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LEARN ALL ABOUT THE CUT OF A DIAMOND
Distinguishing the main features of luxury Italian jewellery
Take a Diamond Ring and tilt it back and forth in the light. You see those Sparkles and Flashes of Light? That’s the Life and Beauty of a Diamond. That’s what we crave. That’s what we want.
That Brilliance and Sparkle is caused by one thing: the Cut.
The Cut (one of the 4C’s) is what makes a Diamond come to life. The Better a Diamond is Cut, the Better the Sparkle, Brilliance and Fire will be.
You don’t get Sparkle from Color or Clarity or Carat Weight! It’s all based upon the Cut (or the Cutting Style). The Cut is both the Proportions and Symmetry of the Diamond.
Cut is the least talked about 4C’s in many Jewelry Stores. Salespeople talk about Clarity and Flaws and Color, but often, Cut is passed over as nothing more than the “Shape of the Stone”.
All the Diamond Shapes are called Cuts: Pear Cut, Brilliant Cut, Marquise Cut…
While it’s true that the Shape (Round, Rectangle, Square, Oval…) is Part of the Cut, the Cut is so much more than that.
Cut is really about Proportions, Angles, Thickness, Dimensions, Percentages, Symmetry and Polish.
These things are what helps light travel through the Stone and come out in a Million Sparkles of light. This is the Romance and AWE Factor. This is why we fall in love with Diamonds.
That beautiful light can be broken down into 3 specific categories:
Brilliance (also called Brightness) is reflections inside and outside of the Diamond. When you view a Diamond and see huge splashes of white light, that’s Brilliance.
Fire - Fire (also known as Dispersion) is when the light enters the Diamond and is bent. It comes back out in a spectrum of amazing colors (like sunlight in rain creates a rainbow). These flashes of beautiful color are the fire in a Diamond.
Scintillation - Scintillation is the sparkle effects in a Diamond caused by the contrast of light and dark areas. When you tilt your Diamond and see the twinkles, that’s Scintillation.Brilliance, Fire and Scintillation is enhanced by the Cut of a Diamond. And no Diamond portraits that better than the Brilliant Cut Diamond. Brilliant Cut Diamonds are Diamonds Cut with the Brilliant Cutting Style. This style of Cut gives you more light and sparkle than any other Cut because of it’s Perfect Balance, Symmetry and Stunning Patterns.No other Cut surpasses it.
Brilliant Cut Diamond
The 33 Facets that make up the top portion of the Diamond (above the Girdle) are:
Table - The Diamond has One Table Facet, which is the top flat part of the Diamond. This Facet is shaped like an Octagon (stop sign) and is what you look into to see the beautiful sparkles of light in the Diamond.
Star Facets - The Crown has Eight Star Facets, which are triangular shaped Facets that go all the way around the Table giving the Table that cool Star-Like appearance.
Bezel Facets - The Crown has Eight Bezel Facets. These are Facets that go around the outside of the Crown and are shaped like a Diamond (or Kite Shaped) that link the Table Facet to the Girdle Facets.
Upper Girdle Facets - There are Sixteen Upper Girdle Facets that outline the outer edge of the Crown. These Facets are also known as “Upper Halves”.
The 25 Facets that form the bottom (or base) of the Diamond below the Girdle are:
Lower Girdle Facets - There are Sixteen Lower Girdle Facets that are long triangular shaped Facets that extend from the Girdle (should line up with the Upper Girdle Facets) and extend down into the Pavilion.
Pavilion Main Facets - There are Eight Pavilion Main Facets. These are long Diamond shaped (or Kite Shaped) Facets that go from the very bottom of the Diamond and point upwards towards the Girdle.
Culet - At the very tip (or point) of the Diamond is where you will find the Culet. The Culet is a small octagon Facet at the very bottom that keeps the Diamond from Chipping. That’s it’s sole purpose in life.
The History & Evolution of the Brilliant Cut
It took over 500 years of Cutting to Evolve into the Modern Day Diamond. Changes over the years made Radical Cuts that took the Diamond from literally a Sharp Point (Point Cut), into the Modern Brilliant Cut that you see in Jewelry Stores today. This Cutting order of Progress was: Point Cut, Table Cut, Single Cut (still used today), Mazarin Cut, Old Mine Cut, Old European Cut, and then the ultimate Brilliant Cut Diamond. Other Cuts of Diamond are Cut with this Brilliant Cutting Style as well. They are called “Modified Brilliant Cuts” (as you’ll see on a Diamond Certificate Report). They are: The Heart Shape, The Pear Shape (or Tear Drop Shape), the Princess Cut, Trilliant Cut, Radiant Cut, Oval Cut and Marquise Cut Diamond. Exceptions on the market would be: Emerald Cut (which is actually a Step Cut Diamond), Baguette Cut (Straight and Tapered Step Cut), and the Single Cut Diamond. The Single Cut is a small Diamond (usually under 10 points) with just 17 Facets on it (We’ll get more into Fancy Cuts later on in this post).
Brilliant Cut Proportions
Diamonds are like people. Some are Short and Fat, others are Tall and Skinny. Finding the right balance will give you the best results.
If a Diamond is Cut Too Deep, it will get a Dark Shadow in the Stone (called a Nail Head). Light will leak out of the bottom of the Diamond through the Pavilion and get lost.
If a Diamond is Cut Too Shallow (called Spread Stones), light will go right through the Diamond and not get reflected back to the viewer. Shallow or Narrow Stones look larger than they really are, but they can weaken the Diamond and make them more prone to Chipping or Breaking.
Plus, Diamonds this shallow often get a reflection of the Girdle around the Table that looks like a Fish Eye.
The BEST Cut to get is one where light can enter the Stone, bounce across the Pavilion and return in a Million Flashes of White Light and Fire.
