Category Archives: Diamond Cuts

Unique Diamond Engagement Rings- Cuts, Styles, & Costs

Posted on Oct 30,2014

While most people prefer classic engagement ring styles like round brilliant or princess cut solitaire engagement rings, others are more particular about the style of their rings. It’s natural to want to own something that is unlike anything found in the market. This is why many couples prefer to have their engagement rings custom-designed to suit their individual tastes and preferences.

There are many unique diamond engagement rings in the market, some feature intricate metalwork paired with unique diamond shapes or cuts and look more like wearable art than jewelry.

From uncommon metals like tungsten to unusual band designs featuring lots of intricate patterns, there are many different techniques and styles you can employ to create a truly unique engagement ring. It’s inspiring to see the diversity of engagement ring styles out there.

Cuts of Unique Diamond Engagement Rings

When it comes to unique diamond engagement rings, people are more likely to experiment with the setting rather than the diamond cut or shape. This is because the setting can easily be changed but the diamond itself is not always easy to replace.

However, if you are in the market for a less-than-common diamond cut or shape, then you may want to consider the following options:

The Triangle or Trillion

Triangle DiamondThis is a diamond shape rarely seen on engagement rings but can be a stunner when set on the right band and stone setting. While finding a perfect triangle cut is not always easy, there’s a wide-variety of triangular diamonds available online. Setting a triangle diamond on a pave band and a three-prong setting creates a good balance between classic and unique. For a more subtle design, you can set the diamond on a solitaire setting with a bezel stone setting to provide added security to the stone.

The Marquise

Marquise Diamond styleMarquise diamonds offer an advantage when it comes to visual size. Since the diamond is narrow and elongated, it typically appears bigger than it actually is.  The marquise is a modified brilliant cut and as such, it is notable for its excellent brilliance. This cut is suitable for those looking for a unique alternative to traditional brilliant cuts like the round brilliant cut or the princess cut.

The Hexagonal Cut

Hexigonal Diamond Cut

The hexagon is another unique and interesting cut for diamonds. Popular in the 1920s, this is a great option for those looking for something unique for modern standards. To protect the corners, set it on a hexagonal bezel stone setting or a 6-prong setting. You can also experiment with art deco-inspired bands to give it a vintage appeal.

Styles of Unique Diamond Engagement Rings

A popular trend for unique engagement rings is combining different fancy color diamonds on one ring. A blue center diamond paired with colorless side stones makes for a good combination. Some styles also feature double halos surrounding a center stone for extra flair. Black diamonds also go well with a tungsten band and with white accent stones for contrast.

Unique Black Diamond Ring

Most unique diamond engagement rings found in the market experiment with the setting style rather than the diamond. Tension settings are great for creating a unique ring that puts emphasis on the stone. Although tension settings are generally less safe than prong settings, they offer a great alternative to the more common four-prong or six-prong diamond engagement rings.

6-prong diamond ringA unique alternative to yellow gold is rose gold. It offers a rustic but feminine appeal than cannot be found on more common options like white gold, yellow gold, or platinum. For a unique engagement ring style, you can opt for a rose gold setting and have the band custom-designed to add vintage-inspired patterns like filigrees and floral patterns.

floral diamond ring

When it comes to creating a truly unique ring, there isn’t a set pattern or trend you should follow. Just work with your jeweler to have it designed the way you want. However, it is recommended that you still stick to classic diamond cuts, as they are easier to work with and are generally easier to find. After all, it’s easier and cheaper to have the setting custom made compared to having a custom diamond shape cut to your exact preferences.

Unique Diamond Engagement Ring Sizes

Sizes are pretty standard for most diamond engagement rings. In the US and in Canada, sizes come in a range from 5 to 13. However, there are different sizes in other countries like the UK and France so if you’re shopping abroad, make sure to have the exact measurements of the recipient’s ring finger ready.

If you are buying a ring with intricate metal work on the band, it’s best if you have the size right when you buy the ring or have it designed because it’s often harder to resize ring bands with patterns on them. You might end up having to cut the pattern or worse, ruin the pattern when you have it resized.

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Diamond Rings – Which is Better: A Larger Diamond Size or a Clearer Diamond?

Posted on Oct 28,2014

There are four basic parameters that diamond buyers must take into consideration when choosing a diamond, these are: cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. While all these factors affect a diamond’s appearance, most people don’t mind sacrificing one or two qualities in exchange for a bigger diamond.

For instance, some buyers might not mind a diamond that shows a visible tinge of color as long as it is bigger in size. However, when it comes to clarity vs. carat weight, the decision might be harder to make. This is because visible inclusions can tarnish a diamond’s overall appeal especially if it is a big stone.

When cutting diamonds, diamond cutters try their best to conceal any inclusions and blemishes. Inclusions are tiny defects or imperfections found inside the diamond. Some diamonds might also have some imperfections on the surface; these are called blemishes. Both inclusions and blemishes affect a diamond’s brilliance (i.e. how much light they reflect).

When it comes to diamond clarity, the size, number, and position of inclusions are all taken into consideration and affect a diamond’s value. This is why diamond cutters make it a point to hide them in strategic areas like the girdle or under the facets in the bezel where they won’t do much to affect a diamond’s visible appearance.

How Much Clarity Can You Sacrifice for Carat Weight?

