Understanding the 4 C’s of Diamond Shopping
Diamond clarity is the quality of diamonds that relates to the existence and visual appearance of internal characteristics of a diamond called inclusions, and surface defects, called blemishes.
I1, I2, I3 Included Diamonds
- I clarity diamonds have obvious inclusions that are likely to be visible and impact beauty.
SI1, SI2 Slightly Included Diamonds
- Inclusions are noticeable at 10x magnification.
- If eye clean, SI diamonds are often the best value.
- SI2 inclusions may be detectable to a keen unaided eye, especially when viewed from the side.
VS1, VS2 Very Slightly Included Diamonds
- Minor inclusions ranging from difficult (VS1) to somewhat easy (VS2) to see at 10x magnification.
VVS1, VVS2 Very, Very Slightly Included Diamonds
- VVS diamonds have minuscule inclusions that are difficult even for trained eyes to see under 10x magnification.
- VVS clarity is rare and results in an eye clean appearance.
- Characteristics are minuscule and difficult to see under 10x magnification, even to a trained eye.
Internally Flawless (IF) Diamonds
- Some small surface blemishes may be visible under a microscope on IF diamonds.
- IF diamonds have no inclusions within the stone, only surface characteristics set the grade.
- Visually eye clean.
A diamond’s cut refers to how well-proportioned the dimensions of a diamond are, and how these surfaces, or facets, are positioned to create sparkle and brilliance. These small, yet essential, factors determine the diamond’s beauty and price.
Table: The largest facet of a gemstone.
Crown: The top portion of a diamond extending from the girdle to the table.
Girdle: The intersection of the crown and pavilion which defines the circumference of a diamond.
Diameter: The measurement from one girdle edge of a diamond straight across to the opposing side.
Pavilion: The bottom portion of a diamond, extending from the girdle to the culet.
Culet: The facet at the tip of a gemstone. The preferred culet is not visible with the unaided eye (graded “none” or “small”).
Depth: The height of a gemstone measured from the culet to the table.
A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond is perfectly transparent with no hue, or colour. In reality almost no gem-sized natural diamonds are absolutely perfect. Colour of a diamond is affected by chemical impurities and/or structural defects in the crystal lattice.
If you’re buying a diamond under 1 carat, you might consider choosing an I, J, or K colour diamond. Going over 1 carat? We recommend H colour-grade diamonds or higher.
Certain fancy-shaped diamonds hide colour better than others—and can cost up to 25% less than a round-cut diamond. It’s also smart to consider the colour of precious metal for your setting that best compliments the colour grade of your diamond. For example, yellow gold casts a warm glow and looks best with diamonds with faint colour. Platinum or white gold will make a near-colourless diamond look icier.
Diamonds can be measured in both carat weight and millimeter. While diamonds are purchased based on carat weight — the standard unit of measurement for loose diamonds — it’s important to consider millimeter measurements and ratios to choose the best possible option for your budget.
A diamond’s millimeter measurement tells you its true size. That’s because a diamond of the same carat weight can have slightly different faceting and therefore look larger than a carat weight equivalent. If you’re looking for a diamond that looks larger faceup, consider getting a fancy shape diamond: Shapes like emerald, oval and pear often look larger than their round counterparts.