheaper materials specifically so they can offer their products at a low price point. Some smaller companies even begin to outsource once they gain popularity so they can manage the costs and offer their product to more customers, saving 400-500 percent by having someone else produce their designs.

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Choosing how much to spend on jewelry may also depend on the materials you are looking for. If you’re more concerned about the look than the actual material, sterling silver is a good substitute for silver and white gold, and purchasing gold-coated jewelry can save you a lot of money if you prefer the darker color. In addition, synthetic gemstones can be created to look like a natural gemstone, so if you are here because you are aiming to sell your diamonds, a man-made stone might be a great replacement.

Another consideration for choosing an amount to spend on jewelry is whether you value the experience of going into a physical store and trying on the jewelry or whether you are comfortable buying it online. Online stores are often cheaper, simply because renting a brick-and-mortar space is expensive for the business.

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If you are not looking for a specific piece, buying jewelry at an overstock or auction site can be a way to find great deals. Sale jewelry is typically marked down temporarily, while clearance and overstock jewelry are usually marked down because the manufacturer or retailer wants to make room for other products. Because there is an incentive to get rid of it, clearance and overstock jewelry can offer a steeper discount, but the selection may be limited.

One great rule of thumb for a jewelry purchase is the dollar-per-wear rule. To follow this rule, ask yourself how many times you anticipate wearing a particular piece, and if that number is the same as or lower than the price, then it is probably a good purchase. However you decide how much money to spend on jewelry, remember to make the choice for your own reasons, not someone else’s.

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Amazing Tales of People Who Got Out of Debt

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It can happen to anyone.

Everything in your life is going fine.  Good, stable job, appropriately priced living space, transportation costs under control, etc.  Then, one day, something happens.  Either it is traumatic and crushing (like becoming unemployed), something joyous (you have a baby – or, twins!), or something of such apparent inconsequence that it barely registers on your radar (…a new credit card arrives in the mail).  Whether monumental or seemingly minimal, an event occurs that steers you off your straight and sensible economic track.  Before you know it, you’re swimming, nay, drowning in debt.  Now what?

While there appears to be an unlimited resource of online articles, instructions and advice on how to climb out of the debt abyss (Solving the Credit Card Debt Enigma, Facing The Final (Bankruptcy) Chapter: 7, Divorce Yourself from Financial Woes), it’s one thing to read about how to theoretically do it; it’s another to hear from people who actually have.  Here is an assemblage of brave souls who tackled their debt head on, and the specific methods they used to remove the money owing albatross from their backs for once and for all.

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You don’t have to get into Harvard to figure out that Harvard Business School isn’t cheap.  The businessinsider.com highlighted the intriguing circumstances of Joe Mihalic, a grad from said institution who left with an impressive diploma …and a student loan debt of $101,000.  After two years of making payments on this sizable loan, Joe wasn’t seeing any significant results ($22,000 paid back to the banks only saw an actual decrease of about $10,000 – because of the high interest fees).  He knew he had to makes some changes: “Joe took a two-pronged approach, decreasing his spending and increasing his revenue. He got a weekend gig as a pedicab driver, started a landscaping business with his friend, bought a flask to skimp on booze spending, got a roommate for his Austin home, temporarily stopped his 401(k) contributions, and did the usual lunch-eating, restaurant-skipping money-saving tricks. It worked. In under a year, he shaved off his entire debt-load.”

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In a story featured on time.com, Master Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, Rachel Gause explained the tactics she was able to put into place to eliminate her debt (which totaled $179,625), and which allowed her to control her future expenditures.  Guase explained “I use the envelope system. Before I get paid, I do my budget. Then I have 13 envelopes—one for groceries, one for clothes and shoes, one for charity, one for dining out, one for gas, and so on. I go to the bank, take the money out, and divide it between the envelopes.  I don’t spend anything that doesn’t come out of those envelopes. Debit cards are nice, but swiping is less emotional. Cash makes me more aware of what I’m spending my money on. If I run out of money for something that month, I don’t buy it. But I’ve never run out of money for something important—now I’m more aware of how much I’m spending.”

