Diamonds have long been known as a girls best friend. Known as the hardest natural substance on earth, with outstanding brilliance and fire, they are the enduring symbol of love the world over. There is nothing quite like choosing your own diamond from a selection of loose diamonds sparkling in front of you. What ever your preference is, don’t be limited by what is on the shelf in regular shops, when you can choose exactly what you want from a wide range of options. The idea of the four C’s as a standard for measuring the quality of diamonds is now well known within the retail market place, but less well known are the many other industry factors that go into making a good diamond ideal or exceptional. While the internet has become a valuable tool for research and purchases, it is very important to be able to view a diamond before committing to a purchase as many of their subtleties are not shown on a grading report. Many people are surprised in the small differences from diamond to diamond, and how much it changes the price.
The Four C's
Carat : As a measure of weight a diamond is weighed in carat’s, each carat is divided into one hundred points so that a one carat diamond is displayed as 1.00ct .
This is an important factor in pricing a diamond, as diamonds with a weight of 1.00ct or greater cost a premium in the market place compared to a diamond say of 0.98ct , or ninety eight points as the trade calls it. A well cut 0.98ct can appear as large or even larger than some 1.00ct diamonds and will cost significantly less.
Some people will sacrifice cut grade or color to fit a larger diamond into their budget, while others will select a smaller diamond of better quality for the same budget. There is no right or wrong here as size is always a personal preference.
Color : Is the natural hue of the diamond, or tint as some would say. The best diamonds are completely colorless and are known by the color grading of D and command the greatest prices. Listed below are the color gradings by the GIA and what they mean to the general public.
Diamonds with more color in them without being a distinct fancy color will quite often appear dark as soon as your jewellery gets a little dirty. We recommend a minimum color grade of “H” or better for a clean white diamond.
Clarity : Most diamonds contain small marks of some kind that were created during the formation of the crystal, these marks are called inclusions and can effect the way the light reflects inside the diamond. In many cases it is not only the size and nature of the inclusions, but also there placement within the body of the diamond that can effect the price and quality of the gem. Clarity is still graded by human eye, and has a slight margin for interpretation by the grader.
Two diamonds may receive the same grade on their certificate because they have the same size and style of inclusion, but one will have the inclusion in the middle of the diamond, impacting on both its beauty and its value, while the other will have its inclusion out near the edge of the diamond, where it can only be seen by the most experienced diamond experts. In the trade this is what we call a good SI, because once it is set in a ring the inclusion can not be seen at all. Below is a description of what the clarity grades mean.
We feel that where ever possible a clarity grade of “VS2” or better is best if your budget allows it , but many “good SI” diamonds can be found if you look hard enough.
Cut : Perhaps the most important of the four C’s, a diamonds cut can make a good stone brilliant and a great stone average. A well cut diamond will have exacting proportions to maximize its brilliance, fire and scintillation.
Diamonds that are cut too shallow will leak light
out of the side and back of the stone and will appear flat and
lifeless, although these diamonds are not as common in the trade today
as they are under weight for there size.
Diamonds that are cut too deep
will bounce light out of the bottom of the stone and will generally
appear dark and grey looking, many jewelers combat this with special
down-lights to make the diamonds appear as bright as possible. The best
test is to hold the diamond under the desk or counter, or to shield it
with your hand to see if it is still bright with minimum light, after
all most of us don’t have jewellery shop lighting at home!
cut, or Ideal cut diamonds will appear bright where ever they are,
reflecting the fire and brilliance of what ever light is available.
Beyond The Four C’s :
: These diamonds are square in shape and are perfectly suited to
geometric designs and are perfect for channel setting in wedding bands.
