Buying a diamond is sometimes overwhelming. Finding your perfect diamond will become easier if you learn about its characteristics, how those characteristics influence appearance, and which are more important than others. It can be straightforward and simple.
The most important characteristics of buying a diamond are what the industry refers to the FOUR Cs: Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat weight. These are the key factors that determine the fairest possible price for the diamond.
The brilliance of a diamond is determined by its cut. It dramatically impacts its overall sparkle and fire. Selecting the highest grade of cut within your budget is recommended because it is a key determinant in the overall appearance of the stone. Cut has the greatest overall influence on the diamond's beauty.
Cut is the diamond's most important characteristic, offering the greatest brilliance and value. Diamond quality with carat weight and color is determined by nature. The diamond's fire, sparkle and beauty is released by its cut.
A well-cut diamond radiates excellent diamond quality. Light will reflect from one mirror-like facet to another. Light diffuses through the top of the diamond in a display of brilliance and fire.
Other key points here are the diamond's proportions and polish. A diamond's cut grade is an objective measure of a diamond's light performance. A well-cut diamond reflects light back up evenly out of the top of the diamond which is called the table. It returns the most amount of light to the eye as brilliance. The spectral colors of light which add richness to a stone's sparkle is its fire. If it is cut too shallow, light leak
s out of the bottom. When it is cut too deep, it escapes out of the sides.
Reflection of light from the diamond cuts and the refraction of light creates a diamond's sparkle.
Ideal Cut: The top 3% of diamond quality based on cut, reflecting nearly all light that enters the diamond. It is an exquisite and rare cut.
Very Good Cut: The top 15% of diamond quality based on cut, reflecting nearly as much as the ideal cut, at a lower price.
Good Cut: The top 25% of diamond quality based on cut, reflecting most light that enters, and much less expensive than a very good cut.
Fair Cut: The top 35% of diamond quality based on cut. It is still a quality diamond but it is not as brilliant as a good cut. It maximizes carat weight, but sacrifices sparkle.
Poor Cut: Diamonds are so deep and narrow or shallow and wide that they lose most of the light out the sides and bottom. It produces very little brilliance.
Symmetry is judged by how well the diamond cuts line up against each other, determining how efficiently they throw light between them.
The rarest diamonds are completely flawless and colourless. Colourless stones are treasured for rarity and value. Absence of colour makes the diamond quality. The slightest tinge of yellow or brown in the diamond colour decreases its value, even though the diamond colour is still beautiful.
Colour refers to a diamond's lack of colour. The whiteness of a diamond is graded. Truly colourless diamonds are graded D which is the highest possible. Grading continues through the alphabet to Z. After cut, colour is considered the second most important characteristic when selecting a diamond. The human eye detects a diamond's sparkle first and colour second.
Z-N: Noticeable colour.
M-K: Noticeable colour.
J-I: Near colourless. Exceptional value with slightly detectable warmth or tone.
H-G: Near colourless. Colour difficult to detect unless compared side-by-side against diamonds of better grades . Excellent value
F-E: Colourless. Minute traces of colour can be detected by an expert gemmologist. A rare diamond.
D: Absolutely colourless. The highest colour grade. Extremely rare.
During the crystallization process of a diamond tiny traces of minerals, gasses, or other elements were trapped inside. These flaws affect the diamond clarity and are called inclusions or blemishes. These tiny, natural imperfections occur in all but the finest diamonds. Diamonds with the least or smallest microscopic imperfections receive the highest clarity grades. They generally do not affect the diamond's beauty. All natural certified diamonds contain identifying characteristics, many invisible to the naked eye. These natural phenomena may be seen under a 10x magnifying loupe or microscope and are called nature's birthmarks. They look like tiny crystals, clouds, or feathers. The diamond's clarity indicates its purity.
Less than 1% of all diamonds ever found that had no inclusions were called flawless (FL) or internally flawless (IF). Less rare diamonds bear visible and repeated inclusions and receive lower diamond grades. Lowest grade diamonds have inclusions visible to the naked eye. They receive diamond grades ranging from 11 to 13. Diamond grades are based on diamond clarity - how many, how big, and how visible the inclusions are.
Diamond's clarity refers to the diamond's natural brilliance. White diamonds have a high degree of diamond clarity. They are very clear and virtually colorless. Certified diamonds categorized as internally flawless have no inclusions. They are at the peak of the diamond hierarchy and monumentally priced.
Certified diamonds with very, very small inclusions are graded VVS1 or VVS2.
Diamonds that have larger inclusions, lower diamond grades and are not certified are more common and graded I1to I3.
The number, color, type, size and position of surface and internal inclusions affect the diamond's value.
FL, IF: Flawless, Internally Flawless: No internal or external imperfections. Internally flawless. No internal imperfections. Very rare.
WS1, WS2: 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 VVS1 or VVS2 grades.
SI1, SI2: Slightly Included: Imperfections are visible under 10x magnification, and may be visible to the unaided eye. A good diamond value.
I1: Included: This grade of diamonds have minor inclusions that may be visible to the unaided eye.
12, 13: Larger inclusions.
Carat is specifically a measure of a diamond's weight, and a standard unit of measurement. Each carat weight is equal to 100 points. A .50 carat diamond is the same as a 50-point diamond or a 1/2 carat diamond. Carat weight alone may not accurately reflect a diamond's size. Higher weight diamonds are more rare and more valuable.
Carat is not the only determinant in how large the diamond appears to be. Its size is impacted by the stone's cut grade and how it is set in a piece of jewelry. When a diamond is well cut the light reflected out of the top makes it appear larger. The length of the top surface or the distance in millimeters across the top of the diamond also affect its appearance as this is the way we view a stone when it is set into a ring.