Julian Bartrom reveals valuable buying tips for the most coveted gem on earth. First time buyers in the diamond market find it fascinating when they start to see the individual beauty of each stone and recognise the characteristics that make it so. I have a bespoke jewellery business, have qualified with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and I love diamonds. Recently I realised that my love for gems probably came from a childhood crystal collection that my parents encouraged me to acquire as an alternative to spending my money on ice cream. Since a reunion with my collection 12 years ago it’s now larger than ever and designed to meet the requirements of a discerning clientele.
Twice a year I make the trip to buy gems at an international precious gemstone trade fair like Hong Kong’s, to pick and choose from among the finest stones available. Everybody’s bought an electronic device with a model number to categorise it but diamonds are much more interesting than that. Every diamond is so different and reading it’s GIA certificate is only your first step toward understanding its grade of perfection. So never buy a diamond for its good certificate alone; there could be 20 diamonds listed with identical certificates but each stone will have its own unique characteristics and they could range in price by as much as 45%. My most important buying suggestion is to take a good close look at the stone in natural daylight and start to see what purely colourless, even scintillation and flawless clarity really look like. I encourage clients to clean any smudges off the stone and use magnification because it’s with 10x magnification that they are graded.
Diamonds are bought and sold on the US dollar so when our dollar’s up it’s a good time to buy. Also, in recent years global diamond prices have been falling to the tune of about 20% and I think it’s about time. I love making this desirable gem available to clients and now larger diamonds are no longer so far out of reach. The price drop isn’t good news for everybody though as some merchants have been forced to sell their stock for less than they bought it and it has caused some companies to fold.
About 90% of all diamonds are cut in Mumbai and most of the nicer quality diamonds are purchased by New York merchants. We like using US merchants because many have also trained with the GIA, their quality is high and the price is right, but most of all because they’re required to trade with more consideration for human rights than any other country, most notably being their refusal to trade in diamonds from Zimbabwe where the Marange mine holds a terrible reputation. The rest of Africa is often thrown into the dog box with Zimbabwe, however a lot has changed in the last ten years and programs like Beneficiation are turning the diamond industry into a huge source of pride and income for the African people.
With knowledge comes appreciation, and nothing speaks with more eloquence than a diamond viewed in person. When given the opportunity to make true comparisons, there will always be one sparkling diamond that stands out from the rest.