Many gemologists consider cutting quality to be the most important
diamond characteristic because even if a diamond has perfect color and clarity,
a diamond with a poor cut will have reduced brilliance. Cut is not shape, i.e.,
pear, round, oval. Cut refers to the quality of the proportioning, polish, and symmetry.
Generally speaking, there is some agreement on how round brilliant-cut diamonds
should be cut to optimize brilliance and dispersion. However, there is no universal
standard as to what constitutes the "ultimate" or "perfect" proportions for a round
Diameter: The width of the diamond as measured through the girdle.
Table: The flat top and largest facet of a diamond.
Girdle: The narrow band around the widest part of a diamond.
Pavilion: The bottom portion of a diamond, extending from the girdle
to the point of the stone.
Culet: The facet at the tip of a diamond. The preferred culet is not
visible with the unaided eye.
Depth: The height of a diamond measured from the culet to the table.
Here's a model for one "ideal cut" diamond based on a set of proportions proposed
by a mathematician named Marcel Tolkowsky in 1919. While today's cut standards are
still based on this model, there have been deviations that produce very beautiful
diamonds. There is still no universal agreement on the "ultimate ideal cut" for
Color is personal: some people like a diamond with an ice-cold whiteness (colorless
or near-colorless), while others prefer the golden glow of a warmer color. Diamonds
with no color like D, E, F, are very rare and are more expensive than near-colorless
(G, H, I, J) diamonds.
Diamonds with a faint tinge of color (K, L, M, N, O) have a slightly warm color
and are more affordable. For those who want a larger diamond within a certain budget,
selecting diamonds with
a lower color grade may be the best option.
Less color is generally preferred but "fancy" is rare. Did you know that diamonds
come in every color of the rainbow? These rare "fancy colors" are, carat for carat,
the most expensive objects on the entire earth. Some of the highest prices paid
per carat are for fancy colored diamonds.
Fancy colors include brilliant yellows, steely blues, soft pinks, fiery oranges
and more; there's even fancy white and black. If the color is natural, as opposed
to treated, the prices of these fancies can be extremely high.
Above is the official color grading scale recognized by the international diamond
trade and trade certification laboratories. The scale runs in order of rarity from
colorless on the left to light yellow on the right.
Clarity refers to how free a diamond is from nature's "birthmarks," or tiny, generally
microscopic imperfections that make each diamond unique.
Diamonds are assigned clarity grades based on what can be detected with ten-power
(10x) magnification. Most small internal features (inclusions) and external features
(blemishes) in the diamond have little or no effect on brilliance and fire.
So, if small clarity characteristics don't affect a diamond's beauty, why are diamonds
with higher clarity grade so expensive? It's simply because diamonds with relatively
few clarity characteristics are very rare. Fortunately, diamonds of all clarity
grades and prices, including those with eye-visible inclusions, can look beautiful
depending on how well they're cut and other factors. The best advice is to look
at several diamonds of different clarity grades and let your eye be the guide!
The charts above will provide the definition of clarity grades and give you some
idea of how clarity grades compare to one another. Remember, trained professionals
perform clarity grading under ten-power binocular magnification and the average
person would have a harder time locating clarity characteristics.
Carat is the measure of weight of a diamond. 1 Carat = 0.2 grams or 0.007 ounce.
The weight of the diamond and the price per carat determines the price of a diamond.
Total Price = Weight x Price per Carat
All other things being equal, a larger diamond is rarer, and more expensive, than
a smaller one. However, since the weight of a diamond is distributed all over its
surface, a two-carat diamond doesn't look twice as big as a one-carat diamond. In
other words, a lot of the weight of a diamond isn't necessarily where you can appreciate
Take a look at the chart above and see for yourself.
Although many people equate "bigger" with "better," diamonds of all sizes have the
potential to be lively, exciting and beautiful. The most important thing is to buy
the one that's right for you.
To choose the ideal carat weight, consider the following: