Everything You Should Know About Diamonds
Every proposal is unique, but the goal is universal. You want to choose a ring that suits her and one she will love. Budgeting is key but so is timing, it’s suggested to shop around one to three months before buying the engagement ring. The engagement ring alone will not suffice, an accompanying wedding band will be the most significant gift you will ever give her. An engagement ring signifies the intention to marry and the wedding bands are exchanged at the ceremony between the bride and groom.
The first thing to look out for is the looks of the stone which cascades into various other attributes that define the appearance of the stone. The cut of a stone optimizes the diamond’s natural radiance and brilliance by reflecting and refracting light back through the top of a diamond. A diamond’s cut refers to how well-proportioned the dimensions of a diamond are, and how these surfaces, or facets, are positioned to create sparkle and brilliance. These small, yet essential, factors determine the diamond’s beauty and price.
The Characteristics of a well-cut diamond are:
- Brilliance relates to the reflection of white light
- Fire is the dispersion of light into the colors of the rainbow
- Scintillation is the sparkle or play of contrast between dark and light areas
The anatomy of a well-cut diamond are:
- Table: The largest facet of a gemstone
- Crown: The top portion of a diamond extending from the girdle to the table.
- Girdle: The intersection of the crown and pavilion which defines the circumference of a diamond.
- Diameter: The measurement from one girdle edge of a diamond straight across to the opposing side.
- Pavilion: The bottom portion of a diamond, extending from the girdle to the culet.
- Culet: The facet at the tip of a gemstone. The preferred culet is not visible with the unaided eye.
- Depth: The height of a gemstone measured from the culet to the table.
Diamond cut and diamond shape are not the same thing
Although these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, diamond cut, and diamond shape mean different things.
- Diamond cut assesses light performance of a diamond and is based on a combination of factors: proportions, symmetry, and polish. Simply, the overall surface condition of a diamond’s facets.
- Diamond shape is related to the outline of a diamond.
Diamonds are found in almost any naturally occurring colour, including gray, white, yellow, green, brown, and pink. Diamond colour is an important consideration when buying a diamond. While colour affects price, there are a number of factors that can help you decide which colour grade is right for you.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) color scale is the industry standard for diamond grading. The GIA diamond colour grades range from D (colourless) to Z (light yellow or brown). Many people ask why the GIA diamond grading scale starts at D. Arcane systems used grades of A-C, 1-3, and I-III, etc. The GIA set out to standardise these diverse systems and started their scale fresh with a grade of D.
- From L colour diamonds on, a warm tint is visible to the naked eye. L colour diamonds are usually half the price of G colour diamonds.
- A great value, K colour diamonds provide a great value as you look into larger carat weights. Their faint colour is hard to differentiate even compared side by side to J colour diamonds.
- A good value, the naked eye can’t easily detect the light yellow tone unless compared side by side with diamonds of I grades or higher. J colour grade diamonds pair well with yellow gold ring settings.
- Still a great value, the slight yellow tint of I colour diamonds are only detected when compared side-by-side with diamonds of H grades or higher. This colour grade also pairs well with yellow gold.
- H color diamonds are an excellent value with a faint yellow hue that is difficult to detect unless compared side by side with other diamonds of a higher colour grade. Typically, only a trained eye can see the difference between H and G colour grades.
- G colour diamonds have a very slight warmth to their tone that is difficult to detect unless compared side by side with diamonds of better grades. G will face up bright and white.
- Only a gemologist can detect the minute colour differences between E, F, and D colour diamonds. F colour diamonds are comparable to D or E colour diamonds. The whitest of white diamonds, D-F colour diamonds, pair well with white gold or platinum settings.
- Like D colour diamonds, E colour diamonds are quite rare. The minute variance between E colour and D colour is virtually undetectable to an untrained eye. The difference can only be seen with a side by side comparison of loose stones.
- D colour diamond is the highest grade and is extremely rare. The highest colour grade that money can buy.
Certain fancy shaped diamonds hide colour better than others and can cost up to 25% less than a round cut diamond. It’s also smart to consider the colour of precious metal for your setting that best compliments the colour grade of your diamond. Yellow gold casts a warm glow and looks best with diamonds with faint colour. Platinum or white gold will make a near colourless diamond look icier.
Diamonds occur in the natural rainbow spectrum of colours. Some examples are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, pink, purple. These are known as colored diamonds. Only 1 in every 10,000 diamonds possess natural colour, and the more intense the colour, the rarer and more valuable the diamond. Fancy-colored diamonds are graded on a separate colour scale and can be even more valuable than white diamonds.
Diamonds are judges for their colour, or lack thereof. The whiter the diamond the more valuable. A diamond’s clarity is rated by the number, size and position of inclusions or flaws it has. Inclusions, give each diamond its uniqueness and are sometimes referred to as ‘nature’s fingerprints’, are usually not visible to the naked eye unless magnified. The fewer the inclusions, the more valuable the stone.
