Tag Archives: Diamond Clarity

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.

Posted in  Buying a Diamond, Cash for Diamonds, Diamond Colors, Diamond Cuts, Valuing Diamonds |   Tagged 

 

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

Posted in  Diamond Cuts, Types of Diamonds |   Tagged 

 

Diamond Quality Chart & Guide – What Affects the Value of a Diamond?

Posted on Aug 21,2014

Even when taken from the same rough stone, no two diamonds are the same. Each diamond has unique characteristics that determine whether it is a cut above or below the rest.

There are several factors that affect the value of a diamond but gemologists worldwide have come up with a common system to easily determine a diamond’s grade and value. This grading system is known as the 4Cs of a diamond. How a diamond fares based on the parameters of cut, color, clarity, and carat affects its overall value (not just monetary value but consumer demand as well).

Rarity

Rarity greatly influences the value of a diamond to a jeweler or a consumer. While diamonds come in almost every color of the rainbow, the most common diamonds available in the market are those that show a bit of a yellow tinge. As such, diamonds that are colorless (i.e. those in the D to F color grade) are greatly valued because they are more rare than diamonds in lower color grades.

Black diamonds are also very rare; so rare in fact that most black diamonds available in the market aren’t natural black diamonds but lab-treated diamonds (usually those from lower color grades). Due to their rarity, they are very expensive.

Cut

Every diamond expert or jeweler always emphasizes the importance of cut in a diamond. It is one of the most important factors that can affect a diamond’s value. Even the most flawless of diamonds can be dull and lifeless if cut in the wrong way. As such, a diamond cutter needs to be very careful and precise during the cutting process, as the slightest mistake in cut can affect the overall value of a diamond.

A well-cut diamond will have maximum fire and brilliance, as it is able to reflect most of the light to the crown or the surface of the diamond for the viewer to enjoy. A poorly cut diamond, on the other hand, will allow most of the light to escape from the bottom or the sides of a diamond and will have a very dull and lifeless appearance when viewed from the crown. To achieve the ideal fire, brilliance, and scintillation, a diamond has to have symmetrical facets and should not be cut too deep or too shallow. In other words, it should be perfect and precise.

Clarity

Most diamonds have natural defects within them called inclusions. As they are buried deep in the ground, inclusions are inevitable. However, there are some diamonds that either come with very few inclusions or none at all. Diamonds with very few or no inclusions are very rare and as such, are very valuable and expensive. Inclusions don’t only affect how flawless a diamond looks but it can also affect how the light bounces on the facets when it enters the diamond. Inclusions can therefore affect how much light is reflected on the surface of a diamond.

When valuing a diamond based on clarity, valuation experts don’t only look at the number of inclusions in the diamond but as well as their location and visibility. Inclusions located in places that aren’t visible to the naked eye (i.e. the girdle or under the bezel) are acceptable because they don’t affect the way light is reflected by the facets in a diamond.

Color

In majority of diamonds (except fancy color diamonds), color means the absence of a yellow tinge in the diamond. Colorless diamonds (i.e. those in the D to F color grade) are priced very high. However, color is subjective and some people don’t mind a bit of a yellow tinge as long as it is a well-cut diamond.

Since the demand for colorless diamonds is higher than those that exhibit a visible color even without magnification, diamonds are considered more valuable the higher they are in the diamond color scale.

Fancy color diamonds, on the other hand, are valued for the presence of color in them. Highly saturated fancy color diamonds are very valuable because of the vibrancy of color in them.

Some fancy color diamonds are very rare (i.e. black diamonds, blue diamonds). To make up for the lack of supply, many gem laboratories subject a low-grade colorless diamond to heat and pressure treatment to enhance the color of a diamond or to change its color into a fancy color. Lab treated diamonds are of course cheaper than naturally colored diamonds.

Carat

Carat refers to the weight of a diamond. The higher the carat weight, the more expensive the diamond. This is because larger diamonds yield more waste when cut from the rough stone compared to smaller diamonds. Diamond size is measured in mm and weight is measured in carats (1 carat is roughly 0.02 grams). Many people prioritize carat weight over cut quality but to get a truly beautiful stone, it is important to look for a balance of carat size and cut quality.  While a diamond’s value greatly increases the bigger it is, large diamonds that are lower in the color and clarity grade are generally priced lower than smaller diamonds that are well cut, colorless, and flawless.

There are many other technical factors that affect the value of a diamond but the aforementioned factors are the most important. The 4Cs of valuing a diamond are universally used as these parameters make it easier for gemologists, jewelers, and consumers to find out how valuable a diamond is.

Posted in  Valuing Diamonds |   Tagged 

 

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