The reason why all Diamonds are not Cut more ideally is because of profit! Rough Diamonds, when pulled from the Earth, are evaluated to obtain the highest amount of profit from the rock. If a stone needs to be Cut Smaller or Shallow to allow another stone to be Cut Larger and Better, then the result will be more profit.Diamond Cutters utilize every bit of rock they can and often the sacrifice is Cut. The Cutting Process goes through many stages before you get to the final product: Rough Rock, Sawing, Bruting, Blocking and Brillianteering.
Ideal Cut Diamonds
Once your Diamond gets into the right range of Proportions, Percentages and Angles, you get an Ideal combination and awesome light and Brilliance. This range of Percentages gives you both a great balance of White Light and Colored Light in a Diamond. Developed by a Mathematician named Marcel Tolkowskyin 1919, the Ideal Cut Diamond maximizes the Proportions of a Diamond to give you the best performance of sparkle and light that any Diamond could give you
The goal is to get a Diamond that falls into these ranges. Keep in mind, this is not the easiest task since we’re talking about small differences and slight angles. Being within a couple of percents one way or the other way could change the entire way a Diamond reacts with light. Luckily, the average person is not going to notice these small differences. So if you get close, you’ll be okay. Ideal Cut Diamonds are often Cut so Perfectly that they get patterns in them that look like Hearts and Arrows. Facets around the Diamond get so Symmetrical it’s like a Perfectly Mirrored Pattern around the stone when viewed with a special Jeweler’s Optical Loupe. From the Top View (looking straight down into the Diamond) you’ll see a display of Arrows. Looking from the bottom view (looking into the Pavilion) you’ll see a beautiful display of Hearts as in the image below.
Super Ideal Cut Diamonds
Super Ideal Cuts are an Ideal Cut Diamond with Excellent Polish and Finish. This Combination brings out a Diamonds Full Potential. It makes the light coming from the stone Crisp, Distinct and very Sharp. Super Ideal Cut Diamonds are the top of the line, the best of the best. Excellent in every way. And that’s the real beauty of it all.
The 60/60 Rule
What makes a Good Cut and what makes a Bad Cut? To find out, we’ll have to dissect a Diamond. The widest part of any Diamond is the diameter of the Diamond, which is measured from one side of the Girdle to the opposite side. This width is what all other Proportions of the Diamond are measured against. So the width (or Diameter) of any Diamond is known as 100%. The width of the Table (top flat portion of the Diamond) is measured against the Diameter, and so is the Depth of the Diamond. These Percentages are also listed on a Diamond Certificate Report (like the GIA Diamond Reports). The rule of thumb used to be 60/60. If you got a Table Percentage that was close to 60% and a Depth Percentage that was close to 60% you’d normally get a pretty good looking Diamond.
Normally! This was the case and this is what we’d tell customers for years… But 60/60 didn’t always mean the Cut was great. Look at the image below to understand where I’m coming from. All 3 Diamonds are Cut 60/60 Percentages, but the Cuts of the Diamonds are very different. So looking at just these 2 Percentages wasn’t always the best way to judge Cut. You had to have more information that older Grading Reports weren’t giving you. Hence GIA (the Gemological Institute of America) revamped it’s standards (in 2005) and today’s Diamonds are graded with GIA’s New Cut Scale Grading System.
GIA Cut Scale Grading System
This New Cut Scale gives a Diamond 5 different levels of Cut Grades: Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor. It’s safe to say that you would want to purchase a Diamond with a Very Good or Excellent Cut Grade. These Grades are highly detailed and take so much more into consideration. Crazy things that most people have never heard of: Facets not lining up. Culets being off center. Misshapen Bezel Facets. Non Octagon Table Facets. Things like this actually make a huge impact on how a Diamond reacts with light. The new Cut Grades look at both the Proportions of the stone and the Polish and Finish of the stone as well. To delve further, let’s look at the Profile of a Diamond to see what goes into the Final Grade. These Cut Grade Proportions are:
Diameter - The Diameter is 100% the width of the stone.
Total Depth - The Total Depth is the entire depth of the Diamond from the top of the Table to the base of the Pavilion.
Table Size - The Table Size is the width of the Table Facet against the Diameter of the Diamond (average after measuring a couple of different sides).
Crown Angle - The Crown Angle is the Angle of the Crown from the Girdle to the Table.
Crown Height - The Crown Height is the height of the Crown from the Girdle to the top of the Table.
Pavilion Angle - The Pavilion Angle is the Angle or Slope of the base of the Diamond from the Girdle to the Culet.
Pavilion Depth - The Pavilion Depth is the depth of the Pavilion from the Girdle down as measured against the Diameter of the Diamond.
Star Length - The Star Length is the length of the Star Facets relative to the Table and Girdle.
Lower-Half Facet Length - The Lower-Half Facet Length is the distance between the Culet and where the Pavilion Facets meet.
The thickness of the Girdle (both the Hills and Valleys) is graded with 8 different descriptions:
Extremely Thin Girdle - Extremely Thin Girdles have a very sharp edge and can chip or break pretty easily. They come to a knife edge and it wouldn’t take much for them to show signs of abrasion.
Very Thin Girdle - Very Thin Girdles look like just a fine line running around the outer edge of the Diamond. They can still chip or break easily.
Thin Girdle - Thin Girdles look like a small line around the stone. They are easier to see with magnification.
Medium Girdle - Medium Girdles are one of the best Girdles to get. They are not too thick or too thin. They look great and help protect the stone.
Slightly Thick Girdle - Slightly Thick Girdles are a little bit bigger and more obvious. They are still a great Girdle to get and they are perfect for protection and mounting.
Thick Girdle - Thick Girdles start to get a little too thick. They may stand out and get noticed. Still not bad, but I wouldn’t get a Girdle any thicker than this.
Very Thick Girdle - Very Thick Girdles are pushing the limits. They may now distract from the beauty of the Diamond and look very obvious to the naked eye (no loupe needed).
Extremely Thick Girdle - Extremely Thick Girdles are very thick and very distracting. They can stand out like a sore thumb and look quite ugly. Usually this thickness of Girdle means that the Cutter left it heavy to add Carat Weight to the stone. Sightly and Huge, they can even make it hard to set in a mounting.
