The diamond is one of the best-known and most sought-after gemstones known to mankind. Its uniquely high dispersion of light, giving the diamond its characteristic sparkle and file, makes it very desirable in jewelry. The wide selection of diamonds, having many different characteristics, each of which can range from being relatively common to extremely rare and valuable, makes the world of diamond trading very exciting and rich.
The Diamond Characteristics - The 4 C’s
A diamond has many characteristics which influence its appearance and determine its value. The 4 basic characteristics of all are: Carat weight, Cut, Color and Clarity. There are many other characteristics such as shape, exact measurements (like width, length, depth, table and pavilion sizes, etc), fluorescence, polish, symmetry, culet and girdle sizes and more.
This assortment of diamond characteristics is usually examined and reported by a gemologist - an expert in the world of diamonds who relies on special equipment and methodologies in the analysis and grading procedure. This assortment of grades and values of the different characteristics helps determine how valuable the diamond is, which is usually closely tied to how rare it is and how beautiful it looks.
It is also common for the assortment of diamond characteristics to be reported in a diamond certificate as well, which accompanies the actual stone. This diamond certificate is issued by a gemological laboratory who employs gemologists to carry out the stone analysis.
The diamond carat weight is, as the name suggests, a measure of weight in a unit called "carat". The polished loose diamond is taken and weighed, and the number traditionally rounded to one hundredth of a carat. One carat equals 0.2 grams, 200 milligrams or approx 0.007 ounces.
The sizes appearing in the above diagram are average sizes for the labeled carat weights. The image shows the sizes relative to a standard pencil, so anyone could estimate how large the diamond is in reality. If the pencil on your screen appears in the same size as a real-life pencil, the diamonds will also appear in real-life with the same size as seen on-screen.
The diamond cut refers to the quality of the proportions the diamond has been given when cut from the rough diamond material. A diamond with an excellent cut reflects more light outside and appears brighter and full of fire. A diamond with a poor cut reflects less light outside, appears less brilliant and therefore is significantly less expensive.
The diamond cut has the greatest overall influence on the amount of light return which determines the amount of fire, brilliance and sparkle.
When a diamond is cut with proper proportions, light entering from the top of the diamond (the table), will reflect internally and ultimately return back out of the top. A diamond with a superior cut will lose less light in the internal reflections and have more light returning outside.
When discussing diamond color in the D-Z scale, we limit the discussion to white diamonds (as opposed to fancy colored diamonds). The diamond color grade specifies how white the diamond is.
The scale of colors traditionally ranges between D-Z, while D being the most white or colorless, and Z being the least. Color in white diamonds manifests itself as a tint of pale yellow.
A D-E-color diamond is the highest color grade on the scale. It is completely colorless, and appears noticeably whiter when placed next to almost any other diamond. D-E color diamonds are very rare and provide evidence of the absolute highest standards in fine jewelry.
The least expensive in the colorless diamond range, and therefore provide excellent value for money. They still appear colorless to the untrained eye, and only show slight color difference when examined in proper conditions next to D and E-colored diamonds. This is the preferred color of choice for those who want a colorless "white" diamonds and want to pay the minimum needed for that.
These diamonds provide an excellent balance in terms of price and color. They may show slight color tint when placed near colorless diamonds, but the tint is not as evident when mounted. They are widely used in fine jewelry as their relatively lower price allows for larger sizes within the same budget.
These diamonds are the least expensive in the near-colorless range. They may not present as perfectly colorless when mounted, but to the untrained eye they still register as white. The color tint does not diminish the brilliance of the stone. They are widely acceptable for fine jewelry and provide an excellent value for money. Note: medium or strong blue fluorescence partly masks the warm tint and makes the diamond appear whiter.
Almost every natural diamond has internal inclusions, since the rough diamond material is almost never completely flawless. The diamond clarity is a measure of how flawless the diamond is - the higher the grade, the less flaws exist in the stone. Completely flawless diamonds are extremely rare almost to the point of being unnatural. It is claimed that the existence of tiny imperfections is the mark of a truly natural stone.
Inclusions are tiny physical flaws in the internal structure of the stone. They range from cracks, feathers to tiny black dots of crystal. They are usually extremely small and require strong magnification to view clearly. In the majority of cases (VS2 grades and above, and some SI1 diamonds) no inclusions are visible to the naked eye.
The highest grade we hold, in the traditional diamond clarity scale is VVS (Very Very Slightly included), followed by VS (Very Slightly included), followed by SI (Slightly Included) and finally followed by I (Included) which is the lowest grade.
A VVS1-VVS2 diamond is extremely clean and is virtually flawless. The barely existent inclusions in this diamond are virtually undetectable, even when viewed under x20 magnification. Diamonds of this clarity are extremely rare and are reserved to those of impeccable taste. They present the top of the clarity scale for the diamonds we hold.
The VS1-VS2 diamond has few, very small inclusions, which are not easy to see even under x10 magnification. These diamonds are clean to the naked eye, and present an excellent value for money since they are typically free of visible inclusions, and are significantly less expensive than higher clarity-graded diamonds. A VS-graded diamond is the most popular choice for eye-clean premium fine jewelry.
The SI1-SI2 diamond has small inclusions, which are easily visible under x10 magnification, and usually also noticeable by the naked eye. These inclusions are less evident when the diamond is set, therefore SI-graded diamonds provide an excellent value for money when chosen for jewelry.