Choose your Stone
Carat - A carat is a measurement used to signify the weight of the diamond. It is the most precise of the four C’s.
Diamonds are weighed in metric carats; one carat equals 1/5 gram or approximately 0.007 ounces. It takes a little over 142 carats to equal 1 ounce. Every carat is divided into 100 points. Therefore, a 50-point diamond is also called a ½ carat.
Diamond weight is so precise that polished diamonds are weighed to a thousandth of a carat and then rounded off to the nearest hundredth (point). Diamonds weighing less than 20 points are often called melee. Another term often used is the term grain, or grainer.
A grain equals one-quarter (0.25) of a carat. For example, a 75-point diamond would be called in the trade a three grainer and a one-carat stone may be called a four grainer. Loose stones are weighed directly on a scale but mounted stones can only be estimated by plugging their measurements into a mathematical equation. Another quick way of estimating mounted round diamonds is by measuring the diameter of the diamond and comparing it to a size chart.
Color - Diamond color refers to the absence of color. The D-Z diamond color scale is essentially a measurement of the saturation of yellow.
Here is GIA’s definition of diamond color: “The diamond color evaluation of most gem-quality diamonds is based on the absence of color. A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond has no hue, like a drop of pure water, and consequently, a higher value. GIA’s D-to-Z diamond color-grading system measures the degree of colorlessness by comparing a stone under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions to masterstones stones of established color value. GIA’s diamond D-to-Z color-grading scale is the industry’s most widely accepted grading system. The scale begins with the letter D, representing colorless, and continues, with increasing presence of color, to the letter Z. Many of these color distinctions are so subtle that they are invisible to the untrained eye; however, these distinctions make a very big difference in diamond quality and price.”
Clarity – Diamond clarity is an important characteristic to consider when shopping for diamonds.
Here is GIA’s definition of diamond clarity - “Natural diamonds are the result of carbon exposed to tremendous heat and pressure deep in the earth. This process can result in a variety of internal characteristics called ‘inclusions’ and external characteristics called ‘blemishes.’ Evaluating diamond clarity involves determining the number, size, relief, nature, and position of these characteristics, as well as how these affect the overall appearance of the stone. While no diamond is perfectly pure, the closer it comes, the higher its value.”
There are six categories (11 specific grades) for diamond clarity
- Flawless (FL): Using a 10x magnification loupe, there are no inclusions or blemishes visible.
- Internally Flawless (IF): No inclusions visible.
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 & VVS2): Using a 10x magnification loupe, inclusions and blemishes are extremely difficult for a skilled diamond grader to see.
- Very Slightly Included (VS1 & VS2): Using a 10x magnification loupe, inclusions and blemishes can be detected, but are classified as minor.
- Slightly Included (SI1 & SI2): Inclusions can be detected using a 10x magnification loupe.
- Included (I1, I2, & I3): Inclusions are apparent, usually without the aid of a 10x magnification loupe.
Here is a great example of a diamond with several inclusions (as indicated by the red arrows):
As you can see from the above image, a diamond with several inclusions is not desirable and can often affect the overall appearance of an otherwise perfectly cut diamond. Here is a diamond with considerably fewer inclusions:
For many stones the inclusions and blemishes are too small to be seen by anyone other than a trained diamond grader. To the naked eye, a VS1 and an SI2 diamond may look exactly the same, but it’s important to view diamonds in person to make a final decision. Set up your diamond viewing appointment today to see the differences in person!
Cut – Cut is the human contribution to a diamond’s beauty, brilliance, and fire. The way a diamond is cut can affect all of the other C’s. A well-cut diamond will allow light to enter the stone, bounce off the internal facets and be reflected back through the top, creating the brilliance and fire only a diamond can.
Today’s designs are the result of hundreds of years of experience. In the 1920′s a Russian mathematician by the name of Marcel Tolkowsky began calculating the proportions of the facets in a round diamond to measure what the ideal balance between brilliance and dispersion. Today diamond grading laboratories such as GIA have continued to research the optimal cut proportions for each diamond shape.
Round - This 58 facet symmetrical shape cut diamond can display the greatest amount of sparkle with a balance between the amount of white flashes of light and colored flashes of light. It is the benchmark diamond shape all others are compared to and the only one that has internationally recognized cut grades. Generally, round diamonds are the most expensive but can offer the greatest amount of sparkle per dollar. Round diamonds are the go to shape for engagement rings.
Fancy Shapes – Choosing a properly proportioned fancy shaped diamond is much more complex than a round shape diamond. Most fancy shapes cannot sparkle like a well-cut round diamond can. The facets of fancy shaped diamonds are elongated, asymmetrical, and can deviate greatly from the ideal, causing light to leak out the diamond’s bottom. This also causes small multi-colored flashes of light to be concentrated in pointed areas and larger flashes to occur in rounded or elongated areas.
A “bowtie” shaped area of diminished sparkle can span the center width of most fancy shape diamonds. This consequence has the least negative effect when it is narrow and very light gray (it is rarely colorless or invisible). A dark and pronounced bowtie will decrease the value and beauty significantly in a diamond.
Another important consideration unique to fancy shapes is the length and width ratio (L: W), calculated by dividing the diamond’s length by the diamond’s width. Many other considerations are structural deficiencies such as thin edges near pointed areas and uneven or bulged shape outlines.
Unlike round diamonds, cut grades of fancy shapes do not exist. We employ sophisticated methods that accurately predict and demonstrate how the sparkle of one set of ratios and proportions will compare quantitatively to another. Less desirable fat or thin shapes are produced from irregular shaped rough diamonds. They are also produced by cutters who intentionally grind as little of the rough diamond away as possible to retain excess weight for higher profits. This excess weight and material does not contribute to beauty and therefore should not contribute to higher value.
You will find our expertise to be very helpful in choosing any fancy shape as well as a round diamond. Some of our favorite engagement ring designs have a fancy shape center.
- Cushion: A cushion cut diamond blends the brilliance of a round with the square shape of a princess. This is one of our favorite diamond cuts and looks absolutely gorgeous in a halo engagement ring.
- Princess: A square or rectangular modified brilliant (AKA princess cut) features a brilliant facet arrangement with pointed corners. This cut has a large table percentage and looks fantastic when paired with side stones.
- Oval: An oval cut diamond is another popular fancy diamond shape that comes in a variety of proportions. Oval diamond features a brilliant facet arrangement cut into an oval shape.
- Radiant: A radiant cut diamond has a very similar facet arrangement as a cushion, but it is square in shape with corners that have been cut off. Radiant cut diamonds look amazing when set into antique rings.