Diamond Buying Guide


Welcome to David Harvey!

We’re here to help you find your perfect diamond, whether you’re getting engaged or purchasing a gift for that special someone in your life. Our friendly, professional staff will guide you every step of the way. We’ll explain the differences in diamond quality and grading and tell you about the different shapes, cuts and settings, so you can make the very best choice. Should you buy a natural diamond or one that has been artificially produced? We’ll describe how each type of diamond is made - and let you decide for yourself.

We have one goal in mind - to make you delighted with your purchase!

Let’s start out with some of the basics:

There’s more to a diamond than meets the eye. You might think it looks flawless, but an understanding of diamond quality will help you appreciate its individual characteristics and whether it is right for you.


The 4Cs


You’ll no doubt have heard of the 4Cs. These refer to a diamond’s cut, color, clarity and carat weight, which are the universally recognized measurements of diamond quality.

  1. Cut

Cut is usually considered the most important of the 4Cs, because it determines a diamond’s brilliance and sparkle – and breathtaking sparkle is what most of us think of when we imagine a diamond. A well-cut diamond brings out the stone’s inherent beauty because the best proportions and symmetry have been masterfully cut to reflect and refract the maximum possible light, making it appear dazzling to the eye. There are three different types of light which show within the diamond.

  1. Fire: These are the flashes of red and other colors you will see when you move the ring.
  2. Brilliance: These are the natural white light reflections on and within the stone.
  3. Scintillation: This is the shine given off the stone or light source as it moves.

Diamonds are graded from Excellent to Poor, with an Excellent cut grade referring to diamonds with the greatest fire and brilliance.

A quick note here about diamond shape and cut:

Is the cut of a diamond the same as its shape?

This is confusing to most diamond newbies. Surely the diamond is cut into the particular shape you want, isn’t it?

Well, not exactly. The diamond’s shape refers to its overall form, geometry or appearance – for example Round, Princess, Marquise, Pear, Cushion, Emerald, Oval or Asscher. Ask our staff to show you examples of these shapes, as they make a huge difference to the overall look of your diamond. The cut refers to the proportions, symmetry and facets cut into the shape of the stone to bring out its brilliance. It is the combination of shape and cut that results in a stunning diamond.

  1. Color

White diamonds are graded for their lack of color, meaning that the less color the diamond has, the more valuable it is. The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) grades diamond color from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow or brown.) If a diamond has a yellow or brownish tinge, it will not look as bright or attractive as one that is virtually colorless. You will have to decide which grade of color – or lack thereof – best suits your budget.

It's important to note that there are also what is known as “fancy” colored diamonds, such as pink, yellow, blue, green and brown. These have a separate and different grading scale for color.

  1. Clarity

Natural diamonds have internal imperfections because they have been formed under the earth under immense pressure and heat. These imperfections affect the diamond’s clarity - and therefore its value - and are called “inclusions” and blemishes. The GIA grades diamonds on a scale which ranges from Flawless (no inclusions or blemishes under 10x magnification) to Included (inclusions are visible to the naked eye.) The vast majority of diamonds have some imperfections - most of which are invisible - so you’ll be able to choose one that meets your requirements, again depending on your budget.

  1. Carat

Carat is a term which refers to a diamond’s weight, not its size. One carat is equal to 200 milligrams. You may be surprised to learn that a diamond’s carat weight alone does not determine its value. The other three Cs (cut, color and clarity) also play important roles in defining its worth. Having said that, a larger diamond is generally more valuable, as it is rarer in nature, but a large diamond with a poor clarity or color grade will be less valuable than a flawless or colorless smaller carat diamond.

Understanding the 4Cs can help you navigate what can at first seem a confusing and difficult journey to find your ideal diamond. We’ll help you strike that perfect balance between each “C” based on your personal preferences and budget. Whether you are looking for an engagement ring, special piece of jewelry or an anniversary gift, we’re here to show you your options.




Now that you know a little more about the 4 cs of diamonds, we have a few more pointers we’d like to mention.

The first is budget.

When purchasing any type of diamond jewelry, particularly if you are buying your first diamond in an engagement ring, we suggest you stick to what you are comfortable spending. If you are looking for the biggest diamond you can afford, you’ll have to compromise on its cut, clarity and color. Similarly, if a flawless diamond has you dazzled, you may have to settle for a lower carat weight. Again, it’s all about striking that balance within your budget.

Natural or Lab-grown?

Now comes an important decision.

