When looking to buy a wedding or engagement ring, it is important that you know how to choose the perfect diamond. While some people prefer gemstone or rough diamonds, classic diamonds are still the most popular stone on the market and so it is essential that you understand everything you can about them. When searching for the perfect diamond*, there are four categories (or characteristics) to consider.
The 4 C’s:
Cut – Describes the finish, proportion and polish of the diamond. These factors determine the fire and brilliance of a diamond.
An Ideal Cut diamond is a round (also known as brilliant) or princess cut diamond that is cut to ideal proportions and angles and has excellent polish and symmetry ratings.
Clarity – Describes the clearness or purity of a diamond. A grade is assigned to each diamond, with “F” representing a flawless diamond to “I” describing a diamond that has inclusions. Most diamonds can be found at various grades between “F” and “I.” Diamond buyers will sometimes choose a gem with some inclusions, as long as they are not visible to the naked eye.
Practically every natural diamond has imperfections in them. These imperfections are fractures, parts of carbon, or air bubbles. They can seriously affect a diamond’s sparkle. Around 70% of natural diamonds are so polluted that they are not even suitable for jewelry. These diamonds are used in mechanic tools and for other industrial purposes. The diamonds that are suitable for jewelry differ in clarity and quality. Official institutions such as the GIA determine the clarity of a diamond by means of a clarity grading scale.
Clarity grading scale
The different clarity options are:
- FL & IF means Internally Flawless. A perfect diamond without any flaws.
A flawless diamond is rare and very, very, very valuable.
- VVS1 & VVS2 means Very Very Small inclusions. The diamond is nearly perfect with almost no visible flaws. Even with a 10x loupe, it’s almost impossible to spot the imperfections.
VVS diamonds are extremely valuable and rare.
- VS1 & VS2 means Very Small inclusions. You can spot the imperfections with a 10x loupe, but only if you know where to look.
VS diamonds are very valuable and quite rare.
- SI1 & SI2 means Small Inclusions or Slightly Included. SI diamonds have inclusions that you can see, but only with magnification.
Probably most commercial diamonds have an SI clarity. We often consider them the ‘magic zone’ of getting the best quality for your money.
- I1, 12 & I3 / PIQ1, PIQ2 & PIQ3 means Included or Imperfect. In Europe, we often use Piqué instead of Included, but they mean the same. These are diamonds with visible inclusions, easy to spot by the naked eye.
We usually only recommend Pique or Included diamonds if you are on a tight budget or if you have your mind set on a specific diamond color, size or shape.
Color – From white to yellow, diamonds receive a grade for the amount of color they contain. Diamond buyers prefer colorless to near colorless diamonds, with diamonds graded J, K, and L offering the best value for a customer’s money.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) color scale for white or colorless diamonds ranges from grades D to Z. Any stone within that range falls within the “normal color range.”
The most highly valued diamonds have no color. Thus, the more color a stone has (yellow or brown), the lower the grade. Yellow or brown diamonds that make it past the Z grade, however, instantly go up in price.
Carat – Carat refers to the weight of the diamond. One carat is equivalent to 0.20 grams. The larger the carat, the pricier the diamond, although the other “C’s” can influence the final price significantly.
Understanding how to choose the perfect diamond, will affect how you choose your jewelry too. Before choosing your perfect jewelry, make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of diamonds- from their structure to the 4C’s.