A Brilliantly Simple Guide
Let’s Shine Some Light On The Subject.
Want to take some of the mystery out of buying diamonds? We’ll give you the highlights and explain the terminology. You don’t need to be a gemologist to follow along and we think you’ll enjoy the process. We’ll keep it simple, provide a little guidance and offer some helpful tips and basic facts. And remember, a jeweler you trust will be the most important factor in helping you make your choice.
That said, diamonds are fascinating and buying one should be exciting and fun. So let’s start at the beginning.
You’ve found the love of your life. You’re ready to make the leap. The good news is you don’t need to be certified to make an informed choice.
Did you know that the shape you choose for your center diamond has an impact on how your ring looks and feels? Consider the benefits of each of these shapes when you’re choosing.
- Round— the most popular; cut for maximum brilliance.
- Princess Cut — the most popular fancy-shape; has a great deal of sparkle.
- Oval — a modified brilliant-cut with similar fire; elongated shape creates the illusion of greater size.
- Cushion — a square to rectangular cut with rounded corners, much like a pillow; arguably giving the most sparkle.
- Square Emerald Cut — an elegant square shape with blocked corners that make diamonds appear octagonal.
- Emerald — rectangular with parallel facets and blocked corners; produces a hall-of-mirrors effect.
- Marquise — an elongated shape with tapering points at both ends; flatters the finger.
- Pear — teardrop-shaped, with a great deal of sparkle.
- Radiant Cut — a combination of the emerald cut and the sparkle of the round brilliant; typically with blocked corners.
- Heart — a heart shaped cut that is sometimes hard to find.
Cut expresses the diamond’s natural sparkle and has the biggest impact on your diamond’s appearance and beauty. That’s why we suggest you invest in a quality cut and proportioned diamond first and foremost. We’re not saying that carat, clarity and color are unimportant, but sacrificing sparkle for a larger diamond, or one that’s color can only be distinguished under magnification isn’t always the best choice.
In spite of the importance of cut, there weren’t any standardized criteria for cut grading before the mid-20th century. When criteria were finally standardized, it included brightness, fire, scintillation, weight ratio, durability, polish and symmetry. A diamond cutter is trying to maximize each of these to make the diamond more rare and valuable. Needless to say, it takes a master level of craftsmanship to achieve maximum sparkle.
So what’s best? A diamond that has been cut to reflect more light out of the top, resulting in higher levels of fire and brilliance. If the diamond has not been cut to maximize the reflection, then the light is allowed to escape out the bottom and sides, resulting in a dull, dark appearance.
In short, try to pick the diamonds with the best proportions you can to maximize the diamond’s sparkle and beauty.
Just because a diamond looks white doesn’t mean it’s colorless. In fact, the white diamond spectrum ranges from totally colorless to light yellow. The amount of color in a diamond is signified with a special lettering system that ranges from D to Z. The letter D is awarded only to rare, totally colorless diamonds. In other words, the more colorless a white diamond is, the greater its beauty and value.
- A colorless diamond can be graded D, E or F
- A near colorless diamond can be graded, G, H, I or J
Colored diamonds, such as pink, blue, chocolate or bright yellow, are also available, but they are rated on a different scale than white diamonds.
Very Light Yellow
Part of the wonder of diamonds is the fact that they are created by incredible natural forces. In fact, natural diamonds are formed by tremendous heat and pressure deep within the earth. Understandably, the powerful process can result in internal “inclusions” and external “blemishes.” These are simply fancy words for imperfections, or characteristics, as we like to call them.
A diamond’s clarity is determined by the number, size, nature and position of its inclusions and blemishes. No diamond is perfect, but the closer it comes to perfection, the higher its value. A “flawless” diamond is rare. Inclusions seldom affect a diamond’s beauty, although they do affect price.
Very Very Slight Inclusions
Very Slight Inclusions
Carat weight is a measure of a diamond’s weight, and a reflection of its size. So two diamonds of slightly different sizes may have the same carat weight. Size also depends on how evenly weight is distributed and the quality of the cut. So two diamonds with the same carat weight can vary greatly in value, depending on the color, clarity and most importantly, the cut. It’s really a matter of deciding what matters most to you and then finding the best combination of size, color and clarity for your budget.
Most fine diamonds are carefully evaluated by an independent gemological lab, prior to being set. They receive a diamond grading report, or “certificate” that certifies the diamond as genuine and provides information such as color grade, clarity grade, carat weight, cutting and proportioning, etc. All loose diamonds should be accompanied by a grading certificate or report from a leading independent gemological lab such as: Gemological Institute of America (GIA) Gem Trade Laboratory, European Gemological Laboratory (EGLUSA) or American Gem Society (AGS.) You will receive the original certificate or report with your diamond order.