Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,
What can you tell me about buying pearls versus buying diamonds? What qualities need to be looked at for each? If a woman has neither, which do you think she would prefer to have as a gift?
Pearls and diamonds are two of the very finest gems and either would be a great gift.
Basically, when purchasing pearls, look for these 5 elements: size, lustre, surface, shape, and, color. Very large pearls, such as white South Sea or black Tahitian pearls are popular, but cost quite a bit more than the average size pearls.
When purchasing diamonds, look for the 4 C's: cut, clarity, color, and carat. The cut of a diamond refers to the facet proportions, the clarity ranges from flawless (FL) to Imperfect (I3), the color ranges from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow or brown), and carat is the weight of the diamond. For more information, see the Diamond Buying Guide below.
Note: diamonds in the near colorless range G,H,I, and very slightly included or slightly included (VS-1, VS-2, SI-1) will still look beautiful without paying the high price for diamonds in the top quality range. However, for top quality diamonds with exceptional fire and brilliance, go to a reputable high end jeweler.
Which to choose, diamonds or pearls? They say, "diamonds are a girl's best friend." But, pearls are lovely and elegant, too. It's really up to the individual. How elaborate do you want the piece? You could get something with both pearls and diamonds in it. However, for a first time simple gift, our vote would be for a pair of diamond stud earrings or a diamond solitaire necklace.
Always shop at a reputable jewelry store. For information about pearls and diamond buying information, see the Gemological Institute of America at www.gia.edu. Information about the diamonds can be found at the American Gem Society http://www.agslab.com A good tutorial about how to properly use a jeweler's loupe can be found at Good Old Gold website at http://www.goodoldgold.com/Loupe/