Diamonds indeed come in a variety of sizes, colours, and shapes. All diamonds possess intricate combinations of characteristics that make them unique, and these characteristics also help determine a diamond’s value. Therefore, you must know what features to look for to choose the best diamond. The best way to start is by learning about the 4Cs of diamond quality.
When your significant other has that ring on their finger, the quality is a reflection of the entirety of your time together. That ring encapsulates the entire history you have with them, and it should shine as brightly as your marriage will. However, it can be hard to tell at first glance if a diamond is real or how high its quality is.
We’ve broken down a few steps to help the untrained eye in knowing if your diamond will have the right sparkle:
The easiest method is to see if the diamond is GIA-Certified. It should have come with an official GIA certificate, and some even have the GIA number inscribed on them. The certification was developed in part because it is so hard to tell the quality of a diamond from a glance. Most of us aren’t strictly specialised in determining the brilliance of a gem. Looking for a jewellery store Sydney? Look no further, Temple & Grace has you covered
The 4Cs of Diamond Quality
The American Gem Society (AGS) notes, “After all, diamonds are expensive. You want assurance that the quality you’ve paid for is the quality you are getting.” Expert jewellers and appraisers possess the knowledge and experience needed to assess the quality of a diamond. Jewellers and expert graders can evaluate your diamond using a systematic rating system for specific characteristics.
However, knowing a bit about diamonds before a purchase is valuable to consumers. The good news is that you can use the same grading system professional jewellers and gem experts use. These are known as the 4Cs. When all these elements are combined, they paint a perfect picture of the quality of your diamond.
The 4Cs of diamond quality are:
- Carat Weight (size)
All of the 4Cs are important, and when it comes to diamond quality, all should be considered. Also, the official certification your diamond holds is just as important.
Carat Weight of Your Diamond
Carat weight is undoubtedly the most objective of all the 4Cs. A calibrated digital scale measures a diamond’s carat weight. Since larger diamonds are typically worth more than smaller ones, the carat weight is often associated with quality and value. Our exclusive range of jewellery Sydney will help you find an ideal engagement ring.
Size is the most comfortable visual indicator, and weight can be accomplished with a scale. The price of a 1-carat diamond will be significantly more than, say, a .75 carat.
You may be familiar with fractional carat weight delineations for diamonds, such as one-quarter, one-half, one, etc.; carat weight is best represented using decimals. A diamond marked one carat in the store may have a carat weight of 0.89, a rounding practise commonly used in retail stores to make the piece’s value seem higher. But a 0.89-carat diamond should be significantly less expensive than a real one-carat stone, all other factors being equal.
It is also essential to understand that not all carat weights are created equal. Remember, the carat weight is just one of the many factors that affect the diamond’s value. Therefore, a two-carat diamond of lesser colour, cut, and clarity could be less expensive than a higher quality one-carat. This measurement of quality can give you a skewed perception of value. “Comparing the value of diamonds by carat weight is like comparing the value of paintings by size,” explains AGS.
It’s also important to note that one diamond may look more significant than another, even if they both have the same carat weight. Why? Some diamond shapes simply look more significant than others. For example, a one-carat round or emerald cut diamond may appear larger than a one-carat cushion cut diamond even though they are the same weight. Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you—this is solely because of the diamond’s shape.
Always consider the 4Cs, and not merely the weight when checking the quality of your diamond.
Colour Quality of Your Diamond
The colour quality of your diamond can have a significant impact on its value. The perfect diamond is colourless, and any hint of colour makes a colossal difference in your diamond’s quality. As you move down the colour scale, tinges of yellow or brown appear in the stones, and this coloured tint reduces the value and quality of the diamond.
“Many of these colour distinctions are so subtle as to be invisible to the untrained eye,” explains the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). “But these slight differences make a huge difference in diamond quality and price.”
The idea with the colour is diamonds is simply this: we don’t want any. Colour takes away from the diamond’s quality, and specific colours can hurt the brilliance more than others. For example, brown and yellow tinges are standard, but red colours will significantly decrease a diamond’s value. There are exceptional cases where they can increase the value, such as red diamonds, but these are rare. In general, unless you’re shopping for a member of the royalty, you’ll want as little colour as possible.
There is one exception to this rule, however. I will not lower the diamond’s value if the paint is judged to be a ‘fancy colour’, like a canary yellow or the ultimate rarity, a red diamond. These colours can lead to a significant increase in the price of a diamond.