Diamond clarity is the assessment of small imperfections on the surface and internally. The surface flaws are called blemishes, and internal defects are known as inclusions. These tiny, natural blemishes and inclusions are microscopic and do not affect a diamond’s beauty in any way. Diamonds with the least and smallest inclusions receive the highest clarity grades.
In 1953, Richard T. Liddicoat and colleagues established the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) diamond grading system and clarity scale. The GIA diamond grading scale is divided into six categories and eleven diamond clarity grades. On the diamond clarity scale, also commonly referred to as the diamond grading chart, the complete list of diamond grading categories and clarity grades are listed below:
- I2 and I3 diamonds may have more obvious inclusions at 10x and may be visible to the naked eye.
- I1 diamonds have minor inclusions that may be visible to the naked eye.
Inclusions are noticeable at 10x magnification with SI diamonds, the best value diamonds. With SI1 diamonds, inclusions are sometimes visible to the keen eye without magnification. SI2 clarity grade diamond inclusions are usually visible from the pavilion, or cone-shaped lower portion, and from the top.
- VS diamonds have minor inclusions that cannot be seen without 10x magnification. VS1 is a higher clarity grade than VS2, which may have some visible inclusions. A VS grade diamond is less expensive than a VVS diamond.
- VVS diamonds have minuscule inclusions that are difficult even for trained eyes to see under 10x magnification. VVS2 clarity diamonds have slightly more inclusions than the VVS1 grade. A VVS diamond is an excellent quality diamond and clarity grade.
- Inclusions aren’t visible in internally flawless diamonds under 10x magnification. Some small surface blemishes may be visible on IF diamonds.
- Inclusions and blemishes aren’t visible on flawless diamonds, even under 10x magnification. Less than 1% of all diamonds are FL clarity. A flawless diamond is incredibly rare because it’s nearly impossible to find a diamond 100% free of inclusions.
Because they’re made underground, most diamonds have small inclusions and blemishes. When referring to inclusions, diamond experts often use the term “internal characteristics” instead. Internal characteristics of natural diamonds are what gives the diamond its character and uniqueness.
For the best value, select a diamond with inclusions that can’t be seen through the crown without magnification, better known as eye-clean diamonds. These are SI or VS clarity grade. Such diamonds are much less expensive than the extremely rare Flawless (FL) or Internally Flawless (IF) diamonds.
Diamond shape and cut play with and impact diamond clarity in different ways.
Some diamond shapes require a higher clarity grade than others. Emerald and Asscher shaped diamonds are designed with rectangular facets that emphasize transparency and let you see farther down into the diamond, which can make inclusions more visible. For these diamond shapes, choose a clarity grade of VS1 or better to ensure the inclusions will not be visible.
Conversely, round, princess, oval, marquise, pear, and heart-shaped diamonds may not require as high of a clarity grade. Cut with a brilliant facet pattern, which reflects light from many different angles, these shapes naturally hide many inclusions.
As diamond size increases, the multiple mirror-like surfaces on the diamond (size of the facets) also increases. This can make inclusions more visible. Be sure to prioritize a higher clarity grade as the size of your diamond increases.
When diamonds are graded, they are magnified 10x. The clarity grade of a diamond is based on the most noticeable inclusions when magnified by 10x. Any inclusions or characteristics that don’t get factored into the grade may still be noted on what’s called a diamond plot chart.
The five diamond clarity factors are:
- Size: First to get looked at is the size of a characteristic or inclusion. The larger or more noticeable a characteristic, the lower the likely clarity grade.
- Number: Next is number of easily seen characteristics, not number of total characteristics. Having fewer characteristics means a higher clarity grade.
- Position: The third factor is the position of a given characteristic. This position turns inclusions into reflectors, which have a bigger impact on the clarity grade.
- Nature: Then there is the nature of a diamond characteristic, or whether it’s internal or external. Internal characteristics cannot be graded as flawless or internally flawless diamonds.
- Colour and relief: Colour and relief is essentially a measure of how easily seen a characteristic is, or how much contrast there is between the characteristic and surrounding diamond.
A Diamond’s Top Diameter
It is important to measure, in millimeters, the distance across the top (diameter) of the diamond as this is how it is viewed when set into a ring.
A Diamond’s Cut Grade
A diamond’s cut grade should also be considered. When a diamond is well cut, the light reflected out of the top making it appear larger.
The diamond’s diameter and cut grade reveal that smaller carat weight diamonds will appear larger with higher cut grades. Obverse, a larger carat weight diamond could appear smaller with lower cut grades. If a large carat weight is important to you, yet you’re working within a strict budget, consider a diamond with a good cut, SI1-SI2 clarity, and an I, J, or K color grade. Diamond prices jump at the full- and half-carat weights. Diamonds just below these weights cost significantly less, and, because carat weight is distributed across the entirety of the diamond, small size differences are almost impossible to detect. Keep in mind that the smaller the finger, the larger the diamond will appear. A 1.5-carat diamond solitaire looks much larger on a size 4 finger than a size 8.