If there were no budget constraints, anyone would be happy to receive a flawless diamond that is bigger than 1 or 2 carats in size but since diamonds in the flawless range can be incredibly expensive, sacrifices must be made to suit one’s budget.

Ideally, you shouldn’t settle for a diamond lower than VS2 (very slightly included). Diamonds in the VS1 to VS2 range normally have several inclusions that are visible under 10x magnification. Since you won’t be staring at your diamond under a magnifying glass all the time anyway, you’ll hardly notice the existence of these inclusions at all. It usually requires a skilled observer to view these inclusions even with magnification. Most diamonds sold in the market are of the VS1 to VS2 range.

However, if you are very particular about clarity, you might want to go a little higher by getting a diamond from the VVS1 to VVS2  (very, very slightly included) range. Diamonds in this range often appear flawless to the naked eye and even under 10x magnification, only a skilled observer should be able to notice the inclusions.

If you prefer a bigger carat size and you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of clarity to get the size you want, diamonds in the SI1 range should be ideal. Diamonds in this range have inclusions that may be visible upon close inspection even without magnification but the defects aren’t severe enough to affect the diamond’s overall appearance.

If size is your priority and your goal is a diamond that is bigger than 1 carat, a clarity value of SI1 should be your limit. This is because diamonds in the SI2 range tend to have visible inclusions for stones that are 1 carat and above. SI2 clarity is only ideal for stones that are less than 1 carat in size.

You should keep in mind that inclusions become mush more visible the bigger the diamond is. This is why it’s challenging to get a good balance between clarity and carat weight.

Most diamonds in the market are priced on a per-carat basis. The price of diamonds that are of the same cut, clarity, and color tend to double as you go up a carat. If for instance, the price of a diamond is $2,000 per carat, then you should expect to have to pay $4,000 for a 2-carat diamond of the same quality.

It’s okay to sacrifice clarity for carat weight just as long as you still find a good balance between the two. Diamonds, after all, are meant to be admired and it would be a shame if you cannot fully appreciate its beauty because you sacrificed too much clarity for size.

On the other hand, clarity is still a subjective matter. So if you do not mind a lower clarity range, then by all means go for that bigger stone. It’s your diamond to enjoy after all.

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Guide to Black Diamond Rings – Costs, Styles, & Sizes

Posted on Oct 25,2014

Natural black diamonds are extremely rare and are only found in two places in the world, Brazil and the Central African Republic. As such, most black diamonds used for jewelry are heat-treated low-grade colorless diamonds.

The color of natural black diamonds is either black or dark grey and is caused by graphite inclusions in the stone. Black diamonds are the toughest natural diamonds and they are usually denser than colorless diamonds. Natural black diamonds are porous and are made up of millions of small crystals stuck together. Due to its composition, it is a lot more difficult to cut into different shapes compared to other diamonds.

Unlike colorless diamonds and other fancy color diamonds, black diamonds absorb light instead of reflecting it. Due to the unique appearance of the stone, more and more people are choosing to buy black diamond rings over traditional colorless diamond rings.

Costs of Black Diamond Rings

There is a lot of mystery surrounding the formation of black diamonds; some theories state that black diamonds or carbonados come from outer space as a result of a supernova whereas others believe that black diamonds were formed by meteoritic impact on the surface of the earth. The most common theory, however, is that black diamonds are formed in the earth’s interior under extreme high-pressure and heat.

Regardless of the actual formation of natural black diamonds, these theories have a hand in increasing the price of black diamonds in the market.  Due to large interest in the mysteries surrounding the black diamond, there has also been an increase in the demand for natural black diamonds in the market.

Lab-treated black diamonds (those that are heat-treated through irradiation to change the color to black) are generally cheaper than colorless diamonds because they are usually made from low-grade colorless diamonds. The prices of lab-treated black diamond rings typically start at $1400 if the quality of the stone is relatively decent.

Natural black diamonds, known as fancy black diamonds, are generally very expensive because they are extremely rare. Price is determined by the intensity of the color, the absence of white inclusions in the stone, and the stone shape. The price for the average fancy black diamond typically starts at $2000 to $2500 per carat. Due to the difficulty of the cutting process, larger black diamond rings are a lot more expensive than smaller stones. For instance, a 3-carat fancy black diamond can cost over $8000 whereas a 9-carat stone can cost over $27000 without the ring setting.

Natural black diamonds typically have dark brown edges when viewed under a fiber optic light whereas black diamonds treated through irradiation appear dark green under the same light. It’s a quick way to determine whether a black diamond is natural or treated.

Styles of Black Diamond Rings

Black diamond rings come in a wide-range of styles. The unique, dark color of the stone makes it suitable for experimenting with different settings.

For instance, a growing trend in the jewelry market is setting a black diamond (whether natural or irradiated) in a tungsten ring band. Since both are black, they complement each other quite nicely. For a bit of contrast, small white diamonds are added as accent stones or a white gold or platinum stone setting is used to create contrast against the tungsten band.

It’s also fairly common to set a round black diamond in a halo and pave setting with small white diamonds as accent stones. Since black goes better with white, the most common material used for black diamond rings are silver, white gold, and platinum.

Rose gold and yellow gold are also used but they are relatively rare because the color of the stone clashes with the color of the metal.

Style is, of course, subjective so it’s up to you to decide which metal is suitable for a black diamond ring. While there is certainly a lot of interesting black diamond rings in the market, custom rings are always an option if you can’t find one that suits your taste.

