How to Buy a Diamond Like an Expert
All diamonds gleam and sparkle under those special lights in the store. But how do you know your rock is still going to be beautiful once you’ve taken it home?
Simple. You choose the diamond the same way an expert would; you look at the 4 Cs.
Cut is how “deep” the stone is (how long it is from top to bottom), how many facets it has and how evenly it is cut. Too shallow, and the light escapes downwards. Too deep, and the light escapes sideways. But when a diamond’s depth is “just right,” the facets reflect the light back upwards, into your eyes, for maximum sparkle. A depth percentage between 60.1 and 62.8 is ideal, but any depth percentage less than 56.5 percent or greater than 67 percent is poor.
Be Savvy: Don’t confuse cut with shape, which indicates whether a diamond is round, princess, oval, marquise, etc.
Color refers to the whiteness of the diamond. Diamonds come in all colors, from blue to black, but the iridescent fire we love so much only comes from a white diamond. And the whiter the stone is, the more fire it has. Diamond color is rated from D through Z: D is completely colorless, and Z is a light yellow. (The rating starts at D instead of A to avoid confusion with an older, non-standardized A-B-C color-rating system.)
Be Savvy: Even diamonds rated G through I are colorless to the untrained eye.
Clarity refers to the number of flaws, or “inclusions,” a diamond has. For example, feathers (cracks), air bubbles and non-diamond particles on the inside, or surface feathers and chips on the facets. Clarity is rated by the number of flaws that can be seen at 10x magnification:
- F Flawless: extremely rare.
- IF Internally Flawless: some surface flaws only.
- VVS1-VVS2 Very Very Slightly Included (two grades): Tiny inclusions difficult for even a trained gemologist to see under 10x magnification.
- VS1-VS2 Very Slightly Included (two grades). Tiny inclusions difficult to see under 10x magnification.
- SI1-SI2 Slightly Included (two grades). Inclusions only seen under 10x magnification.
- I1-I2-I3 Included (three grades). Inclusions visible to the naked eye.
Be Savvy: Flaws in grades F through SI are invisible to the naked eye.
Carat measures the weight of the diamond. Early gem traders used carob seeds as counterweights to determine the weight of the gems they sold. The carob-seed method was standardized and became today’s carat system. A one-carat diamond weighs .2 grams and might measure around 1/3 of an inch across the top. Most diamonds weigh one carat or less, and two diamonds of the same weight may be of different values, depending on the other three Cs.
Be Savvy: Don’t confuse carat with karat, which is a measurement of the purity of gold.
How much will a high-quality, maximum-sparkle diamond cost you? Depends on where you buy it. Stop by our store and talk to our jewelry experts to find out how easy it is to afford a diamond that aces the 4 Cs test.