Fortunoff Fine Jewelry

Fortunoff Diamond Buyer's Guide

Diamonds often symbolize special occasions in life and love: commitment, engagements, wedding vows, anniversaries, birthdays, and more. While it should be exciting to buy a diamond, it can also be overwhelming.

At Fortunoff, we have made the choice to only sell natural diamonds, mined from the earth. Natural diamonds formed deep within the earth, eons ago. This seems to us a fitting match to our belief that jewelry is meant to last, too. Diamond mines and cutting and sorting centers all across the globe help to fund infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, roads, clean water, and more. In some countries, it is the primary source of employment. This “beneficiation” perfectly mirrors our commitment to our own community for the past 100 years.

Armed with guidance and knowledge, you can choose the combination that’s most important to you, among the “4C’s” of diamonds: Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat Weight, plus the most important 5th C: Confidence. When you buy your diamond from Fortunoff, you can rest assured that you have purchased exceptional quality at an honest price. In choosing only natural diamonds for our jewelry, we make the choice to offer our customers items with lasting value. We hope you will feel the same way. 

Let’s demystify your diamond-buying experience. It’s pretty simple: diamond quality is determined by several characteristics that ultimately determine value, and – just as importantly – beauty.


  • Diamonds form deep beneath the earth’s surface as irregularly shaped crystals, called rough. In order to fashion that pebble or crystal into the beautiful object of desire and admiration, the skills of a master cutter, with years of experience, are vital.
  • When a diamond is properly cut, the facets act as mirrors and prisms, maximizing its brilliance and fire. Beautiful diamonds reflect and refract the maximum amount of light back up to the eye, to be sparkly, fiery, and dancing with light. If poorly cut, it will trap light within, or leak it out the bottom, resulting in a lifeless, dark and glassy diamond with little sparkle or beauty…and far less value.

    Diamond Depth illustration

  • Some retailers will tell you that only their diamond is the best cut. Fortunately, recent studies by the scientists at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) have confirmed that a wide variety of proportions can yield an equally beautiful diamond. The myth that only one type of diamond can be “ideal” has finally been put to rest.


  • Color preference in diamonds is a very personal thing. Some people covet a colorless diamond; others desire a “warmer” color. Most gem-quality diamonds appear to be white to the untrained eye, but there are subtle differences that can greatly affect value. Diamonds with no traces of body color are extremely rare.
  • To accurately determine a diamond’s color grade using Gemological Institute of America (GIA) standards, ideally, the diamond is viewed unset, table down, and compared to a “Master Set” whose colors have been predetermined by the GIA (see the chart below). Where the diamond cannot be graded unset (“loose”), it may be estimated table-up, and the grade is then specified as within a range of three grades (i.e., GHI).
  • Fortunoff diamond engagement rings and diamond studs are carefully color graded by our GIA-trained experts, using these standards.

    Diamond Color illustration


  • Colored diamonds occur in nature in shades ranging from the palest yellows and pinks to vivid blues and reds. The vivid hues are rarest of all. All yellow and brown diamonds more strongly colored than Z color are termed fancy colors, as are all reds, pinks, greens and blues. Fancy color diamonds are graded according to a separate set of standards. Some diamonds are colored artificially, using special laboratory techniques. These treated diamonds are much less valuable, and their treatments may not be permanent; Fortunoff generally does not sell these.


  • Most diamonds develop natural “inclusions” or imperfections during their formation deep within the earth. The fewer the imperfections, the rarer and more valuable the diamond.
  • Diamond clarity is graded based on the position, color, number, nature and size of these features. It takes an experienced, trained grader, using 10x magnification, to accurately evaluate the clarity of a diamond.
  • While most inclusions may not affect the beauty of a diamond, they do affect its value and price, and some may even affect durability. We carefully select each diamond to be sure it best represents beauty, durability, and brilliance.
  • At Fortunoff, diamonds are checked to be sure they pass our rigorous standards. Many types of imperfections that are acceptable to other retailers will be rejected by our experts.