The Culet Size is the small bottom Facet at the end of the Pavilion. The Culet is parallel the Table Facet and is meant to protect the vulnerable tip of the Diamond from Chipping or Abrasion. Culet descriptions can be one of eight different types:
None (No Culet) - No Culet at all! The Diamond comes to a very sharp point (and then the Diamond only has 57 Facets). This Non-Culet can chip easy so you have to be very careful!
Very Small Culet - A Very Small Culet that is tiny indeed. It can still chip or break if not careful. They are hard to see under 10x magnification.
Small Culet - A Small Culet is one of the best Culets you can get. They don’t stand out and they they help protect the end from chipping. Small Culets are difficult to see under magnification and may look like nothing more than a pin point.
Medium Culet - A Medium Culet is a great Culet to have since it protects the Diamond and is not noticeable unless you microscope the Diamond.
Slightly Large Culet - A Slightly Large Culet gets a little bit bigger and easier to see under magnification. The Culet may look like a small hole under the microscope.
You may also be able to see this Culet with the naked eye.
Large Culet - A Large Culet is bigger and may be more visible to the unaided eye. Some may think that the dot in the center of the stone is an Inclusion.
Very Large Culet - A Very Large Culet is a Culet that gets much bigger and very visible without magnification. Sometimes this Culet will look like a hole in the Diamond.
Extremely Large Culet - An Extremely Large Culet gets so large it can look like a bullet hole in the stone. Being this large is can be quite distracting from the rest of the stone and the beauty of the Diamond.
Polish is how perfectly smooth and clean your Facets end up. It’s like a mirror that has Dirt and Debris on it. That Debris acts like a Filter and stops light. Diamonds are no different. If the Polish of the stone is Rough or Wavy or has Lines, it keeps light from passing through the Facets and bouncing back into a dazzling display of light.
Symmetry is how perfectly mirrored and balanced your Diamond becomes. Each Star Facet should be the exact same Size, Shape, Width and Placement around the stone. The Edges of the Facets should align perfectly with other Facets. The Girdle should be consistent all the way around. Little misalignments and off-center Facets can throw light and patterns off. They can even make a High Clarity and High Colored Diamond look dark inside! Good Symmetry gives your Diamond that perfectly mirrored look like the beautiful Hearts and Arrows we talked about above.
Brilliance (Brightness) is how bright the Diamond is, along with how many dark areas appear inside the stone.
Fire (or Dispersion) is how much Fire appears in the Diamond.
Patterns are how well the Symmetry works together with the light and darks areas of the stone. The patterns should be consistent and repeated to make the Diamond overall visually appealing.
GIA Cut Grades
Excellent Cut Grade
To qualify as an Excellent Cut, there needs to be Excellent Proportions and Excellent light performance. The result is a very bright Diamond. Generally there will be an even distribution of light all around the Diamond and the Diamond will also have Excellent Scintillation (Sparkle Effects) with both White Light and Dark Light areas. This Diamond needs to fall into a certain range of Percentages and Angles to qualify as an Excellent Cut, and even then, if all the Percentages do fall within these ranges, they could combine together and form a negative affect which can then lower the Cut Grade. The Main characteristics of an Excellent Cut are:
Very Good Cut Grade
A Very Good Cut Grade has Great Qualities and maybe even some Excellent qualities. They contain great light performance and great proportions. Not all proportions are perfect though, some Diamonds may have a thick Girdle or a Shallow Crown Angle. Very Good Cuts are beautiful Diamonds and one of the best Cuts you can get. Let’s look at the characteristics of a Very Good Cut:
Good Cut Grade
Good Cut Grades are a nice average quality of Cut to have in a Diamond. They have good Sparkle and good Brilliance. These Diamonds have some great qualities but lack some of the Fire and Life that better Cut Diamonds are known for. Most people probably wouldn’t notice this difference unless you compared the Cuts side by side.
The Angles of the Crown and Pavilion can be Deep or Shallow and you may see more darkness in the stone. A Good Cut with Good Sparkle.
The characteristics of a Good Cut are:
Fair Cut Grades
Diamonds with a Fair Cut are not the brightest bunch. More than likely Diamonds like this are probably not Certified (Why flaunt the fact that’s it’s Fair?). You will see many dark shadows in the stone. The stone can be Very Steep, Lumpy or quite Shallow and Thin. These Cuts will bring the price of the Diamond down. The characteristics of a Fair Cut are:
Poor Cut Grades
Poor Cut Grades may never be seen in a Diamond Certificate unless you get into a very large Carat Weight (size makes up for quality). Poorly Cut Diamonds will not have much sparkle. The angles and proportions and symmetry will all be off.
The Depth may be really Deep and Lumpy, or it could be very thin, dangerous, and vulnerable to chipping or breaking. Culet Sizes can be thick and off center. Facets might be out of alignment. Tables can be skewed or lopsided. Crowns can be uneven. These Diamonds lack life, luster and shine. The characteristics of a Poor Cut are:
Most of the Certified Diamonds on the market are probably Good Cuts or better. Most Jewelers wouldn’t spend the money to get a Poorly Cut Diamond Certified, nor would they want to buy one because it could be hard to sell. GIA did a great job helping people figure out if a Diamond has a Good Cut or a Bad Cut. They made it easy for the layman to understand by simply looking at the report and seeing what the Cut Grade is. Setting up this New Cut Scale has really made vast improvements to the Cut Grading System. It’s brought Cut to the foreground. It turned a confusing topic of Proportions and Percentages into a simple topic that customers can see and understand. With 5 simple Grades, people can see where their Diamond falls within the charts. They can understand how it rates and compare it just like they can with Color and Clarity.
How do you know if your Cut is Good?