Sizes

Black diamond rings come in standard ring sizes. In the US and Canada, the standard ring sizes come in sizes 5 to 13. In the UK and in other countries, different sizing values are used so it’s best to measure your ring size in inches or centimeters so you can easily convert to its equivalent size in the country where you are purchasing the ring.

You can obtain the size of your ring finger either by using a standard ring size chart or by wrapping your ring finger in a piece of paper or string and manually measuring the length with a ruler.

If you are buying for someone else, it’s best to just discreetly borrow a ring from that person so you can use it for sizing when you buy the black diamond ring. Don’t worry if you don’t get the size right, as most jewelers offer resizing services for free if you purchase the ring from them.

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Comparing Princess Cut Diamonds & Radiant Cut Diamonds

Posted on Oct 24,2014

Princess cut and radiant cut diamonds share some similarities. Both are square cuts and both have a complete brilliant-cut pattern. When set on a ring, these two cuts can easily be interchanged at first glance.

Choosing between the two can be a difficult task, especially since both are superior when it comes to brilliance. You might want to compare two stones of the same carat, clarity, and color grade to determine which shape is more to your liking.

To determine the differences, let’s compare the two cuts based on the following factors:

Physical Characteristics

Princess cut is the second most popular cut next to the round brilliant. It is notable for its square shape and sharp corners. It is the first square cut to achieve the same brilliance as a round brilliant cut diamond.

While princess cut diamonds are traditionally square, there are some stones that are more rectangular than they are square. This depends on the length to width ratio of the diamond.

The radiant cut diamond is the second square cut to carry the same brilliant-cut pattern seen on round brilliant diamonds. Whereas the princess cut has sharp corners, radiant cut diamonds are square in shape with cropped corners. Its cropped corners may offer some practical advantages when it comes to stone setting.

Princess cut diamonds are always set on a prong stone setting to protect its corners from damage and chipping, an issue that is not present with the cropped corners of a radiant cut.

Princess cut diamonds also often have a larger table and more depth compared to radiant cuts.

Price and Demand

When it comes to pricing, princess cut diamonds are typically priced lower than radiant cut diamonds because there is very little waste when cutting a princess cut from the rough stone. This means that a diamond cutter can easily yield two princess cut diamonds from one rough stone with very little waste and as such, the market price is lower.

There is also a higher demand for princess cut diamonds compared to radiant cut diamonds so there is a bigger selection for the average consumer. Jewelers don’t stock up as much on radiant cuts as they do on princess cuts because of consumer demand so if you want more options, princess cut might be a more suitable choice for you.

Brilliance

A radiant cut diamond generally reflects more light than a princess cut diamond when viewed from the top. This is because when light enters a radiant cut diamond, it creates a circular pattern giving it more sparkle when it reflects light. Due to its cutting style, radiant cut diamonds also have more angles to let light in, allowing for more light to be reflected back to the surface.

Princess cut diamonds, on the other hand, are notable for its linear life. When light enters a princess cut diamond, the facets create an X in the center as a result of the contrast between light and dark facets. Due to the number of dark facets, princess cut diamonds don’t appear as sparkly as radiant cut diamonds when viewed from the top.

Radiant cut diamonds sometimes create a bow-tie effect as a result of the misalignment of facets in the diamond when light enters its surface.

Cut Quality

Princess cut diamonds are more abundant because manufacturers are able to maximize more of the rough stone during the diamond cutting process. As a result, there are more poor quality princess cut diamonds available in the market compared to radiant cut diamonds that focus more on preserving the aesthetic appeal of the stone over quantity.

Both cut styles have their own appeal and aesthetic value. In the end, it all boils down to personal preference. If price is the primary determining factor, however, princess cut diamonds are a better option because they have a cheaper per-carat price compared to radiant cut diamonds.

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What Kind of Diamond Engagement Ring Should I Buy?

Posted on Sep 24,2014

Choosing a diamond engagement ring can be a tough decision, especially with the wide-range of styles available in the market. Should you go for a timeless piece or go for something more modern and trendy?

The key to choosing the perfect engagement ring is to find out what your partner wants. Do you think she would prefer the timeless appeal of a solitaire engagement ring or would she prefer a unique and contemporary design?

While it’s common for couples to shop for engagement rings together, many still prefer to surprise their partners with a ring in hand when they pop the question. If you’ve chosen to go for the latter, then you’re probably wondering what kind of engagement ring you should buy.

Even if you can’t directly ask your partner what she prefers, if you have some knowledge of her personal style, then you’ll definitely find a suitable ring.

Styles of Diamond Engagement Rings

Classic Settings

Solitaire

The solitaire engagement ring is, no doubt, one of the most elegant and timeless designs for diamond engagement rings. Its minimalist setting provides a great base for a beautiful diamond and allows the stone to really sparkle and be noticed. It is also one of the safest options for people who aren’t too sure about what to get their fiancée.

Its four prong or six prong stone setting gives adequate protection for the stone, making it a suitable option for daily use. Since the setting is relatively affordable compared to other elaborate settings, the recipient can always have the setting altered by a jeweler if they wish to add side stones or change the setting altogether.

Side-Stones

Diamond engagement rings encrusted with side stones are also a popular option for many couples. This classic design often features a larger center stone and lots of smaller stones on the band set in either a pave or channel setting. It is commonly paired with a similar diamond-encrusted wedding band that provides a beautiful backdrop to the main stone.

