Diamonds – arguably the most sought after stone on earth. Wars have been waged over this immensely valuable and precious stone simply because of their rarity and beauty. Often regarded as the most precious stone on earth, diamonds are the staple of any sort of high quality jewelry.
But how well do you know your diamonds? When choosing, do you know the difference between size? Weight? Cuts? Make sure you are aware of these factors before you think about purchasing to be sure you get good value for your money. Luckily for you this guide will get you up to speed in under 5 minutes!
WHEN CHOOSING A DIAMOND, REMEMBER THE FOUR C’S
The four C’s; cut, clarity, color, and carat. All of these have a huge impact in a diamonds value and appearance.
Diamonds are renowned for their brilliance and durability, and rightfully so. Diamonds are the hardest natural material on planet earth. The four c’s I mentioned above are the determining factors in the value of a diamond, whether it’s in entwined in a piece of jewelry or stand alone. Below I’ll walk you through a detailed guide explaining exactly what you need to know before buying a diamond anything. Diamonds are often embedded in precious metals, so be sure to as well!
Believe it or not, diamonds don’t come out of the earth in their sparkling cut forms, they are mined as rough stones. To create it’s finished shaped appearance, diamonds are cut. This cut is much more important that you may realize, the flat and angled faces of the diamond determine how it reflects light within it (aka. how it sparkles).
The cut of a diamonds appearance actually falls into 3 categories; brilliance, fire, and scintillation.
brilliance – referring to the amount of light a diamond reflects due to how it is cut
fire – when white light enters the diamond, flash is the colour that refracts from the stone (usually a rainbow).
Scintillation – contrasting faces, the light and dark opposing faces.
The cut of a diamond varies, but a proper, well-cut stone will reflect a large amount of light through the flat faces. This reflection of light is what gives it it’s brilliance. A shallow cut diamond lets the light to leave through the bottom, resulting in minimal sparkling, rather dull appearance. On the opposite spectrum – a diamond cut too deep will send light through the sides, creating a dark appearance.
Ideally, to be just right, light enters and reflects out the top of a diamond. It would also have great fire, producing a rainbow of colors when white light enters.
Diamond cuts will be given a grade in 1 or 4 areas;
Ideal – the highest score a precious stone can be given. This means that almost all of the light which comes in the crown or angled sides of a diamond exits through the table (or the top) of the diamond. The most recognizable shape diamonds possess was discovered by a master cutter in 1919, proving that diamonds cut in a specific way creates the optimal brilliance and fire that diamonds yearn for. This can only be created with a rounded cut diamond, so only three percent of all these stones can be in this ideal category.
Very good – This particular cut is the highest score for any other diamond shape. Ovals, emerald, princess cuts – any shape that isn’t an ‘ideal’ shape. This very good grade means a large amount of entering light can be reflected back outwards. Around fifteen percent of these stones snag a very good grade.
Good Cut – This is where things become a bit more affordable. A large amount of light is still reflected outwards, and around twenty five percent of diamonds have a place in this category.
Fair cut – A quality choice, though stones in this category often focus more on the carat (a unit of measurement for diamond weight) over the brilliance or fire. Around thirty to thirty five percent of cut stones are in this category.
Clarity is essentially exactly what you would expect; Clarity. When looking into a diamond is it crystal clear or slightly foggy? Or possibly it’s somewhere in-between. Many times these are too minute for the human eye to see and actually require a magnifying glass or microscope. Though none the less – a stone with better clarity counts as a more brilliant stone. Less ‘inclusions’, how these are described, make a diamond classified as having a high clarity, which therefore also means a higher value. The grading system used for Clarity in diamonds follows a system ranging from F to I3 (or ‘flawless’ to ‘included’)
Here we go, finally an easy one. Except that there are actually multiple colors of diamonds! Who knew! Diamonds actually are found in many different colors; black diamonds, pink, blue diamonds, and more. It’s actually quite rare to find what seems to be the most recognizable and common type – clear diamonds. If you look closely you’ll actually find the majority of diamonds have a tint of yellow to them. While difficult to detect, it becomes more obvious when compared side by side with a truly clear diamond.
The grading system used for color is one starting at D through Z. This determines a diamonds color: D, E, or F would be a clear colorless stone, while a Z would categorize as a yellow tinted diamond.
What about the other colored diamonds, where do they get graded? These colored diamonds are actually man made. While some natural elements could effect a diamonds color – such as nitrogen tinting a diamond yellow or brown or boron making a blue diamond. Some colored diamonds are not found in nature and rather created through irradiation or forms of material deformation. Black diamonds, while beautiful as they are, are created through many dark inclusions. These include a few great examples of colored diamonds.
Carat – a word used many times throughout this website. A Carat is a unit of measurement for the weight of a diamond. Do not confuse this term with ‘karat’, the form of measuring gold’s purity. Since diamonds cannot be combined and reformed, the higher the weight typically means a higher price. Though the total value always relies on all 4 C’s. For example; a small diamond with a near perfect cut and clarity will be worth more and a larger cut diamond with a poor cut and low clarity.
The cut of a diamond is not always the classic gemstone shape we see in the movies, but rather a large variety of shapes. This doesn’t usually affect the value of a diamond, it instead simply plays favorites to personal tastes. Diamond shapes are most notable in silver , so if you’re looking for a clear example take a look at them.
- The round cut is considered the traditional cut. It’s the only shape which can achieve the perfect cut diamond in all 4 C’s.
- These diamonds are square and rectangular – the ‘princess cut’. This is a more recent developed cut and is considered a newer modern style.
- This particular cut can be found all the way back in the late nineteenth century – the ‘cushion’ cut has a timeless old world appeal. These stone’s seem visibly larger than they actually weigh making it a popular choice for those looking for a larger stone.
Here you’ll find 3 similar shapes; oval, marquise, and pear cuts. There 3 cuts all give the similar illusion to diamond rings making the wearers fingers more slender or long.
Last, but not least, diamond settings. These are specialty settings – some created specifically to enhance diamond cuts and shapes.
A 4 prong system is used to allow a large amount of light to pass through the diamond to create that classic diamond sparkle. This is a common shape to show off a diamond and is often found in wedding rings.
A sort of canal or channel allows multiple small diamonds to be lined around it. This shallow groove allows for no metal bars to hold the stones in place and acts as a protector for edges, adding to the longevity of the diamond jewelry.
The bezel is a sturdy and very modern choice. Clean and minimal, this bezel surrounds the entire diamond.
The pavé is a surface often completely covered with small diamonds. This can be used to emphasize a larger stone in the center and give the impression one is significantly larger than the others.
This particular setting uses tension and pressure to keep a diamond in its place. The metal has grooves to hold the diamond giving the impression its hovering in air.
The bar. A setting which is comparable to the channel, but has metal bars which separate the stones from one another.
The 5th C – The Conclusion!
You made it! You are now up to speed with the basics of diamond knowledge. Be prepared to reference this page if needed, by knowing the 4 C’s of diamonds you’ll be prepared to look at from a technical angle, so you will be able to buy gifts knowing you’ve received a good valued piece of jewelry.