Buy your Diamond Loose and Buy your Diamond GIA Certified. The Certificate will show you right on the report what all the Proportions, Percentages, Angles, Symmetry and Polish is. Never Buy a Diamond (especially an Engagement Ring Diamond) if it’s not Loose and not Certified! Certificates list everything from Laser Inscriptions to Shape, Cutting Style, Measurements, the 4C’s and whether or not the Diamond contains any Fluorescence (a Phenomenon that can make some Diamonds have a weird reaction to light and look foggy or hazy). Diamond Certificates will also map out your Flaws and Inclusions with a Diamond Plot (if you buy the Full Diamond Report versus the shorter Diamond Dossier). Seeing the Diamond Plot can help you locate the Inclusions in your stone.
Certificates make Identification simple. Without a Certificate the Jeweler could be telling you anything about the Diamond and you’d have no choice to believe them. Certificates changed all that. Now an outside Gemological Laboratory Grades and Evaluates your stone. It takes all the guess work away. Certificates make comparing Diamonds easier and it ups the value of the stone.
Fancy Cut Diamond
Everything that you see and read about Diamonds mainly covers one particular Cut, the Brilliant Cut Diamond. But there are so many more Cuts of Diamond.
All other Cuts of Diamond, other than the round Brilliant Cut are called Fancy Cuts. Fancy Cuts are: Marquise Cut, Princess Cut, Trilliant Cut, Emerald Cut, Pear Cut, Radiant Cut, Oval Cut, Heart Cut and Baguette Cut. Take a look at the image below of Fancy Cut Diamonds.
The cut of the diamond
Longer Cuts of Diamond like the Pear, Marquise, Oval and Heart Shaped Cut, often get what is known as a Bow-Tie in the center of the stone (usually caused by the stone being Cut Too Deep). The Bow-Tie Effect is a Dark Shadow that falls inside the stone that resembles a Bow Tie (See image on side).This is caused by the ends of the Diamond being narrower and letting in more light than the deeper center of the Diamond. This Bow-Tie is a good thing if it’s Faint or not noticeable. That’s when it’s considered the Mark of a good Cut! But, if the Bow-Tie is too Dark and stands out, then it’s Distracting and will lower the value of the Diamond. If the Diamond is Cut too Narrow, the Diamond will have no Bow-Tie, and pretty much no Sparkle either!
LEARN ALL ABOUT THE COLORS OF A DIAMOND
In their purest form, Diamonds are all White by nature. White Color doesn’t actually mean that the Diamonds are physically White in Color (like a piece of paper), but that they are Colorless, or have no Color in them. They are virtually free of any Color whatsoever. Mother Nature is not perfect though and as Diamonds grew in the Earth millions of years ago, Nitrogen found it’s way into the Crystallization Process. Nitrogen is the common element that gives most Diamonds their Colors (like Yellow, Brown and Gray). The common Color and most preferred Color on the market today is of course White which makes up 2 main categories called “Colorless” and “Near Colorless“.
Diamonds color guide
Not only do common Diamonds have a Yellow Hue like the classic Color Chart shown above, but Diamonds can also can have Brown Hues to them like this:
The Color Charts show the same Grading Scale (D-Z + Fancy), but just in different hues found in Diamonds today: Yellows, Browns, and Grays.
There are 23 different letter grades in all. Take note that there is no A, B, or C in Diamond Color because GIA didn’t want to confuse the public with other grading systems or make people feel like all the other Diamond Colors were inferior to A. D is at the top of the Chart and Z is at the bottom. Anything below Z (Z+) is considered a Fancy Colored Diamond (which we’ll get into later in this post).
D Color is perfect Color. Nothing gets a higher Color Grade than D. D Color is void of any Color when viewed from any angle, side view or even upside down.
D is very rare and very expensive (it gets the biggest jump in price). Most D Colored Diamonds don’t hit the market and are considered collector’s items. D Color (as well as all the Colorless Diamonds D-F) are very bright and very white. This brightness tends to make the entire body of the Diamond sparkle more. Colorless is stunning! If you placed a D Colored Diamond up against an H Colored Diamond, you would truly see a difference.
E Color is one step below D and almost impossible to tell the difference between them (Which is why I always advise buying E). After all, you are comparing a Colorless Diamond to a Colorless Diamond. Even an expert will not be able to tell the difference between the two unless they viewed the stones face down, in the right light, and even then a set of Master Stones is probably needed (Master Stones are expertly picked Diamonds with the correct Color Ranges that all other Diamonds are compared to).
F Color is the last Color in the Colorless Range. F is still a pure White Diamond with no traces of Color. Only when viewed upside down can experts distinguish F from D or E.
The thing to note about F is that F (like all Colors) is not one single Color. F is a range of Colors that falls between E and G Colors. So an F Colored Diamond could look almost identical to an E Color, or, it could also look exactly like a G Colored Diamond. Every Diamond is different and every Diamond Color will fall into the Color at different positions. Any Diamond F Color or higher is going to be exquisite and very White and very Bright.
G Color is at the very high end of the Near Colorless Range (G and H are considered Fine White Colors).
The great thing about G is the fact that it’s still a White Colored Diamond. The Near Colorless Range is the most common range on the market (G, H, I and J). Not until you get into J, K and L Colors do you really start to notice the yellow hues. Remember, G is a Color Range, just like all the other Colors. There is no one exact Color Grade. It’s a range between two others. One G Color could sit next to an F Color, while another G Color could sit closer to an H Color.
H Color is still considered a Fine White Diamond Color. When mounted in an Engagement Ring or any Jewelry, H Colors will generally appear Colorless when face up (looking directly down into the stone).
H Color is the lowest Color Grade. Beyond H Color is when Diamonds will start to show faint traces of yellow, brown or gray tones. An untrained eye may not see these traces of color, but if you look at enough Diamonds, you’ll start to see the yellow tints and darkness that lower Color Ranges bring.
I Color is probably the most common Diamond Color on the market (most Diamonds have a yellow tint). I Color is everywhere! And that’s because it’s still a Near Colorless Diamond and when mounted, it still hides most of its Color.
