Researching diamonds can be time consuming, with all the different color, clarity, size and shape combinations to consider. Not to mention cut grades, fluorescence and other secondary characteristics. In order to save you some time and headaches, we have comprised a diamond buying “cheat sheet” which should put you a step ahead of the average consumer as you begin your search for the perfect diamond.
Diamond Color is graded on a scale from D-Z. Anything from D-F is considered colorless and anything from H-J is considered near colorless. Outside of this range, the color will start to become noticeable. Deciding between the colorless and near colorless ranges is a matter of your personal preference and budget. Below are links enabling you view diamonds in the D, H and J color grades. Remember, your diamond will be mounted face up, so that is how you should view it when analyzing its color. (We have no affiliation to any diamond selling websites and only provide links when it helps us to further demonstrate a point)
You many notice that some H or lower color diamonds have a brownish tint, as opposed to the typical yellow. Within the industry, these diamonds are termed, “top light brown”. Color in top light brown diamonds is usually more difficult to detect, but can make the stone appear darker. As far as one color tint being better than the other, it is really just a matter of personal preference.
Clarity is graded on a scale from Flawless-Included. Flawless-VS2 diamonds should not have any inclusions which are visible to the naked eye. SI1 diamonds usually don’t have any inclusions which are visible to the naked eye. SI2 diamonds may have some visible inclusions depending on their location and appearance. I1 or worse will have visible inclusions.
When purchasing a diamond in the SI1-I3 grades, you will want to inquire about the appearance and location of the inclusions. GIA certificates contain a diamond map which will show you the exact location of any inclusions. Ideally, they should be off to the side because these will be less visible when the diamond is mounted. You will also want to avoid black inclusions if possible.
Another thing to be aware of is reflecting inclusions. If located near a diamond’s facet, a single small inclusion may reflect all over the diamond, giving the appearance of numerous scattered inclusions. Avoid diamonds with this trait, especially if the reflecting inclusion is black.
If you are interested in a larger (3 carat plus) or step cut diamond, you should be aware that their size/cut make it easier to spot any inclusions. In this case, you may want to stick to the VS2 or better clarity grades.
A diamond’s Cut has a direct impact on its brilliance. Round diamonds will receive 3 grades; Cut, Polish and Symmetry. Every other shape only receives a Polish and Symmetry grade. All of these are graded on a scale from Excellent – Poor.
If the diamond has received a poor or fair grade for any of these criteria, (Cut, Polish or Symmetry), you should avoid it.
Fluorescence, is a trait present in about 25%-35% of all diamonds. While the presence of medium-very strong fluorescence will decrease the value of a diamond, its effects on a diamond’s appearance are debatable. According to a GIA Study, most people are unable to identify any difference in appearance between a highly fluorescent and non-fluorescent diamond.
However, High levels of fluorescence will cause a diamond to fluoresce (usually blue), after being exposed to sunlight for an extended period of time. Meaning that, in a dim or dark environment, the diamond will light up. Depending on the sense of humor of your significant other, this may be an issue.