I had just made the most important decision of my life. That is, I was going to propose to my girlfriend of 3 years.
I knew I wanted the perfect diamond for the perfect engagement ring, but I didn’t know where to start. It took me a long time to do my research so I wanted to put everything I learned in one place to make it easier for you. This is why I started Prosumer Diamonds.
What is a prosumer?
A prosumer is an informed consumer who tries to learn as much as they can about a product or service before they buy. For many people, a diamond is a big financial and emotional purchase so it’s really worth spending a bit of time to get properly informed.
These tutorials have been designed so that you will be ready to buy a diamond once you have finished reading the Prosumer Level 1 tutorials. The basic tutorials are meant to help beginners get up to speed but I recommend all readers to start from the basics because I include my opinions and insights as well as some information that you won’t get from other sources.
In this first tutorial, I’m going to go through a few things I think every diamond buyer should know before they buy a diamond.
The tradition of the diamond engagement ring started 125 years ago and was the result of a very successful marketing campaign by De Beers. Although De Beers no longer has a monopoly over the rough diamond trade, they still have a huge influence over the price of diamonds.
A huge excess supply of polished diamonds on the market is often given as proof that diamond prices are artificial. However, global demand for rough diamonds is predicted to surpass supply in the future and no new major diamond mine has been found since 1997.
Most of the excess supply of polished diamonds are poorly cut and truly high quality diamonds are much rarer. It is also usually still cheaper to produce a polished diamond from rough and only increasing diamond prices will make it possible for diamond cutters to recut existing polished diamonds to the highest modern day cut standards.
Conflict diamonds are diamonds that are sold to fund civil wars in Africa. Also known as blood diamonds, these diamonds are sourced unethically through human rights abuses.
The Kimberley Process is an initiative that requires all participating countries to take measures to prevent rough conflict diamonds being imported. Basically all rough diamonds that are imported must be accompanied by a Kimberly Process certificate.
The Kimberly Process started in 2002 and according to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), 99% of the diamonds on the market today are conflict-free. As a consumer, you can let your wallet do the talking by making sure you buy from a dealer who sources their diamonds responsibly.
The best way to make sure you are dealing with a seller who adheres to the highest ethical standards is to find an American Gem Society Certified Jeweler such as Whiteflash. You can search for an AGS Certified Jeweler near you here.
Proof of Origin
Sometimes I’m asked if it’s possible to tell which country or which mine a diamond came from. Unfortunately as an end-consumer, it’s very difficult for you to obtain proof of origin for a diamond and in most cases it will be impossible to find out.
One exception are Canada Mark diamonds. These diamonds are mined and cut in the Northwestern part of Canada and are inscribed with the Canada Mark logo and accompanying serial number.
These diamonds are warranted to be natural, untreated, and audited at every stage so that you can see exactly which mine the diamond came from. Canada Mark diamonds will cost more but you can be assured that your diamond has been ethically mined. For more information you can read my article on Canadian diamonds.
Lab Made Diamonds
Buying a lab made diamond is another great way to ensure that your diamond is ethically sourced.
Chemically speaking, lab made diamonds are exactly the same as a natural diamond so they will have exactly the same physical and optical properties. But before you go and buy a lab made diamond, you should be aware of some of their problems.
Since the technology for creating lab made diamonds is still relatively new, they are currently not much less expensive than natural diamonds. In fact, a branded lab made diamond costs pretty much the same as an unbranded natural diamond. But as the technology improves the cost of producing lab made diamonds will be driven down so if you buy a lab made diamond today, there’s a chance that it may lose a lot of its value in the future. This is exactly what happened for lab made rubies so think twice before buying a lab made diamond for value for money purposes.
The value of natural diamonds comes from how rare they exist in nature and lab made diamonds have no such value. The truth is, a synthetic will never be able to truly replace the real thing because it simply cannot be made to be thousands of years old. This means that no matter how much technology improves, you can be assured that radiocarbon dating will always be able to identify whether or not a diamond is natural.
Another problem with lab made diamonds is that they are currently not cut very well. Many of the top cutters don’t want to associate themselves with cutting synthetics and the added costs of cutting a lab made diamond to super-ideal standards would negate the price benefits of buying a lab made diamond in the first place.
Perhaps my biggest problem with lab made diamonds is that while they may be ethically sourced, very often they are not ethically sold. In trying to capitalize on the ethical and environmentally friendly conscious consumer, many lab made diamond sellers actually engage in what I consider to be unethical marketing standards.
I know at least one lab made diamond seller that refers to ordinarily cut diamonds as ‘super-ideal’ taking advantage of the lack of an official industry standard or any regulation for the use of such terms in marketing their diamonds. They also have a tendency to list natural diamonds for much more than they are being sold at Blue Nile, James Allen, or Enchanted Diamonds which perhaps is an attempt to make their lab made stones more attractive.
Whether you’re interested in a lab made diamond or a natural diamond, just make sure you are buying a diamond from a trusted seller who has an excellent reputation and remember that diamonds should be both ethically sourced and ethically sold.