I Color is great for most types of Jewelry (Earrings, Pendants, Bracelets), but for an Engagement Ring (the showpiece), I would recommend a higher Color (Colorless if you can).
Engagement Rings are the one item that gets the most scrutiny. It’s the one Diamond that everyone wants to see and see close up. People will grab your finger for a closer view. They want to be bedazzled with the Sparkle and Beauty.
J Color is at the bottom end of the Near Colorless Range. J Color borders on Faint Yellow Diamonds. J Color will often look Slightly Yellow, Dark or even Brown. Set into a Yellow Gold mounting will really help hide this slight Yellow Color. Please note that if you’re buying a Larger Carat Weight (1.00 Carat or Larger), Color will be more obvious to detect. In Diamonds .25 Carat or smaller, Color isn’t a big deal. It’s hard to detect any Color changes in smaller stones. But large Engagement Ring Diamonds will generally be better off with at least H Color or higher.
K - L - M Color
K, L and M make up the Faint Yellow Color Ranges. When you look at Diamonds in this Color Range you will see the Yellow hues. In most instances, it’s pretty obvious and almost distracting. Even set into a Yellow Mounting, the Diamond will look even more Yellow. And if you set a Diamond like this into a White Gold Mounting, the contrast could be a Night and Day difference!
Cut affects Color
The way a Diamond is Cut (Diamond Cut) affects the Color of a Diamond greatly!
A Shallow Diamond (Spread Stone), will lighten the Color of the Diamond, while a Deep Stone (with a Deep Pavilion) will enhance and darken the Color more.
Fluorescence Affects Color
Some Diamonds (1 out of 10) have a natural phenomenon called Fluorescence. Fluorescence is where a Diamond will actually Glow in the Dark under an Ultraviolet light (think Black Light). Some will Glow Blue, some Yellow, some Red. This ghostly glowing Color can also affect how a Diamond looks in normal lighting. If the Diamond has strong Fluorescence (Fluorescence is listed on a Certified Diamond Report), it can actually make the Diamond look Cloudy or Foggy.
Blue White Diamond Color
Blue-White is an old term that’s not used much today (it’s frowned upon by the Jewelry Industry).
The term Blue-White is misleading and the FTC states clearly that it can only be used to describe a Diamond that has a Blue Fluorescence. Blue-White used to be a term to describe Colorless Diamonds with beautiful flashes of Blue Light in it, but not anymore.
Evaluating Diamond Color
Gem Labs (Like GIA), use Master Stones to evaluate and assign colors to Diamonds when grading them. Viewing the Diamonds in a controlled laboratory in neutral lighting conditions, face down, is the best way to judge Color. Most Jewelers though, do not have the luxury of these controlled settings and use Colorimeters or Spetrophotometers to analyze Color instead. These expensive instruments are pretty precise, but never quite perfect. The eye is still the best way to perceive Color and evaluate Color Grades.
Not all Diamond Color is bad. In fact, some Diamonds with Color are way more expensive than their White alternatives of the same Clarity, Cut and Carat Weight. Diamonds usually always have some traces of Color in them, but when that Color is Deep, Vivid and Intense, it falls into a Color Range appropriately called “Fancy Color“. Fancy Color is beyond the Color Charts, it’s any Diamond Color past Z (labeled Z+, see chart above for an example of Brown and Blue Fancy Colored Diamonds).
Diamonds can come in all shades of the rainbow (except Emerald Green), from Blues, Greens, Yellows (like Canary Yellows), Oranges, Pinks, Purples, Reds, Browns, Grays, Violets, Blacks and of course Whites!
If you’ve been to the Smithsonian Institute you’ve probably seen the most famous 45.52 Carat Diamond in the World, The Hope Diamond. The Hope Diamond is a large Blue Diamond that actually has a Red Fluorescence glow to it. Worth an estimated value of 250 Million, the Hope creates an exhibit you just have to see. Most Fancy Colored Diamonds are NOT this large in Carat Weight, or this Vivid in Color. Most Fancy Colors are often only 20 Points or smaller in size and most Fancy Colors on the market have been Heat Treated to enhance their Color.
Brown Diamonds have become very popular in the last 20 years or so. With effective marketing and wonderful pieces of Jewelry being designed, Brown Diamonds have found their way into homes and our hearts.
Blue Diamonds have worked their way into the Jewelry Stores as well. Over the last ten years, beautiful Blues and Greens (Tropical Colors) have been opening up whole new exciting lines for customers. And having exotic names like Carribean Blue Diamonds just makes them all the more appealing.
One of the most surprising Diamond Colors to hit the market lately are Black Diamonds. Black Diamonds look more like Black Onyx Gemstones than they do Diamonds. They lack the transparency that Diamonds are known for. Most are Jet Black and have no sparkle, just reflection coming from their facets. Being this Dark and Black, Clarity is NOT an issue for these Diamonds. Black Diamonds do make one of the most striking combinations of Jewelry when set side by side with White Diamonds. They look rich, beautiful and striking.
The Rarest Diamond Color
Pinks, Reds and Orange Colors are the most expensive Fancy Colors and the most rarest to find. Be prepared to pay a pretty penny for them.
So whether Fancy Colors are your thing, of if you’d prefer to stick to the Whiter Shades, like D, E or F, Diamonds and Color have always been a wonderful topic of discussion, and a wonder of nature itself.
DIAMOND CARAT WEIGHT
LEARN ALL ABOUT THE WEIGHT OF A DIAMOND
Carat Weight (one of the 4C’s) is simply the Weight of a Diamond, be it One Carat or a Half Carat. It’s all about how much the Diamond Weighs. Back in the days, Diamonds were weighed by seeds from a Carob Tree. These seeds were roughly the Weight of one Point (1 pt) to a Diamond. Since there are 100 Points in a Full Carat Diamond, there would be 100 Carob Seeds to balance it on a Scale.
But how do Carats fit in?
