Things to Look Out For When Buying Diamonds

By: Henry Allen

Click the Certificate link below to learn all about A.G.S - American Gem Society or the G.I.A - Gemological Institute America.

CUT...A diamond's cut is not only about its shape, but how effectively the stone can return light back to the viewer's eye. A well-cut diamond will appear very brilliant and fiery; while more poorly cut stones can appear dark and lifeless, regardless of color or clarity.

Color...When shopping for a diamond, it is generally preferred to have the least amount of color possible. Diamond color is divided into five broad categories:

Colorless: Diamonds within the colorless range are the most rare and valuable of all the colors. color stones display virtually no color, whereas colored diamonds will display a nearly undetected amount of color when viewed face down by a gemologist.

Near Colorless: Diamonds within the near colorless range appear colorless in the face up position, but do display a slight amount of color when viewed face down against a perfectly white background. This trace amount of color will be undetectable to an untrained eye once the diamond has been mounted. Near colorless diamonds offer a tremendous value for the money.

Understanding Fluorescence - How does it effect a diamond?

Some diamonds can display a visible light called fluorescence when exposed to an ultraviolet light source. This fluorescence will be measured as inert, faint, medium or strong. Blue fluorescence is most common, however diamonds can also fluoresce white, yellow, and orange (among other colors). Fluorescence usually has no effect on a diamonds appearance in regular light conditions. Strong blue fluorescence can make a yellow colored diamond appear more white, but in rare cases can cause a stone to appear milky or oily. This milky or oily effect is called an "over blue" and only applies to a small number of "strong" and "very strong" fluorescent stones.

Which Color should you Choose?

Most people find it very difficult (if not impossible) to tell the difference from one color grade to another. The difference in price, however, can be significant.However, you can find a tremendous value while still achieving a "colorless" look. Shopping on a budget or trying to maximize the size of your stone? If so then "J" diamonds are most affordable and still near colorless. You may also want to consider choosing a diamond with medium or strong fluorescence. Since these diamonds are discounted slightly in price you can often afford a higher color stone without paying the premium.

Angola

In 1998, the United Nations (UN) placed Angola under sanctions forbidding countries from buying diamonds from them. This was the first resolution of the UN which specifically mentioned diamonds in the context of funding war. Reports estimated that as much as 20% of total production in the 1990s were being sold for illicit purposes, and 15% were specifically conflict in nature.By 1999, the illicit diamond trade was estimated by the World Diamond Council to have been reduced to 3.06% of the world's diamond production.The World Diamond Council reported that by 2004 this percentage had fallen to approximately 1%.

Angola is a former colony of Portugal and gained independence in 1975. Although independent, the country saw civil war between the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (PMLA) faction, and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) faction. During this war, diamonds were traded by rebel groups to fund their war. The UN recognized the role that diamonds played in funding the UNITA rebels, and in 1998 banned countries from buying diamonds from Angola. Today Angola's civil war has ended and the country is now a legitimate part of the diamond trade.

Sierra Leone

In July 1999, following over eight years of civil conflict, negotiations between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front led to the signing of the Lome Peace Agreement under which the parties agreed to the cessation of hostilities, disarmament of all combatants and the formation of a government of national unity. The United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) helped facilitate the negotiations. In resolution 1270 of October 22, 1999, the Security Council established the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) to help create the conditions in which the parties could implement the Agreement. Subsequently, the number of personnel were increased and tasks to be carried out by UNAMSIL adjusted by the Council in resolutions 1289 of February 8, 2000 and 1299 of May 19, 2000, making UNAMSIL the second largest peacekeeping force currently deployed by the United Nations (the largest such contingent is in the Congo.

Following international concern at the role played by the illicit diamond trade in fueling conflict in Sierra Leone, the Security Council adopted resolution 1306 on July 5, 2000 imposing a ban on the direct or indirect import of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone not controlled by the Government of Sierra Leone through a Certificate of Origin regime. An arms embargo and selective travel ban on non-governmental forces were already in effect under resolution 1171 of June 5, 1998.

On July 31, 2000 and August 1, 2000, Ambassador Anwarul Karim Chowdhury, Chairman of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1132 (1997) concerning Sierra Leone, presided over the first ever exploratory public hearing by the Security Council in New York. The hearing was attended by representatives of interested Member States, regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, the diamond industry and other relevant experts. The hearing exposed the link between the trade in illicit Sierra Leone diamonds and trade in arms and related material. The ways and means for developing a sustainable and well-regulated diamond industry in Sierra Leone were also discussed.

As called for by resolution 1306 of July 5, 2000, the Secretary-General, on August 2, 2000, established a Panel of Experts, to collect information on possible violations of the arms embargo and the link between trade in diamonds and trade in arms and related material, consider the adequacy of air traffic control systems in the West African region for the purpose of detecting flights suspected of contravening the arms embargo, and report to the Council with observations and recommendations on ways of strengthening the arms and diamonds embargoes no later than October 3, 2000. The Chairman of the Panel was Martin Chungong Ayafor (Cameroon). The other members were Atabou Bodian (Senegal), Johan Peleman (Belgium), Harjit Singh Sandhu (India) and Ian Smillie (Canada). The Panel submitted its report to the Security Council on December 19, 2000. On January 25, 2001 the Security Council, at its 4264th meeting, considered the report of the panel of experts.

Diamond revenues in Sierra Leone have increased more than tenfold since the end of the conflict, from $10 million in 2000 to about $130 million in 2004,although from 1989 to 2003 Liberia was engaged in a civil war. In 2000, the UN accused Liberian president Charles G. Taylor of supporting the RUF insurgency in Sierra Leone with weapons and training in exchange for diamonds. In 2001 the UN applied sanctions on the Liberian diamond trade. In August 2003 Taylor stepped down as president, and after being exiled to Nigeria, now faces trial in the Hague. On July 21, 2006 he pleaded not guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Liberia today is at peace and is attempting to construct a legitimate diamond mining industry. The UN has lifted sanctions and Liberia is now a member of the Kimberley process.

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