Various characteristics of diamonds are graded and categorized by the diamond industry. Learning about diamonds is first learning about the “four Cs” of diamonds which are considered the most important grades and categories:
- Carat weight
These are the criteria jewelers use when grading diamonds and they’re the ones you’ll need to understand to buy the right diamond for you.
Cut is probably the most important, and most challenging, of the four Cs to understand. The brilliance of a diamond depends heavily on its cut. Cut,” that’s a reference to the diamond’s reflective qualities, not the shape. A good cut gives a diamond its brilliance, which is that brightness that seems to come from the very heart of a diamond. The angles and finish of any diamond are what determine its ability to handle light, which leads to brilliance.
Diamonds are graded for clarity under 10x loupe magnification. Grades range from Flawless diamonds which are completely free of blemishes and inclusions, to Included 3 diamonds which possess large, heavy blemishes and inclusions that are visible to the naked eye. Most diamonds contain some inner flaws, or inclusions, that occur during the formation process. The visibility, number and size of these inclusions determine what is called the clarity of a diamond. Diamonds that are clear create more brilliance, and thus are more highly prized, and priced:
- F: Flawless: No internal or external flaws. Extremely rare.
- IF: Internally Flawless: no internal flaws, but some surface flaws. Very rare.
- VVS1-VVS2: Very Very Slightly included (two grades). Minute inclusions very difficult to detect under 10 x magnifications by a trained gemologist.
- VS1-VS2: Very Slightly included (two grades). Minute inclusions seen only with difficulty under 10x magnification.
- SI1-SI2: Slightly included (two grades). Minute inclusions more easily detected under 10x Magnification.
Colorless diamonds are the most desirable since they allow the most refraction of light (sparkle). Off white diamonds absorb light, inhibiting brilliance.
Diamonds are normally thought of as sparkling, scintillating, colorless gems. It is this colorlessness that allows for the incredible and breathtaking play of light that we all have come to associate with the diamond.
As you are probably already aware, the color of diamond is primarily dependent on inclusions and foreign matter within the diamond’s crystalline structure. This foreign matter absorbs light, rather than allowing it to pass through unimpeded, thus giving some diamonds varying degrees of color.
In the normal range of the diamond color-grading scale, the more colorless a diamond is, the higher it is graded on the scale. In terms of pricing, diamonds with a higher grade will be more costly, while diamonds rating lower on the scale, thus having more color, will normally prove to be less costly.
However, when a diamond has a great deal of color, or extremely high color saturation, it may rate the grade of FA, or Fancy. These are the fancy grades of diamond color, and with these the cost of the diamond may actually go higher than the finest of the D grade of diamonds.
Finally, consider the setting of the stone itself. Once the stone is set its level of colorlessness can be enhanced or detracted from, depending on the metal used for the setting and the size of the stone. A well-chosen setting can make a stone with faint yellow coloring appear to be colorless. In other words, a white metal can enhance warm yellow tones in a diamond, whereas yellow gold can cause a diamond to appear more colorless than it actually is.
A carat is the unit of weight by which a diamond is measured. Because large diamonds are found less commonly than small diamonds, the price of a diamond rises exponentionaly to its size. Read this guide to get a better understanding of what a carat is and how it affects the appearance of a diamond.
All precious commodities have a system for giving the weight of the items, and this is no different for precious gems such as diamonds.
The carat has the heaviest impact on its pricing. This is due to the fact that carat refers to the actual weight of the diamond and it is a diamond’s weight that is one of the primary indicators for how rare a diamond is. Simply stated, the heavier a diamond is, the more rare it will be and thus the more expense.
Also be aware that while a diamond is priced in great part based on its carat weight, it is not simply priced on the whole diamond weight. Points” is another term that you will hear to describe the weight of a diamond. The term “points” is used in the diamond industry to indicate diamond measurements that are lower than one carat. In the point’s measurement, one carat is divided into 100 points. Basically, if you are looking at a half-carat diamond, you may hear it being described as a 50-point diamond. Using the term ’50 points’ is simply another way of saying that the diamond is a ‘half-carat’ or 0.50 carats. As you are deciding on your carat size, remember that the heavier diamonds are not necessarily better than smaller, less weighty diamonds. A smaller diamond with excellent cut, clarity and color will be far more impressive and arresting to the eye than a diamond with a large carat weight that has a poor cut, clarity and/or colour.