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> I'm actually trying to find out how to become an educated buyer of
> diamond beads, diamonds, and stones
If you just want to buy diamonds for jewelry purposes I doubt that
you even need GIA certification. There really isn't any way to really
know about diamonds except by looking at a lot of them. I was
fortunate enough to have this experience back when the Hunt brothers
cornered the silver market, gold hit $800 and everyone sold
everything, including their diamond engagement rings. If you want to
buy diamonds for your own use you'd do better to read a bit about the
4 Cs and spend a couple of days in the Diamond District in Manhattan
looking at stones. There are plenty of good books on diamonds and
plenty of good information on the Net.
I don't buy many diamonds so I rely on Rio Grande, who sell below
Rapapport and recently, for stones larger than.25 points, include a
fine little Rio certification, giving very exact information on the
stone. If you do an internet search you will discover that there are
stones out there that have been treated in ways that only very
sophisticated and expensive equipment can reveal. Frankly I'm not
even sure I could tell the difference between Moissanite and Diamond
with a 10X loupe. So I only buy from trustworthy sources, like Rio.
I've done business with them for 25 years with no problems not
immediately resolved. I may pay more my customers don't seem to mind a
simple retail mark up.