Three-Stone Rings

While not as popular as solitaire and diamond encrusted settings, three-stone engagement rings are still quite popular today. Three-stone engagement rings often features one larger central stone and two slightly smaller side stones, although some rings feature three diamonds of similar sizes. They are generally more expensive because of the size of the diamonds. Three-stone engagement rings traditionally feature three diamonds that symbolize the past, present and future.

Diamond Cuts

The Round Brilliant Cut

The round brilliant cut is the most popular diamond shape used in engagement rings and accounts for about 75% of all diamond engagement ring sales. One of the most popular settings for round brilliant cut diamonds is the tiffany setting, featuring six prongs and a simple gold or platinum band. The round brilliant offers maximum fire, brilliance, and scintillation, making it an ideal option for engagement rings. It is also a very flexible shape to work with and goes well with mostly all settings.

The Princess Cut

The princess cut is the second most popular diamond shape for engagement rings and the most popular fancy shape diamond. It the closest square cut to achieve the same brilliance as the round-brilliant cut. Solitaire princess cut engagement rings are perhaps the most popular style. A four-prong stone setting is typically used to protect the corners of the diamond from damage and chipping.

Other Fancy Shapes

The most popular fancy shapes for diamond engagement rings next to the princess cut are: the emerald cut, the asscher cut, and the cushion cut.

Cushion cut engagement rings are especially popular today due to many celebrity engagements. They typically feature one large cushion cut diamond surrounded by a diamond-encrusted halo and a pave or micro-pave band.

Vintage Engagement Rings

While vintage engagement rings aren’t for everyone, some women prefer them for their classic elegance and historical value. Engagement rings from the Edwardian, Victorian, and art deco periods are of particular significance because of their popularity in modern engagements.

With the rising popularity of rose gold engagement rings, designs from the Victorian period are also regaining their popularity.

If you’re fiancée is an old soul or just simply loves the intricacy of engagement rings from past periods, then vintage engagement rings are definitely worth considering.

Generally speaking, unless you know exactly what your partner wants, sticking to classic styles is the safest option.

When it comes to diamond engagement rings, the possibilities are endless. You can even have a setting custom made especially for your fiancée if you want something truly unique. Just remember that the most important thing to consider when buying an engagement ring is the recipient’s personal style and preference.

Posted in  Diamond Cuts, Diamond Engagement Rings |   Tagged 

 

Guide to Diamond Cuts – Comparing Diamond Cuts

Posted on Sep 03,2014

Diamond cut can refer to two different aspects of a diamond’s physical characteristics: diamond cut grade and diamond shape. A diamond’s cut grade refers to how a diamond is cut, its proportions, polish, and symmetry whereas shape simply refers to the diamond’s physical shape (i.e. round, pear, emerald). We have discussed diamond cut grade extensively in previous posts and it has been established that the way a diamond is cut is one of the most important aspects that affects a diamond’s physical appearance. However, a diamond’s shape is just as important especially since it is one of the first things a person will notice when looking at a diamond (whether loose or set in a band).

Diamond shape is a matter of personal preference and as such, there are no fixed parameters that determine whether one shape is better than the other. One person might prefer the sparkle of a brilliant cut diamond whereas another might prefer the more subdued elegance of an emerald cut diamond.

While there is a myriad of diamond cuts available today, the most popular diamond cuts in terms of availability and demand are as follows:

Round Brilliant Cut     

The round brilliant cut is undoubtedly the most popular diamond cut today—accounting for 75% of all diamond sales. Its classic shape and ability to offer maximum fire and brilliance because of the way it is cut make it the most popular choice for many diamond buyers. It is also a very versatile shape that goes well with virtually any setting. Due to the high demand for round brilliant cuts, it is generally priced higher per carat compared to fancy cut diamonds.

Princess Cut     

The princess cut is the second most popular cut next to the round brilliant and the most popular fancy shape for diamonds. It is notable for its square shape, pointed corners, and excellent fire and brilliance. It is the closest square cut to achieve almost the same fire and brilliance as the round brilliant cut. Its shape also makes it a flexible option for many settings, although it is recommended to always set a princess cut diamond in a four-prong setting to protect its corners.

Compared to round brilliant cuts that wastes a lot of the rough stone when cut, princess cut diamonds have very little waste leading to a lower price per carat.

Emerald Cut                        

The emerald cut is adapted from the classic shape that emeralds are cut into, hence the name. It is popular for its subdued elegance, unique shape, and the hall-of-mirrors effect it creates when viewed from the surface. The emerald cut is a type of steps cut that is rectangular in shape and has cropped corners.

Since the emerald cut does not offer much fire and brilliance, inclusions and imperfections are much more visible on an emerald cut diamond compared to brilliant cuts. As such, buyers should pay extra attention to clarity when buying an emerald cut diamond especially for bigger stones.

Asscher Cut        

The Asscher cut is very similar to the emerald cut in appearance but it is square in shape instead of rectangular. While some refer to this cut as a modified emerald cut, it actually preceded the emerald cut. The Asscher cut has been in existence since 1902.

Asscher cut diamonds have larger step facets and a smaller table. It also typically has a higher crown than an emerald cut diamond. A well-cut asscher cut diamond will often deliver more brilliance than a well-cut emerald cut diamond because of its facet and table size.

