An Education In Diamonds

Saturday, June 22, 2013



This ones for the men, the clueless, the interested and the self confessed diamonds lovers. Some men are looking to buy a perfect ring for The One, some ladies have no clue about ring preferences because they don't understand all the technicalities and different shapes but they want a beautiful ring sitting on their well manicured finger. Others have a fair idea but want a more robots understanding of diamonds so I have done some extensive research on this topic, not only when I thought about this blog post but in the past because I'm particularly interested in rings. I have read complicated articles and delved into quite some depth on the topic but I have decided to keep it simple and easy to understand. I hope this educates and sheds some light on what may have been an otherwise very confusing and grey area for some. 

*images are taken from the web and mostly Bluenile.com

To keep it simple, there are 2 main things you need to know when you are looking to buy diamonds. You must know of the famous 4C's  which comprise of Cut, Carat, Clarity and Colour and secondly you mush consider the shape of diamond that you like. Let me explain....

Cut

This is the most important characteristic when looking at choosing or buying a diamond as this more than any of the four C's influences the diamonds overall beauty and how much it sparkles or shines. To put it colloquially or plainly how much the diamond 'blings'.  The one key thing to understand about the importance of the cut is light. Basically how much light goes into the diamond and comes back out causing it to sparkle. The illustration below will help exemplify my point bearing in mind that you look at diamonds from the surface which is the flat part in the illustration below. If a diamond is cut too low or shallow light escapes from underneath, so when you look at the top not as much light comes through. If it is cut ideally the light hits the bottom and comes back to the surface of the diamond which is what you are looking at which means the diamond will sparkle or 'bling' as it were. If it is cut too deep the light will escape out of the side and when you look at the surface the diamond wont shine as much. When a diamond is well cut and light reflects properly it makes it appear larger and it shines. 




Carat

This speaks to the weight of the ring and not the physical size or length of it. To further explain my point, the way a persons physical height doesn't necessarily have a bearing on how much they will weigh is the same way the a diamonds size isn't an indication of its carat weight. The diamonds cut grade and measurement in millimetres across the surface are incidental to considering the carat weight. As discussed above when a diamond is cut well it appears larger, when it is cut poorly a lot of the weight may be hidden in the base of the diamond causing it to appear smaller.

Clarity

The clarity of a diamonds refers to the number and size of minute imperfections seen inside the diamond. As I said these are minute and of microscopic proportions so it does not affect the appearance of the diamonds overall beauty when you look at it. Diamonds with the least imperfections will be awarded a higher clarity grade. If the most important thing to you is the aesthetic of your diamond, clarity has the least impact. So when it comes to buying, if you're forced to compromise on any of the 4 C's it should be the clarity. 

  
Name of the Grade
FL, IF

Meaning of the Grade:
Flawless, Internally Flawless: No internal or external imperfections. Internally Flawless: No internal imperfections. Very rare.
VVS1,
VVS2

Very, Very Slightly Included: Very difficult to see imperfections under 10x magnification. An excellent quality diamond.
VS1,
VS2

Very Slightly Included: Imperfections are not typically visible to the unaided eye. Less expensive than the VVS1 or VVS2 grades.
SI1,
SI2

Slightly Included: Imperfections are visible under 10x magnification, and may be visible with the unaided eye. A good diamond value.
I1
Included: Blue Nile offers a limited selection of jewelry with diamonds of I1 grade clarity. This grade of diamonds will have minor inclusions that may be visible to the unaided eye.
I2, I3Blue Nile does not carry diamonds of I2 or I3 grade clarity *The above information contained in this box is from www.bluenile.com

Colour

This refers to a lack of colour in the diamond. The less the colour in it the diamond the better, so it's essentially grading the whiteness of the diamond. The whiter the diamond the 'cleaner' and better it is. D is the highest or in laymans terms whitest possible and Z is the end of the spectrum that you don't want to be in, it being the lowest grade.  Diamonds from J up to D are near colourless to colourless and such colour is not easily detectable buy the naked eye or by an experts microscope.



