Buying a diamond can be a huge deal. There are often celebrations involved, like engagements or anniversaries, which are themselves emotional, and these may cloud your judgment and increase the stress of your investment. At Mark Broumand we appreciate this and instead of adding to your pressure, we'd like to help you make an informed decision.
Like snowflakes or puppies, every diamond is unique. Also, there's no such thing as a perfect diamond, only one that's perfect for you. Nature creates them, but people cut and shape them, and the resulting stone is a complex of factors. Quite often, too, what increases one of the factors decreases another, which means you need to choose which features mean the most to you.
The classics used to judge and grade diamonds, the four C's, refer to color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. These factors are listed on certificates that refer to the quality of the stone. A diamond's price is reflected on the appraisal, which isn't the same thing at all, and is only about a fifth C, the cost.
Since diamonds are a product of nature, no two of them are identical, and only the very rarest of them are entirely free of defects. When nature creates a diamond there are frequently traces of gases and other minerals involved in the process, things that can affect the resulting stone. Many of these defects can be hidden by how the stone is set in jewelry and are often invisible to the naked eye. The certificate may indicate a flaw that no one but a trained jeweler with a magnifying glass will ever see, but it will affect the price of your diamond.
A larger stone may have less brilliance and fire than a smaller, better cut one. Since both the weight (carat) and the cut affect price, you will want to choose which is more important to you. Size matters, but not always. Quality plays a big part, too. A large SUV isn't better than a nimble sports car, it depends on what you want.
In choosing the diamond that's right for you, you should first understand what goes into the cost. Lower clarity may not matter to you, which means you can then select a larger stone for the same price. Speaking with us about these issues will give you relief in place of stress, and we'll take our time to make sure you'll be at ease and understand just what your choices are.
The only things humans can do to a diamond to affect its value is to cut it. The color, clarity, and carat size of a diamond is determined by nature, but only when a diamond is cut is its brilliance and beauty truly exposed.
An uncut or rough diamond, in many senses, looks a lot like any other stone. It's only when the stone is shaped and cut, when the facets are created, that the diamond reveals its ability to play with light and reward the viewer with a dazzling display of brilliance and fire. When the facets, or faces, are created, the diamond goes from a unremarkable stone to an object of extreme beauty.
There are many traditional cuts for diamonds, none more popular than Round Brilliant. These diamonds, when viewed from the top, are round, but contain 58 total facets, 33 on the crown or upper part, and 25 on the pavilion or bottom part. This cut is elegant and is the standard cut of diamond.
Other basic cuts are Emerald, Princess, Heart, Oval, Marquise, and Pear. The Emerald cut is a square or rectangular cut with the corners cut diagonally. There are usually two to four rows of facets parallel to the center of the stone and the name comes from this cut's popularity with emeralds. The Princess cut is a modified square or rectangular cut, with many variations.
The Oval cut is oval in shape and is covered with rectangular facets. The Marquise cut also has an oval shape, but the sides are curved and ends are pointed. The Marquise cut originated in the 1700s and may have been named after the Marquise de Pompdor, a mistress of King Henry XV.
The Heart shape is shaped like a heart and is very romantic. If this cut has a flat center (shield shaped cutlet), then it usually has 32 facets on the crown. If no shield or cutlet is present, then 24 pavilion is common.
The Pear cut looks like a rain or tear drop. It may or may not have a large flat or table facet in the center of the stone. The stone will typically have 56 to 58 facets.
The one quality that can never appear on any diamond certificate is the appeal the shape has for you. Many diamonds are cut to shapes not mentioned above, and the Asscher, Cushion, and Radiant cut are also very popular.
We all wish for a perfect diamond, but nature isn't so generous and those diamonds are very, very rare. The extreme pressures and temperatures under which diamonds are formed will almost always create a stone with some internal or external flaw.
Such defects may include air bubbles, foreign material, or feathers, but these are most often microscopic flaws. Gemologists in a laboratory, using 10X magnification, study each stone, and nearly every diamond will contain some defect that nature has included when forming the stone. The location and size of the flaw is important and noted as well, and make each diamond unique.
When a stone, even when examined under magnification by a trained gemologist, reveals no internal flaws, the diamond is graded IF, or internally flawless. Such magnificent stones are so rare that most of us will go our entire life and never see one. Stones in the next grade of clarity, VVS, are said to be very, very slightly included. While these stones do have internal or external imperfections, the blemishes are very difficult to locate, even under magnification.
If the inclusions or external blemishes are difficult to locate, the stones are graded VS and these are more common than either of the higher grades. A VS grade diamond still has no defects that you can see with your naked eye, and the average person would never notice them.
If the inclusions are easy to locate under magnification, the stone is graded SI1, or slightly included. Again, to the untrained eye it is hard to spot the inclusions in stones of this grade, and they can still produce plenty of sparkle! SI2 or SI3 graded diamonds can have some inclusions slightly visible to the naked eye but they are very slight and don't affect the beauty or brilliance of the diamond.
A stone that has medium or large blemishes that are normally very visible to the trained eye under magnification, or even to the naked eye under the right light, is graded included, or simply I. Some consider a stone in this grade to have "character," and while not perfect they can still display a great deal of fire and brilliance.
The color of your diamond was determined long ago, when nature formed the stone. Ideally, the diamond should be pure white, the most desired color, but such diamonds are extremely rare and can get very pricey.
Even though colorless diamonds are the highest priced ones, many people prefer a near-colorless diamond, which lets you attain a great size diamond with exceptional beauty at a reasonable price. The exceptional glow of a nearly colorless diamond may be more to your liking, and selecting a diamond in the near-colorless categories may save you enough money to afford a larger stone for the same cost.
Diamonds are graded for color on an alphabetical scale that goes from D, which is totally colorless, to Z, which indicates a pale yellow or brown tint. Grades D through F are considered colorless or perfect white. Diamonds in the G - J range are nearly colorless, and I or J grade diamonds often represent an excellent value. Diamonds in the K - M range are slightly tinted and have noticeable color, and those in the N - Z range are even more noticeable.
Beyond Z are diamonds considered "fancy color," which are, carat for carat, the most expensive objects on the planet. Diamonds can come in any imaginable color, and fancy color diamonds can be yellow, blue, pink, orange, purple, or red and are very expensive and beautiful.
The easiest of the four Cs to understand is that of carat weight. It's simply the weight of the stone itself, without the setting. In the trade, the prices of diamonds are expressed in price per carat, and the diamond's size makes the largest difference.
A carat is exactly 0.20 grams, or 200 milligrams, and there are 100 points per carat. The certified weight of the carat is always listed to two decimal places, but the machine that weighs them is accurate to one-thousandth of a gram (0.001), or three places.
Not all diamonds have the same price for the same weight. Each individual diamond, depending on its cut, color, and clarity, will fall into a particular category of price per carat. More desirable stones cost more, and while size is the biggest determining factor of price, a smaller stone of higher quality may cost the same.
A diamond's price, ultimately, depends on the price per carat category into which it belongs. Even then, the price per carat varies according to size. As of 2000, a diamond of a particular color and clarity will be in one price category if it's between 0.50 - 0.69 carats and will increase per carat if it's increased to the next size range, 0.70 - 0.89 carats. The next range, 0.90 - 0.99 carats increases in price again, in part because larger stones are simply more rare. Stones in the 1.00 - 1.49 carat range increase the price per carat significantly compared to the smaller ranges, and stones in the 1.50 - 1.99 carat range will show an additional cost per carat. The rest of the sizes, 2.00 to 2.99, 3.00 to 3.99, 4.00 to 4.99 and so on increase in price per carat respectively.