GIA Clarity Scale

Diamond Clarity illustration

Carat Weight

  • Of the 4 C’s, carat weight is the simplest factor in determining the value of a diamond. As with other precious gems, the weight of a diamond is expressed in carats. One carat equals one-fifth of a gram or 1/142 of an ounce. A carat is divided into 100 points, so a 3/4 carat diamond weighs 75 points or .75 carats.
  • Carat weight is not the same as visual size. A woman weighing 120 lbs. can be a size 10 or a size 6, depending on height and other factors. Diamonds vary in similar fashion. A diamond that is cut very deep will appear smaller than its weight might suggest.
  • Tons of rock must be mined to unearth a single one-carat gem-quality diamond. Larger, heavier diamonds are much rarer. Their price per carat increases geometrically, not arithmetically. For example, a two-carat diamond will cost far more than two one-carat diamonds of the same quality.
  • Most of the diamonds set in Fortunoff engagement rings and studs are weighed loose (out of their settings) on a calibrated scale. Some stores give vague or estimated weights, or an “approximate total weight that may vary widely.” At Fortunoff, we state the exact weight of your center diamond, to one-hundredth of a carat. If the weight cannot be ascertained by weighing it loose, we will provide a minimum weight, and your particular diamond may weigh a little more.


  • Shape is often confused with the technical term “cut” (discussed above). The cushion cut, for example, is an updated version of an older shape revived to complement today’s return to the vintage look. The princess cut, on the other hand, is entirely modern in feeling. Preference for any particular shape is very personal. Within each shape, at Fortunoff, you will find well-cut, beautiful diamonds. Let our diamond experts help you choose the one that speaks to you.

The Fifth C: Confidence - We Stand Behind What We Sell

  • Fortunoff is an internationally recognized leader in the jewelry industry. We purchase diamonds directly from the world’s most important diamond sources. Our GIA-trained diamond buying team selects each engagement diamond for the best combination of cut, color, clarity, beauty and value. We reject more than 90% of the diamonds presented to us, so that each diamond we offer to you is of fine quality at the best possible price. The ones we reject? They’re sold by other jewelers.
  • GENERATIONS OF FAMILIES have trusted Fortunoff.  We work hard to make sure we earn and deserve your trust, too.

And a Word About "Appraisals"

  • You should consult with your insurance agent, who can advise you as to the best way to protect your jewelry. Due to changes in market conditions over time, you should periodically review your policy to be sure your treasured diamond is adequately insured.
  • Generally these days insurance companies prefer a sales receipt rather than an appraisal. If your insurance company requires an appraisal, you should find a qualified independent appraiser, one who is not affiliated with any jewelry seller and neither buys nor sells jewelry themselves. You may be surprised to know that there are no laws governing who can appraise jewelry. An honest and accurate appraisal of your diamond should be an independent one.
  • For your convenience, Fortunoff can provide you with the names of some of the most reputable local, independent appraisers. We also can refer you to one of the national appraisal organizations, which also can recommend qualified appraisers.
  • If your insurance company requires further information from Fortunoff, we may be able to provide an Estimate of Value for Insurance Purposes. This is a detailed narrative summary of your diamond, including the current retail price, but it is not an appraisal. If you require an Estimate of Replacement Value, please contact us.

Social Responsibility

  • Your diamond should be a symbol of love and trust. The vast majority of the world’s diamonds support democracy and well-being by providing much-needed employment and other benefits to the local population.
  • As we mentioned at the beginning of this guide, we believe in Beneficiation, which is why we only offer natural, mined diamonds, in an industry that support thousands of people across the globe, not just a select few. To learn more about Natural Diamonds and why we choose not to offer lab-grown diamonds, please email us at
  • At Fortunoff, we fully support the Kimberley Process, the international certification scheme regulating worldwide trade in rough diamonds. The Kimberley Process is working to prevent the trade of “conflict diamonds.”
  • Fortunoff also proudly supports agencies that are working to ensure ethical, socially responsible diamond, gemstone and precious metals sourcing. We are members of Jewelers of America and Jewelers Vigilance Committee.  If you’d like to know more about the steps we take, please email us at

Recently viewed



View Product

Added to cart successfully!