Diamond Buying Guide
What makes a diamond special?
You do of course! A diamond ring takes on the meaning that you give it. It's a statement that you have committed your life to someone. How you convey that is as personal and unique as you are. Diamonds are an enduring way to express your love for those milestones in your life together.
Never before have we had so many diamond options as we do today. Modern mining and cutting, lab created diamonds and color treatments make it more exciting than ever to be able to tailor your choice to fit your unique style.
Having a lot of options can be confusing, so we are committed to helping you to make an educated choice by sharing the GIA standards that gemologists and jewelers use to grade diamonds all around the world.
GIA is short for the Gemological Institute of America. It is the undisputed authority in gemology and the original author of the grading system that is most widely used today to grade the color, clarity, cut and carat weight of diamonds. These are some of the main characteristics that make up your diamond's beauty and value.
Every diamond is as unique as a snowflake, so creating a grading system has its challenges. Each grade letter or number represents a range rather than a specific quantifier, so not every G color will be identical, but rather there is a range of color from the one grade to the next. To complicate matters further, diamonds are often graded by people rather than machines and each grader may see the color or clarity as slightly different than another grader. This is why it's SO important to see the diamond in person and to understand that the grade is meant as a guideline. What is most important is that a diamond is beautiful to You!
A diamond's shape is the overall shape the outer edge makes.
The most popular shape is the round brilliant cut. The
round is a classic and, when all other features are equal, a round
will sparkle more because light is reflected evenly in every direction. Shape is different from the cut which refers to the
angles and proportions of the facets.
Fancy shapes like the oval, marquise, and pear cuts lengthen
the finger and tend to have a little more surface area and bigger look per carat. If you're looking for elegance and uniqueness,
these are great options.
Square shapes are attractive as well and, next to the round brilliant, reflect light more evenly than longer cuts. Princess, radiant and cushion shapes are great for symmetrical designs and the person with a modern "edgy" style.
Ascher, emerald and baguette cuts are an entirely different type of cut in that they are not classified as a "brilliant cut" like the others but rather are called "step cuts". This is because the facets (or flat areas) are arranged in a parallel fashion. This causes the light to be reflected in wide bands of white light and color flashes similar to a prism. Because there are fewer facets these cuts demand a higher clarity because inclusions (tiny crystals and minerals trapped inside the diamond) are more visible in this style of cut. This style of cut is attractive to those with a keen eye for symmetry and quality.
The choice of shape is a personal one...all diamonds are beautiful, but each person is going to have their own
personal favorite. Just like falling in love, you'll know it when
you experience it!
Ideal proportions for a round brilliant cut.
Cut is incredibly important to the beauty and value of your diamond. It refers to the way the flat areas, or facets are applied to the rough diamond. A diamond's cut determines how light is reflected when it enters your diamond. If the diamond proportions and angles are done well, your diamond will sparkle more and reflect not only white light (brilliance), but it will also show a rainbow of colors (dispersion).
A poorly cut diamond will still have some sparkle because light will still reflect off of its surfaces, but it will also have a lot of light "leakage" through its bottom facets. When you see a well cut diamond next to a poorly cut diamond the difference is undeniable (see chart examples below). This is why it is SO important to see your diamond in person before purchasing!
There is a lot of inconsistent and confusing jargon out there when it comes to cut, however, physics never lies. Light will always do what light does. One way to know for sure if your diamond is well cut is to check the proportions and measurements on the diamond's grading report against GIA standards. For example, a one carat round diamond that is cut to ideal proportions should be 6.5 mm in width. If it is narrower, it is cut too deep (and will look smaller than it should). If it is wider, it is cut too shallow and there will be light loss.
We have diamond experts on hand to help guide you in your selection, show you the differences visually and allow you to choose what's beautiful to you in a comfortable, no pressure setting. We believe that diamond buying should be a fun, awe inspiring experience. After all, it's not every day that you see something that has travelled to you from 100 miles below the Earth's surface!
Carat weight refers to a unit of weight measurement. Just like there are 100 pennies in a dollar, there are 100 "points" in a carat so a 50 point diamond is also exactly a 1/2 carat. When a diamond is marketed as a fraction, the fraction can represent a range of points, so in general terms a 1/2 carat might be anywhere from 45 points to 57 points.
It is possible to have two diamonds that weigh the same but that have a different diameter. For example, the more weight a diamond carries at the bottom, the smaller it will look from the top. Just like people, diamonds can carry their weight differently. This is important, because even a slight 1/2 millimeter difference can have a big impact on how your diamond will sparkle...and after all that is the diamond's ONE job.
Variation in color intensity
Variation in diamond hues
Brown Diamond Classifications
C1-C2 Light Champagne
C3-C4 Medium Champagne
C5-C6 Dark Champagne
Most of us are familiar with colorless diamonds, but did you know that diamonds come in every color of the rainbow plus brown, gray and black? Body color is one of the first things your eye picks up when looking at a diamond. We are not talking about the beautiful flashes of reds, blues and greens that the diamond breaks light up into. We are talking about the overall hue of the diamond as a whole.
The most common and therefore affordable colors are the yellow, brown and gray tones. In less saturated tones these are still considered "colorless" vs. the more intense "fancy" colored diamonds. The GIA rating system for "colorless" diamonds runs from D (colorless) being the top grade to Z (light yellow or gray) being the lowest. The lower the grade the more affordable the diamond with all other factors being the same.
Color in diamonds can come from: trace elements such as the nitrogen in yellow diamonds or boron in blue diamonds; or slight variations in the crystal lattice structure as in pinks. Green comes from exposure to radiation, but don't worry, they are safe to wear and once exposed, don't retain radiation.
The more scarce the color occurs in nature, the more valuable the diamond will be. Some of the most rare colors are the red, pink, and vivid orange (with no brown undertone). Natural vivid colors are very rare, however, recent technological advancements have allowed diamond makers to permanently enhance colored diamonds making them much more attainable.
The color of a diamond does affect the way light moves through the diamond. The more color saturation there is, the more light the diamond will absorb, and the less brilliant it will be. That is of small matter though if you are a person that loves the rich colors that are possible with the durability that only a diamond can offer!
Pink Diamond Center
Blue Diamond Center
Clarity refers to the amount of internal and external characteristic a diamond has. As a diamond crystalizes under intense heat and pressure it may crystalize trapping another crystal such as a garnet or smaller diamond crystal inside it. It may have a distortion in its atomic structure or it may retain some of its rough surface during the faceting process. All of these characteristics can affect a diamonds beauty as well as it's durability. These characteristics are called inclusions.
The fewer inclusions your diamond has, the more light is able to pass through your diamond and the more brilliant and valuable your diamond will be. When considering what to grade a diamond, a gemologist will consider 5 different things: the size of inclusions, nature (type) of inclusion, number of inclusions, location of inclusions, and relief (color) of inclusions. Each diamond has its own unique set of inclusions and no two diamonds are exactly alike, much like a fingerprint.
Often times retailers recommend a higher clarity and therefore higher value diamond, but the truth is that to the naked eye (without magnification) it is difficult to see the difference between a VS quality diamond and a flawless one. Flawless diamonds represent only a tiny fraction of all diamonds. This type of rarity fetches a premium price!
Each diamond has its own unique features so it is difficult to compare different SI to I graded diamonds without visually seeing them. The grade does not tell the whole story when it comes to diamonds. We cannot stress enough that it is SO important to view diamonds in person before making a purchase.
It's important to work with an expert when shopping for the diamond that's right for you. Our staff is highly qualified and educated. We are happy to explain all the necessary details in plain english so that you will feel empowered to make the best choice for you.