Diamonds are brilliant, yet elegant and are the time-honored choice for symbolizing love and devotion. Since the purchase of a diamond is undoubtedly one of the most important purchases you will make, it is wise to have an understanding of what determines the value of a diamond. Although each diamond can be graded based on its color, clarity, cut and carat weight, its beauty relative to another’s is a highly personal decision. Whenever possible, try to look at several diamonds at the same sitting so that you can compare the contenders to one another. In many cases, one will just appeal to you more than the others.
Many diamonds have already been professionally graded and come with certificates from either GIA, The Gemological Institute of America, EGL, the European Gemological Laboratory or one of several other labs. The certificates will list all of the characteristics of the diamond.
Color — Diamonds are rated in terms of color with letters in the alphabet starting with D, which is colorless and going down the alphabet in order as the diamond becomes more yellow. Truly colorless diamonds are quite rare and most diamonds for sale in the retail market are in the G to I range.
Clarity — Clarity refers to inclusions and blemishes. Inclusions are flaws that can appear as crystals, cavities, feathers, or dark spots inside the diamond. Blemishes are marks or scratches on the surface of the diamond. Diamonds are graded on a scale from IF, internally flawless to I3, very included. I3 stones have flaws that are readily visible to the naked eye, and are a poor candidate for jewelry. When viewing diamonds take the time to look at each one through a jewelers loupe.
Cut — Cut is more than the shape of the diamond. It also includes proportion, symmetry and finish. A high quality diamond with a “good” cut is bright, fiery, symmetrical, and sparkles with light. A well cut diamond will direct more light through the crown (the top of the stone) and refract that light back in a dazzling array of brilliant colors.
Carat Weight — This refers to the weight of the diamond. The larger the diamond, the more rare it is, and is, therefore, priced differently. In other words, a 0.99 carat stone is priced less per carat than a 1.0 carat stone.
Diamonds can be breathtakingly beautiful, so do your research and you will be buying a stone that is not only beautiful, but is also fairly priced.