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Is My Diamond Forever?

Posted by on 18 November 2015

proposal with diamond engagement ring

From diamond engagement rings to diamond earrings, purchasing diamond jewelry is a major investment. Your diamond purchase may become a timeless family heirloom your loved ones will treasure for generations to come. A GIA certified diamond is evaluated using the four “C’s”: carat, color, clarity and cut. GIA is considered to be one of the strictest grading standards. While some of these differences are not visible to the naked eye, these minute differences can have a major impact on price and value. Understanding the four C’s will ensure you make a smart diamond investment.

Carat

The most well known of the four C’s, “carat” is the unit of measurement for a diamond’s weight. The term is derived from the carob seed, which diamond traders originally used to measure a diamond’s value. Today, one carat equals 0.2 grams, approximately the weight of a paper clip. While carat is often confused with size, it’s truly a weight measurement. In most cases, the greater the carat, the larger the diamond. However, it’s important to note that the shape and type of gemstone can affect a diamond’s perceived size. Additionally, higher carats do not always mean the diamond is of greater value; color, clarity and cut also affect a diamond’s price. A one-carat diamond could be worth more than a 1.5-carat diamond if the one-carat is superior in color, clarity and cut.

Color

Don’t be confused by this measurement; this C actually measures the absence of color in a diamond. The less color, the better the diamond. Diamond graders use “master stones” in natural light for comparison and grading purposes. Colorless diamonds are graded D, E or F; near-colorless diamonds are graded G, H, I or J; slightly tinted diamonds are graded K, L, M or N; very light yellow diamonds are graded O, P, or Q; light yellow diamonds are graded R, S, or T; yellow diamonds are graded U, V or W; and light fancy diamonds are graded X, Y or Z. The higher the letter in the alphabet, the better the grader.

Clarity

Clarity is graded on a scale with measurements ranging from “flawless” (virtually no imperfections) to “included” (imperfections heavily included). “Pure” diamonds are flawless or internally flawless; these diamonds are exceedingly rare and expensive. VVS-1 and VVS-2 grade diamonds have very, very small inclusions; VS-1 and VS-2 diamond have very small inclusions; SI-1 and SI-2 diamonds have small inclusions; and I-1, I-2 and I-3 diamonds are heavily included. Diamond clarity grading is done using a 10X magnifying glass; the final grade is determined by how easy it is for the grader to see inclusions and blemishes.

Cut

Want your diamond to sparkle brilliantly in the light? This magical sparkle that catches your eye is all thanks to a diamond’s cut measurement. Cut evaluates the diamond’s angles and brilliance, including workmanship quality, proportion and facet arrangement. Diamond cut grades range from “excellent” to “poor.” Be careful not to confuse the “cut” measurement with a diamond’s actual shape (e.g. round, princess, oval, pear, heart, cushion, etc.) – these are two different things!

 

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Is your love in the air – or is it set in stone?

A diamond is a forever investment. Understanding the four C’s – carat, color, clarity and cut – will ensure that you make a smart selection. While some of these differences are not visible to the naked eye, they do directly impact a diamond’s overall quality and price. When selecting your perfect diamond, keep the following in mind:

Cut

A diamond’s “cut” grading measures whether a stone has maximum brilliance and sparkle– it’s what brings fire to the ice and catches your eye. Cut is different from the shape of the diamond (e.g., princess cut, emerald cut, etc.). The cut evaluation rates the diamond’s angles and brilliance, evaluating the diamond’s proportion, facet arrangement and overall workmanship quality. Diamond cut grades range from “excellent” to “poor” with the excellent rating resembling the ideal cut illustrated below.

Diamond Cuts

Clarity

Virtually all diamonds for sale today include minor irregularities or imperfections, although these imperfections are rarely visible to the naked eye. The minor imperfections in a diamond are caused by the liquid volcanic rock in which a diamond is created. While diamonds are primarily pure carbon, during the crystallization process, other nearby minerals may become trapped within the cooling mass, which in turn affects the diamond’s clarity.

Clarity is measured on a scale with grades running from “flawless” (virtually no imperfections) to “included” (imperfections heavily included). “Pure” diamonds are flawless or internally flawless; these diamonds are exceedingly rare and expensive. VVS-1 and VVS-2 grade diamonds have very, very small inclusions; VS-1 and VS-2 diamond have very small inclusions; SI-1 and SI-2 diamonds have small inclusions; and I-1, I-2 and I-3 diamonds are heavily included. Diamonds are graded under a 10X magnifying glass in good lighting by an experienced grader. The final grade is determined by how easily the grader can see the inclusions and blemishes.

Color

The “color” rating actually refers to the absence of color in a diamond. Like a drop of pure spring water, when it comes to diamonds, the less color, the better. The jewelry industry recognizes the highest quality gemstones by purity of hue. In order to demine the absence or presence of different hues, an experienced diamond grader will compare the diamond to “master stones” using artificial or natural northern daylight. Colorless diamonds are graded either D, E or F. Near colorless diamonds are graded G, H, I or J. Slightly tinted diamonds receive a K, L, M or N rating. Very light yellow diamonds are graded O, P, or Q; light yellow diamonds are graded R, S, or T; yellow diamonds receive a U, V or W grading and light fancy diamonds are graded X, Y or Z.

Diamond Color

Carat

The most well-known of the four C’s, “carat” is the unit of measurement for ta diamond’s weight. A carat is subdivided into 100 “points”; for example, a 50-point diamond is “half a carat” or “0.5 ct”. Today, many individuals also equate carat with size. Generally speaking, the higher the carat weight, the larger (and more expensive) the stone. However, color, clarity and cut also affect a diamond’s price; two diamonds of equal carat weight may have very different prices due to these three ratings.