Diamond 101

What to know before you buy a diamond

 

 

 

 

 

1. Shape

Cut:

 

A polished diamond’s beauty lies in its complex relationship with light. The magnificent display you see is made up of three attributes: Brightness is the combination of all white light reflecting from the surface and interior of a diamond. Fire describes the “flares” of color emitted from a diamond. Scintillation describes the pattern of light and dark areas and the sparkle you see when the diamond, the light, or the observer moves. A diamond’s proportions affect its light performance, which in turn affects its beauty and overall appeal. Diamonds with fine proportions, symmetry, and polish optimize their interaction with light, and have increased brightness, fire, and scintillation. GIA assesses these factors for standard round brilliant diamonds in the D-to-Z color range.

 

Diamonds come in all shapes and sizes. Though we'll cover diamond sizes below, the first thing to know is what shape of diamond you're looking for. Diamond shapes are a reflection of personality; that is to say that the attributes of a given diamond shape are dependent on personal taste. 

 

Color:

 

Although many people think of gem quality diamonds as colorless, truly colorless diamonds are actually very rare. Most diamonds used in jewelry are nearly colorless with tints of yellow or brown. Color grades are determined by comparing each diamond to a master set. Each letter grade represents a range of color and is a measure of how noticeable a color is. Fluorescence Some diamonds can emit a visible light when exposed to ultraviolet radiation, but fluorescence is not a factor in determining color or clarity grades. However, a description of its strength and color is provided on GIA Reports as an additional identifying characteristic. 

Clarity:

 

Because diamonds form under tremendous heat and pressure, it is extremely rare to find a diamond that lacks any internal and external characteristics. These characteristics are a by-product of its formation and help gemologists separate natural diamonds from synthetics and simulants, and identify individual stones.

Carat:

 

One carat equals 200 milligrams in weight. For diamonds under one carat, each carat is divided into 100 points – similar to pennies in a dollar. 0.75 ct. = 75 points, 1/2 ct. = 50 points.

3. Ensure your diamond is graded by GIA

 

A diamond grading report from an unbiased, scientific source such as GIA is more than important information, it's proof of what you are purchasing. The differences in diamonds can be so subtle, even a trained jeweler can't recognize them without lab verification. Insist that any diamond you buy come with an indisputable verification of its quality.

Tips:

 

Diamond Cut

  • The sparkle of a well-cut diamond can actually make it appear larger than one might expect based on carat weight alone.

  • Cut is so important to a diamond's overall beauty, we recommend purchasing the highest cut grade within your budget.

  • All diamonds have varying degrees of brilliance, scintillation, and fire, but a well-cut diamond will always appear beautiful.

  • Poorly cut diamonds will appear dull or glassy, and, in those areas where light leaks out of the bottom of the diamond, may have dark areas.

  • Shape and cut are often used synonymously, but while shape describes a diamond's form, such as round or oval, cut is a grade that refers to a diamond's light return, or how it sparkles.

  • Diamonds with the highest cut grades cost more, not only because they are rarer, but also because of the skill and experience needed by the diamond cutter to produce such a beautiful stone. In addition, far more time is required to produce a well-cut stone.

Diamond Colour

  • The human eye tends to detect sparkle (light performance) before colour. This is why colour is generally considered the second-most important characteristic of buying a diamond, after cut.

  • As diamond size increases, colour becomes more noticeable. This is especially important to keep in mind if purchasing a diamond of two carats or greater.

  • The visible difference between diamonds of one colour grade, for example G to H or I to J, is so minor it is difficult to detect with the unaided eye. The cost savings, however, can be significant.

  • Diamond shapes that reflect more light (i.e. have more sparkle), such as round or princess, can mask some colour in a diamond.

  • The type of metal in which a diamond is set can complement its colour. Consider setting diamonds graded I or J in yellow gold. White gold or platinum best complement diamonds with a colour grade of D through H.

Diamond Clarity

  • Most imperfections are so small they cannot be seen by the unaided eye.

  • If your budget is tight, it might be possible to purchase a diamond with a visible imperfection, but hide it beneath a ring claw where it will never be seen.

  • As diamond size increases, the size of the facets also increases. Because facets are essentially windows into a diamond, the importance of purchasing a diamond with a higher clarity grade increases.

  • Asscher- and emerald-shaped diamonds are designed with long facets that emphasise transparency over sparkle. For these diamonds, we recommend purchasing a diamond with a clarity grade of VS1 or better to ensure the imperfections will not be visible.

Diamond Carat

  • Carat weight alone will not give you an accurate view of a diamond's size, but should be considered in conjunction with the measure in millimeters across the top of a diamond, and the diamond's cut grade.

  • Diamond prices jump at the full-carat and half-carat marks. To get the best value, look for diamonds just below these sizes, for example purchase a .97-carat diamond instead of a one-carat. Visually, you will not be able to see a difference in size, but your savings can be significant.