Over the past few months, I have carefully detailed the value components of polished diamonds. These components – Color, Clarity, weight, shape and quality of workmanship – were presented and explained. I broke down the bearing of yield, and described how these different aspects interact in terms of impact on value.
Now you may wonder: how does this work on a more practical level? What if I have a certain budget, and want to weigh the different options and make a decision based on my taste? Perhaps you prefer a diamond to be as white as possible. Or maybe you want as big a diamond as possible without compromising on the quality of the cut – and to stay within your budget.
Solet’s weigh shape, color and clarity – a diamond’s most basic characteristics – as variables. Everything else will remain unchanged. In all of the following examples, the diamonds have a Cut grade of triple excellent and florescence is none. Prices are total weight (not per carat) and rounded.
The following analysis is based on current wholesale market prices as analyzed by Mercury Diamond .
Same Value, a Variety of Diamonds
On average, couples in major U.S. cities paid $4,000-$4,500 for an engagement ring in the past year. In addition to the cost of the diamond, jewelry retail prices include the ring, the value of the design and the markups associated with the brand.
These three components (and more, such as desired profit margin, location or season) are variables that can greatly influence retail prices. Let’s try to remove them from the equation for the sake of simplicity and accuracy, and consider the options available with a budget of $4,500. Please keep in mind that the suggestions below are all based on wholesale prices.
Going for a Round
Round diamonds are the most popular shaped diamonds among consumers because of their light return, brilliance and sparkle. If you want a traditional diamond that is always in fashion, a Round-shaped diamond is a solid choice. If, after shape, color is your overriding preference, than a D color diamond is the top choice. The largest Round shaped, D color diamond, at a budget of $4,500, will land you a 1.05 carat, I1 clarity stone.
If you prefer clarity to color, say a VVS1 clarity Round diamond, but want to try to maintain the same weight, a J color diamond at this budget will allow for a 1.10-carat diamond. If clarity is paramount and color is less important, this can be pushed ever further with an IF clarity round diamond. At this budget, color will be K but size will rise to 1.25 carat.
If size is what counts, one option is a 1.45 carat, L color, VS1 clarity round diamond.
A comparison of the Alternatives - Rounds
Note: size is to scale, but not real size, colors are emphasized to highlight differences. Source: Mercury Diamond ©
Preferring the Princess
Round-shaped diamonds are one of the most wasteful shapes to polish, which drives up their cost. Square-shaped diamonds, on the other hand, can offer a much better yield and allow for lower cost per carat.
Keeping weight at 1.45-carats and clarity at VS1, the $4,500 budget allows a higher color diamond if choosing a Princess-shaped diamond, at an I color. A compromise on clarity, such as an SI2 clarity, allows an even higher color – G.
G color is a common higher color choice in the U.S. and an SI2 clarity means that the diamond has inclusions – but they are not visible to the naked eye. Princess-shaped diamonds are the second most popular shape choice, making this particular diamond – 1.45-carats, G/SI2, Princess – is a good balance between size, color, clarity, popularity and value.
A comparison of the Alternatives - Princess
Looking for Something Different
Sometimes, a bride just wants something a little different, but without breaking completely from tradition. A Pear-shaped diamond is a good choice in such a case. A pear shape has another added benefit: it looks bigger than a Round diamond of the same weight.
Here too, a preference for color above all will lead to smaller size and lower clarity. For example, a D color will require a SI2 weighing 1.10-carats Pear-shaped diamond. Preferring top clarity to color and size, you could choose an IF clarity, I color, 1.25 carat diamond. If size is also important, than an IF 1.40-carats is an option and color will be brought down to J.
Another different but classic choice is an Emerald-shaped diamond. With its large and open table, a high clarity diamond is important. For an IF clarity, H color, a 1.10 carat Emerald fits the budget. If it’s about size, a VVS1 clarity, 1.40 carat is an option, but that will require compromising on color – settling for I.
A good balance of characteristics is a 1.01 carat, D color, VS1 clarity Emerald-shaped diamond.
A comparison of the Alternatives - Emeralds
Many Alternative Options
When considering a diamond, taste and desire are important considerations. The starting point does not have to be shape, but can be color size or perceived size. For example, a D color, SI2 Emerald and Princess with the same value will have different sizes – 1.40 carat for the Emerald and 1.32 carat for the Princess.
An H color, VS1 Princess and Pear shape for a $4,500 budget will have very close weights – 1.25- and 1.23-carats, respectively. However, even though the Pear is a little smaller, because of its elongated shape it will look larger than the Princess-shaped diamond.
Finally, if the desire is a top color and clarity diamond, the compromise is on size. For example, a Round, D/IF diamond valued at $4,500 will weigh a little more than half a carat - 0.55-carats.
Even when setting a very specific budget, Cut grade and Florescence, the number of shape, size, clarity and color combinations is very large. If we add into the equation just one more element - the location of inclusions and their color - the number of possible combinations leaps.
Altogether, the number of combinations is near endless. The intention of this review is to highlight a few issues relating to diamonds, their value and how to understand the varying characteristics of diamonds that may seem identical but differ enough to affect their value. The following table lists 35 alternatives, all for the same budget:
Source: Mercury Diamond© 2015
In addition, we presented a table that showed the difference in value between the various diamond shapes. This table is part of the Mercury Crystal Clear™ system. It is important to keep it in mind when considering diamonds as part of a wealth preservation belief or even as a gift.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity. None of the information made available here shall constitute in any manner an offer or invitation or promotion to buy or to sell diamonds. No one should act upon any opinion or information in this article (including with respect to diamonds values) without consulting a professional qualified adviser.
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Diamond industrialist Ehud Arye Laniado is a man passionate about diamonds. From his early 20s in Africa and later in Belgium honing his expertise in forecasting the value of polished diamonds by examining rough diamonds by hand, till today four decades later, as chairman of his international diamond businesses spanning mining, exploration, rough and polished diamond valuation, trading, manufacturing, retail and consultancy services, Laniado has mastered both the miniscule details of evaluating and pricing individual rough diamonds and the entire structure of the diamond industry. Today, his global operations are at the forefront of the industry, recognised in diamond capitals from Mumbai to Tel Aviv and Hong Kong to New York.