Hello to all our new and old H&A customers! Engagement Season is upon us (isn't every season Engagement Season?!) and we know that many of you do not know quite where to begin when it comes to shopping for a ring. Here at H&A, we love educating our customers surrounding picking a diamond and a setting. We want to ensure that our customers fully understand everything about the diamond that they are purchasing.
There are four grading
components that a round diamond is evaluated on.
They are Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat weight (other diamond shapes are not given cut grades). You can go anywhere in the world and your round diamond will most likely be graded based on the 4 C’s. No single component is more important than any other as they all contribute to the diamond's beauty and value. All of our diamonds at H&A are graded either by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or by experts who are trained by the GIA. The 4 C’s were defined by GIA so that gemologists would have a reputable and consistent standard for diamond evaluation.
GIA describes the color evaluation as based on the absence of color. The color grading system measures the colorlessness by comparing a stone, under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions, to master stones of established color value. Many of these color distinctions are so subtle that they are basically undetectable to the untrained eye; however, these distinctions can make a big difference in the diamond’s quality and price. The GIA color scale shown below is the industry’s most widely accepted grading system. The grading scale goes from D to Z. broken into 5 categories. Stones in the color range D to F are colorless stones; that gives the stone highest value. There are yellow stones that fall outside the white color scale that are considered to be “fancy yellow diamonds,” also referred to as Canary diamonds. Much like any other naturally colored diamonds, they are rare and expensive.
Diamonds are created when carbon is exposed to tremendous heat and pressure deep beneath the surface of the earth. This natural process can result in a variety of internal characteristics called “inclusions” and external characteristics called “blemishes”. The less included and more “pure,” the more valuable the stone will be. The evaluation of a diamond’s clarity involves determining the number, size, relief, nature and position of these characteristics at 10x magnification. Often times, blemishes and inclusions are so minuscule that the naked and untrained eye will not be able to see them. To the naked eye, a VS1 and an SI1 diamond may look exactly the same even though they are two very different diamonds. The assessment of a diamond’s clarity is very important. The diagram below depicts the 5 categories and their subcategories.
Cut is what gives diamonds their world renowned sparkle and fire! The quality of cut is tremendously important to the diamond’s final beauty and value. Cut is the most technical and complex aspect to assess. The evaluation is based on 7 components. The first three--brightness, fire, and scintillation are all considered when evaluating the diamond’s overall face-up value. Weight ratio, durability, polish and symmetry are considered when a diamond’s design and craftsmanship is evaluated. Only round brilliant cut diamonds are graded for cut quality. The GIA cut grade scale follows:
An excellent cut diamond has a maximum amount of scintillation, brilliance and fire. Light enters the diamond and refracts back out with very little light lost. This exceptional grade represents roughly the top three-percent of diamonds.
A diamond with a very good cut grade will reflect most of the light and will appear somewhat similar to an excellent cut diamond. This diamond will have superior sparkle, brilliance and fire.
Reflecting most of the light entering the diamond, this diamond cut has above average beauty. Diamonds with this grade won’t have as much brilliance and fire as better cuts.
Diamonds graded Fair don’t have the optimum brilliance and fire, as they allow a significant amount of the entering light to exit through the bottom or side of the diamond instead of reflecting through the top.
Diamonds with a poor cut may appear dull because much of the light is lost through the bottom or sides of the diamond. With a noticeable decrease in sparkle, even an untrained eye can see a sharp difference between this and better cuts.
Carat (sometimes abbreviated as “ct”) is the measurement of a diamond’s weight. Each carat is divided into 100 ‘points'. This allows very precise measurements to the hundredth decimal point. A diamond that is under one carat can be described by its ‘points”. For example, a .75 carat stone can also be described as a 75 point diamond. Any diamond greater than a carat will always be expressed in carats. Higher carat weight typically results in higher price, but exactly how much it will increase will depend on the other 3 C’s as well as market forces.
The graphic below illustrates relative relationships between carat weight and diamond diameter. These are not exact, since a deep cut stone of the same diameter can be heavier, and a shallow cut stone can be lighter.
It is also important to note the differences between “carat” and “karat”. Carat is a measure of weight. Karat is used to describe the purity of gold.
With all that being said, it is easy to get carried away with trying to find the PERFECT diamond for your future spouse or yourself. Keep in mind that whatever diamond you pick out, it will be loved because YOU selected it!
It is often important that you choose a diamond that comes with a grading report from a recognized gemological laboratory, preferably GIA. At H&A, we always provide you with your GIA report upon purchase of any GIA-evaluated diamond. So no need to worry! (Hint, Hint: always shop with H&A!)