Diamonds have famously been called a “girl’s best friend”, but whoever said that must have never had to deal with diamond shopping.
Generally speaking, most loose diamond sold at small fine jewelry retailers, as well as the ones used by designers like Tacori, are certified by a variety of independent diamond grading laboratories including, the GIA (Gemological Institute of America), the American Gem Society, as well as the International Gemological Institute. All of these groups follow four very simple steps to determine what makes a quality diamond, the 4 C’s.
Consisting of Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat Weight, the 4 C’s are very important to keep in mind when searching for diamond-adorned engagement rings, wedding bands, and other jewelry items.
1. Diamond Cut:
Determining how light moves through a diamond, the cut of a stone is probably the ultimate determining factors of a diamond’s ultimate brilliance, fire, and sparkle. Popular diamond cuts include:
- Round: Sometimes known as Brilliant or Round Brilliant, this iconic cut is shaped so that the top of the diamond is circle-shaped, allowing for maximum stone brightness.
- Princess: Extremely popular, princess cut diamonds are usually square in shape, feature pointed corners, and are notable for their extreme versatility (meaning, they will fit in an array of ring setting types).
- Asscher: Asscher diamonds are similar to emerald cut diamonds in their square shape, but with a larger brilliance than the emerald due to their large step facets and high crown.
- Pear, Heart, Oval, and Emerald cuts: Known as modified brilliant-cuts, these shapes all look just as they sound they might, and each with their own distinct attributes and personalities.
According to the GIA, cut is graded on a scale goes from Excellent to Very Good to Good to Fair to Poor, with the higher grade diamonds costing more.
2. Diamond Color:
Referring to how white (or “color-less”) a diamond appears, the color of a diamond is graded on a scale ranging from D (colorless) to Z (noticeable color). Most retailers only carry diamonds that are graded G or better. The standards for diamond color are generally as follows:
3. Diamond Clarity:
As a way to talk about the small, perfectly natural imperfections in that occur in basically all diamonds, diamonds with the highest clarity grades are free of blemishes and inclusions (the fancy names for flaws) are generally more expensive than those diamonds that are less clear. Similar to color, clarity is graded on the following scale:
FL: Flawless. No internal or outside flaws.
IF: Internally Flawless. No internal imperfections.
VVS: Very, Very Slightly Included. Very difficult to notice flaws.
VS: Very Slightly Included. Difficulty to notice flaws without extreme magnification.
SI: Slightly Included. Blemishes and flaws noticed with slight magnification.
I: Included. Obvious flaws.
Note: While clarity is important, flaws generally tend to be microscopic and easily hidden by a ring’s settings.
(Pictured: The “Clean Crescent” by Tacori engagement ring. This ring features a round diamond, and a 1/2 side-stone continuation)
4. Diamond Carat Weight:
Finally, carat weight is used to discuss the actual weight of a stone (but not the visual size of a stone). The price of the diamond increases with the increase of the carat weight You should pay close attention to the cut, color, and clarity of the stone, as greater size does not guarantee greater quality.
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