Cushion Cut

Cushion cut diamonds are square in shape with rounded corners. It has been around for more than 2 centuries and used to be the shape of choice among diamond buyers. It used to be the most popular diamond shape before the round brilliant cut exceeded its demand. Due to recent cut improvements, the cushion cut is slowly regaining popularity. It is especially popular in many celebrity engagements and is typically set in a halo pave setting. While the cushion cut does not offer as much brilliance as the round brilliant cut, it typically offers more fire than other cuts.

Radiant Cut                              

Notable for its vibrancy and brightness, the radiant cut is an ideal option for those who want the fire and brilliance of a round brilliant cut but the rectangular shape of an emerald cut. The radiant cut is a brilliant cut diamond that is faceted both in the pavilion and the crown for extra fire and brilliance. While traditionally rectangular with cropped corners, some variations are squarer in shape than rectangular.

Oval       

The oval shape is a modified brilliant cut. It is very similar to the round brilliant cut in terms of the amount of fire and brilliance it exhibits when viewed from the surface. While not as popular as the round brilliant, some people prefer the oval shape because they are elongated and appear bigger even with smaller carat sizes.

Heart    

The heart shape is also a modified brilliant cut. It is very similar to the pear shape except it has two clefts on the top of each side to create an obvious heart shape. It is more popularly used in earrings and pendants. When used in engagement rings, it is not recommended to get anything smaller than .50 carats as it is difficult to notice the heart shape at all. For smaller heart shaped diamonds, a three-prong setting is recommended to accentuate its shape.

Pear      

The pear shape is another modified brilliant cut that is noted for its similarity to the round brilliant cut on one end and the marquise cut on the other end. One of the most important characteristics that any buyer should look for when choosing a pear shape diamond is symmetry. It is important for pear shaped diamonds to have excellent symmetry because of its shape. Ideally, the point at one end of a pear shape diamond should be in line with the highest part of the rounded end to achieve a perfect pear shape.

Comparison Chart for Different Cuts       

A diamond’s shape will have an effect on its physical size regardless of carat weight. Different cuts have different sizes, which is why some people prefer shapes that make a diamond appear bigger than it actually is. Below is a side-by-side comparison of the different diamond shapes and their estimated physical size, although it is worth noting that no two diamonds are the same even with the similar carat weights:

Diamond Cut Chart

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4Cs Diamond Chart – Cut, Clarity, Carat, and Color

Posted on Aug 25,2014

Buying a diamond might seem like a daunting task especially for the first-time buyer but using established standards to determine what sets a quality stone apart from the rest should make the process a whole lot easier. Anyone who is interested in buying a diamond or learning more about diamonds should start with the 4Cs (Cut, Clarity, Carat, and Color). Established by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America), the 4Cs is the global standard used for grading and describing diamonds.

The 4Cs in Detail

The 4Cs make it easy for jewelers to set prices for diamonds and consumers to determine whether a particular diamond suits their personal preferences. A diamond’s characteristics based on standards of cut, color, clarity, and carat heavily determines its value.

Cut

Some people mistake a diamond’s cut for a diamond’s shape. Cut is different from shape. A diamond’s cut refers to how it is proportioned, its symmetry, and as well as its polish.  A diamond’s cut is determined not only by the quality of the rough stone but by the craftsmanship and preciseness of the diamond cutter. Cut is very important in a diamond, as it can greatly affect its external appearance. Even the most flawless of diamonds can look dull if not cut to exacting proportions.

The GIA uses the following grading system to describe a diamond’s cut:

Excellent

A diamond with an excellent cut grade offers maximum fire (amount of light that is reflected by the diamond as result of the optimum dispersion of light as it enters the diamond) and brilliance (brightness of the diamond). It is neither cut too deep nor too shallow. It also has excellent symmetry (refers to how each facet of a diamond is angled to allow for maximum brilliance) and has excellent polish  (refers to how smooth each facet is).

A diamond that has an excellent cut grade is able to reflect most of the light that enters the diamond.

Very Good

Diamonds that are graded “Very Good” are cheaper than excellent cuts but are almost very similar in terms of fire and brilliance when viewed with normal lighting. While there are differences in cut quality compared to excellent cut diamonds, it is unnoticeable to the untrained eye.

Good

Diamonds that are graded “Good” in terms of cut quality offer the best value for money. They are not nearly as expensive as diamonds with very good or excellent cut grades but they offer superior fire and brilliance. Such diamonds are able to reflect most of the light that enters the diamond.

Fair

A diamond with a fair cut grade allows most of the light that enters the stone to escape either from the bottom or the sides of the diamond. As such, fire and brilliance is significantly reduced resulting in a dull and lifeless appearance especially for bigger stones. It is recommended not to get a diamond with a fair cut grade for stones that are bigger than .75 carats, as the effects of the cut quality are quite apparent.

Poor

Diamonds of poor cut grading cannot reflect majority of the light that enters it. Instead, most of the light is allowed to escape from the bottom and sides. As a result, diamonds of this caliber are very dull and lifeless. Most jewelers don’t offer diamonds of poor cut grades because of the low demand.

Since Cut is the most important quality when it comes to a diamond’s appearance, it is important to pay close attention to a diamond’s cut grade. Cut is extremely important in brilliant cuts like the round brilliant and princess cut, as these diamond shapes are valued for their excellent fire and brilliance.