The round brilliant cut diamond is by far the most popular and most researched diamond shape available today. For almost 100 years, diamond cutters have been using advanced theories of light behavior and precise mathematical calculations to optimize the fire and brilliance in a round diamond. In addition to being the most popular and researched shape, round-cut diamonds will typically give you more flexibility in terms of balancing cut, color, and clarity grades while still getting the fire and brilliance you want.
To maximize the brilliance of a traditional round diamond, select one in the two highest cut grades, ideal or very good, and choose ideal, excellent, or very good polish and symmetry grades.
Second to the round cut, its beautiful brilliance and unique cut makes the princess-cut diamond a favorite for engagement rings. The princess has pointed corners and is traditionally square in shape. When choosing a colour grade, consider that while the price of a J-colour non-round diamond is exceptional, colour may be slightly visible in its corners. Also, princess-cut diamonds can vary greatly in how square or rectangular they are. To find the dimension of princess you want, look for the length-to-width ratio. This will determine what the diamond will look like when viewing it from above.
For a princess cut diamond, the optimally eye pleasing length to width ratio is between 1 and 1.05. If you prefer more of a rectangular shape, look for length to width ratios greater than 1.10.
What makes the emerald diamond shape different is its pavilion, which is cut with rectangular facets to create a unique optical appearance. Due to its larger, open table, this shape highlights the clarity of a diamond. If you choose an emerald cut diamond with a lower clarity grade, such as SI, be sure to review the clarity plot on the diamond certificate. Emerald cut diamonds can vary greatly in how rectangular they are. If you’d prefer an emerald cut with a squared outline, look for an Asscher cut diamond. To find the shape of emerald diamond you want, look for the length to width ratio. The length to width ratio will determine the diamond’s outline, or what it will look like when viewed from the top.
For the classic emerald cut shape, look for a length to width ratio between 1.30 and 1.40.
This beautifully unique shape is nearly identical to the emerald-cut, except that it is square. The Asscher cut diamond shape has a pavilion that is cut with rectangular facets in the same style as the emerald cut. If you choose SI-clarity be sure to view the clarity plot on the diamond certificate, because this shape highlights the clarity of the diamond. When choosing a color grade, consider that while the price of a J-color non-round diamond is exceptional, color may be slightly visible in its corners.
The shape of a marquise diamond can maximize carat weight, giving you a much larger diamond by appearance alone. This brilliant cut diamond looks beautiful set with round or pear shaped side stones, and the length of the marquise diamond makes fingers appear long and slender. To find the dimension of marquise you want, look for the length-to-width ratio will determine the diamond’s outline, or what it will look like when viewed from the top.
For the most traditional marquise-cut diamonds, look for length to width ratios between 1.75 and 2.25.
An oval diamond has beautiful brilliance that’s similar to a round diamond. Oval diamonds are also very popular as their length can accentuate long, slender fingers. To find the dimension of oval you want, look for the length to width ratio that will determine the oval diamond’s outline, or what it will look like when viewed from the top.
For the most traditional oval cut diamonds, look for length to width ratios between 1.33 and 1.66.
Trimmed corners are the signature of this diamond, and they help make the radiant cut a popular and versatile choice for jewellery. A radiant cut looks equally beautiful set with either baguette or round side diamonds. Radiant cut diamonds can vary in their degree of rectangle. To find the dimension of radiant you want, look for the length to width ratio. The length to width ratio will determine the diamond’s outline, or what it will look like when viewed from the top.
For a radiant diamond shape that is square, look for length to width ratios between 1 and 1.05. If you prefer more of a rectangular shape, look for length to width ratios greater than 1.10.
This brilliant cut diamond is also called a teardrop for its single point and rounded end. The unique look of the pear shape helps make it a popular choice for a variety of diamond jewellery. If you choose an elongated pear shape, the length of the diamond creates a subtle slimming effect on the fingers.
To understand what the pear shaped diamond will look like when viewing it from above, look for the length to width ratio on each diamond. For the most traditional pear-shaped diamond, look for a length to width ratio between 1.45 and 1.75.
The heart is the ultimate symbol of love. The unique look of the heart shaped diamond helps make it a distinctive choice for a variety of diamond jewellery. When choosing a colour grade, consider that while the price of a J-colour heart shaped diamond is exceptional, colour may be slightly visible in its corners. To find the dimension of heart shape you want, look for the length to width ratio. The length to width ratio will determine the heart shaped diamond’s outline, or what it will look like when viewed from the top.
For a more traditional heart-shaped diamond, look for length to width ratios between 0.90 and 1.10.
This unique shape has been popular for more than a century. Cushion cut diamonds also known as “pillow-cut” diamonds, have rounded corners and larger facets to increase their brilliance. These larger facets highlight the diamond’s clarity. If you choose an SI clarity grade, be sure to review the clarity plot on the diamond certificate. Cushion cut diamonds are available in shapes ranging from square to rectangular. To find the dimension of cushion diamond you want, look for the length-to-width ratio. The length-to-width ratio will determine the diamond’s outline, or what it will look like when viewed from the top.
For a cushion cut diamond that is square, look for length to width ratios between 1 and 1.05. If you prefer more of a rectangular shape, look for length to width ratios greater than 1.15.