Buying a diamond is an important purchase. Whether in an engagement ring, a bracelet, a necklace or as pair of earrings (link to each product), diamonds have an unmistakable message: the wearer is loved and admired.
In our Engagement Ring Buying Guide, we introduced you to the Four C’s of a diamond: cut, color, clarity and carat. These four things determine the value of a diamond, so it’s important that you have a good understanding of what to look for when purchasing a diamond. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the Four C’s.
Many people mistake cut for shape, but when we discuss cut we’re referring to the brilliancy displayed by the amount of light entering and reflecting through top of the diamond. A properly cut diamond allows the maximum amount of light for a gorgeous, sparkling stone. When a stone is cut too shallow or too deep, light can escape through the bottom or side of the diamond, where it goes unseen by the eye.
Believe it or not, in its natural state a diamond can be pretty unremarkable in appearance. It’s not until it’s polished and cut properly that you can truly see its brilliance. So what are diamond cutters, who are aided by lasers and diamond cutting software, looking to achieve when cutting a raw diamond? They’re looking to maximize the brilliance, fire and scintillation of the diamond by allowing light to enter all facets of the diamond and exit through its top, called the table. How do they achieve this? In simple terms, they cut the diamond to an ideal width and depth, but this is a complicated procedure that involves calculations and measurements of all of its facets. Those facets are:
These facets cut in dimension and symmetry will display the optimum brilliance, fire and scintillation of a diamond.
Here’s something you may not have known: diamonds naturally come in every color of the rainbow. However for commercial purposes, they are usually sold only in shades of white. The Gemological Institute of America ranks the color of diamonds from D (colorless) to Z (light color), but most reputable jewelers won’t sell anything less than a J (near colorless) diamond. The differences between color grades are very subtle, but a colorless diamond (grades D,E,F) can be noticeably more radiant than a near colorless diamond (grades G,H,I,J). The best way to see these differences is in person, through a microscope, however this chart illustrates just how subtle the differences can be.
The clarity of a diamond is determined by the amount of flaws, scratches and blemishes, known as inclusions, as seen when under a microscope. Even though they are usually unseen to the naked eye, most diamonds have these inclusions, which can affect the value of a diamond. The Gemological Institute of America ranks diamond clarity from Flawless to Imperfect.
When choosing a diamond it’s important to recognize that most inclusions cannot be seen by the naked eye and therefore do not have a large bearing on the beauty of a diamond. With that in mind, it’s important to choose a diamond that is free from visible inclusions. A diamond that is ranked SI2 or higher should be free from these inclusions.
The size of a diamond is usually seen as proportionate to its value; a big diamond usually means big money. That may be true, but there are diamonds for every ring and for every budget. To get an idea on the cost per carat, take a look at the following chart:
Once you’ve chosen your diamond by cut, color and clarity you should then find the size which fits best into your budget. Keep in mind that if you are buying the diamond for an engagement ring, finger size can also be a factor when determining which carat of diamond to purchase. A large diamond on a small setting with a dainty hand can look silly and is also at a higher risk of coming loose. Try to find out what your bride would like in a diamond size by examining other jewelry she may wear.
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