Clarity

Most diamonds contain inclusions (imperfections within the diamond). Inclusions that are concealed or hidden from plain sight are ideal because they don’t affect the way a diamond reflects light. Inclusions that are very visible can affect the way light bounces on individual facets of a diamond and can therefore greatly affect a diamond’s fire, brilliance, and scintillation.

A diamond’s clarity is graded based on the quantity of inclusions and their location in the diamond.  The GIA uses the following parameters to describe a diamond’s clarity grade:

FL (Flawless)

Do not contain any visible inclusions (internal flaws) and blemishes (flaws located on the surface) even under 10x magnification. These diamonds are virtually flawless and are extremely rare and expensive.

IF (Internally Flawless)

IF diamonds have no visible inclusions or blemishes unless viewed under 10x magnification by a trained expert.

VVS1 VVS2 (Very Very Slightly Included)

VVS1 and VVS2 diamonds contain some inclusions and blemishes but they are not visible to the untrained eye. Even under 10x magnification, only a skilled grader is able to spot the inclusions on a diamond of VVS1 or VVS2 Clarity.

 

VS1 VS2 (Very Slightly Included)

Diamonds of VS1 or VS2 clarity grades contain minor inclusions that are not visible to the naked eye. The inclusions can only be seen under 10x magnification.

SI1 SI2 (Slightly Included)

Diamonds with SI1 clarity contain inclusions that are still invisible to the naked eye and can usually only be observed under 10x magnification. SI2 diamonds, on the other hand, contain inclusions that can be seen by the naked eye upon close inspection.

I1, I2, I3 (Included)

I1 to I3 Diamonds contain very visible inclusions that can be observed by the naked eye. I2 and I3 diamonds usually contain inclusions that can affect a diamond’s overall quality and appearance.

Color

The color of diamonds, except for fancy color diamonds, are graded based on the absence of color in the diamond. Colorless diamonds are very clear and contain no traces of color (e.g. yellow or brown).

Diamond color is graded on a scale of D to Z. D, E, and F diamonds are considered the rarest, as they are virtually colorless whereas diamonds in the G and H color range are near colorless except for a slight tinge which can be eliminated with the proper setting (e.g. white gold or platinum). Diamonds in the I to J color range offer the best value for money, as they are about 10% cheaper than diamonds in the G to H range but still appear colorless to the naked eye.

The chart below illustrates the color range of diamonds from A to Z.

Diamond Color Chart

Carat Weight

While many people think of carat weight in relation to a diamond’s size, it actually refers to how heavy a diamond is. The size of a diamond is determined by its diameter and crown size (measured in mm and mm2, respectively).

A diamond’s value increases the heavier it is, although two diamonds of the same carat size can have different prices depending on their cut, color, and clarity. In addition, two diamonds of the same carat weight can have different sizes depending on how they are cut.

Most diamonds of equal quality are sold on a price-per-carat basis. So if a diamond is priced at $3000 per carat, you can expect to pay double that amount for a 2-carat diamond of the same quality. This system makes it easier to compare prices and determine budgets for diamonds of the same quality.

The chart below illustrates different diamonds of varying carat weights in relation to their size in mm.

Diamond Carat Weight

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Diamond Grade Chart – Grading Diamonds for their Value Using the 4C’s

Posted on Aug 04,2014

A diamond’s grade is often what determines its price and value. Most diamonds sold in jewelry stores and online stores come with a diamond grading report that illustrates its qualities and specifications. Larger, higher-grade diamonds typically come with a grading report from a reputable third party institute like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), EGL, AGS, and others.

A diamond’s grade is determined by the 4Cs (cut, color, clarity, and carat weight). While there are other factors that can affect a diamond’s physical appearance and value, the four Cs of a diamond are the most important characteristics. As such, gemologists worldwide use these four parameters to determine the grade of most diamonds.




Diamond Grade Chart

Cut Grade

Chart of different Diamond Cuts

Chart of different Diamond Cuts

When buying a diamond, one of the most important factors you should consider is its cut grade. The cut determines a diamond’s physical appearance and as such, should be prioritized. Diamond cut is graded from excellent (provides maximized brilliance, reflects the most light back to the surface) to poor (most light escapes at the bottom or the sides of the diamond, providing little to no brilliance).  Below are the most important parameters that determine a diamond’s cut grade:

Cut Proportions

A diamond’s cut proportions affect the stone’s fire, brilliance, and scintillation. It is determined by how each facet in the diamond is angled, sized, and shaped. In a well-cut diamond, each facet is strategically placed so that the most amount of life is reflected out of the crown for the observer to enjoy. A poorly cut diamond (i.e. too shallow or too deep) does not reflect much light because the facets allow the light to escape from the bottom or the sides instead of being reflected back to the observer’s eye.

Symmetry

As the term suggests, symmetry refers to how symmetrical the facets of each diamond are in relation to each other (i.e. how each facet aligns and intersects). A diamond’s symmetry is graded from excellent to poor.

Polish

Polish is determined by how smooth the facets are in a diamond. A diamond with an excellent polish will not show any defects even under 10x magnification whereas a diamond with poor polish will show defects even without magnification.

Other factors that determine a diamond’s cut grade include girdle width and culet size, which also affect a diamond’s brilliance and overall appearance.

