The Keys to Diamond Quality

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The Keys to Diamond Quality

Diamond quality can be very confusing to most people. To the untrained eye, most diamonds look alike. “They look white and sparkle – right? “. So you ask yourself, Why should I spend several thousand dollars for this diamond from you, when The Super Duper Discount Diamond Emporium, just down the road (or over on that other URL), will sell me a “Bigger Diamond” for less than $400.00″?

The answer to this common questions lies in the quality of the diamonds that you are comparing.

Diamond quality is determined by four factors: the Color of the Diamond, the Cut of the Diamond, the Clarity of the Diamond, and the Caret weight of the Diamond.  These four factors are commonly referred to by jewelers as the “Four C’s”‘.

Of these four, the easiest one to understand is Caret Weight. For centuries the tiny seeds of the Carob tree were used to weigh all gemstones because their weight and size were consistent. The word Carat was derived from these seeds.

Over time the Carat was standardized on the metric scale.  Gemstone weights are expressed in metric carats (ct.) and are weighed to a thousandth (0.001) of a carat and then rounded off to the nearest hundredth (called a point). .One carat equals .200 grams (200 milligrams), just over seven thousandths of an ounce.

An ounce contains almost 142 carats. All diamonds are rare and large diamonds are not as common as small diamonds.  So one would expect to see the higher value placed on the larger diamond.  A big diamond at a low price may sound great, but size alone does not tell the entire story.

Diamonds come in a rainbow of many different colors. These colors include colorless, yellow, brown, red, green, blue and black.  Some of these colors are extremely rare (red, green, blue) and others are more common (colorless, yellow, brown, black). The darker brown and black colors are the most common and for many years were considered only suitable for industrial uses. In the last few years these darker colors are starting to appear in designer jewelry.

They are sometimes marketed as “champagne” and “black diamonds”. Most of the diamonds used in jewelry sold in the United States fall into the colorless to near colorless classification. The colorless diamond is the most highly valued, with the value of the diamond decreasing with increasing yellowness. Again, color does not tell the whole story when it comes to value.

The Cut of the diamond does not refer to it’s shape, but rather to how the angles of the tiny “facets” are cut and polished. The idea is to trap as much of the light that enters the diamond as possible, bounce it around inside the diamond from one facet to another, and have as much of the light leave the diamond directly through the large flat facet on top of the diamond.

A good reference to learn about GIA cut grading and comparisons can be found in this url:

This will make the diamond sparkle and how well the diamond sparkles is directly related to how well it is cut. We want diamonds to sparkle, so the more they sparkle – the more valuable they are. A poorly cut diamond will look dull or “dead”.

Clarity refers to flaws within the diamond.  Diamonds are a product of nature and no two are identical.  Some of the types of flaws commonly seen in diamonds include bubbles, crystals of other minerals, carbon grains, fractures or “feathers” (very tiny fractures that look like a feather).  An internally flawless diamond is very valuable and the value of the diamond decreases with the total number and size of the flaws.

Diamonds can also be treated in various ways to improve their clarity and color.  Their color can be changed with radiation and various substances can be injected into the diamond to fill cracks.  An ethical jeweler will disclose any treatments that may have been done to the diamond.  Treatment to improve the diamonds clarity or color greatly reduces the value of the diamond.

How do you know if you are getting a good deal or being ripped off?  Ask for a GIA or EGL certificate.  These certificates are available for diamonds of 0.4ct. and above and are issued by the Gemological Institute of America and the European Gemological Laboratory.

These are independent gem testing laboratories and are the diamond jewelry industry accepted standard.  When you compare the price of two diamonds always make certain that you are comparing equals.  If the two certifications are essentially the same, the lowest price is the best deal.

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