Diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring mineral in the world. It takes years of crushing pressure and intense heat for them to grow deep within the earth. Their beauty, durability and rarity are perhaps the reasons they have been adored and sought after forever.
Buying a diamond is a very personal experience. Diamonds can be purchased to symbolize love, significant accomplishments or milestones in one's life. There are many factors that contribute to the beauty and value of a diamond. However, to gain the basic knowledge, see below for the 4Cs which provides four key factors to consider.
A diamond can be cut into any shape you can imagine. The most common and available shape today are: Round, Oval, Princess, Marquise, Pear, Radiant and Emerald Cut.
The Cut of a diamond essentially refers to its proportions. Before a diamond is cut, the location of inclusions and flaws, natural coloration and original shape of the rough stone are studied extensively. The stone facets are then mapped out and cut in a way that maximizes size, shape and clarity. For optimal light performance (and beauty), diamonds should be cut neither too shallow nor too deep or maximum brilliance will be compromised. A well cut diamond will have optimum sparkle and brilliance. Cut is not to be confused with the shape of the diamond but rather how the diamond is proportioned and its ratios.
Diamonds are Color Graded based on the absence or presence of color they possess. The diamond Color Grading scale runs from D-color (colorless) to Z-color (light yellow) An absolutely colorless diamond (D-color) is extremely rare and, therefore, quite valuable. Fine jewelry is usually set with diamonds of at least G-J color.
Every diamond is distinguished by its unique natural characteristics. These characteristics can be present on the surface (blemishes) or within the stone (inclusions). The clarity of a diamond is determined by the number and types of these characteristics which are observed using a jewelers 10 x loupe (10 power corrected magnification) Clarity Grade is designated using a scale that runs from FL (defined as Flawless) to I-3 (defined as possessing inclusions visible to the naked eye/without magnification).
Flawless: No internal or external flaws.
Internally Flawless: No internal flaws.
VVS1, VVS2 Diamonds
Very, Very Slightly included: Very difficult to see inclusions with 10x magnification.
VS1, VS2 Diamonds
Very Slightly Included: Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification and may be visible with the unaided eye.
S1, S2 Diamonds
Slightly Included: Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification to a skilled grader.
I1, I2, I3 Diamonds
Included: Inclusions are visible with the unaided eye.
Diamond size is measured using a unit of weight referred to as a "carat." As a matter of reference, a carat is equivalent to .2 gram or .007 of an ounce. Carat weight can be further divided using a unit of weight referred to as "points." There are 100 points in a one carat diamond. So, a 1/4 carat diamond can also be expressed as 25 points (or 0.25 ct.) When comparing two diamonds, however, please note that two diamonds with the same weight can appear visually different in size due to the way they are cut (or proportioned.)
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