Color Grade

In colorless diamonds, color grade refers to the amount or lack of color in a diamond. The more colorless a diamond, the higher its color grade. Colorless diamonds are more valuable than diamonds that show a yellow tinge.

Colorless diamonds in the D, E, and F color range are the most expensive of all.  Diamonds in the G to J range are still near colorless but there is about a 10% price difference in each color grade. Diamonds in the I and J color range have the most demand in the market because they are readily available and offer great value for money.

GIA Certification Color Grading Scale

GIA Certification Color Grading Scale

Clarity Grade

All diamonds contain inclusions  (defects or blemishes within the diamond). Inclusions can affect a diamond’s physical appearance, as it can interfere with the passage of light in the diamond, which in turn can affect the amount of light reflected back to the surface. A diamond’s clarity grade determines the amount of inclusions in the diamond. When grading a diamond, gemologists consider several factors including the position, size, and quantity of these inclusions under 10x magnification. Inclusions that are located in the girdle or under the bezel of a diamond is ideal because they are not visible and barely affects a diamond’s brilliance.

The GIA uses 11 categories for a diamond’s clarity these include: flawless (FL),  internally flawless(IF), very very slightly included (VVS1, VVS2), Very Slightly Included (VS1, VS2), Slightly Included (SI1, SI2), and Included (I1, I2, I3).

Brilliant cuts are more forgiving of inclusions because their facets are positioned in such a way as to maximize brilliance whereas other fancy cuts like the emerald cut and asscher cut (which are step cuts) are less forgiving of inclusions.

Diamond Clarity Grading Chart

Diamond Clarity Grading Chart

Carat

Of all the qualities of a diamond, the carat weight is probably one of the most important for most people. Diamonds can significantly increase in price and value the bigger it is. This is because rough stones that can produce a 1-carat diamond is rare. This is why price increases so much as you go up per carat.

It is worth noting, however, that carat refers to a diamond’s weight and not necessarily its size. The size of a diamond is determined by its diameter and crown size. This means that two diamonds of the same carat weight may not necessarily have the same physical size when viewed from the top. Its cut proportions determine the actual size of the diamond; carat weight merely refers to how heavy the diamond is. The length x width ratio of a diamond also determines how big it will appear once set in a ring.

Diamond Carat Size Chart

Diamond Carat Size Chart

All the characteristics mentioned above determine how valuable a diamond is and are therefore, dependent of each other. While no two diamonds are virtually the same, these parameters help jewelers and consumers determine the price and value of a diamond.

Posted in  Diamond Colors, Diamond Cuts, Valuing Diamonds |   Tagged 

 

Diamond Solitaire Engagement Rings – Classic, Timeless Ring Styles

Posted on Jul 14,2014

There’s nothing quite like a solitaire engagement ring setting to emphasize the beauty and brilliance of a diamond. It is one of the most popular styles when it comes to engagement rings because of its classic appeal and elegance. Many women prefer the solitaire style because it suits just about any diamond shape.

If you’ve chosen to propose with a diamond solitaire engagement ring, you’ve made the right choice. Not only is it one of the safest options if you’re not sure about the recipient’s style preference but it is also the easiest style to find in jewelry stores and other venues.

Choosing the perfect diamond solitaire engagement ring can be a daunting task especially with the number of options available to you from different venues. The key to finding the perfect ring is setting some parameters before making a purchase. Shopping around online and viewing different styles will allow you to make a much more informed decision when it comes to the stone and the setting of the ring. Below are some factors to consider aside from the 4Cs (carat, color, clarity, and cut) when buying a solitaire engagement ring:

Stone Shape

Since a diamond solitaire engagement ring only features one diamond, the shape of the stone is one of the most important things that you should consider. It is best to have this aspect set before the buying process begins so that you won’t be overwhelmed with the number of available diamond shapes once you do start to view rings.

Without a doubt, the most popular stone shape for solitaire engagement rings is the round brilliant. Over half of engagement ring purchases are round brilliant solitaires. Since a solitaire setting puts special emphasis on the stone, you’ll probably want to choose a stone that has exceptional brilliance. Brilliant cuts like the round brilliant and princess cut are excellent options. Other brilliant cut stone shapes include oval, cushion, heart, and marquise.

The beauty in the solitaire style is that it suits just about any stone shape available even step cuts like the emerald cut and the asscher cut so it really is just a matter of style preference. If you are unsure about the style preference of the recipient, the round brilliant would be the safest option for a diamond solitaire engagement ring.

Stone Setting

Another important factor when choosing a diamond solitaire engagement ring is the stone’s setting. This aspect goes beyond aesthetics, as you’ll also have to consider functionality (i.e. whether the setting will be able to hold the stone safely even with everyday use). The type of stone setting you choose will depend on its size and its shape.

The most popular stone setting for round brilliant solitaire engagement rings is the prong setting because it is not only practical but also minimalistic in design, giving the stone extra emphasis. Prong settings usually come with either four or six prongs (tiffany setting) but for diamond shapes like the heart, a three-prong setting is ideal to emphasize the shape of the stone.

Another popular setting is the cathedral setting, named as such because the arches that hold the stone resemble the vaulted ceilings of old cathedrals. This stone setting is ideal for smaller diamonds, as it offers the diamond more visibility, making it look bigger in size.

