How to Recognize a Diamond’s Quality

Diamond collage created by Robert Weldon.

If you’re trying to track down the perfect piece of diamond jewelry, you’re going to want to be able to tell the difference between a stone that’s worth the price and one that isn’t.

However, that isn’t always simple. There are many diamond-looking stones out there including moissanite, cubic zirconium, white topaz, and even lab-grown varieties. Luckily, there are also several ways to determine the real-deals from the fakes before you take the final step to buy.

Know the ‘four Cs’

Before you even think of diamond shopping, get clued up on the ‘four Cs’, which stand for cut, color, carat, and clarity (a good guide to clarity is also here:

Although carat (or weight) has a big impact on the final price, it’s not the only factor. So, just because a diamond has a high carat number, don’t be tricked into paying more if the other ‘Cs’ are lacking. For example, diamond color can range from ‘completely colorless’ (most valuable) to yellowish. Similarly, its cut and clarity will influence its sparkle and overall aesthetic.

Essentially, make sure you look at each of the ‘four Cs’ individually to fully assess the stone’s worth.

Check out the credentials 

A legit diamond should come with a certificate, which it gets after a full evaluation of its value. Unfortunately, bias exists in the industry like in any other. So, ensure yours is up-to-date and has been issued by a reputable authority such as the Gemological Institute of America, Diamond High Council, American Gemological Society, or European Gemological Laboratory.

Add heat

Aside from checking credentials, you can also use heat to evaluate a stone’s worth. Why not ask your diamond retailer to verify the stone by applying heat to it while you’re there? A real diamond will still be cold even after it’s been heated by a standard lighter for 30 seconds!

Get a loupe

While you’re in-store, ask to observe the diamond through a loupe (a type of magnifying glass) and keep your eye out for certain tell-tale signs.

First, look for slight flaws or imperfections. Diamonds are made under intense heat and pressure, so they’ll likely come with some blemishes while fake ones potentially won’t.

Then, glance over the setting and mounting. If the metal is plated and the mounting looks shoddy, chances are it’s a fake.

And lastly, check the edges. A real diamond will have straight, sharp edges, but fakes will typically have rounded ones.

Use your breath  

Like the heat test, you can also breathe on your chosen stone to check its validity. Real diamonds disperse moisture immediately. So, if it stays clear and clean, you have the real deal. Spots of dampness left? It’s likely a dud.

Can you read through it? 

Diamonds sparkle because they refract light, while imitations — like quartz or cubic zirconium — have far lower refractive levels.

To test your stone’s legitimacy, put it over a newspaper article. If it’s real, the light will scatter inside it and stop any black reflection from the text. However, a fake will not, and you may even be able to read through it!

Ask a gemologist 

Finally, if you want to make certain you’re paying the right price, ask a certified gemologist to asses the stone for peace of mind.

And now you’re ready to separate the real-deals from the absolutely-nots!