Making a knowledgeable decision about investing in a diamond begins with understanding the components of diamond classification. Known as “The 4 C’s” of diamonds, this information will help you make informed choices.
The term carat is used to express the weight of a diamond. Weight is also often referred to as points. A 1-carat diamond is equal to 100 ‘points’. A ¾- carat diamond equals 75 ‘points’.
Diamond clarity refers to the inclusions that are naturally part of the internal diamond structure. All clarity grading is done under 10X magnification.
IF (Internally Flawless) – Slight external blemishes, but no internal flaws.
VVS1, VVS2 (Very Very Slightly Included) - Minute inclusions difficult to observe under magnification and not visible to the naked eye.
VS1, VS2 (Very Slightly Included) - Minor inclusions under magnification but not visible to the naked eye.
SI1, SI2 (Slightly Included) - Noticeable inclusions under magnification, but generally not visible to the naked eye. A good clarity to be searching for when balancing quality with cost.
I1, I2, I3 (Included) – Obvious inclusions under magnification and visible to the naked eye.
While most people think of diamonds as colorless, only a small percentage of diamonds fall into the truly colorless range and most diamonds do have a tinge of yellow or brownish coloring. The extent of the color determines its color grade. Diamond color grading is done on a scale from D (colorless) to Z (noticeably yellow or brown). Each letter grade represents a range of color, and is a measure of noticeable color. Diamonds graded D-F are considered “colorless” while G-I graded diamonds are considered “near colorless.” The difference between one color grade and the next is very minimal, though side by side comparisons will show differences in color shades.
The final and most intangible element of diamonds is their cut. Cut refers not only to the diamond’s shape, but also how well it is cut within that shape. A diamond’s true sparkle and brilliance is a reflection mostly of the quality of its cut. A diamond that is cut to shallow proportions might make the diamond look larger than its actual weight, but will not provide the same sparkle as a stone cut to more precise angles.
A polished diamond’s beauty lies in its relationship with light. It is reflection and refraction of light, how light strikes the surface, how much light enters the diamond, and in what form light returns to your eye. A diamonds ‘cut quality’ has three major components:
Proportions – the size and angle relationships that exist between the diamond’s facets.
Symmetry – refers to the exactness of the shape and arrangement of facets.
Polish – The smoothness and luster (shine) of the diamond’s facet surfaces. Polish creates scintillation – the dance of light that a diamond displays.
Finding the perfect diamond depends on the importance you place on each of these elements of diamonds and finding the balance that works within your budget.