|Diamonds made of pure crystallized carbon are the
simplest of all gemstones.
A diamond starts to crystallize faraway from the earth's surface with a combination
of liquids, gases, and crystals. Diamonds can be extremely aged. They may even be
1 to 3 billion years old. The hardest recognized material to man is also the diamond.
Due to its extreme hardness, the only method of cutting or polishing a diamond is to
cut or polish it with a different diamond. Nevertheless, a diamond may still be chipped
or broken if hit at the right angle; diamonds are not unbreakable.
Universally, diamonds are graded and priced according to what is called the "4C's".
The "4 C's" stand for cut, color, clarity, and carat weight.
The only C that can be altered by a human is the cut of the diamond. A diamond
can be crafted, usually by a master diamond cutter with a lot of experience, in
various geometric proportions. Facets are cut in the diamond after it's shape
has been established. Light is refracted from the facets similar to a prism.
This produces the stone's brilliance and fire.
A number of different factors create a well-cut diamond. Angles must be cut
very precisely; it is necessary that the facets line up correctly; it must be of the
right depth (not too shallow, not too deep). A diamond grading report, provided
with various diamonds and made by an independent gemological laboratory,
categorizes many of these characteristics by grade.
An "ideal cut" can be established through a precise set of guidelines that gives
the proportions to create a diamond with the greatest brilliance and fire.
A diamond cut to certain proportions with 58 facets would create the most
brilliance and fire.
Essentially, the less color a diamond has, the more valuable it is, as long as all
other factors are equal. Colorless diamonds are also fairly rare. A diamond with
the least amount of color sparkles the most with fire and brilliance because the
light that enters is refracted very purely. Diamonds may range in color from
colorless to yellowish to brown; however, the ideal diamond is colorless.
The Gemological Institute of America's color scale evaluates the color of a
diamond as seen through the side of the diamond. Since settings can portray
the diamond as being another color, the diamond's color is most accurately
determined when it is not mounted in a setting. White gold and platinum settings
do not affect the color of the diamond as much as yellow gold settings do.
If the diamond is still in its setting, even a professional may not be able to tell
the difference between color grades.
The letters of the alphabet from D through Z are used in the color grading
system for diamonds. Following is a description of the letters and the color
|The most valuable diamond has a grade of D, and
therefore, is absolutely colorless.
Remember though, that the color of a diamond is not the only factor towards
determining the value of a diamond. For example, a stone with a low color grade,
but a superior cut and clarity, may be valued higher than a colorless stone with
imperfections. There are several factors including the 4 C's (cut, color, clarity,
and carat weight) which determine the value of the diamond.
Diamonds with the lowest color grade of X, Y, and Z are less desirable and
generally, less valuable, than diamonds with a D, E, or F color grade. The color
of a diamond may be more intense than the color grade of Z, and, therefore,
is classified as "fancy". These fancy diamonds are valued more than light
The color of a diamond is a high factor in determining the value of it. Diamonds
that are the highest up in the color grading scale, such as D, E, and F, are the
most valuable. As long as all other factors are equal, a considerable increase or
decrease in the per-carat price may occur if a diamond of a certain cut, carat, and
carat weight is moved up or down a color grade.
A jeweler's loupe, which is a small magnifying glass, is used to measure a
diamond's clarity. The FTC requires that clarity must be measured under 10-power
magnification. If there are no flaws detected at this power, the diamond is
considered to be flawless.
Natural blemishes, called inclusions, from feathers, clouds, or crystals may be
found in diamonds. If the blemishes are located on the surface, they are not a
main concern, because they can often be polished away. Feathers appear as small
cracks that resemble a feather shape; clouds are little flecks or hazy regions that
look milky; and crystals are mineral deposits trapped within the stone.
The locations and sizes of these inclusions factor into the diamond's clarity grade,
which can have an extensive impact on the diamond's value. A diamond's clarity
is based off of a scale, established by the GIA, that ranges from 'flawless' (F) to
included (I3), which is even very noticeable to the naked eye. Following is an
outline of the GIA clarity grading scale.
|A diamond that is absolutely flawless is extremely
rare. It is less important that
the diamond is perfect, rather than that the diamond's attractiveness or durability
is not affected by any blemish. Diamonds are unique due to the various
inclusions that create character of the stone. The marks that make a diamond unique
may be described on a diamond grading report that allows one to identify the
diamond if need be.
Obviously, price differences will result from various clarities and blemishes
in a diamond. With all other factors being equal, moving a diamond from one
clarity grade to another can drastically change the value of it.
Carats are the unit of measurement for the weight of diamonds. Each Carat is
equal to 200 milligrams. It is easiest to determine a diamond's weight when it is
not in a setting. Some gemological laboratories refuse to grade diamonds that are
mounted, such as American Gem Society (AGS) and Gemological Institute of
America's (GIA) Trade Laboratory. 100 parts named "Points" divide each Carat.
If a diamond is less than one carat, a range of points is given. Below is a table of
ranges of size and weight.
|Keep in mind that other qualities affect the value
of diamonds. The price of two
diamonds of the same weight may vary drastically in price value due to cut, color,
and clarity. Additionally, the weight of a diamond can be hidden throughout
various areas of the stone. For instance, you may have a diamond that is well-cut,
whose weight is dispersed accurately, a diamond that has been cut too deeply to
add weight to the base of the stone, or a diamond that has been cut too shallow to
make it appear wider and heavier.
The stone cutter's skill and attention to detail can be suggested by the polish
of the stone. If the stone is bright and lustrous, its polish will be fine. External
reflection is the light rays reflected back to the viewer's eyes from the surface
of the stone itself. Additionally, the primary light refraction caused by a stone's
fire and brilliance inside its facets is referred to as internal refraction. A high
degree of external reflection results from finely polished stones.
The level surfaces on stones are called facets. In order to create the most fire
and brilliance of a stone, facets must be cut in precise geometric relation to
The area of a stone that rests in the setting and is the furthest boundary of the
stone is called the girdle. The girdle also divides the upper and lower sections
of the stone. The facet of the stone causes the girdle to differ in thickness.
A diamond with the most fire and brilliance follows specific proportions from
a certain list of guidelines and is named an ideal cut. The greatest possible fire
and brilliance from a diamond comes from a cut of 58 facets.
A recognizable characteristic that naturally occurs in diamonds such as a
small crystal, cloud, or feather, is called an inclusion. All other qualities being
identical, a diamond with the least amount of inclusions is the most valuable.
Diamonds with fewer inclusions are also less rare than those with more
inclusions. Diamonds with absolutely no inclusions are exceptionally rare.
Stones can be any one of seven shapes. These shapes include marquise, princess,
heart, emerald, pear, oval, and round (also named full-cut or brilliant). The shape
one would choose would be of his/her own personal preference. The shape
of a stone and the cut are not the same thing, so be careful not to use the terms
interchangeably. The cut, as previously mentioned, is on of the 4C's of a diamond's
evaluation of proportions.
Many other shapes of stones are also available to project extreme brilliance
and fire. The diamond cutter's choice of how to cut the rough diamond is the
only variation of the various stone shapes.
The originally mined diamond has a different shape from the final cut. In a
process called marking, the roughs are looked-over by a planner who decides
how to cut the stone. The planner makes the decision based on how the greatest
size, fewest inclusion, and highest brilliance can result. Most importantly,
the planner chooses a technique to cut the diamond without wasting a large
amount of the diamond because of the incredible value of the stone.