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Even if you make a lot of money, you can owe a lot too.  After a decade of healthy spending, Travis Pizel and his wife Vonnie (both of whom have high paying jobs) had collectively racked up a credit card debt to the tune of $109,000, according to the Pizel blog Enemy of Debt.  They realized the best way to combat the intimidating figure was to find a debt management plan that worked for them.  By condensing all of their credit card payments into one figure of approximately $2,500 per month, and adhering to a strict budget, they found that the new order and structure made things easier for them.  With 100k in the books, they are on the fast track to becoming entirely debt free quite soon.

College tennis star Ja’Net Adams was doing very well for herself after graduation, as reported by forbes.com.  She lost her job, however, in the dark days of 2008.  Soon after she and her husband were facing the precipice of a  $50,000 financial chasm.  Ja’Net knew she needed to land another full time job, but also was wise enough to focus on supplemental income as well.  She explained “I started coaching private tennis lessons for $25 an hour, and my husband taught basketball lessons for four or five kids at a time, at $25 per child. This earned us $500 a week.  Then I sought out easy ways to help reduce our expenses, like downgrading to basic cable, scaling back on our cell phone plans, and being conscious of how wasteful habits—like failing to turn off the lights after leaving a room—affected our utility bills. These simple adjustments saved us hundreds each month.”

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Maureen Campaiola was able to devise a three year plan to eliminate $79,500 in credit card and student load debt, states wellkeptwallet.com.  Her inspiring story involved a rollercoaster of economic ups and downs, but ultimately she came away with some extremely helpful wisdom in the debt management forum.  Here are some of the unapologetic tips that she cultivated:

“Cut up your credit cards and don’t look back. You don’t need them and you don’t need the points.

Track your income and expenses religiously. Evaluate it regularly and make adjustments to your spending plan to meet the financial demands month to month.

Be willing to make sacrifices. If you’re not willing, you won’t be successful. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it is the truth.

Ask yourself if you need something, BEFORE you make the purchase. If you can’t honestly answer yes to that question, don’t buy it.”

If you find yourself in debt, even if the figure isn’t as astoundingly high as some of ones just listed, there are clearly a variety of steps you can take to help yourself become fully debt-liberated.  Along with the helpful suggestions supplied by the people above,  another method to reduce debt is to sell off any unneeded valuable items in your possession.  If you have diamond jewelry that fits into that category, check out diamondlighthouse.com.  We help people find the very best prices for their diamond jewelry, every day.  Whether you have a one carat sized engagement ring, or a set of diamond earrings totaling 10 carats, we will find the best price for you.  As evidenced from many of the debt eliminating stories in this post, every little bit can help.  Find out more here.

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-Joe Leone 

Diamond Engagement Ring Scams – and How to Avoid!

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So the time has come to make an honest woman (or man) out of your special someone.  What’s the next step?  Why, you need to purchase a gigantic (yet classy) diamond engagement ring to signal to the world “back off!” and to their friends “yup, that’s right, I am loved this much!”  Seems simple enough.  Now, just head to the local jewelry store (equipped with the 3 or 15 months worth of salary that you’ve been saving up) and snag a gorgeous, gleaming rock, slip it on your betrothed’s finger and then live sappily ever after.

But wait…could there be a flaw in your plan?   What if the jeweler…is trying to SCAM you??

Look, the people who sell fancy diamond jewelry, just like those who sell automobiles, buildings or scented candles, are trying to increase their profit margins.  If that means unloading a garbage stone on some sucker along the way, so be it.  Now, as far as you are concerned; don’t be that sucker!  Here are a few quintessential ways to avoid wasting your hard earned greenbacks and how to get the best lil’ diamond ring in the whole bunch!

If buying online, make sure they have a reasonable return policy (or any)  

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Here’s the potential problem with online purchases: the diamond engagement ring that you receive in the mail doesn’t look anything like the one in the picture (the ole “McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese commercial” versus what that monstrosity looks like in real life paradox).  Even worse, if the actual stone specifications that they supply are entirely inaccurate.  Ok, time to send it back – but then you read the fine print and see that they either do not accept returns of any nature, or that they happily do, but charge a restocking fee for half the cost of the item.  Do your research first: if a company has these sketchy return policies in place, then it’s probably best to avoid their business altogether (they are clearly anticipating a lot of returns for their shoddy merchandise).  A regular, non-shady online company will often charge return shipping or insurance costs, that’s the norm.