A diamond’s colour quality is assessed using a 23 colour grading scale ranging from D to Z. Each letter corresponds with five subcategories of colour quality.
Elements of the GIA diamond colour grading scale are:
- Colourless (D-F)
- Near Colorless (G-J)
- Faint (K-M)
- Very Light (N-R)
- Light (S-Z)
As previously mentioned, the closer to colourless a diamond is, the higher the value and quality, but the colour is an exceedingly subjective member of the 4Cs. Surroundings when examining the colour of a diamond can affect its colour appearance. The setting and metal of the environment can also influence the colour. Women are also statistically more sensitive to colour differences in diamonds than men.
The colour quality of your diamond is undoubtedly essential. A four-carat diamond with an “S” colour grade might be far less impressive than a one-carat colourless diamond. If you want to judge the colour quality of a stone yourself, take a page from the professionals. Turn the diamond face down on a white sheet of paper in a well-lit room. This will help make any tint of colour more apparent, and then you can decide what range you are most comfortable with when making your purchase. Just remember that while colour is graded from the bottom, diamonds are viewed from the top, so consider the entire stone’s look before ruling out a colour grade.
Cut Quality of Your Diamond
The cut quality of your diamond is of aesthetic importance. A well-cut diamond is designed to dazzle, as every angle and facet of your diamond interacts with light beautifully. The cut quality is relatively objective for round diamonds, but judging the cut quality of fancy shape stones (any shape other than a round) is a little bit more subjective.
“Keep in mind that a well-cut diamond will have more life and sparkle than one with a lesser cut quality,” according to AGS.
Contrary to popular belief, the cut does not refer to the actual shape of a diamond. Terms like “princess diamond” and “pear” do not refer to cut.
When diamonds are cut, the cut needs to be performed in a certain way that lets light escape properly. This is very important because low amounts can refract light differently and dampen the brilliance of your diamond.
The perfect cut encompasses these three optical effects, making your diamond stunning:
- Brightness. This is the white light reflection off your diamond.
- Fire. Fire refers to the flashes of colour your diamond displays as light refracts due to a colourful effect.
- Scintillation. This factor is the play between the light and dark areas of your diamond.
We could go into brightness, scintillation, and many other terms, but to keep it simple: if the diamond gives a bright, “sharp” appearance, then the cut is generally high quality. When viewing the diamond, make sure there is adequate lighting in the room or area you’re in. A good diamond can only reflect a good light source, and if it gives that intense, bright shine, then you’re likely looking at a nicely cut diamond. A quality cut’s general idea is to have the perfect contrast between your diamond sight and dark areas for that brilliant, sharp appearance.
The AGS and other reputable diamond graders use a 10-point cut quality scale, but different grading laboratories will use slightly different terminology. Knowing how your diamond’s cut is assessed is vital to understanding your diamond’s quality.
The cut quality for AGS grading ranges from:
- Ideal Cut (0)
- Excellent Cut (1)
- Very Good Cut (2)
- Good Cut (3 to 4)
- Fair Cut (5 to 7)
- Poor Cut (8 to 10)
The cut of a diamond is often confused with its unique, stunning shape. While the amount is related to form, as previously mentioned, the cut and the body are not the same. Most people are familiar with the round brilliant cut diamond but might be less familiar with the fancy shapes. The most well known fancy conditions are the princess, pear, cushion, emerald, oval, and marquise. Some of the lesser-known primary forms are the Asscher, heart, and radiant.
The best way to judge the cut quality of a diamond isn’t to use tools like the Holloway Cut Advisor, which is both outdated and inaccurate but is actually to view a diamond in person. There is no better judge of light performance than to see the light performance for yourself, and you will know immediately if you are happy with it or not. To get the best feel, examine the stone under different lighting types, including indoors and natural light. Move the diamond around to see how it sparkles when the light hits it. Just remember, if there is low external lighting, you can’t expect a lot of brilliance from the stone since diamonds don’t generate light on their own!
Clarity Rating of Your Diamond
Finally, we have Clarity, which is more difficult to judge with the naked eye. This is where you look for imperfections, inclusions, and other faults.
In particular, chips are essential because they can make the diamond more prone to cracking and shattering. Diamonds are intense, but there are still forces that can ruin your gem under the right circumstances. At some point, everyone is going to bang their ring into something or scrape it against a wall by accident. The better the clarity, the less likely something wrong will happen from that.