Modern stone settings for solitaire engagement rings include the bezel setting and the tension setting. While the bezel setting is more popularly used in earrings and pendants, it has gained popularity for engagement rings as well, particularly for round brilliants and square cuts like the radiant cut or emerald cut.

For the perfect diamond solitaire engagement ring, you might want to consider choosing a loose stone and then choosing the setting separately instead of buying a pre-designed ring. This will make it easier to design a ring that would suit the recipient’s personality and preference.

Posted in  Buying a Diamond, Diamond Cuts, Diamond Engagement Rings, Types of Diamonds |   Tagged 

 

Cushion Cut Engagement Rings

Posted on Jun 25,2014

The demand for cushion cut engagement rings have significantly increased in the past years, making it the third most popular cut next to the round brilliant and princess cut.

The cushion cut has been around for close to two centuries, its most defining characteristics being its larger culet and the pattern it creates when it reflects light. Cut improvements applied to the cushion cut in the 1920s led to significant increase in its fire and brilliance, a larger table size, and a smaller culet. The modern cushion cut is noted for its exceptional fire due to its larger facets and its antique appeal.

Cushion cut diamonds are traditionally square with rounded corners, hence its name. Modern variants, however, may be more rectangular than square as some people prefer the rectangular variant to the traditional square cushion cut.

Due to its popularity among celebrities, public interest on cushion cut engagement rings has also increased. Cushion cut diamonds set on a halo setting is especially popular as the setting adds brilliance to the center stone and makes it appear bigger than its actual size. A cushion cut set on a halo setting combined with a pave setting is also a very popular choice for many people.

Selling Cushion Cut Engagement Rings

Due to the high demand for cushion cut engagement rings among the diamond buying public, diamond buyers including individuals, jewelers, and those that buy diamonds online are much more willing to offer better prices for cushion cut engagement rings with relatively good grading.

If you have a cushion cut engagement ring that you want to sell, you can compare offers by getting price quotes from both retail jewelers and online diamond buyers. While online diamond buyers generally offer better prices when buying diamonds, it’s still a good idea to get a price quote from a local jeweler that buys used diamond jewelry just so you have an idea of how much they are willing to offer for your cushion cut engagement ring. This will help you in negotiating price offers.

You can also get an appraisal from a local pawnshop. This is strongly recommended if your diamond does not come with a GIA certificate or any other certificate indicating the diamond’s grade. Knowing how valuable your cushion cut engagement ring is will give you an idea of how much you should get for your ring and how much you should settle for.

Buying Cushion Cut Engagement Rings

If you’re in the market for a cushion cut engagement ring, setting certain parameters when it comes to cut, carat, clarity, and color is a smart way of ensuring that you get your money’s worth. Below are some tips for choosing cushion cut engagement rings:

Cut

While there are more variations of cut when it comes to cushion cuts compared to other diamond shapes, there are some recommended guidelines so that you can get the best stone for your money.

Cushion cut diamonds don’t have as much brilliance as brilliant cuts like the round brilliant and the princess cut but they do show more fire than any other cut.

Classic cushion cuts are square shaped with a length to width ratio of 1.00 to 1.05 but shape is largely subjective, as others may prefer a more rectangular shape. Those who prefer slightly rectangular cushion cuts should look for a length to width ratio of 1.10 to 1.20. While square cushion cuts are more expensive, this should not stop you from getting the shape that the recipient wants.

Carat

Carat weight is perhaps one of the most important physical characteristics to consider when choosing an engagement ring. It’s best to ask the recipient for their personal preference, as even the best cushion cut can disappoint if it is much smaller than the preferred carat weight of the recipient. Cushion cuts that have more depth percentages are generally smaller when viewed from the table but since cushion cuts can vary significantly, it’s best to examine the physical descriptions of the stone to find out how big it will look. You can go as low as 10% smaller of your preferred carat weight and there won’t be much difference when it comes to the physical size of the diamond.

Color

Color is also a subjective characteristic when it comes to cushion cuts but most people prefer colorless stones to those that show a bit of a yellow tinge. For stones that are .50 carats and below, a minimum of H is recommended. For bigger stones, however, especially those that are 1.00 carats and higher, D to F is recommended.

Clarity

Since cushion cuts have larger facets compared to other shapes, flaws and inclusions are much more visible on cushion cuts. Despite its exceptional fire, it’s still easier to spot inclusions on a cushion cut than it is on a round brilliant or a princess cut. As such, a minimum of VS2 clarity is recommended for stones that are above .50 carats. For smaller stones, however, a minimum clarity of SI1 or even SI2 can still conceal inclusions.

Where to Buy

Blue Nile

Blue Nile has a wide selection of cushion cut diamonds ranging from the exceptional variety that makes up the signature ideal collection to more cost-efficient options. Their selection of cushion cut engagement rings are sure to suit any style, preference, and budget. You can also choose your ideal setting based on personal style and budget. We’ve preselected a few options below for your consideration:

http://www.bluenile.com/cushion-shaped-halo-diamond-engagement-ring_41112

http://www.bluenile.com/cushion-cut-diamond-1-carat-signature-ideal-cut-g-color-vvs2-clarity_LD03901999

http://www.bluenile.com/cushion-cut-diamond-1-carat-or-less-very-good-cut-g-color-vs1-clarity_LD04480675

Options from Amazon.com

Posted in  Diamond Cuts, Diamond Engagement Rings |   Tagged