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Back Issues
2012 - Spring Issue
Vida Buena
Beauty & Style
Article: Jessica Muncrief
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From Mae West to Marilyn Monroe to Elizabeth Taylor, nothing says glamour like the sparkle of diamonds. Fortunately, as well as being a fabulous fashion statement, diamonds are also great investments. Even during the recession, both price and demand of diamonds continued to increase. But just as with any investment, a little research and consideration are crucial in making the best purchase. I asked the experts for tips and got some excellent advice on selecting and purchasing a diamond.


American Gem Society

Austins Jewelers
230 E Idaho Ave.
Las Cruces, NM 88005

Estate and New Jewelry
7134 N Mesa St.
El Paso, Texas 79912

Institute of America

Lacy & Company
7040 N Mesa St.
El Paso, TX 79912
1.) Have a Budget
Iconic jewelry designer David Yurman says when buying diamonds, or any jewelry for that matter, it is always best to determine what you are willing to spend before you even start looking. "Determine how much you would like to spend and know that you will probably go 20 percent over that first budget, but there has to be a limit."

2.) Know the Basics
No matter what your budget, you will get the best value and aesthetic appeal by selecting a higher quality diamond. While you need an expert to truly evaluate a gemstone, no one should go to the jewelry store without at least being familiar with the basics, which in diamond buying are the four C's: Cut, color, clarity and carat.

Cut - Most jewelers and gemologists will tell you that the cut of a diamond affects its quality more than the other Cs. Cut, in this case, is not referring to the shape of the diamond. The standard round shape is the most common, but pear, emerald, princess and other shaped diamonds can be just as valuable, so there is no need to sacrifice your personal preferences for value. In terms of exceptionality, cut refers to the skill and precision by which the diamond is transformed from a rough stone to a dazzling gemstone. According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), "The cut of any diamond has three attributes: brilliance (the total light reflected from a diamond), fire (the dispersion of light into the colors of the spectrum) and scintillation (the flashes of light, or sparkle, when a diamond is moved)."

Color - In terms of traditional diamonds, those with less color are more valuable. The GIA evaluates diamonds on how closely they approach colorlessness. A typical jewelry store diamond will be colorless or near-colorless with slight hues of yellow or brown. These hue differences are often so slight that they may not be visible to the untrained eye, yet they can significantly affect diamond quality and price. Colored diamonds are considered "fancy" diamonds and they utilize a different color grading scale and system, yet can still be extremely valuable. Buyers looking for a more unique piece of jewelry should consider pink, blue and even black diamonds.

Clarity- When diamonds are formed deep in the earth's crust, they are subjected to extreme heat and pressure which creates distinctive birthmarks. Internal marks, known as inclusions, and external marks or blemishes, decrease the value of the diamond. The GIA notes, "Every diamond is unique. None is absolutely perfect under 10x magnification, though some come close. Known as flawless diamonds, these are exceptionally rare. Most jewelers have never even seen one."

Carat - Carat (not to be confused with karat, which refers to gold purity) is the diamond's weight. One carat is equal to .2 grams, which is comparable to the weight of a paperclip. This is the least subjective aspect of the diamond grading system; there are no estimates or judgments. However, diamonds of equal carat can differ greatly in terms of value based on the grading of the cut, color and clarity, so bigger may not always be better.

3.) Go to an Expert
Even if you've done extensive research on your 4 C's and know what you are looking for in a diamond, you will still need some expert assistance. Special tools and training are necessary to properly grade and value a diamond. Jeweler's, like Lacy and Co. on Mesa Street in El Paso, that are members of the American Gem Society are required to keep up with education, testing and certification standards and must maintain sound business practices, so you can be certain you are getting honest and accurate diamond assessment and advice. David Yurman agrees that anyone looking for quality jewelry must go to a trained professional. He says, "Ellen Lacy is not a jewelry sales person, she is a gemologist. She has degrees, knowledge, and history. It's just like going to a doctor. Pick an expert."

4.) Buy to Wear
Jude Steele, one half of the duo responsible for the stunning jewelry line JudeFrances, says, "Diamonds are classy, sexy, and elegant, but you don't have to wait for a formal event to wear them." The number one tip she would give when heading to the jewelry store is to find pieces that you love, that you want to show off and wear. "Never save jewelry. Buy it to wear it and wear it all the time." ///
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