The easiest way to see if an online jewelry company is reputable?  Why, by checking online, of course.  A quick Google search will reveal a lot about any business that may have struck your fancy.  Just trust the reviews and check if they’re registered with the BBB.

Like certain selfies, good lighting can totally trick you

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There’s a real simple method to see if the diamond ring you are about to purchase is really “as good as it looks.”  Just take it outside, into natural light.  Yes, some stores may frown upon (or send security after you) if you take unpaid-for-merchandise out into the street, but not just because they think you will pilfer said gem.  They have special lighting set up in their stores, to maximize the color and sparkle of the diamonds, and once that puppy sees the harsh light of day, then taddah! …it’s revealed to be utter trash.  They do this by expertly (and deviously) tinting the store lights blue – this makes a yellowish, corn kernel looking stone appear as if it’s a perfectly pristine white diamond.  If the salespeople won’t let you cavort around the great outdoors with the ring you’re interested in, take it to an area of the store with the ugliest lighting there is; that’s right, fluorescent (the bathroom is usually a good locale for this).  If the diamond still looks sparkly there, then you’re in business.

Don’t be fooled by the rocks they don’t got

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Here’s a very ancient and basic ruse some jewelers will employ: they will proudly display or verbally relate that a ring has a specific carat size “This beauty here is 2.5 carats!”, yet it will not look that large at all.  What is going on here?  Are they out right lying?  Well, yes and no.  With this ploy, they are telling you the total carat weight, not the size of the main diamond.  Meaning, the primary diamond may be .80 ct, and is surrounded by a double halo loaded with 1.70 carats worth of minuscule diamond pavé.  Pavé is French for “paved” or, in diamond circles, “le garbage.”  Similarly sized baby stones are also called diamond “meleé,” and you’ll feel like you’re in quite the melee as you fight with the jeweler over what is what.  You see, 1.70 in diamond pavé is worth diddly squat compared to a single 1.70 sized stone.  Ergo, make sure you always are provided with the precise carat weight of the main event stone.  In tandem with the rest of the stone’s other “C’s,” you can get a somewhat accurate estimate of what the diamond should be costing you in a retail setting (by cross-referencing with other stores and online).

Trick or Treatment: same thing

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“Treated” diamonds are, ironically, not treated all that nicely.  Jewelers and the like use the euphemism “clarity enhanced” to describe treated diamonds, but what this term really means is that the stone has undergone “laser drilling” to remove dark internal crud from it.  These unsightly blemishes are known as inclusions, and once you remove them in this manner the stone can become weaker.  Another form of treating is “fracture filling,” where preexisting cracks are made to look a little less prominent and ugly.  Yet another incarnation of treating is color irradiation, where the poor thing undergoes actual radiation to improve its color grade.  Overall, these abrasive treatments can hurt the sensitive little diamonds, leaving them susceptible to chips, cracks and, in some cases, emotional breakdowns further along the road.  So if you see a resplendent diamond ring (at a decent price), with the subtle disclaimer that it has been “clarity enhanced,” just stay away.  It could be a ticking time bomb, just waiting to implode one day on your lover’s precious finger.

50% OFF! …no, just, no 

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If a diamond is offered at a blaring “50% off,” then the smart money is on the fact that the initial price was blatantly overinflated (by, oh let’s say, half), and the “sale” figure is just a regular price.  This is just common sense.  If a diamond ring is truly provided at a significant sale price, it’s because something horrible has happened to it (a tiny crack has now spread, it was revealed to have been stolen from a highly publicized heist, etc.)  It may be fine to purchase, just don’t delude yourself that you’re getting a “deal.”

At the end of the day, not all jewelers are nefarious, scheming and avaricious louts.  Just be careful not to sink your savings into a diamond engagement ring being hocked by one of the sneaky ones.  Follow the tips above, trust your instincts and maybe, just maybe, you won’t get scammed like a total newb.  If, after reading all of this, you still end up falling prey to one of those dastardly devices…there’s a huge sale on a bridge in Brooklyn you may want to check out.

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-Joe Leone