Choosing The Right Diamond
For most people, buying a diamond is a new experience, but that doesn't mean it should be overwhelming. Understanding a diamond's quality characteristics is straightforward and simple.
Diamond education is designed to answer all your questions. It explains a diamond's characteristics, how those characteristics influence appearance, and which are more important than others. In just a few minutes you'll know everything you need to know to find your perfect diamond.
A diamond's cut grade is an objective measure of a diamond's light performance, or, what we generally think of as sparkle. When a diamond is cut with the proper proportions, light is returned out of the top of the diamond (which gemologists refer to as the table). If it is cut too shallow, light leaks out of the bottom; too deep and it escapes out of the side.
Ideal cut: Represents roughly the top 3% of diamond quality based on cut. Reflects nearly all light that enters the diamond. An exquisite and rare cut.
Very good cut: Represents roughly the top 15% of diamond quality based on cut. Reflects nearly as much light as the ideal cut, but for a lower price.
Good cut: Represents roughly the top 25% of diamond quality based on cut. Reflects most light that enters. Much less expensive than a very good cut.
Fair cut: Represents roughly the top 35% of diamond quality based on cut. Still a quality diamond, but a fair cut will not be as brilliant as a good cut.
Poor cut: Diamonds that are generally so deep and narrow or shallow and wide that they lose most of the light out the sides and bottom.
This is the term with which people are most familiar, but bear in mind that carat is specifically a measure of a diamond's weight. As the name suggests, carat weight specifically refers to a diamond's weight. However, much as a person's weight does not necessarily correlate with height, carat weight, by itself, may not accurately reflect a diamond's size.
- Carat is specifically a measure of a diamond's weight, and by itself may not accurately reflect a diamond's size.
- We tend to evaluate diamond size by viewing it from the top because that is how diamonds are presented to us when set into a ring.
- To understand diamond size, carat weight should be considered in conjunction with two other criteria:
- – Distance in millimeters across the top of the diamond.
- – Diamond's cut grade.
Almost all diamonds have tiny imperfections. Diamonds with few or no imperfections receive the highest clarity grades.
- Clarity is a measure of the number and size of the tiny imperfections that occur in almost all diamonds.
- Many of these imperfections are microscopic, and do not affect a diamond's beauty in any discernible way.
Much is made of a diamond's clarity, but of the Four Cs, it is the easiest to understand, and, according to many experts, generally has the least impact on a diamond's appearance. Clarity simply refers to the tiny, natural imperfections that occur in all but the finest diamonds. Gemologists refer to these imperfections by a variety of technical names, including blemishes and inclusions, among others. Diamonds with the least and smallest imperfections receive the highest clarity grades. Because these imperfections tend to be microscopic, they do not generally affect a diamond's beauty in any discernible way.
- FL, IF - Flawless, Internally Flawless: No internal or external imperfections. Internally Flawless: No internal imperfections. Very rare.
- VVS1, VVs2 - Very, Very Slightly Included: Very difficult to see imperfections under 10x magnification. An excellent quality diamond.
- VS1, VS2 - Very Slightly Included: Imperfections are not typically visible to the unaided eye. Less expensive than the VVS1 or VVS2 grades.
- SI1, SI2 - Slightly Included: Imperfections are visible under 10x magnification, and may be visible with the unaided eye. A good diamond value.
- I1 - Included: This grade of diamonds will have minor inclusions that may be visible to the unaided eye.
- I2, I3 - Included: This grade of diamonds will have an eye visible inclusion that detracts from the beauty of the diamond and endangers the diamond.
A diamond's color grade actually refers to the lack of color. In other words, diamonds that are white, containing little or no color, receive higher quality grades than those with visible color.
- Color refers to a diamond's lack of color, grading the whiteness of a diamond.
- A color grade of D is the highest possible, while Z is the lowest.
Color manifests itself in a diamond as a pale yellow. This is why a diamond's color grade is based on its lack of color. The less color a diamond has, the higher its color grade. After cut, color is generally considered the second most important characteristic when selecting a diamond. This is because the human eye tends to detect a diamond's sparkle (light performance) first, and color second.
- Z-N - Noticeable color.
- M-K - Noticeable color.
- J-I - Near-colorless. An exceptional value with slightly detectable warmth or tone.
- H-G - Near-colorless. Color difficult to detect unless compared side-by-side against diamonds of better grades. An excellent value.
- F-E - Colorless. Minute traces of color can be detected by an expert gemologist. A rare diamond.
- D - Absolutely colorless. The highest color grade. Extremely rare.