There is a reason why diamonds have endured as the most sought-after stones in pieces from engagement rings and earrings to bracelets and necklaces. It is difficult to resist the dazzling sparkle and shine of a fine diamond and the sense of elegance and class it imparts. At the same time, diamonds can be quite versatile. Depending on the setting, they are fit for royalty or create a chic addition to a contemporary look
Regardless of how you wear a diamond, it is paramount that you receive the quality for which you are looking. This can be complex, so a quick guide to diamond quality is a must-read.
Quality Starts with a “C”
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is a nonprofit organization that seeks to provide unbiased research, education, and gem grading. As world-renowned experts in gems, they apply their knowledge and experience to ensure that the highest standards are upheld in the industry and that consumers are protected when buying gems and jewelry.
Their grading system is one of the most authoritative in the world. They judge diamonds by four characteristics -- that’s right, the 4 Cs:
- Cut. Cut is critical. A great cut forgives other sins, such as a smaller carat. It refers to how the diamond is cut, not its shape (e.g. pear, oval). Even with exceptional clarity and color, a poorly-cut stone will be dim and lackluster. Cuts range from Signature (ultra rare), Ideal (rare), Very Good (less rare), Good (not uncommon), and Fair/Poor (most common - they will appear dull and glassy).
- Clarity. Diamonds have “inclusions” or natural imperfections. FL is “flawless,” and rare. IF is “internally flawless,” which means inclusions are only visible under 10x magnification. Also rare. VVSI and VVSI2 are “very very slightly included” while VS1 and VS2 are “very slightly included.” Inclusions are visible under magnification: these represent the best value for most consumers.
- Carat. This refers to the diamond’s weight (1 carat = 200 milligrams) Typically, they range from a fraction of a carat to several (Kim Kardashian has worn 15 and 20 carat pieces). As the number increases, so too does the price. Many people consider carat to be “the” big factor when it comes to diamonds. That’s true -- to some extent.
It does inform size, but cut and clarity can help you “cheat” a bit. For example, a well-cut 1 carat can appear larger than a 1.25 carat diamond because of how it reflects light. As well, melee diamonds, which are small, can be every bit as exquisite as larger stones. Don’t discriminate based on size!
- Color. Diamonds do come in a variety of colors, from pink and blue to red and green. In this context, “color” refers to clear or uncolored diamonds. GIA grades D, E, and F are “colorless”: the most sought-after and expensive. G, H, I, and J are “near colorless.” These are a terrific value, as they are less rare than colorless diamonds. Still, you won’t be able to detect a difference with the naked eye.
K, L, and M show faint color (just starting to be noticeable to the naked eye), while N-R and S-Z obviously show more color and are less valuable (and less desirable for many buyers).
A GIA melee diamond supplier can help you select the stone that will earn, and keep, its place in your heart (or that of its recipient).