This diamond education guide will help educate you on how to shop for loose diamonds with confidence. Read on to understand the four basic characteristics of diamonds: cut, color, clarity and carat weight. These characteristics are known as the 4 C’s.
A diamond’s cut is considered to be the most important of the four Cs as it is the cut of the diamond that can override all other points of consideration for buying a diamond. The diamond cut is measured on the grading scale as Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor. The better the cut, the more valuable the diamond. However, do not confuse the cut of a diamond with its shape. When you consider the cut grade, proportion, symmetry, and polish are important factors that must also be considered.
The proportion is important because when a diamond is expertly cut, light that enters the diamond is reflected from one facet to another and exits from the top, maximizing its sparkle. The symmetry of a diamond refers to how balanced its facets are.
Diamond cutters spend years mastering their craft, learning how to best cut a rough diamond to achieve the ultimate cut with the fewest possible imperfections and the least loss of carat weight.
The final criteria is the polish, that is, the surface finish. A well-polished loose diamond allows light to enter the diamond with optimum efficiency, maximizing the beauty of the diamond. At North American Diamond Brokers, we only broker diamonds that have a GIA cut, polish and symmetry grade of excellent or very good.
Diamond color is an important factor as you can notice it with the naked eye.
- Diamond color is described using an alphabetical scale starting with the letter D and ending with Z, with D being absolutely colorless and Z being pale yellow.
- There is no A, B, or C.
- D, E, and F are described as colorless.
- G, H, I, and J are described as near colorless.
- The further down the alphabetical scale you go, the more color a diamond has.
The difference in the color of a diamond can be very subtle to the naked eye, but can be magnified in different light. At North American Diamond Brokers, we only broker diamonds that have a GIA color grade of D through J.
Diamond clarity is a measure of the internal characteristics of a diamond. These internal characteristics are often referred to as inclusions or flaws. The inclusions in a diamond are often described as crystals, feathers, clouds, grain lines, etc. Inclusions form while the stone is forming deep in the earth. They are an internal natural characteristic that can disrupt the passage of light through the diamond. The size and number of inclusions impact the overall beauty of a diamond.
Gemologists use a clarity grading system developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) to describe the clarity of diamonds. The best clarity grade a diamond can have is Flawless. This grade describes a diamond that has no visible inclusions as observed by an experienced gemologist under a 10X binocular microscope. Ideally, the diamond should be examined when the diamond is loose or unmounted.
Internally flawless (IF), This grade describes some slight external surface scratch but no internal flaws.
VVS1 and VVS2. These grades describe very very slight (VVS) internal inclusions that are extremely difficult to be seen by a Graduate Gemologist using a 10x microscope. VVS1 is a slightly better grade than VVS2.
VS1 and VS2. These grades describe internal characteristics that are very slight (VS) and are moderately difficult to see by a Graduate Gemologist using a 10x microscope. VS1 is a better grade than VS2.
SI1 and SI2. These grades describe diamonds that are slightly included (SI) when observed under a 10X microscope. The SI1 grade must be completely free of inclusions when observed by the unaided eye. Diamonds that have been given the SI2 clarity grade are also supposed to be clean when viewed from the top. However, they may have a visible inclusion when viewed from the side or the bottom. A diamond with an SI1 or SI2 clarity grade represents a good value for a customer as the flaws should not be visible and their prices are lower.
I1, I2 and I3. The I1 clarity grade comprises diamonds that have at least one eye visible inclusion. I2 clarity grade consists of diamonds that have many eye visible inclusions and might break under moderate wear and tear. A diamond with an I3 clarity grade can look like a shattered windshield. At NADB, we do not broker diamonds with an I1, I2 or I3 clarity grade.
Diamond weight is measured in carats. Carat weight is the most basic measure of the worth of a loose diamond. Diamonds of the same carat weight might vary greatly in value, which depends upon their cut, color and clarity.
The different shapes of a diamond include the most popular shape known as the round brilliant. Other popular diamond shapes include princess, cushion, pear, oval, radiant, Asscher, marquise, and heart, amongst others. A excellent cut diamond maximizes the potential carat weight, brilliance and scintillation. Carat weight is the easiest of the four Cs for gemologists to determine due to the use of highly sophisticated measuring equipment.