How to Buy a Conflict-Free Diamond

Friday December 18, 2015

Nearly a decade ago, Leonardo DiCaprio rocked the big screen in Blood Diamond, a film about a smuggler, an American journalist and a farmer all in search of a rare pink diamond in Sierra Leone. Since Blood Diamond first raised awareness about the diamond trade – and how rebels use the diamond trade to finance conflicts against legitimate governments, exploiting local labor with deadly consequences and human rights violations – brides-to-be have increasingly opted for conflict-free diamonds. But how do you know if a diamond is truly “conflict free”? From choosing diamonds certified by the Kimberley Process to re-setting vintage rings and family heirlooms, here are three ways that savvy brides-to-be are finding the perfect engagement ring that’s also an ethically responsible choice.

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Trend Spotlight: Colorful Engagement Rings

Monday December 14, 2015

carrie underwood engagement ring

Photo by: Joe Seer /

Trendy brides-to-be are increasingly opting for colored diamonds. Nontraditional engagement diamond colors, like yellow and pink, let brides-to-be stand out from the crowd. Kelly Clarkson’s yellow canary diamond engagement ring is a true stunner and made even more special by the fact it was custom-designed by her husband, Brandon Blackstock. Not to be out done, fellow American Idol alum Carrie Underwood has been sporting a flawless, yellow diamond engagement ring since her 2009 engagement to hockey player Mike Fisher. Perhaps the most stunning celebrity engagement ring belongs to Blake Lively, who wears an extremely rare seven-carat pink diamond set in delicate rose gold and pave diamonds.

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Is your love in the air – or is it set in stone?

A diamond is a forever investment. Understanding the four C’s – carat, color, clarity and cut – will ensure that you make a smart selection. While some of these differences are not visible to the naked eye, they do directly impact a diamond’s overall quality and price. When selecting your perfect diamond, keep the following in mind:


A diamond’s “cut” grading measures whether a stone has maximum brilliance and sparkle– it’s what brings fire to the ice and catches your eye. Cut is different from the shape of the diamond (e.g., princess cut, emerald cut, etc.). The cut evaluation rates the diamond’s angles and brilliance, evaluating the diamond’s proportion, facet arrangement and overall workmanship quality. Diamond cut grades range from “excellent” to “poor” with the excellent rating resembling the ideal cut illustrated below.

Diamond Cuts


Virtually all diamonds for sale today include minor irregularities or imperfections, although these imperfections are rarely visible to the naked eye. The minor imperfections in a diamond are caused by the liquid volcanic rock in which a diamond is created. While diamonds are primarily pure carbon, during the crystallization process, other nearby minerals may become trapped within the cooling mass, which in turn affects the diamond’s clarity.

Clarity is measured on a scale with grades running from “flawless” (virtually no imperfections) to “included” (imperfections heavily included). “Pure” diamonds are flawless or internally flawless; these diamonds are exceedingly rare and expensive. VVS-1 and VVS-2 grade diamonds have very, very small inclusions; VS-1 and VS-2 diamond have very small inclusions; SI-1 and SI-2 diamonds have small inclusions; and I-1, I-2 and I-3 diamonds are heavily included. Diamonds are graded under a 10X magnifying glass in good lighting by an experienced grader. The final grade is determined by how easily the grader can see the inclusions and blemishes.


The “color” rating actually refers to the absence of color in a diamond. Like a drop of pure spring water, when it comes to diamonds, the less color, the better. The jewelry industry recognizes the highest quality gemstones by purity of hue. In order to demine the absence or presence of different hues, an experienced diamond grader will compare the diamond to “master stones” using artificial or natural northern daylight. Colorless diamonds are graded either D, E or F. Near colorless diamonds are graded G, H, I or J. Slightly tinted diamonds receive a K, L, M or N rating. Very light yellow diamonds are graded O, P, or Q; light yellow diamonds are graded R, S, or T; yellow diamonds receive a U, V or W grading and light fancy diamonds are graded X, Y or Z.

Diamond Color


The most well-known of the four C’s, “carat” is the unit of measurement for ta diamond’s weight. A carat is subdivided into 100 “points”; for example, a 50-point diamond is “half a carat” or “0.5 ct”. Today, many individuals also equate carat with size. Generally speaking, the higher the carat weight, the larger (and more expensive) the stone. However, color, clarity and cut also affect a diamond’s price; two diamonds of equal carat weight may have very different prices due to these three ratings.