What to look for when buying antique or estate diamond jewelry

Summary: When you buy jewelry, remember the four Cs of diamond buying and when buying antique jewelry, remember these two other Cs, to ensure you’re buying a true antique, not just a bit of pre-owned jewelry.

When buying antique or estate jewelry, it’s important to keep track of the four Cs (cut, color, clarity and carat weight ). But you’ve also got to know whether you’re buying an actual antique or simply an estate piece. So let’s add two more Cs: cost and credibility.

Cut: Cut is one of the most important considerations when buying a diamond. The way in which a gemstone is cut affects its appearance and its durability – as well as its value. Diamonds are generally cut into shapes that best accentuate clarity and brilliance. Most common shapes for diamonds are brilliant (round), baguette, marquise, oval, pear and princess (square) cuts.

Color: Diamonds range in color grades starting from D and moving straight through the alphabet to Z. While many diamonds may appear to be white (colorless), they may in fact contain traces of other elements (aside from carbon), which impart slight yellow or brown tinges. D-color diamonds are extremely rare and highly valuable. Stones as far along the scale as G are still largely clear; but the further you get from D, the deeper the coloration.

Some diamonds occur naturally in what are termed “fancy” colors: blues, bright yellows, greens, pinks and even vivid reds. These diamonds are extremely rare and are considered highly valuable.

Clarity: Clarity refers to the size and overall number of inclusions or minor imperfections within a diamond. Most of these inclusions are traces of carbon that didn’t get crystallized during the formation of the diamond. The majority of inclusions are undetectable by the naked eye; the average consumer would need a microscope (and probably a trained jeweler to point them out) in order to see them.

The larger and more numerous the inclusions, the greater the chance of light-dispersion interference – which diminishes the diamond’s brilliance. The greater the number and size of the inclusions, the less valuable the diamond; the converse is true as well: The fewer and smaller the inclusions, the more valuable the diamond.

Diamonds are rated according to their clarity under 10x magnification. Diamonds rated IF contain only minor external flaws, which may be removed by polishing. Diamonds rated VVS1 and VVS2 are “very, very slight.” VS1- and VS2-rated diamonds have “very slight” inclusions. Inclusions in SI1- and SI2-rated stones are “slight”; and the I1- I2- and I3-rated stones contain imperfections large enough to be visible to the unaided eye.

Carat Weight: Diamonds are measured in carats; this measurement refers to weight – not size, shape or diameter. One carat may be divided into units of 100 points; therefore, a 3/4-carat diamond is described as being 75 points or 0.75 carat. The larger the diamond, the more expensive it is, per carat; a single 1-carat diamond will cost more than two half-carat diamonds.

Cost & Credibility: The higher the quality of your chosen diamond, the more it is worth. But don’t assume you’re getting a valuable diamond because you’re paying a lot. That’s where credibility factors in. By credibility, we mean, “Are you buying this diamond from a reputable dealer?” and “Are you actually getting what the dealer says you’re getting?” Is this ring being represented as an “antique” when it’s actually “estate” jewelry (a fancy term for pre-owned)? The best way to know for sure is to know your jeweler. To ensure you get the best jewelry for your buying dollar, from a reputable dealer with years of experience, visit Estate Diamond Jewelry. All they do is estate and antique jewelry.

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