There are 100 Points in a One Carat Diamond (written as 1.00 Carat). So 1/2 Carat Diamond would simply be 50 Points or .50 Carat.
A 1/4 Carat Diamond would be 25 Points (.25 Carat).
3/4 Carat (.75 Carat) would be 75 Points. Are you following this? It really is that easy.
A 10 Point Diamond is 1/10 of a Carat or 10 Points.
A 1.50 Carat Diamond is One Carat and a Half, or a Carat and 50 Points (150 Points in all).
So then when you see a .38 Carat Diamond, you’ll know it’s a little more than 1/3 Carat (.33 CT) and a little less than a Half Carat (.50 CT).
58 Points is in between 1/2 and 3/4 (.50 CT & .75 CT).
Take a look at the image below to see all the different sizes of Carat Weights:
Carat Weight Millimeter Sizes
The Standard Millimeter (mm) sizes of Diamond Carat Weights are as follows:
Points – Carats – Fractions
Take a look at the chart below to see what the Points are, Carats are and Fractions are of your Diamond. Plus, see what that Carat Weight is often referred to as.
Carat Weight and Carat Weight Total
One thing to note here about Carat Weights is that there are different types of Carat Weights that shouldn’t be confused. If you’re looking at a Diamond Solitaire (Single Diamond), then the Carat Weight is simple; it’s the Weight of that single Diamond. But, if you’re looking at a Diamond Wedding Set, then things can change. You’ll have the Carat Weight of the center Diamond and the Carat Weight of the side stones.
The Jeweler was giving you the Total Carat Weight of the ENTIRE ring (or Carat Total Weight written as ctw), and not the breakdown of the Center Diamond Carat Weight and the side stone Carat Weight. This makes a HUGE difference. The center Diamond could only be .33 Carat and the other .92 Carat could be in the little side Diamonds. Not good! Especially if the ring down the street had a much larger Carat Weight in the center. The point is, if they give you a Carat Weight of the ring, make sure you find out if that’s the Carat Weight of the center Diamond or the Carat Weight of the entire ring. Knowing this info can help you compare rings and prices elsewhere.
The Same Carat Weights can look different!
Two One Carat Diamonds put side by side can also look totally different in size as well. It’s like two people standing side by side could be the same weight, but one could be tall and skinny, the other short and fat. Diamonds are no different. From the top view, one could look 25% smaller than the other Diamond, if not more. It all depends on how the Diamond is Cut (which all depends on how much profit they can make from the initial parent rock). Things like mm sizes, Ideal Proportions and Girdle Thickness all come into play (which we will all get into with other posts). Everything is affected by Carat Weight, even the Inclusions in the stone (or more appropriately, the Clarity of the Diamond). Carat Weight affects how strictly Diamonds are graded as well. Bigger Diamonds get graded more thoroughly. Larger Carat Weights make it easier to spot Flaws and Imperfections, plus larger Carat Weights also show off the Color of the Diamond better.
LEARN ALL ABOUT THE CLARITY OF DIAMONDS
Diamond Clarity is all about the Amount of Flaws and Imperfections (called Inclusions and Blemishes) that a Diamond has. The less Flaws (or Clarity Characteristics), the Cleaner the Stone, the Higher the Clarity, Quality and Value becomes.
Almost all Diamonds have some sort of Flaws and Identifying Marks that make them unique in nature. These Flaws form a Fingerprint in the Diamond and no two Diamonds are alike. Think about people born with Birthmarks, Moles, Freckles… Everything born in nature has it’s own Characteristics and it’s own Identity. Flaws can be many things a Black Spot in the Diamond, a Chip on the Girdle, a Fracture running through the Stone, a Rough Spot on the Facet, a Cloudy Area in the Pavilion, a Pin-Point by the Crown.
Flaws can be Internal (inside the Diamond), called Inclusions. Or they can be External Flaws that come to the surface or outside of the stone, called Blemishes.
Take a quick glance at the picture below for the 6 different Clarity Grades.
Inclusions and Blemishes
Below are the types of Inclusions and Blemishes that determine what Clarity Grade a Diamond gets. This Clarity Grade depends on a number of Factors: The Number of Flaws in the Diamond, the Size of the Inclusions, their Position, their Color and the Nature of their Characteristics.
There are many types of Internal Flaws. They are:
Feathers - A Feather can be any type of break or crack in the stone. It’s called a Feather because it generally has a white appearance like a Feather. This can happen when the Diamond was growing, or if the Diamond is hit hard enough. Feathers are normally of two different types: Cleavages and Fractures.
Cleavages - Cleavages are usually a break in a weak spot in the Diamond.
Fractures - Fractures are many jagged breaks in different directions.
Bearded Girdle - A Bearded Girdle is when the Diamond has small hairline breaks or fractures that surround the outside edge (the Girdle) of the Diamond. This can be caused when the Diamond was Cut, or it could be caused from years of wear and tear. A lot of older Diamonds and Estate Diamonds often have Bearded Girdles. It’s wise to scope them with a loupe before purchasing.
Cavity - A Cavity is exactly what it sounds like; a hole in the Diamond usually caused by the Cutting Process (Kind of like pulling a knot out of a tree).
Bruise - A Bruise is a small fracture in a Diamond usually caused by a quick, sharp blow.
Chips - Chips are small chunks taken out of the Diamond, usually on the Crown or Girdle of the Diamond (the part of the Diamond that gets the most abuse). A Chip is caused by the right amount of force (a sudden strike), at just the right angle.
Grain Lines - Grain Lines are like rings in a tree. Graining is irregular growth patterns that show up in the Diamond. Often they will look like ripples or waves in the stone.
Cloud - A cloud is a foggy or cloudy area in the Diamond that’s caused by a lot of small inclusions all grouped together.
