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Published:December 23rd, 2009 13:57 EST
Judyth Piazza chats with Erika Winters, Gemologist for Pricescope.com

Judyth Piazza chats with Erika Winters, Gemologist for Pricescope.com

By Judyth Piazza CEO (Editor)

Erika Winters is a graduate gemologist who is dedicated to educating consumers about diamonds and colored stones.  She works for pricescope.com which does not sell diamonds, but is the Internet`s leading consumer advocacy and diamond information website.

Will Diamonds Be Adding Sparkle To Your Holiday Season?
What Every Consumer Needs to Know to Get the Best "for Less! 
 

Diamonds may be a girl`s (or guy`s) best friend, but buying quality diamond jewelry at a good price is a complex process, and many retail outlets lack the knowledgeable experts required to help people choose the right diamond for their budget. 

It`s estimated that more than one-third of all diamond jewelry is purchased during December; yet the process of buying a diamond can be intimidating. Whether you`re shopping with a sky`s the limit " or Scrooge-like budget, consumers need to educate themselves so they don`t end up being the victim of inflated prices or an inferior product.

Pricescope.com (http://www.pricescope.com), the Internet`s leading consumer advocacy and diamond information website, has developed a set of rules to follow " from the moment someone decides that diamond jewelry is their next major purchase to the moment they present it.  Here`s an outline:

Rule 1 - Remember " It`s all about the bling!

Get the rock right, and you`ve got a family heirloom. A ring`s style (type of metal, shape, etc.) is a secondary consideration " a woman usually redesigns the ring " two or three times in her lifetime anyway. As Pricescope.com`s Director Garry Holloway says, It`s like my grandfather`s axe " it`s had several new handles but the head has lasted the distance. "

Rule 2 - Set a budget

Depending on quality, a one carat diamond can cost between $2,000 and $30,000. Settings cost anywhere from $500 to a few thousand.  Knowing your limits and doing your research will make all the difference in getting the best rock for your dollar. 

Rule 3 - Do your homework

Go online or visit a trusted neighborhood jeweler to learn about the Four C`s " Carat, Color, Clarity and Cut.  Cut is the most important element, and often the most overlooked, as the cut of a diamond gives the stone its sparkle. 

Pricescope.com, which is unbiased because it does not sell diamonds, offers useful information, articles and tutorials like these:

http://diamonds.pricescope.com/cut.asp, and a highly interactive community made up " not of sellers and retailers " but experts and real people who share their insights, success stories, and personal opinions and experiences.  For example, you don`t have to buy the highest clarity graded diamonds.  Diamonds that are clean to the naked eye, yet may contain inclusions that are visible with a loupe, can present a great value.  See http://journal.pricescope.com/Articles/78/1/What-is-an-Eye-Clean-Diamond--.aspx for details.
 
 Rule 4 - Making the cut
Princess, cushion, asscher, heart, pear - there are many cuts to choose from, and if you`re unsure stick with the round brilliant, it has the most sparkle. And recently two members of the Pricescope.com community created a new take on the square asscher cut; using cutting edge technology to create a stone with more sparkle and fire.  The forum is at www.pricescope.com/idealbb/view.asp?topicID=125931 " we are very proud!

Rule 5 - Don`t sweat the small stuff
Remember, style is secondary especially if the diamond is of a larger size. The ring or setting itself can always be changed later.  When choosing the style: the classic six-claw solitaire setting " or the Tiffany ring " is a safe bet, as it`s universally popular and can easily be re-set.  Also finger size is not a big issue as rings can be easily resized, and some retailers will even let you exchange a simple six-claw ring setting for one of the new owner`s choice. 

Rule 6 - Silver & gold, silver & gold " "
Whether to use a yellow (gold) or white (platinum or white gold) metal depends on personal taste and what the owner usually wears. Then choose the metal to match your budget " platinum is the more expensive white metal option, but is longer wearing and shows off colorless diamonds best. And here`s a tip " do not place a platinum ring on the same finger as a white gold one as the platinum will wear out the white gold one.

Rule 7 - Know thy jeweler
Reputation is everything, so shop for the jeweler as carefully as the diamond.  Good jewelers offer a Trade Up policy " a guarantee that they will take the diamond back. Not only does this indicate their confidence in the diamond`s quality, but it means you can exchange for a bigger diamond in years to come. Also you can take a ring back to the same store if you need it re-sized. There are on-line jewelers participating on Pricescope that have strong followings; you know you can trust these companies because they rely on your forum feedback to build their business. 

Rule 8 - Read the fine print
When buying a diamond, you are presented with independent diamond grading reports and insurance valuations. Both can have inflated quality grade or values. For example diamonds graded by a lab called EGL can trade between jewelers for half the price of those diamonds graded by the GIA, AGS and some other labs.  Be careful, do your homework, and if you`re not sure go online to the Pricescope forum and get a second independent opinion.

Your diamonds may or may not be forever, but in today`s economy (and for most consumers) they are a serious purchase both in budget and in sentiment. Pricescope.com offers consumers a safe place to go for education and opinion.  No hard sells, and no judgments, Pricescope.com is a supportive portal that educates consumers - without intimidating - on how to make informed and confident diamond purchases.