Diamond Buying Guide
Choosing a diamond is a very personal decision. While not everyone will share the same opinion, most people will get more enjoyment from a high-quality diamond than from a low quality one, regardless of size.
What quality diamond should you buy? Both diamond buying guides and gemologists will tell you that beautiful diamonds can fit almost all budgets. Diamond grades are based on rarity factors – the more exceptional the diamond, the higher the price. The precise criteria for evaluating the quality of a diamond is commonly known as The Four Cs – cut, color, clarity, and carat weight.
The Four Cs
Every diamond is unique yet shares certain characteristics that allow us to compare and evaluate them individually. These characteristics are called the Four Cs.View The Four Cs Video
How a diamond has been cut, polished, and to what proportions and symmetry, are of utmost importance as these factors determine the life, brilliance and dispersion of the diamond. If any of these cutting factors fall below standard, the appearance of the diamond will be adversely affected.
External Reflection: When a ray of light touches the surface of a diamond, part of the ray is reflected back.
Refraction: The rest of the ray penetrates the stone and is then reflected toward the center of the diamond. The bending and behavior of the light is largely dependent on the proportion of faceting and inclusions.
Dispersion: The ray of light is reflected to the surface, where it is observed as the colors of the spectrum. This flaring of the spectrum colors is more commonly known as fire.
Finish: Collectively, the execution of the design, the precision of the cutting details and the quality of the polish.
Brightness: The combination of all white light reflecting and refracting from the surface and interior of the diamond.
Scintillation: The flashing of light you see when the diamond, the light or the observer moves.
A polished diamond's beauty lies in its intricate relationship with light: how light strikes the surface, how much enters the diamond and in what form light returns to the eye. The proportions affect its light performance, which in turn affects its beauty and overall desirability. Diamonds with correct proportions, symmetry and polish optimize their interaction with light and display increased brightness, fire and scintillation.
Most fine diamonds vary in shade from colorless to yellow, brown, or gray. To determine the color grade, all submitted diamonds are compared to an internationally accepted master set of diamonds, the color of which ranges from D, or colorless, to Z. Deeply saturated colors occur in diamonds such as yellow, brown, orange, pink, blue, green, purple, red, etc. The most rare or intense of these shades are graded as "Fancy" colors and labeled as such on the Diamond Report.
Free of blemishes, and inclusions, internally and externally, when examined under 10x magnification.
Internally Flawless: IF
Free of inclusions. Only insignificant external blemishes visible under 10x magnification.
Very, Very Slightly Included: VVS1 - 2
Minute inclusions that are very difficult to locate under 10x magnification by a trained gemologist.
Very Slightly Included: VS1 - 2
Minute inclusions that are difficult to see under 10x magnification.
Slightly Included: SI1 - 2
Noticeable inclusions that are easy to see under 10x magnification.
Include: I1, I2, I3
Inclusions that are obvious under 10x magnification and can be easily seen face-up with the unaided eye.
In order to grade the clarity of a diamond, it is necessary to observe the size, number, position, nature, color, and relief of the various clarity characteristics. This analysis is carried out using a microscope and a 10x loupe under the experienced eyes of graduate gemologists. The clarity scale includes 11 grades ranging from Flawless to I3.
The weight of a diamond is measured in carats. One carat is 0.2 grams and there are 100 points (or 200 milligrams) per carat. Accurate diamond scales provide a highly precise diamond weight that is stated on the Diamond Report to two decimal points.
A diamond is comprised of five main components:
Table: The largest facet of the diamond, which comprises the flat surface on the top of the stone, resembling a 'table'. The table allows light to enter the diamond.
Crown: This is the top portion of the diamond, located above the girdle and extending below the table.
Girdle: Forming the outer edge of the diamond, this is where the crown and the pavilion meet.
Pavilion: Located at the bottom of the diamond, the pavilion bridges the girdle and the culet.
Culet: The smallest facet of a diamond, the culet is located at the very bottom of the stone. The culet protects the stone from damage.