Crystal - Crystals are other rocks or minerals that get embedded or trapped inside the Diamond when the Diamond was formed or brought to the surface of the earth. The interesting thing about Crystals is that many Crystals found in a Diamond are actually pieces of Diamond that crystallized differently than the rest of the stone. A lot of Crystals are dark and stand out like a sore thumb. These Crystals are commonly called Carbon Spots or Black Carbon Spots. They are a Diamond’s #1 Inclusion!
Laser Drill Hole - A Laser Drill Hole is a hole or tube left behind after a Diamond has been Laser Drilled to remove or burn out a sightly Inclusion.
Pinpoint - A Pinpoint is a small, tiny crystal that looks like little, bitty dots in the stone.
Now we move onto the Flaws that show up on the outside or surface of the stone:
Knot - A Knot is a Crystal that is exposed to the surface of the Diamond usually through the Cutting Process.
Extra Facet - Extra Facets are usually Facets that are added to a Diamond to remove an Inclusion or Flaw that sits close to the outside or Girdle of the Diamond. Extra Facets are common and will help raise the Clarity Grade of the stone (because it removes the Flaw). As long as the Extra Facet is small and around the Girdle (or underneath it), it won’t affect the beauty or value of a Diamond.
Abrasion - An Abrasion is where the sharp knife edges of the Facets (where they meet) get worn down or rounded away through normal wear and tear or by the Cutting Process.
Natural - A Natural is part of the original Diamond that didn’t get Cut or Polished like the rest of the stone. Usually Naturals are on the Diamond Girdle and often these Naturals contain a very cool triangular Growth Pattern called Trigons!
Nick - A Nick is a small Chip taken out of the Girdle or Facet. Usually this is caused by hitting the Diamond with brute force or pressure.
Polish Lines - Polish Lines are Lines that are left on the surface of the stone by irregular Polishing.
Pit - A Pit is a small opening on the surface of the stone, usually looking like a pinpoint, but coming to the outside of the Diamond.
Polish Marks - Polish Marks are burnt areas on the surface of the stone caused by too much Polishing.
Rough Girdle - Rough Girdles are rough, grainy spots on the Girdle caused by bad polishing.
Scratches - Scratches are scratches on the outside of the Diamond usually caused by the polisher or rubbing up against another Diamond.
Grain Lines - Grain Lines are waves or ripples that appear on the Facets of the Diamond. This is usually caused by irregular growth patterns.
Diamond Clarity Grades
FL – Flawless
Flawless (FL) Diamonds have no microscopic Inclusions or Blemishes in the Diamond whatsoever. The interesting thing about Flawless Diamonds is the fact that they can still contain characteristics like Extra Facets, Naturals or Internal Graining, as long as they aren’t apparent in the face up view and don’t distort the Diamond in any way.
IF – Internally Flawless
Internally Flawless (IF) Diamonds are Internally free of any Inclusions. BUT, these Diamonds may have some minor Blemishes on the surface of the stone… As well as Extra Facets and Naturals like Flawless Diamonds do.
VVS1 – Very Very Slightly Included 1
Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1) Diamonds (Level 1). Inclusions in VVS1 Diamonds are so small and so minute that they are extremely difficult to locate under 10x (ten powered) magnification. Normally you would have to view a VVS1 Diamond from the side view (Pavilion) to see any Flaws and even then, it is usually just a pinpoint or two.
VVS2 – Very Very Slightly Included 2
Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS2) Diamonds (Level 2). VVS2 has very difficult to see Inclusions in the stone. Anything in the VVS2 Range or higher will look Flawless to the average person. Only an expert with a trained eye can usually detect these small, very tiny identifying marks.
VS1 – Very Slightly Included 1
Very Slightly Included (VS1) Diamonds (Level 1). VS Diamonds are my favorite Diamonds in the world. In VS1 Clarity, the Inclusions are still difficult to see under 10x magnification. If helped, most customers can spot these flaws and imperfections. It also helps if these marks are listed on a Diamond Plot (which we’ll get into later). Inclusions get a tad bit bigger than those in a VVS Clarity Diamond. These Inclusions range from Crystals, Clouds, Pinpoints and Feathers. VS1 Diamonds are beautiful, stunning and allow light to pass freely through the stone to enhance the Sparkle and Brilliance..
VS2 – Very Slightly Included 2
Very Slightly Included (VS2) Diamonds (Level 2) are very similar to VS1 Diamonds. The only difference between Level 1 and Level 2 are the size and position of the Inclusions. They get somewhat easier to spot under magnification and the Flaws may gravitate more towards the center of the stone, versus outside and underneath the Facets. Higher than that (VVS1 & VVS2), there is no real physical traits that people can identify with. VVS looks perfect. You could be looking at a Man-Made Diamond or a Diamond Fake and never know it.
SI1 – Slightly Included 1
Slightly Included (SI1) Diamonds (Level 1). Inclusions and Flaws in an SI1 Diamond will be easy to spot under 10x power. People have no problems seeing Flaws like Crystals, Clouds, Feathers and Carbon Spots under the scope. SI1 is the lowest Clarity Grade that is normally recommend because SI1 is the first grade of Diamond where the Inclusions become microscopic only. They can’t be seen with the naked eye. This is what makes SI1 such a great Diamond. The Diamond looks clean to the naked eye, but you don’t pay an arm and a leg for it like you would with a VVS or VS Diamond. SI Diamonds are the easiest to identify under a microscope because the Inclusions are easy to see and pick out. Anytime in your life you can view this Diamond under a scope and see those same exact flaws. Doing this will keep you from getting ripped off. Being able to memorize and identify your Flaws protects you and your Diamond.
SI2 – Slightly Included 2
Slightly Included (SI2) Diamonds (Level 2). Inclusions in an SI2 Diamond are very easy to see under a 10x powered loupe or microscope. Comparing an SI2 Diamond up against a VS2 Diamond can often be startling. It’s amazing how much bigger the Inclusions get. SI2 Diamonds often have flaws so large that you can see these from the naked eye, but often, these Inclusions are only seen when viewed from the side of the Diamond (through the Pavilion). Black Marks, Cracks, Clouds and Feathers are common in SI2 Stones. SI2 Diamonds are the most questionable Clarity of any grades. And that’s because it divides all the other grades into two groups:
1) Inclusions that are microscopic
2) Inclusions that you can see with the naked eye. Anything SI1 or higher is microscopic. Anything I1 or lower is eye visible.
