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What to Look for When Shopping for a Diamond - The Basic 5 C's

May 1, 2017

So you are a first-time diamond buyer, and need to know what to look for when shopping for a diamond...what do all those letters mean?  D, VS1  or H, SI2, or even IF? And does it really matter if a diamond is certified or not? It can be very confusing if you start looking at diamonds without knowing the basics. You may have heard of the "Basic 4 C's" of diamonds, Carat, Color, Clarity, and Cut. We actually have 5 important parameters to look for when shopping for a diamond, we call them the "Basic 5 C's"

 

The Basic 5 C's are: 

 

Carat:  This is the measure of a gemstone's weight. Not to be confused with the term karat, which refers to gold's purity, a carat is equal to 0.2 grams.  When measuring small gemstones, they are often broken into smaller units called points. (1 carat = 100 points), so for example a stone that is 75 points is the same as 0.75 carats, or 3/4 carat. The carat weight of a diamond will have an affect on the total value of the stone (bigger carat = more expensive!). We consider carat weight the most important factor to consider when choosing a diamond.

 

- Cut: The cut of a precious gemstone may refer to either its shape or its cut grade. Diamonds are cut to form various shapes, including those shown below 

 

 

The cut grade of a diamond refers to an analysis of the stone proportions, polish, and symmetry, which determines how the diamond's facets will interact with light, basically the diamond's Brilliance, Fire, and Sparkle. From our experience, the cut grade is the second most important factor next to carat size when selecting a diamond. A poorly cut diamond will appear dull and flat compared to an ideal cut stone. It may also appear smaller than it actually is. A perfectly cut round diamond will display a pattern called "Hearts and Arrows" when looking through the stone from the top and bottom. We recommend choosing a diamond that has Very Good to Excellent Polish and Symmetry.

 

- Color: The color of a diamond is measured using a letter grading scale developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), and is used and accepted worldwide. The more colorless or whiter properties of a diamond are of higher value, so the scale ranges from D (Colorless) to Z (Light Yellow Hue).  The scale is further broken down into five descriptions of the degree of colorlessness in a diamond:  D, E, F are Colorless

                                                    G, H, I, J are Near Colorless

                                                     K, L, M are Faint Yellow Hue

                                                     N, O, P, Q, R are Very Light Yellow Hue

                                                     S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z are Light Yellow Hue

To the untrained eye, it is difficult to tell the difference in colorlessness between a F-Colorless diamond and a G-Near Colorless diamond. 

 

-Clarity: Diamond Clarity refers to the presence or absence of blemishes and inclusions in a diamond. Natural diamonds are created under extreme pressure and heat, resulting in a stone that may have internal characteristics (inclusions) or external characteristics (blemishes).. Diamond Clarity describes the nature, size, number, and position of these characteristics in a particular stone. A perfectly pure and flawless diamond is extremely rare and very valuable, so any diamond that can exhibit high clarity is a highly valued stone. The GIA Diamond Clarity scale is divided into 6 categories and are:

  • Flawless (FL) No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10x magnification

  • Internally Flawless (IF) No inclusions visible under 10x magnification

  • Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification

  • Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor

  • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification

  • Included (I1, I2, and I3) Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance

 

- Certification: The last of the 5 C's is Diamond Certification. In order to protect the investment of your diamond, make sure it is certified by a reputable diamond laboratory. Certification provides a Diamond Grading Report and containsthe scientifically determined information on diamond shape, color, cut, clarity, carat weight, proportions and finish. It also identifies any known treatments.We recommend diamonds certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or European Gemological Laboratory-USA (EGLUSA). 

 

Now that you know the basics, Enjoy your diamond shopping experience! 

 

 

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