The color scale below reflects how closely a diamond approaches the colorless range. Although most people recognize diamond as colorless, true colorless diamonds are quite rare. The absolute finest white diamond carries a “D” color grade. These exceptionally white diamonds make up a small fraction of all mined diamonds; therefore most jewelry is made using diamonds in the near-colorless range. When comparing different color grades, most people will be unable to see a difference in color, although there can be a significant difference in price.
Surprising to learn, diamonds are also available in a variety of colors including red, purple, pink, green, orange, yellow, blue, brown and black. These extremely rare and unique diamonds are termed “Fancy Colors” and are graded based on the hue, tone and saturation of their color. The more intense the color, the higher the rarity factor. The rarest of the fancy colors is red.
The clarity grade is the degree to which the diamond is free of inclusions and blemishes. Nature produces very few things that are absolutely perfect. Most diamonds have internal birthmarks, known as inclusions, and external characteristics called blemishes. These clarity characteristics are evaluated under 10X magnification, by trained diamond graders, based on the number, nature, size, location and color of each characteristic. Clarity characteristics are also used to distinguish one diamond from another. A diamond’s inclusions are like a fingerprint, making each diamond one-of-a-kind. Flawless diamonds are extremely rare and command the highest prices, but finding a diamond with minute inclusions can reduce the cost of the stone without detracting from its beauty or durability.
Diamonds are weighed on a scale of metric carats, abbreviated “ct.” It is equal to approximately 1/5 of a gram. A carat is broken down into 100 points, just like a dollar is broken down into 100 pennies. When you see a diamond weight of 1.45ct, that means one carat and 45 points.
Cut is the only human contribution to the diamond’s beauty; however, it is one of the most important. The term “cut” can mean many things. In the jewelry industry, it is used to describe the shape, cutting style, proportions and finish of a diamond. Diamonds can be cut into almost any shape. The most popular shapes are pictured below.
From Left: Round, Heart, Marquise, Oval, Pear, Princess, & Emerald
Depending on how well the diamond is cut will determine its ability to reflect natural light. Although there are no determined grades for cut, there are a few terms you should be familiar with:
Ideal (Round Brilliants) Diamonds that have been cut to specific proportions are often referred to as “ideal.” These diamonds are said to maximize brilliance but usually yield a much higher premium due to extra weight loss during cutting. The proportions for the “ideal cut” were founded mathematically by Marcel Tolkowsky in 1919:
|Girdle Thickness:||thin – medium – slightly thick|
|Culet Size:||none – very small|
|Total Depth:||60% – 61%|
|Polish:||very good – excellent|
|Symmetry:||very good – excellent|
The different facets of a standard round brilliant cut diamond