Buying a diamond is a major achievement—not because the diamond itself means anything on its own, but if you have come to the point where you are looking to buy this gem stone it is quite likely that you have a special statement to make to a very important person. In many cases, the first diamond a person buys is for an engagement ring.
But the process of buying a diamond is not easy. After all, there are several different grades of the stone that you will want to consider. These are known as “the Four C’s”.
The cut grade of a diamond does not refer to its shape (pearl, oval, round, etc) but actually the proportions of the stone itself, as well as its symmetry and polish. The cut determines the “beauty” of the diamond, moreso than any other factor. While they are not easy to analyze and to quantify, the cut of a diamond effects the appearance of a diamond in three distinct ways:
- brilliance (how white light reflects from its surface)
- fire (dispersion of light through the colors of the visible spectrum)
- scintillation (flashes or sparkles of light and dark according the movement of light)
When a diamond is cut properly, light enters and refracts outward through the crown. When cut improperly, the light will refract downward, resulting in less of the three qualities.
You may not know this but diamonds can actually come in a variety of colors; some are more highly prized than others. In a white diamond, the lesser the presence of color, the better.
Diamonds are graded on the following color scale.
- Colorless (grades D, E, F)
- Near Colorless (grades G, H, I, J)
- Faint Color (grades K, L, M)
- Very Light Color (grades N, R)
- Light Color (S, Z)
As with cut and color, the “clarity” of a diamond is graded on a scale. The scale judges how impeccable the stone is:
- FL—Flawless diamonds have no inclusions or blemishes
- IF—Internally Flawless diamonds have no inclusions but some visible blemishes
- VVS1/VVS2—Very Very Slightly Included diamonds have some inclusions that can be seen under magnification
- VS1/VS2—Very Slightly Included diamonds have more inclusions that some might see with the naked eye
- SI1/SI2—Slightly Included diamonds are the lowest grade to have flaws not typically visible to the naked eye
- I1/I2/I3—Included diamonds have flaws visible to the naked eye
Basically, the carat grade is the weight of the stone. The carat is a unit of measurement equal to 0.2 grams (or 0.007 ounces). Approximately 5 cts equals 1 gm. Obviously, this grade is determined by simply weighing the stone.