Learning about Diamonds
A loose diamond is a diamond that is not set in an engagement ring, diamond ring, or other diamond jewelry setting. Most high quality diamonds that weigh more than 0.25 carat are certified by experts in a gemological laboratory to determine their quality and value. You can choose from a wide variety of our certified diamonds that have been graded by one of the five most trusted gemological laboratories to find the shape and quality stone that meets your budget.
The Four C's
Fine diamonds are among the most desirable of all gems. Their value, however, differs widely from one diamond to another. Experts evaluate every diamond for rarity and beauty, using four primary guidelines.
These are called The Four C's—Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat Weight.
The cut of a diamond is the most important “C” of the 4C’s. People commonly refer to the shape of a diamond as the cut, but cut is really the craftsmanship applied in cutting the facets of the stone
The cut of a diamond refers not to its shape, but to the balance of proportion, symmetry and polish achieved by the diamond cutter. The extent of how well the diamond is cut is directly related to the diamond’s overall beauty. When a diamond has been correctly cut, the diamond’s ability to reflect and refract light is greatly enhanced.
By understanding the way that light moves through diamond crystals, modern diamond cutters have established a specific set of proportions and angles that are known to harness the diamond’s internal brilliance and to show it in its best light.
- Ideal: Exquisite quality cut to create the optimal combination of brilliance and fire. Reflects nearly all light that enters the diamond. Top 3% of diamond quality based on cut.
- Very Good: Superior quality cut that reflects nearly as much light as the ideal cut while at a substantially lower cost. Top 15% of diamond quality.
- Good: Premium quality cut to optimize the size without sacrificing quality or beauty. Reflects most light that enters. Top 25% of diamond quality.
- Fair: Adequate quality cut which reflects some light while maximizing weight. While not as brilliant as a good cut, still a quality diamond. Top 35% of diamond quality.
- Poor: Inadequate quality cut that reflects minimal amount of light.
Color refers to the natural body color of a diamond and not to the reflection of spectral colors that flash when a diamond moves. It is determined completely by nature, not man, ranging from colorless to yellow.
The less color a diamond exhibits, the higher the rarity, and therefore the higher the value. After cut, color is the next most important characteristic to consider when choosing a diamond. Diamonds with less color allow more light to pass, releasing more brilliance and fire. A diamond acts as a prism by dividing light into a spectrum of colors and reflecting this light as colorful flashes called dispersion or fire. A diamond with a higher color grade, i.e., one with less color, demonstrates more colorful fire.
- D: Absolutely colorless or "icy white". The highest color grade, extremely rare and most expensive.
- E: Colorless. Only minuscule traces of color can be detected by an expert gemologist in a controlled environment, a very rare diamond.
- F: Colorless. Slight color detected by an expert gemologist, but still considered a colorless grade, a rare, high quality diamond.
- G-H: Near-colorless. Color may be noticeable compared to diamonds of better grades, but offers excellent value.
- I-J: Near-colorless. Color slightly detectable when compared to diamonds of better grades, a good value.
- K-Y: Slight or obvious color.
III. ClarityClarity refers to how free a diamond is from nature's "birthmarks," or tiny, generally microscopic imperfections that make each diamond unique.
Internal characteristics are known as inclusions, and characteristics on the surface of the gem are known as blemishes. Inclusions may be crystals of a foreign material or structural imperfections such as tiny cracks, known as feathers, which can appear whitish or cloudy. Often times the inclusions are microscopic diamonds that were absorbed by the larger crystal before the diamond was carried to the surface of the Earth. The quantity, size, color, location, orientation, and visibility of inclusions all affect the final clarity grade of a diamond. Diamonds with no or few inclusions are considered particularly rare and highly valued.
- FL, IF: No internal or external flaws (FL). Flawless with no internal flaws (IF). Extremely rare and valuable.
- VVS1, VVS2: Very very slightly included. Very difficult for a trained gemologist to locate under 10x magnification. Characteristics referred to as minute. VVS2 slightly more inclusions than VVS1.
- VS1, VS2: Very slightly included. Difficult to see inclusions under 10x magnification, unless pointed out by a trained professional. Typically cannot see inclusions with the naked eye. Characteristics referred to as minor. VS2 slightly more inclusions than VS1.
- SI1: Slightly included. Inclusions are potentially identifiable under 10 x magnifications, but are rarely visible with the unaided eye. Characteristics referred to as noticeable.
- SI2: Slightly included. Inclusions are easily visible under 10x magnifications and may be visible with unaided eye. More inclusions than SI1. Characteristics referred to as noticeable or obvious.
- I1 - I3: Included 1-3. Inclusions are visible to the unaided eye.
No two diamonds will ever have the same internal pattern, and the plots work as a form of individual identification much like a fingerprint.
Carat (ct.) refers to the unique unit of weight measurement used exclusively to weigh gems and diamonds. In most cases, the higher the carat weight category, the greater the per-carat price of the diamond. A carat is a unit of weight equaling 1/5 of a gram. Diamond weight is subdivided further into smaller units commonly referred to as points. A point(s) is a scale of weight that is equal to .01 carat.
Larger diamonds are much more valuable because they are discovered in nature much less frequently than small ones. Diamond prices actually rise exponentially with carat weight rather than linearly. For example, a 1.00 ct. diamond of a given quality is always valued higher than two 0.50 ct. diamonds of the same quality. In fact, a general rule of thumb is that a diamond of double the weight costs around four times more.
Now, let's learn more about the diamond cuts.