The clarity rating of your diamond is another essential element to understand. A flawless diamond has no inclusions or surface imperfections. In contrast, a low clarity quality will have inclusions that can be spotted by the unaided eye and may even have chips or other surface aberrations.
Why does clarity impact the quality and value of a diamond? AGS notes, “Clarity is considered important in the value of a diamond because of the notion that diamonds with a higher clarity are rarer in nature.” Not only is it an essential characteristic in the rarity of a stone, but a diamond with a shallow clarity grade will be less brilliant. It may even have a somewhat cloudy appearance. Diamonds with low clarity grades are also prone to chipping, cracking, or even shattering, mainly if the inclusions are located around the diamond’s edges.
Diamond clarity characteristics are graded while the diamond is being examined under 10x magnification. The clarity quality is then indicated using a clarity scale with 11 clarity grades. And these grades are essential for you to understand.
Diamond clarity grades under 10x magnification include:
- Flawless (FL) diamonds have no inclusions or blemishes.
- Internally Flawless (IF) diamonds have no internal inclusions but may have slight surface blemishes visible under 10x magnification.
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1) and (VVS2) diamonds have minute inclusions that are difficult to see, even under 10x magnification.
- Very Slightly Included (VS1) and (VS2) diamond have minor inclusions that are sometimes detected very easily under 10x magnification. These inclusions are invisible to the naked eye, however.
- Slightly Included (SI1) and (SI2) diamonds have noticeable inclusions under magnification visible to the unaided eye.
- Included (I1), (I2), and (I3) diamonds have noticeable inclusions easily visible to the naked eye with potential durability risk the further down the scale you go.
- Flawless diamonds are scarce—and incredibly expensive. But fortunately, diamonds with lower clarity grades can appear perfect to the naked eye. Even though they are not ideal, Diamonds that appear flawless are known as “eye clean” diamonds. This means the diamond does not have any inclusions that are visible to the naked eye. Eye clean diamonds are far less expensive than flawless diamonds and just as beautiful, so most customers feel comfortable choosing these diamonds.
If you’d like a more detailed look at the diamond, you can always ask for a jeweller’s loupe to examine the stone under magnification, but it can be hard to judge clarity for a layperson. Just be sure that you view the diamond outside of the fancy lights in a jewellery store. These lights are specifically designed to increase brilliance and help hide visible clarity characteristics.
Ways To Tell If Your Diamond Is Real
It’s nearly impossible to tell if it is real or fake by just looking at a diamond or a crystal. Imitation diamonds, like cubic zirconia or zircon, often look nearly identical to actual diamonds—even though they are composed of totally different materials. But there are a few tips and tricks that will help you determine whether or not your stone is the real thing. Check out our extensive range of jewellery Sydney at Temple & Grace
In water, diamonds sink.
As the hardest gemstone known to man, diamonds are also too dense. This makes them durable and great for everyday wear but also makes them heavy. Because of their weight and density, diamonds sink when they’re dropped into a glass of water. Unlike diamonds, crystals are not nearly as dense. That means they tend to float just under the surface of the water or halfway in the glass.
Diamonds don’t shatter when exposed to high heats.
Because it takes millions of years to form diamonds below the earth’s surface, they are exposed to massive amounts of heat and high pressure. As a result, diamonds are incredibly durable and aren’t susceptible to damage from high heat. On the other hand, fake diamonds cannot handle heat nearly as well because they are made of weaker materials.
All diamonds have small, natural imperfections.
Because diamonds are naturally occurring, they all have some imperfections created as they formed in the earth. Alternately, human-made crystals are made to be perfectly smooth on both the inside and outside. That means they don’t have imperfections, known as inclusions, like real diamonds.
Real diamonds turn blue under a black light.
If you have access to a black light, you can tell if a diamond is real quickly. In a dark room, turn on the blacklight and hold up your stone. Many natural diamonds turn a shade of blue under UV lighting because of the minerals inside the stone. Fake diamonds, on the other hand, will light a yellow, grey, or green shade. This drastic difference in fluorescence makes it easy to tell the difference between a real or fake stone.
Real diamonds don’t fog up.
If you take the stone and breath on it—whether it’s real or fake—it will fog up, just like a mirror. The difference, however, is in how long the fog lasts on the stone’s surface. With real diamonds, the mist will disappear quickly because diamonds conduct heat. This heat ensures that the moisture doesn’t stay on the surface long. Fake diamonds, however, can’t conduct heat, so that they will remain fogged up for several seconds. If you notice that the fog is long-lasting, the stone may be fake.