DIAMOND BUYING GUIDE
MASTERING THE 4C's
Of the Four C's, cut is perhaps the most important factor affecting a diamond's overall quality and beauty. The cut of a diamond is especially important because it has the most effect on the fire, or brilliance. A poor cut will make the diamond look dull even with excellent color and clarity. We only carry the higher diamond cut qualities so that you don't have to worry about picking a poorly cut diamond.
The measurement and comparison of diamond color ranges from colorless to slightly tinted. However, discerning the subtle differences between sequential color grades can be almost impossible with the naked eye. For this reason, a letter scale, such as the GIA professional color scale which ranges from D to Z, was created to assist in distinguishing a diamond's color grade. Diamonds that are in the "D-F" range are considered colorless. These diamonds are rarer and more expensive. Diamonds in the "G-I" range appear completely white to most observers and for this reason can be a better value than colorless diamonds.Color grades beyond "J" exhibit a yellowish or brownish tint, which is increasingly discernable by the untrained eye as you approach the extreme end of the spectrum.
A diamond's brightness, or its brilliance, is determined by how much light is reflected back to your eyes. Light enters the stone through thecrown, which is the portion of the diamond above the girdle. The crown is made up of the table, which is the large flat facet on top of the diamond, and many crown facets. It then travels to the pavilion, or body, of the stone, where it is reflected from one side to the other and then back through the top and to an observer's eye. Because cut is so important, gemologists have developed grading methods to assist consumers in determining a diamond's cut. In general, they are: Ideal, Excellent, Very Good, Good and Fair.
A carat is a unit of measure for diamonds, where one carat equals 100 points, or 0.2 grams.This measurement is referred to as the carat weight and is used to determine a diamond's size. Larger diamonds are more rare and therefore more highly valued. In addition, larger diamonds make it easier to see the effects of other key characteristics, such as cut and color. Depending on the significance of these other characteristics, diamonds of a similar size (carat weight) may differ dramatically in price.
The term diamond clarity refers to the presence or absence of tiny birthmarks, or inclusions from minerals or fractures while the diamond was forming in the earth. These birthmarks may be present in the form of a blemish, scratch, air bubble or any other foreign material, either inside the diamond or on its surface. Anything disrupting the flow of light in the diamond, such as an inclusion, will reduce the amount of light or sparkle that is reflected. As you would expect, diamonds with no or few inclusions receive a higher rating for diamond clarity and are more valuable than those with noticeable birthmarks. Clarity grades range from Flawless, which are diamonds that reveal no imperfection even under 10x magnification, to Imperfect 3, which are stones with distinct blemishes visible to the naked eye. See the descrriptions of each clarity grading.
F - IF Diamonds: Flawless or Internally Flawless - Diamonds in this category have no internal inclusions. They are extremely rare and highly valued. If you are looking for the best diamond you can buy, then look no further than the F-IF category. These stones are perfect.
VVS1 - VVS2: Very, Very Slightly Included - These two grades of VVS Diamonds have minute inclusions that are extremely difficulty to detect even with 10x magnification. You don't have to pick a stone with absolutely no inclusions to get a stunning diamond. These diamonds are excellent choices as well, since their inclusions are minor and invisible to the eye. These diamonds offer cost savings without sacrificing too much in terms of clarity.
VS1 - VS2: Very Slightly Included - These two grades of Very Slightly Included Diamonds have minute inclusions that are not visible to the naked eye and are difficult to see under magnification. Requires 10X magnification to clearly see an inclusion. VS clarity diamonds are a good choice for someone wishing to balance high quality with relative affordability.
SI1 - SI2: Slightly Included - These two grades of slightly included diamonds contain inclusions that are evident under 10x magnification and may be seen by the naked eye in some cases (generally in SI2 diamonds). If your goal is maximizing size and/or affordability, look at SI1 and SI2 diamonds. Many of these stones are what professionals call "eye-clean," meaning they have no visible inclusions.
I1 - I3: Inclusions visible to the unaided eye - Diamonds contain significant inclusions that are visible both under magnification and to the naked eye. Because "I" grades have inclusions that can be seen with the naked eye, we do not recommend that you buy these diamonds for an engagement ring.