Z-NNoticeable color. 
M-KNoticeable color. 
J-INear-colorless. An exceptional value with slightly detectable warmth or tone.
H-GNear-colorless. Color difficult to detect unless compared side-by-side against diamonds of better grades. An excellent value.
F-EColorless. Minute traces of color can be detected by an expert gemologist. A rare diamond.
DAbsolutely colorless. The highest color grade. Extremely rare.
*The above information contained in this box is from www.bluenile.com




Different Diamond Shapes


Now that we have looked at the 4C's it is time to pick your preferred diamond shape and know what it is called. This is a purely subjective exercise but the information below may be helpful in making your selection.
  • Round/Brilliant: This shape is by far the most popular and most researched shape. As there are no edges colour isn't easily detectable and it refracts the light the best of all the shapes seen above. When clarity and colour are equal amongst a round stone and another shape the round stone will be considered more valuable.
  • Princess: The princess is essentially a square cut diamond. The pointed edges  at 90 degrees is what make it easily identifiable as a princess because there are other cuts that look similar but don't have pointed edges. The more closely cut to a perfect square the more desirable and valuable the princess cut would be.
  • Emerald: Known for beauty and precision it is so named because it was originally on used only emeralds. The emerald looks rectangular in appearance and is taller than a princess. What makes it unique is its pavilion which is cut with rectangular facets to create a unique optical appearance.  The more facets created by the diamond cutter the more valuable the diamond would be. If there is an inclusion it would be easier to detect with the naked eye so if you're going for this shape I'd advise not going lower than S1 (see clarity chart above).
  • Asscher: The Asscher was introduced and named after Joseph Asscher, a renowned cutter in 1902. It has a unique shape and is almost identical to the emerald in that it has pavilions however, it is more square in apperance. What sets it apart from the emerald is the unique octagonal looking corners. It has an art deco appeal and diamond expects compare the facets of an asscher to a hallway lined with reflective mirrors, allowing you to see all the way through it. This shape highlights the clarity in a diamond, but inclusions may be more detectable because it has corners.
  • Marquise: This is 'boat shaped' in appearance and maximises the carat weight and also gives you a bigger looking diamond. However because the of the length, colour and clarity imperfections are more visible under a microscope. It's length is flattering makes ones finger look longer and slimmer. It is reputed to have been made for King Louis XIV of France who wanted a smile that simulated the smile of Marquise de Pompadour.
  • Oval: This has a similar brilliance to the round/brilliant shape. Its perfect for someone who wants someone slightly less traditional but the brilliance of the round cut with a flattering elongated stone to dress their finger.
  • Radiant: Created in 1977 by Henry Grossbard it combines and maintains the beauty of the square and more traditional brilliant cut whilst creating something different than was available at the time making it a versatile choice. Its unique and distinguishing feature are its trimmed corners.
  • Pear/ Tear drop: The name speaks it as its cut to resemble a drop of water. It can be set with the tip/point facing up or down, when facing up it elongates the finger. Its a cross between a marquise and and oval cut. It is renowned for its high level of brilliance boasting 58 facets.
  • Heart: Not much explanation needed here, the  heart is ultimate symbol of love and serves as a very romantic gift. It has a cleft at the top at exhibits a high brilliance, great skill is required when cutting to ensure the symmetry and that the two halves are identical.
  • Cushion: This shape was introduced in 1830 as is rooted in mining history. It has a soft romantic appeal, rounded corners, lager facets 58 in total to increase its brilliance. 
Lastly to ensure that you are getting a good quality diamond. Please ensure you obtain a diamond certificate from a recognised body. A diamond certificate is simply a report created by a team of gemologists. The diamond is evaluated, measured and scrutinised using trained eyes, a jeweller's loupe, a microscope and other industry tools. A completed certificate includes an analysis of the diamond's dimensions, clarity, colour, polish, symmetry and other characteristics.  Recognised bodies world wide include:


Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
 American Gem Society (AGS)
 European Gemological Society (EGS)
International Gemological Society (IGI)

Hoge Raad Voor Diamant (HRD)



I hope you have found this both informative and helpful after all this work don't forget to insure your ring! xoxo