Are you considering getting all ~hooked up~ on a permanent/life-partner/white wedding basis with your significant other? Or maybe you're looking for a major present for your best mate's 30th. Either way, we tend to gravitate toward diamonds when it comes to celebrating a milestone and getting a gift that lasts a lifetime. After all, the adage is 'diamonds are forever' - that marketing spin sure has worked out well for the rock, hasn't it?

If you're anything like us though, you have zero idea what you're meant to be looking for, asking, and avoiding when it comes to diamond shopping. There's a whole lot of stress that comes with purchasing something so expensive and long-term - and it's worth reading up on the facts before you even start. We've done the hard yards for you and asked Founder and Director of Affinity DiamondsSam Rahme, to educate us so we don't sound like morons - or worse, get totally ripped off. 

CLARITY ISN'T ABOUT SPARKLINESS

If you've ever heard the term 'clarity' bandied about when discussing diamonds, you'd be forgiven for thinking it had to do with the sparkle of a diamond. But it's actually about things called 'inclusions', and how many are in a diamond. 

"These inclusions can be black or white in colour. Some can be clear crystals within the diamond," explains Sam. "Using a ten times magnifier referred to as a loupe, these inclusions can be identified. They look like small black spots, or like chips in a windscreen. It's important to check a diamond prior to purchase using an eye glass - you don't want to find an inclusion months down the track that you hadn't noticed in the store."

You know when you hear the term "flawless" when describing a diamond? That's a diamond with absolutely no inclusions. The more inclusions that are visible in the diamond, the lower the price should be - which is why you should check yours out, so you don't get ripped off.

CUT IS REALLY IMPORTANT

You need to know a thing or two about diamond cuts before you go shopping for one, ok? And in surprising news, the cut has nothing to do with the shape of your diamond - you know, solitaire or pear-shape, square, etc. 

"When we talk about the cut, we're referring to the proportions, and angles that the diamond has been finished to - how it will play with light and achieve its fire and brilliance," says Sam. "You can judge cut by looking at the diamond's GIA (Gemological Institute of Australia) certificate. Ensure the cut grade for the round diamond is "excellent". For other shapes, the cut grade is determined by the table and depth percentages. Most good websites will show these percentages."

Basically, the cut influences how sparkly the diamond is in the end.

"A diamond with good depths and percentages will mean that angles are such that most of the light that shines on the table (flat top part of the diamond) is actually reflected back into the viewers eyes, as opposed to being reflected out through the sides of the diamond. This makes it look brighter than it otherwise would."

CARAT SIZE DOESN'T EQUAL DIAMOND SIZE

Well, quelle surprise - carat size, which we always thought meant literal size, is actually about weight. 

"A 1 carat diamond weighs 0.2 grams. Just because a diamond weighs more, doesn't mean it will look bigger," says Sam. "If the diamond does not have an excellent cut grading, the extra weight might be in the bottom of the diamond and not showing up as a larger diamond."

So basically, don't get sucked into buying a diamond based solely on it's carat size - make sure the cut is perfect for the style you're buying so you're getting the value of that carat size, mates.

GET CLUED UP ON THE COLOUR SCALE

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We all know diamonds come in a range of colours, from clear and colourless through to what's referred to as a cognac diamond (brown). But it's worth knowing the scale and what each letter means, so you get the colourless (or coloured) level you want.

"Engagement ring diamonds are graded from D to Z, with D being the prized colourless diamond. The hue of D, E and F coloured diamonds is difficult to differentiate to the untrained eye, but the amount of colour becomes more apparent as the alphabet progresses," explains Sam. "Z graded diamonds are a pale yellow or brown colour, and anything falling outside of this range is considered a fancy coloured diamond."

Don't have the $$ to afford the colourless level you want? Sam has a cool trick for that.

"The colour of the metal in a mounting can either mask or enhance the diamond colour. Yellow gold makes slightly yellow or brown diamonds appear more colourless. If a diamond is mounted in white gold or platinum, the colour becomes more apparent."

KNOW ABOUT CONFLICT-FREE RULES

If you're worried about buying a 'blood diamond' - one that comes from a country rife with conflict around it's diamond industry, Sam has some great info for you.

The diamond industry in Australia adheres to the United Nations Kimberly Process for the sale and purchase of diamonds," Sam explains. "That means each retailer of diamonds needs to be able to show proof of sourcing from a legitimate entity. This is traced back through the supply chain until it arrives at the mine owner."

So if you're concerned, simply ask to see some documentation that your diamond supplier is adhering to the Kimberly Process.

"Less than 2% of the world's traded diamonds are blood diamonds," Sam stresses. "It is extremely rare to have a blood diamond traded in Australia."

YOU DON'T HAVE TO GO A DIAMOND, BTW

Even Mr. Diamonds himself (that's Sam, by the way) says sometimes, if it's not financially viable to go a giant diamond and size is what you want, it's better to go for an alternative.

"Semi precious stones are a great alternative. After all the future Queen of England, Kate Middleton, is wearing a sapphire!" he says. "Ensure that the stone you pick is high on the hardness scale as you want it to be in good condition when you hand it to the next generation. Ruby and Emerald are great options."

One thing Sam does stress is that a handmade ring will be stronger and more durable - so no matter what stone or diamond you choose, it's worth finding out if your ring will be mass produced. 

"A handmade ring will be stronger and more durable. A mass production ring that is cast will be lighter and not as durable." he says.

FYI, Affinity Diamonds just launched its E-Boutique and new Geometric Collection, so check 'em out now that you're all inspired.

All of this inspired you not to simply buy a diamond, but go into the diamond biz? If you've got a solid jewellery side hustle you're considering (or any, for that matter) you should enter our current comp c/o Set for Life - you could win $5k, a luxe weekender in Sydney, and lunch with ultimate boss lady Eleanor Pendleton