Buying a diamond can be daunting, especially since you’re parting with a substantial amount of moolah. And even if you've armed yourself with a diamond guide telling you to look out for the 4Cs — carat, colour, clarity and cut — how do you pass off as a gemstone connoisseur at the jeweller’s?
Enter Seung-Hae Moon, the 60-something Korean managing director for Asia Pacific at non-profit gemology research facility Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The diamond expert has nearly four decades of experience and was recently in town for the launch of Trust Diamond by Poh Heng, a new brand of solitaire diamonds by the local jeweller. Who better to ask for easy-peasy hacks to buying bling?
8 DAYS: What is the biggest misconception people have about diamonds?
SEUNG-HAE MOON: That the bigger the diamond, the better it is. When someone announces their engagement, the first question everybody asks is: “So how big is your diamond?” (Laughs) Some people go for bargain diamonds.
Every diamond has its own unique value, so watch out when a seller tells you, “I’m selling this diamond to you at a loss.” Always buy from a reputable jeweller with a long history and heritage. Their staff should be well-trained and can show you whether the diamond you are buying tallies with its GIA report [which details the assessment of a diamond].
Diamond-buying guides usually emphasise on the 4Cs — cut, clarity, colour and carat weight. But which ‘C’ is the most important?
To me, any colour is fine and you don’t need a diamond with high clarity ’cos you can only tell the difference if you are a specialist with a microscope. Cut is more important. A well-cut diamond will always look brilliant and sparkly. Diamonds which are graded as having excellent or very good cuts are considered good quality. You can see the difference with your naked eye by comparing it with a diamond [of an inferior cut].
There are also synthetic diamonds made in a factory, and cubic zirconia, which is very similar to diamonds. They are less expensive than the real deal, but they also lose their brilliance over time and get dirty easily.
Do diamonds depreciate in value the moment you buy them, like a car?
I don’t think so. The prices may go down on the wholesale supply side if the economy is not good, but [prices are stable] on the retail side. You may not be able to [flip a diamond for a profit] the very next year after you buy it, but in the long term, their prices always increase.
Do people invest in diamonds? Well, some banks have a diamond portfolio. But to me, diamonds have more of an emotional value. People always ask me [how they can make money off diamonds]. I told them, “If I knew, I wouldn’t be here!”