How to Choose a Diamond
Every diamond is unique. Each reflects the story of its journey from deep inside the earth to a cherished object of adornment. Yet all diamonds share certain features that allow us to compare and evaluate them. These are called the 4Cs.
Carat weight is the measurement of how much a diamond weighs. A metric “carat” is defined as 200 milligrams. All else being equal, diamond price increases with carat weight, because larger diamonds are more rare. However, two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different values (and prices) depending on three other factors of the 4Cs: color, clarity, and cut.
Diamonds are valued by how closely they approach colorlessness – the less color, the higher their value. GIA’s D-to-Z scale begins with D, representing colorless and continues with increasing presence of color to Z, for diamonds that appear light yellow or brown. Each letter grade has a clearly defined range of color appearance. Diamonds are color-graded by comparing them to masterstones under controlled viewing conditions. Many diamond color distinctions are so subtle they are invisible to the untrained eye; however, these slight differences make a very big difference in diamond quality and price.
Diamond clarity refers to the relative absence of inclusions and blemishes. Clarity grades are based on the number, size, and relief, and positions of inclusions and blemishes that can be seen under 10x magnification. Inclusions and blemishes are the natural result of a diamond’s formation deep within the earth under extreme heat and pressure and help gemologists separate natural diamonds from synthetics and simulants. Diamonds without these “birthmarks” are rare, and rarity affects a diamond’s value.
The cut of a diamond is the factor that fuels a diamond’s fire, sparkle and brilliance. Precise workmanship is required to cut a diamond so its proportions, symmetry, and polish maximize its beauty. The quality of cut is crucial to the diamond’s value. Of all the 4Cs, cut is the most complex and technically difficult to assess. In evaluating cut for the standard round brilliant cut diamond, GIA considers seven components: brightness, fire, scintillation, weight ratio, girdle thickness, symmetry, and polish. It then assigns a cut grade ranging from Excellent to Poor.
The 4Cs provide a way to objectively compare and evaluate diamonds, but numbers alone can’t describe a diamond’s captivating beauty – for that, you’ll have to visit us to see one for yourself!
Information courtesy of The Gemological Institute of America