Explanation of the Cut Attribute
Based on scientific formulas, a well-cut diamond will internally reflect light from one mirror-like facet to another and reflect it through the top of the stone. This results in a display of brilliance and fire, thereby placing well-cut diamonds higher on the Diamond Quality Pyramid than deep or shallow-cut diamonds. Diamonds that are cut too deep or too shallow lose or leak light through the side or bottom, resulting in less brilliance and ultimately, value.
Cut also refers to shape such as round, square, pear, or heart for example. Since a round diamond is symmetrical and capable of reflecting nearly all the light that enters, it is the most brilliant of all diamond shapes and follows specific proportional guidelines.
Non-round shapes, also known as fancy shapes, will have their own guidelines to be considered well-cut.
Explanation of the Color Attribute
The grades at which a diamond is considered colorless are D, E, and F. Stones in this category are rarer and more expensive.
NEAR COLORLESS: (G-I)
Diamonds in this category are commonly used in fine jewelry. In this color range, G or H stones are similar to the color of glass, or a deep clear white. “I” colored stones faced up from their top sides are extremely white, but from the point side up are slightly less so.
OFF WHITE OR FAINT TINT: (J-K)
When mounted in a piece of jewelry, diamonds in this category appear much whiter. These colors are often misrepresented as “H”. “J” and “K” colored diamonds will show faint tints comparable to white wine or ginger ale on ice when they are shown loose and point side up on a white piece of paper.
VERY LIGHT YELLOW: (L-N)
This color range may resemble those of light corn oils.
LIGHT YELLOW: (O-S) and YELLOW: (T-Z)
Obvious yellow tints may be seen in these diamonds. These stones may resemble heavier
Explanation of the Clarity Attribute
The clarity of a diamond refers to the identifying characteristics of a stone that distinguish it from all other diamonds. These characteristics are known as inclusions and blemishes. Inclusions refer to the identifying characteristics in the interior of a diamond. Inclusions can vary from tiny pinpoints to large feathers and may even appear to be cracks in the diamond. Blemishes refer to the characteristics on the exterior of the diamond. Blemishes can vary from small nicks to large scratches, and there may also be extra facets and “naturals”. Since no two diamonds have exactly the same identifying characteristics, you should become very familiar with the diamond you intend to buy.
After color, clarity should be the second most important factor to consider when buying a diamond. The scale which determines the clarity of a diamond begins at internally flawless (IF) and proceeds through several grades of clarity depending on the size and number of inclusions present in a stone. The scale ends at imperfect. Diamonds that are imperfect in clarity have very obvious inclusions, which can be seen by the naked eye.
Most Common Types of Inclusions: (Internal Characteristics)
Often referred to as a “carbon spot”, however, since diamonds are over 99% pure carbon, this term should not be used.
The proper term is “dark included crystal.”
Usually consists of a black mineral called “magnetite” as well as other minerals such as garnet, peridot, and others.
Tiny included crystals.
Appear as tiny specks under magnification.
Look like thin wispy bird feathers.
Consist of two types of breaks: cleavages and fractures. Cleavages follow the crystal direction, much like following the grain on wood, and fractures do not. Both are cracks that can affect the durability of the stone, primarily in lower clarity grades.
Can grow in size if it breaks the surface or is left long in ultrasonic cleaners.
Cleavages are straight and fractures are jagged.
Explanation of the Carat Weight Attribute
Carat is often confused with size even though it is actually a measure of weight. One carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. One carat can also be divided into 100 “points”. A .75 carat diamond is the same as a 75-points or 3/4 carat diamond.
A 1-carat diamond costs exactly twice the price of a half-carat diamond, right? Wrong! Since larger diamonds are found less frequently in nature, they are placed at rarer levels of the Diamond Quality Pyramid. Hence, a 1-carat diamond will cost more than twice a 1/2-carat diamond (assuming color, clarity and cut remain constant).
Cut and mounting can make a diamond appear larger (or smaller) than its actual weight. So shop around and talk to your jeweler to find the right diamond and setting to optimize the beauty of your stone.