Should you go for a natural, mined diamond, or one that has been lab-grown? Both are ‘real’ diamonds in terms of chemical composition, both are equally durable, with a Mohs Scale rating of 10, and both are measured by the GIA for their 4C characteristics. There are, however, distinct differences in the way each type of diamond has been produced, so we’ll explain how they differ.


Lab-grown Diamonds

What exactly are lab-grown diamonds and how are they made? It sounds impossible to artificially duplicate such a rare wonder of nature, doesn’t it? However, it can now be done. Lab-grown, cultured, or synthetic diamonds are created in a laboratory by duplicating the processes that form natural diamonds. They are made by subjecting carbon to extremely high temperatures and high pressure in a controlled environment.

Laboratories use two different methods to grow diamonds – High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD.) When the HPHT method is used, a small diamond seed is placed into a piece of carbon. The pressure and heat eventually melt the carbon forming a diamond around the original seed. Similarly, the CVD method uses a diamond seed which is heated and subjected to carbon rich gases which are ionized into plasma, breaking down the molecular bond of the gas and resulting in the formation of a new diamond.

 Both methods can ‘grow’ a diamond in less than a month. This makes them readily available and more affordable than natural diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds can also be precisely engineered to give them more consistency and predictability, so that you can determine which of the 4CS you’d like emphasized before the diamond is made for you. In other words, you can specify what you want. You’ll get your ideal carat weight, clarity, cut and color made to order.

The price of lab-grown diamonds is another point in their favor. They can cost anywhere from 20% -60% less than a natural diamond, simply because they cost less to produce. However, remember that if you want to sell your lab-grown diamond at a later date, you will likely not get your money back, as their re-sale value does not hold up over time.

Fans of lab-grown diamonds also point out the fact that synthetic diamonds have no known association with human rights violations, wars or unethical labor practices. Artificial diamonds are also made with a smaller carbon footprint than mined diamonds, and do not cause the environmental problems linked to large-scale mining operations which have been blamed for deforestation, soil erosion and water pollution. However, it takes an intense amount of energy to manufacture a lab-grown diamond, and as most of these diamonds come from China and India where they generate electricity from coal, it’s not possible to claim that they are 100% “green.”

Lab-grown diamonds are identical in composition to mined diamonds. They’re affordable, readily available, and do not have any known controversy surrounding their manufacture. It will be up to you to decide if they have the same perceived, long-term emotional symbolism and “value.”


Natural Diamonds

Natural, mined diamonds have been around for – let’s face it – billions of years. They’ve captivated us for centuries, and have come to symbolize beauty, luxury and love. Their rarity and uniqueness are what make them endlessly alluring, because no two natural diamonds are alike. They each have a distinct set of 4C characteristics, making them as one-of-a-kind as their wearer.

As you may know, it can take from 1-3 billion years for a natural diamond to develop many miles under the earth. Once formed, natural diamonds are moved up to the Earth’s crust by volcanic explosions, and they eventually become accessible for mining purposes. The entire process is expensive and time-consuming, hence their high market price. That being said, however, you are buying a natural, precious gemstone. Natural diamonds have inherent value, because they are a finite resource. They can maintain and even increase in value and become a good investment over time.

And mining’s bad reputation? The diamond mining industry has made significant strides in recent years to overcome the ethical and environmental accusations from the past. They’ve implemented stricter regulations to ensure the welfare of their workers and the preservation of the environment. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme prevents the trade of so-called ‘conflict’ or ‘blood” diamonds, by monitoring their source through legitimate channels. Mining also contributes to local communities by offering jobs and supporting infrastructure, health and welfare programs. In many countries, there are few other industries available to support the local workforce, so maintaining the mining industry is important.

Perhaps the most important point in their favor is that natural diamonds have a powerful emotional significance. They’ve been cherished for centuries and have become a lasting symbol of love and commitment, making them the perfect gemstone for engagement rings, wedding bands, anniversary rings and other significant milestone jewelry.

Genuine, rare and precious, natural diamonds are the real deal. Their global supply has decreased by over 30% in the past 16 years, so they are a finite product. Synthetic diamonds are also ‘real,’ but they are man-made, so they have a different perceived value. They’re here to stay and are in plentiful supply.

It will be up to you to decide which is more important. Rarity and emotional connection – or availability at a lower price point?


We hope you’ve found this guide informative and that we’ve taken some of the stress, unnecessary mystique and confusion out of buying a diamond. We’re proud of our more than 100 years of personal service helping customers like you find their dream diamond.

Please stop by our store or connect with us online. We’re delighted to help - and we look forward to meeting you!