CHOOSING YOUR DIAMOND – the 4 C’s
Diamond clarity is a very important characteristic of diamonds. In a way, it simply states how many and what size inclusions (marks) are in the diamond.
The highest grade of diamond clarity is called “Flawless” - the diamond is internally and externally flawless. In other words there are absolutely no imperfections.
“VVS1” and “VVS2” clarity diamonds are the next level down, but it is still extremely difficult to see any inclusions in this grade, even with a 10x magnification loupe (a pocket-size magnifying device).
“Vs1” and “Vs2” clarity diamonds are used quite readily by DDS customers who want a very high quality stone with absolutely no visible inclusions to the naked eye. With a 10x loupe, only very small marks can be seen.
Si1 clarity diamonds should still be totally clean to the eye, but DDS Diamonds chooses these stones with care, making sure the inclusion or mark that can be seen with the 10x loupe is in a position to the side of the diamond, so it cannot be seen at all to the naked eye.
The next level down is an Si2 clarity. These are chosen by customers who are either on a budget or prefer to maximise the size of their diamond. With this clarity, it is very important to choose a stone that is still clean to the eye with the inclusions off to the side, so the brilliance of the diamond is not affected in any way.
At DDS Diamonds our expert gemmologists select only diamonds that are perfectly clean to the eye and reflect the next highest clarity grade, but still have the lower clarity price, giving you better value for your money.
The Cut grade of a diamond is an important factor when looking at stones as it determines the brightness and brilliance of a diamond. When stones are certified by a reputable company such as GIA (Gemmological Institute of America), they are given a cut grade of Good, Very Good or Excellent. The Polish and Symmetry of diamonds are also graded in the same way.
In the case of round diamonds it has been worked out that a perfect proportional cut will absorb all the light around it and is reflected back out through the top of the diamond. In reference to round diamonds, this is known as “Excellent” cut and gives the Round cut diamond its amazing brilliance. Whereas Poor, Fair and Good cuts mean that the diamond is either too shallow or too deep, so the light that goes into the diamond is lost out the back or the side of the stone, and the brilliance of the stone is lost.
When the perfect angles and percentages are used, the diamond will be considered an ‘Excellent’ or ‘Excellent Hearts & Arrows’ cut Diamond. “Hearts and Arrows” is a term used for Round Brilliant cut diamonds to describe the effect one sees when a diamond is cut to the exact angles specified to produce the brightest diamond possible.
When looking at the diamond directly from the top, you can see what looks like arrows radiating from the centre of the stone. When looking directly into the back of the stone, you can see hearts radiating around the centre of the diamond.
The effect of hearts and arrows can be seen with the naked eye, but is much easier to see with a Hearts and Arrows Loupe. This loupe cuts out most of the surrounding light, enabling the viewer to focus on the light reflecting from the diamond without any interference.
“Hearts and Arrows” is usually not listed on diamond grading certificates, but as DDS Diamond Design Studios has knowledge of all the details of the diamonds we supply, this information is passed on to the customer, allowing them to make a highly informed decision about the diamond that most suits them.
DDS almost always uses diamonds which are classified by GIA as ‘Excellent Cut’. ‘Very Good’ Cuts are used if a customer wants to maximise the mm size of their diamond at a budget.
When a stone is graded as “Triple Excellent”, meaning it has Excellent Cut, Excellent Polish and Excellent Symmetry, it is assured to be an incredibly bright and brilliant stone. To go into the very fine detail of exact angles and percentages is unnecessary, because GIA, the certifier, has already done that for you.
Understanding the colour grades of white and yellow diamonds – as opposed to other coloured diamonds - is very important because it affects the overall look of the diamond a great deal. The DDS diamond buyer and highly experienced gemmologist explains….
The colour of white and yellow diamonds is expressed in alphabetical order. The highest grading for colour is the letter “D”, which means it is the whitest in colour. Sometimes diamonds are noted as D+, which means it is slightly better than D, but on the diamond certificate, D is the highest grading.
The colour grades of E and F are also considered exceptional and still regarded as finest white.
The grade of G is a very good colour and still fine white. This is often used at DDS Diamond Design Studios due to its brilliance and relative affordability. The G colour grade is close to the cut-off point if you want an exceptional stone and still maximise the mm size of the diamond. Lower colours than G will begin to look slightly yellow.
H colour is still considered white and near colourless and is chosen by customers who want to reduce colour to get a slightly larger diamond. I colour is considered ‘Commercial White’ and as the label indicates, this grade is used in commercial, mass production jewellery items along with the J colour grading.
Colour grades from K to N are considered to be a ‘Faint Yellow’ colour as you can very easily see the yellow tint within the stone.
The next group of colours are O to R and these are classified as ‘Very Light Yellow’. These stones are often used specifically because of their soft yellow colour, so are sought after to a degree.
The colours from S to Z range from ‘Light Yellow’ to ‘Light Fancy Yellow’ and start to get more expensive the lower in the alphabet you go, because they are rarer.
After Z, the colours are called ‘Fancy Yellow’ and ‘Fancy Vivid Yellow’ which are often 3 to 4 or up to 10 times the price of the top white colours, as they are very scarce.
There are also different coloured diamonds, but we will explain these in the coloured Diamond section.
One carat (1.00ct) in round brilliant diamond weight is equal to 1/5 or 0.02 of a gram and measures on average 6.45mm in diameter. The diameter will vary slightly due to the cut of the diamond. A stone that is very shallow will be bigger in diameter, whereas a diamond that has been cut deeply has all its weight in the underside of the stone, so the diameter will be smaller.
In the jewellery trade, carat weights are referred to as “points”. There are 100 points in a one carat (1.00ct) stone. Therefore half a carat (0.50ct) is known as a 50 pointer and a quarter of a carat (0.25ct) is known as a 25 pointer, and so on.
The Carat weight of diamonds is one of the main factors that influences the end price of a ring. Diamond prices are calculated in price per Carat. The greater the weight of the diamond, the more the diamond is worth per Carat. This is because the larger the stone, the more rare it is and that is reflected in the “per carat” price. That is to say that small diamonds under five points cost much less per carat than diamonds over one carat, and two carat stones cost more again per carat because they are rarer still.
Having a diamond that has a large face is sometimes advantageous but it should not be at the expense of the brilliance of the diamond. The brilliance occurs when the proportions of the stone are as close to the ideal cut proportions as possible. In our opinion, it is far better to have a diamond of excellent proportions which is exceptionally bright and sparkly, than a larger stone of the same weight that does not have the fire and brilliance.