One should be careful to choose a diamond as close to square as
possible as rectangular diamonds often throw off the balance of the
design as well as sometimes appearing dark down the long side of the
|Marquise, Pear and
: These diamonds are quite often used as the center stone for a three
diamond ring. They usually display a dark bow tie, or windmill effect
across the middle of the diamond because there length doesn’t allow the
light to disperse through the diamond evenly. Exceptionally well cut
diamonds can minimize this effect, but these diamonds are harder to
find and are not very common in the marquise shape. As a solitaire they
show a greater surface area for their weight than the traditional round
: An old style of cut that is becoming increasingly popular today with
the antique and art deco revival. Diamonds should be as square as
possible to suit most designs and to give maximum light dispersion, but
many beautiful rectangular diamonds are available if you look hard
enough. One needs to be careful of heavy cut diamonds, this is becoming
very common in this style of cutting. These diamonds
will appear smaller than a round diamond of a similar weight because of their square nature.
: Becoming ever more popular now, especially in the fancy colored
diamond market, these diamonds have the square nature of the Princess
cut but without the hard sharp corners. They lend themselves well to
geometric designs as well as the three stone style of ring and many
antique and art deco cluster styles.
They are available in both well cut square and rectangular shapes. One should look out for shallow cut stones, especially in the rectangular variety as these can appear to be glassy down the long sides or they display the bow tie effect common with long shaped diamonds. They are especially suited to fancy colored diamonds, as their cut tends to enhance the the depth of color present in the diamond.
: This is an older more traditional type of cut, and is more often
found in colored gemstones ( hence the term “emerald” cut ).
Rectangular in nature their length is generally 1.5 times their width,
and can look quite good as a set of three, five or even seven graduated
diamonds. One should stick to high colored stones ( D, E or F ) and a
clarity of VS1 or better as these diamonds have a tendency to highlight
inclusions within them and make them more obvious than they are.
: These are a modern square variation on the more traditional emerald
cut, they can be a very bright white diamond, but will need regular
cleaning to keep that maximum brilliance. Diamonds Should always be
perfectly square ( within 0.1 of a millimeter or less ) because of
there geometric nature and can sometimes show an obvious windmill
effect. The heavy nature of this cut will mean that they will appear
slightly smaller than a diamond of the same weight in a different cut.
: These are the perfectly rectangular version of an emerald cut and are
usually found in smaller sizes as side stones, although now they are
becoming available in sizes upwards of one carat as center pieces of
there own and are increasingly popular in mens rings. They are also
available as a tapered diamond in smaller sizes, which are ideally
suited as side diamonds in three stone rings. The advice is the same as
for emerald cut diamonds.
: Geometrically speaking , they should measure the same in length as
they do in width to give maximum fire and dispersion, although they
rarely do. They can make a beautiful center piece, especially in
pendants and go very well as side stones for marquise and oval three
stone rings, although matched pairs can be hard to find. Look out for
heavy cut stones, or those with an uneven or lumpy silhouette.
: Triangular in nature, as there name would suggest, they are more
often than not used as side stones for three diamond rings. They can be
placed against virtually any shape of center diamond with very good
effect. They should generally be of a high color because of the shallow
nature of their cut, and can sometimes display the bow tie effect to
the middle of their three sides when cut poorly.
also come in a myriad of other shapes these days, such as the
traditional Tapered Baguette, Shield, Kite, Bullet, Crescent, Half
Moon, Trapezoid and others, including some cut in the shape of initials.
Fancy colored diamonds have long been highly sought after as
the most rare of gems, from King Louis XIV’s Blue Diamond of the Crown
( it has since been recut into the Hope Diamond ) , through the Crown
Jewels and the 128.54 fancy yellow Tiffany Diamond, to the vivid pink
diamonds of the Argyle Mines, the colored diamond is available in
virtually any shade and color that takes your fancy. Finding the money
for it might be another problem altogether, as these diamonds are
becoming much harder to find today, and demand in some colors is
Colored diamonds are graded according to their properties of
hue (spectral color), tone (lightness or darkness) and saturation (
intensity). In all cases, regardless of the hue (or color), the greater
and more even the saturation, the higher the value.
The pink diamonds of the Argyle Mines are quite possibly the rarest and most beautiful gems in the world, although more affordable options are becoming available today with the champagne/pinks that are now coming on the market.