When Inclusions get so large that they are eye visible, they can’t help but stand out and get noticed. Once you see them you will always see them. The sad thing about eye visible Inclusions are the fact that they can affect the Beauty and Sparkle of the Diamond. Inclusions can stop light from entering and leaving the Diamond, which makes the Stone Sparkle less and makes the Flaws stand out even more.
SI3 – Slightly Included 3
Slightly Included (SI3) Diamonds (Level 3). Here’s some important info… There is no SI3 Clarity! GIA (the founders of the 4 C’s) do NOT recognize SI3 as a Clarity Grade. But, you will still find SI3 Clarity on the market. Some other Certification companies added SI3 into their grading just to smooth over the gap between SI2 and I1 Clarity Diamonds better. The only thing it does is confuse the public more and make I1 Clarity Diamonds sound better. Walk into any Jewelry Store today and chances are if you look at their Clarity Grading Charts you’ll see no SI3 Clarity. It’s because those Grading Charts are GIA’s Grading Charts and just about every Jeweler in America uses it to show, sell, purchase and price Diamonds with. There is no SI3..
I1 – Imperfect 1
Imperfect (I1) Diamonds (Level 1) (or Included Diamonds) have eye visible Inclusions in them. These Inclusions are usually quite striking. Cracks, Black Carbon Spots, Cloudy or Foggy areas, Fracture Lines… Things you can actually see just by looking at the stone. I Clarity is usually not the right Clarity Grade for an Engagement Ring. Usually those are reserved for SI1 or higher. Inclusions in an I1 Clarity Diamond are so significant, they can even affect the durability of the stone (the larger the flaws, the weaker a Diamond becomes). I1 Clarity is the highest of the I Clarity group. If you must buy an I Clarity Diamond, get an I1 over all else. And then, it’s usually only because of price!
I2 – Imperfect 2
Imperfect (I2) Diamonds (Level 2) (or Included Diamonds) have Inclusions that get bigger and fill more of the stone. You’ll have no problems spotting these Flaws, Feathers, Crystals, Needles, Cracks, Fractures and Carbon Spots. Often these Inclusions will be straight down in the Diamond (right under the table, or top of the stone) where they hinder Brilliance, Sparkle and Fire. Comparing an I2 Diamond to an SI2 Diamond is a huge leap. There’s a visible difference as well as a massive difference under the microscope..
I3 – Imperfect 3
Imperfect (I3) Diamonds (Level 3) (or Included Diamonds) are the lowest Clarity Grade on the market. Below that are what they call Industrial Diamonds (that are used in Dentist’s Drills and for cutting other Diamonds). You will always find exceptional deals on I3 Clarity Diamonds because there is nothing lower. I3 Clarity will often be so filled with Flaws and Imperfections that the entire stone will look Cloudy and Foggy. Most I3 Diamonds Lack any Sparkle and most are pretty brittle and can shatter with the right amount of strike or hit. You even have to be careful when setting an I3 Clarity Diamond in a mounting because the Internal Flaws are Weak and Vulnerable. Without the Brilliance and Shine to cover up their Flaws like most Diamonds have, Flaws in an I3 stand out even more.
The Clarity Diamonds (I1, I2 & I3) do NOT make great Engagement Rings. Close scrutiny makes these Flaws look Unattractive and Unappealing. If you buy an I Clarity Diamond, make sure you microscope them well. Look at the stone from all angles and sides. Some I Clarity Diamonds are not that bad and face up well. Some people see the flaws in them, others do not. Every Diamond is different and will have their own characteristics.
Reading about Inclusions and actually seeing Inclusions are two different things. You owe it to yourself to head on out to a Jeweler near you and inspect some stones. It is always recommended to looking at a Diamond in each of the different Clarity Ranges (VVS1, VS1, SI1 and I1). Looking at these 4 Clarity groups will really show you their differences quickly. You’ll see pretty much invisible Inclusions (VVS1), grow a tad bigger (VS1) and then enlarge (SI1) until they get really noticeable (I1). Do note that Diamonds are Graded with 10x Powered Magnification and that’s what you should view Diamonds with to see the Details and Imperfections in the stone. Hand Held Jeweler’s Loupes are great as well, but most customers don’t know how to use them well, or really see anything in the stone because of the focal length. It takes a lot of practice. A Microscope (Binocular – for both eyes) is better for customers to use and also makes it easier for them to view the inclusions with. Microscopes also have the correct lighting needed to show off the stones well and allow you to see the Identifying Marks. When you scope Diamonds you should view them in the face up position, from a side view and also from the bottom. This way you can see the Diamond from all sides and see the inclusions without the mask of the Reflection or Brilliance.
Most Certified Diamonds have a diagram or plot of the stone. This diagram is listed right on the report and may look like one of the images on side. Marks on this diagram show where the inclusions and blemishes are in the Diamond. Viewing these Diamonds under a scope and rotating the stone to line up the Inclusions with the Plot will help you understand Flaws and bring them to life. You should be able to spot them better once you know where they are. Plots like these are like a finger print of the Diamond. No two Diamonds will ever look the same.
Shop & Compare Clarity
Shop and Compare and always buy your Diamond Certified. Buying Certified guarantees that the Diamond you’re looking at is the Diamond you’re buying.Cut plays a huge role in how beautiful a Diamond is. The better the Cut of the Diamond, the more sparkle and shine you will get. That sparkle helps hide other Flaws and Inclusions inside the stone.With Diamonds, Clarity is one of the 4C’s that make up the value of a Diamond. Make sure you take everything else into consideration as well. Because any Clarity of Diamond SI1 or higher will look the same to the naked eye.You’ll need a microscope to spot these small differences.