Various characteristics of diamonds are graded and categorized by the diamond industry. Learning about diamonds is first learning about the four c’s of diamonds which are considered the most important grades and categories.
They are also the criteria jewelers use when grading diamonds, and they’re the ones you’ll need to understand to buy the right diamond for you.
A good cut is essential to a diamond’s beauty, because even a diamond with outstanding color and clarity will not display the sparkle that diamonds are famous for if its components don’t interact with light as they should. Diamonds are cut according to an exact mathematical formula. A finished diamond has 58 facets, which are the small, flat polished planes cut into a diamond, so that the maximum amount of light is reflected back to the viewer’s eye. This reflection is called brilliance.
The shape of the diamond works with the cut to create the overall look that you want. Traditional shapes include:
Although a diamond may be any color of the spectrum, grading a cut stone for color means deciding the amount by which it deviates from the whitest possible (truly colorless). Completely colorless, icy-white diamonds are rare, and therefore, more valuable.
The best way to see the true color of a diamond is looking at it against a white surface. Although most diamonds are a shade of white, they do come in all colors – pale yellow, canary, pink, red, green, blue and brown. These are called fancies, and they are valued for their depth of color, just as white diamonds are valued for their lack of color.
Clarity is defined by a diamond’s freedom from features professionally classified as blemishes or inclusions. Blemishes are surface irregularities such as scratches. Inclusions are essentially internal, for example, tiny crystals of other minerals within the diamond.
Virtually all diamonds have clarity characteristics, and in most cases they have little or no effect on the gem’s beauty. In fact, these characteristics, like a person’s fingerprint, make a diamond unique and identifiable. They help gemologists separate diamonds from imitations, as well.
The higher the clarity grade, the greater the rarity, and the more expensive a diamond may be. The most widely used grading scale in the United States was developed by the Gemological Institute of America.
FL | IF
Flawless stones contain no internal or external inclusions. Internally Flawless contains no internal inclusions, but may have some external imperfections.
VVS1 | VVS2
Very Very Slightly Included stones have an absolute minimum of internal inclusions which are very difficult to view under 10x magnification.
VS1 | VS2
Very Slightly Included stones contain some internal inclusions which are nearly impossible to see unless under 10x magnification.
SI1 | SI2
Slightly Included stones contain some inclusions which are visible under 10x magnification and may be visible to the naked eye.
I1 | I2 | I3
Included stones contain inclusions that are clearly visible to the naked eye.
The weight of a diamond is measured in carats. Since larger diamonds are more rare than smaller diamonds, diamond value tends to rise exponentially with carat weight. The type of setting and shape affects the diamonds appearance, so take that into account when selecting the perfect ring.