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How To Check The Quality of A Diamond

Diamonds are forever. These sparkly rocks made of carbon have fascinated millions since time immemorial and they will continue to do so till eternity. A big reason for the timeless popularity of diamond jewelry design is the almost eternal nature of diamonds. Every naturally formed diamond is actually really old. Most of the naturally available diamonds were formed long before dinosaurs roamed the earth. The youngest diamond is 900 million years old, and the oldest is 3.2 billion years old! With that kind of time trapped in a jewel, it’s only fair that we believe in its ability to tell stories. And it is these stories that become legends that make diamonds heirlooms – BUT, only if they are good quality.

Diamonds are gauged as good quality or not, depending on combinations of many characteristics. These characteristics also help you decide how valuable a diamond truly is. Any diamond jewelry designer is aware of the 4Cs of diamond quality – and so should every person who spends his or her hard-earned money to buy these sparkling gems.

The 4Cs of Diamond Quality

Diamonds are expensive. While jewelers and expert graders can evaluate your diamond using a systematic rating system for specific characteristics, knowing the professional grading system is of immense importance for customers as well.

The 4Cs grading system is used by all diamond jewelry designers or jewellers and can also help you accurately gauge the quality of a diamond before you buy it.

The 4Cs of diamond quality are:

  1. Colour
  2. Clarity
  3. Cut
  4. Carat Weight (size)

Additionally, the official certification a diamond is also equally important.

Here are five ways to check the quality of your diamond the way the experts do.

1. Colour Quality of Diamond

The colour quality of a diamond is a major determinant of its value. The perfect diamond is colourless. Even the slightest hint of colour makes a huge difference in its quality. As one moves down the colour scale, and tinges of yellow or brown appear in the diamond, the quality, and therefore value of the diamond reduces drastically.

But, there is one exception to this rule! A colour will not lower the value of the diamond if the colour is a ‘fancy colour’ – something like a canary yellow, or the most rare colour – a red diamond. In fact, these two colours can actually lead to a multiplied increase in the price of a diamond.

The colour quality of a diamond is assessed using a 23-colour grading scale ranging from D to Z. Each letter corresponds with five subcategories of colour quality.

Elements of the GIA diamond colour grading scale are:

  • Colourless (D-F)
  • Almost Colourless (G-J)
  • Faint (K-M)
  • Very Light (N-R)
  • Light (S-Z)

Here’s another insight into gauging the colour quality of a diamond: the setting and metal of the setting can also influence colour. Also, studies have shown that women are statistically more sensitive to colour differences in diamonds than men!

If you want to accurately gauge the colour quality of a diamond, follow the method of the professionals. Turn the diamond face down on a white sheet of paper in a well-lit room. This will help make any tint of colour more apparent – this will help you decide the range you are most comfortable with. Just remember that while colour is graded from the bottom, diamonds are viewed from the top, so consider the look of the entire stone before ruling out a colour grade.

2. Clarity Rating of Diamond

How clear a diamond is also affects its value. A flawless diamond has no streaks either inside it or on the surface. But a diamond with poor clarity will have inclusions or even chips and streaks on its surface that can often be spotted by the naked eye when observed carefully.

It is not just these streaks or chips; but a diamond with lower clarity grade will also not shine brilliantly and will even appear cloudy. Clarity determines quality also because diamonds with low grade clarity are prone to chipping and cracking as well. That is definitely not what you want from a gem that is supposed to be the hardest and most durable. Professionally, diamond clarity can be examined using electronic magnifiers on a scale of 11 clarity grades. Diamond clarity grades under 10x magnification include:

  • Flawless (FL) diamonds – these have no inclusions or blemishes.
  • Internally Flawless (IF) diamonds – these have no internal inclusions but may have slight surface blemishes visible under 10x magnification.
  • Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1) and (VVS2) – diamonds that fall under this category have minute inclusions that are difficult to see, even under 10x magnification.
  • Very Slightly Included (VS1) and (VS2) – these diamonds have minor inclusions that are visible under 10x magnification, but not to the naked eye.
  • Slightly Included (SI1) and (SI2) diamonds have noticeable inclusions under magnification that can be visible to the unaided eye.
  • Included (I1), (I2), and (I3) diamonds have inclusions that are easily visible to the naked eye with potential durability risk the further down the scale you go.

3. Cut of Diamond

The cut of a diamond primarily of aesthetic importance. The purpose of cut is to make the diamond dazzle – since light falling on every facet of the diamond from every angle is supposed to make it shine. A diamond that is nicely cut will definitely shine more brilliantly than one that has not been cut well. There are three key elements that are the yardstick for the cut quality of a diamond:

  • Brightness – how well a diamond reflects white light.
  • Fire – the kind of and amount of flashes of colour your diamond displays as light refracts due to a prismatic effect.
  • Scintillation – the play between the light and dark areas of your diamond.

The general idea of a quality cut is to have the perfect contrast between the light and dark areas of your diamond for that brilliant, sharp appearance.

The cut quality of a diamond also has scales, as per professional diamond graders. These are:

  • Ideal Cut (0)
  • Excellent Cut (1)
  • Very Good Cut (2)
  • Good Cut (3 to 4)
  • Fair Cut (5 to 7)
  • Poor Cut (8 to 10)

It is important not to confuse the cut of a diamond with its unique, stunning shape. While cut is related to shape – but the two are just not the same. Most people are familiar with the round brilliant cut diamond, but might be less familiar with the fancy shapes. The most well known fancy shapes are the princess, pear, cushion, emerald, oval, and marquise. Some of the lesser known main shapes are the Asscher, heart, and radiant. Refer to our blog for more on this

4. Carat Weight of a Diamond

Carat weight is perhaps the most well-known traits by which diamonds are judged. Carat weight can be measured using a calibrated digital scale. Carat weight is associated with the quality and value of a diamond because larger diamonds are more valuable than smaller ones.

But carat weight is just one of the many factors that affect a diamond’s value. So, a two-carat diamond of lesser colour, cut, and clarity could be less expensive than a one-carat of higher quality. Also, one diamond may look bigger than another even if they both have the same carat weight. This is because diamond shapes simply look bigger than others. For example, a one-carat round or emerald cut diamond may appear larger than a one-carat cushion cut diamond even though they are the exact same weight. Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you—this is solely because of the shape of the diamond.

Always consider the 4Cs, and not simply the weight when checking the quality of your diamond or any diamond jewelry design. The 4Cs are certainly vital when you want to check the quality of your diamond. For this reason, it is important to learn more about where each diamond lands on the 4C grading scales prior to making a purchase. However, simply taking a jewelers word for it is not best practice. Instead, verify the diamond’s grades by taking a look at its official certification. Most of the diamond jewellers will always have diamond certificates along with the diamond jewelry designs.

A proper certification will include detailed information on the diamond’s cut, colour, clarity, and carat weight. For example, the report will contain a computer-generated image of the diamond with marks that indicate the location of each inclusion. The computer-generated image will also provide information on the diamond’s specification. In addition to this image, the report contains a table that tells you where the diamond falls on the colour, cut, and clarity grading scales.

When buying gold diamond jewelry, keep in mind that it is not just the design that is important. Take care to be informed about its value too.

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