Whether you're buying a diamond ring or a diamond necklace, a diamond bracelet or diamond earrings you'll want to know what you're looking at and for when those glittering gemstones are in front of you.
Diamonds have what's called the 4 C's - the four characteristics of diamonds. Jewellery use these features to grade a diamond and they are useful to understand when you're buying one of those mysterious stones.
Diamonds also come with certificates that are also a grading reports about each individual diamond. They are produced by professionals with information about exact measurements, colour, clarity, cut and weight. A diamond certificate is different to a diamond appraisal that states the monetary value.
The 4 C's of Diamonds
The four characteristics a diamond has are:
4. Carat Weight
About a Diamond's Clarity
A diamond's clarity is based on how clear it is. The more clear a diamond is the more expensive it is.
As diamonds are made in the earth from immense pressure over centuries just about every single natural, real diamond will have some sort of inclusion - something within the diamond that gives it's unique fingerprint.
Inclusions can be air bubbles, cracks and non-diamond minerals inside them. Blemishes are scratches, chips or pits on the surface of the diamond which can happen during the the cutting process. Both inclusions and blemishes are called flaws, which blemishes can also be called inclusions.
Diamond Tip 1. There are varying degrees of clarity from near perfect to inclusions visible to the naked eye. It is generally recommended within the jewellery trade to avoid diamonds that you can see flaws with by the naked eye. It is recommended only to buy diamonds with flaws that can only be seen under strong magnification.
The synthetic, laboratory grown diamonds usually reflect that they are man-made by not having inclusions. Many jewellery lovers prefer the real, natural diamond, flaws and all, because of the heritage and romance of it being created over eons within the earth rather than being rapidly grown in a laboratory.
About a Diamond's Cut
A diamond's cut is about how it has been cut to allow the surfaces to show the reflections of the stone - the reflective qualities of the gem. This is separate and different to the shape of the stone. The shape can be pear, baguette, round, emerald etc.
So the quality of the cut of the diamond can make a big difference to the look of the gem stone. A good cut gives the diamond it's brilliance, it's sparkle and it's wow factor.
It is from the angle of the cuts, the facets of the diamond that lets light into and reflects through the diamond that the sheer brilliance is allowed to show. This is about how the diamond handles light.
There are 5 different gradings of diamond cuts:
3. Very Good
5. Fair and Poor
The size of the diamond doesn't matter in this grading, it's based on the quality of the cut. So you can have a very affordable diamond with an Ideal or Premium cut or a really expensive large diamond with a Good cut.
For those who want to know they have the best possible quality the Ideal and Premium cuts will be preferred. While for those who want to enjoy a beautiful stone within their budgets the Very Good or Good cut can be ideal and treasured always. As for Fair and Poor cuts this is generally done to show case the carat weight of the stone over other considerations.
Diamond Tip 2: Choose the cut grade that best suits your preferences of each individual stone.
Diamond Tip 3. The cut of the diamond is most important as this is how the gemstone reflects light.
A well cut diamond moves light around within it and then reflects the light back out the through the top surface (known as the table). This is what gives it a flash of light, it's brilliance.
A poorly cut diamond leaks the light out through the bottom of the setting so it doesn't sparkle, it looks flatter because we don't get to see the reflections.
About a Diamond's Colour
The colourless diamond is the most commonly know type but diamonds come in a range of colours from white, green, blue, yellow and it is the result of the composition of the diamond. The colour of a diamond is fixed, it cannot be changed.
The Green, blue and yellow diamonds are rare and expensive. They also reflect light differently to the white and colourless diamonds.
A colourless diamond lets in more light so they have more flash and brilliance than the colour diamonds and are very popular for this. Because of the way the diamonds are formed it is rare to find completely colourless stones and they are more valuable.
The colourless diamonds range from extremely clear through to near colourless to faint yellow to very light yellow to light yellow.
While the most colourless diamonds are the rarest, they are highly sought after and quite expensive the near colourless are still very desirable. Many do appreciate the warmth reflected in a light yellow diamond and with the right setting these can be stunning.
Diamond Tip 4. Let the colour of your diamond influence the design of the jewellery - the colours of the golds (or platinum) and the colours of any other gemstones in the setting to best show off the magic of your treasure.
About a Diamond's Carat Weight
The unit of measure for gemstones is carat. So diamonds are often characterised by their carat weight. One carat is equal to 200 milligrams (0.2 grams).
As there are more small diamonds than large diamonds the value of the stone increases exponentially by it's carat weight - the bigger the carat the bigger the value. In this case size does matter, happily though there is no direction correlation between size and love.
For some the carat weight of a diamond is more important than the colour or clarity or cut, for others it is the other way around. If the size of the diamond is the first priority then you can still find good quality and inspiring gem stones that are graded in slightly lower levels of clarity and colour. It can be better to keep the cut of the diamond a higher priority. Remember, each stone is a treasure within itself.
Diamond Tip 5: The setting of the jewellery, especially rings, is very important for letting the diamond show off at it's best.
Different sized diamonds will look proportionally different on smaller or larger fingers. So a 1 carat diamond will look bigger on slender fingers. For larger hands a ring design that encases with smaller diamonds the 1 carat diamond could look more impressive.
Choosing a Diamond
Each diamond is different, just as each person making the selection between stones is different. So there is no right or wrong in the choice of diamond.
Diamond Tip 6: When buying a diamond first decide on your budget. The jeweller has an obvious bias about the budget of a diamond ring so you must make this decision yourself. As a general rule (that is only written in mud and your primary consideration is what is a sensible budget) a diamond engagement ring budget is based on "two months salary". Of course, you can always start with a smaller budget for an engagement ring with a larger budget in mind for an eternity ring (note, the author is a woman who loves jewellery).
Diamond Tip 7: When you're making the decision about a life time ring such as an engagement ring or wedding ring have a good look around at various jewellers to see what you can learn from actually seeing the different grades of diamonds. This is also a very enjoyable experience - trying on diamond rings and talking jewellery!
Jewellers are getting use to customers coming to them with a much broader and deeper understanding of gemstones as more and more research is being done online now. Asking questions by informed customers about gemstones and settings is a normal part of their day and work. Be ready to go armed with information, explore different cuts, colours, clarity, carats and shapes and to learn from professionals who love what they do.