What’s the most important thing to remember when buying a diamond?
The purchase of a Diamond is one of significance and emotion. It is our goal at Marlow’s Fine Jewelry to help you select the diamond that is just right for you. There are many different factors that contribute to the value of a diamond. The Gemological Institute of America better known as GIA, developed the “4 C’s” to provide a universal standard by which diamonds are measured. The 4 C’s include – Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat Weight and are good indicator of the technical characteristics of a diamond. However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder- and each diamonds represents individual beauty and character. That is why it’s important to experience the diamond in person. At Marlow’s we are proud to offer only the finest selection of Diamonds, each one personally selected for outstanding beauty, brilliance, and value and to ensure our customers that the beauty of the diamond matches the certification and the value. Additionally, we offer a Diamond Trade-Up Policy so you will retain the value of your diamond.
Explore The 4 C’s? CUT, COLOR, CLARITY, and CARAT WEIGHT
A polished diamond’s beauty lies in its complex relationship with light: how light strikes the surface, how much enters the diamond, and how, and in what form light returns to your eye. A beautifully finished diamond is dazzling, with every facet displaying the craftsman’s skill and care. When a diamond interacts with light, every angle and every facet affects the amount of light returned to the eye. This is what gives it its face-up appearance. The result is a magnificent display of three attributes. Brightness is the combination of all white light reflecting from the surface and interior of a diamond. Fire describes the “flares” of color emitted from a diamond. Scintillation describes the flashes of light you see when the diamond, the light, or the observer moves. A polished diamonds proportions affect its light performance, which in turn affects its beauty and overall appeal. Diamonds with fine proportions, symmetry, and polish optimize their interaction with light, and have an increased brightness, fire, and scintillation.
In efforts to differentiate themselves, and because of increasing demand for precision in cutting, many manufacturers fashioned diamonds to exacting standards throughout the decade. Note the precise arrow pattern in this 1.54 ct diamond.
A well-cut diamond displays the beauty consumers expect to see in a diamond.
As a general rule, the higher the cut grade, the brighter the diamond. Under fluorescent lighting, these diamonds (left to right) display high, moderate, and low brightness.
The diamond color evaluation of most gem-quality diamonds is based on the absence of color. A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond has no hue, like a drop of pure water, and consequently, a higher value. GIA’s D-to-Z diamond color-grading system measures the degree of colorlessness by comparing a stone under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions to masterstones of established color value. Colorless diamonds are scarce—most diamonds have tints of yellow or brown. So a colorless diamond rates higher on the color grading scale than a diamond that is light yellow. Value and rarity are related: In this case a colorless diamond is rarer and more valuable than one with a slight yellow color. Many of these color distinctions are so subtle that they are invisible to the untrained eye; however, these distinctions make a very big difference in diamond quality and price.
This emerald cut diamond is colorless and is a D color grade. – Courtesy Lazare Kaplan Diamonds
The GIA D-to-Z scale is the industry standard for color-grading diamonds. Each letter represents a range of color based on a diamond’s tone and saturation.
Many diamonds emit a visible light called fluorescence when they’re exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Although invisible to the human eye, UV radiation is everywhere. Blue is the most common fluorescent color in gem-quality diamonds. In rare instances, fluorescence can be white, yellow, orange, or many other colors.
Strong blue fluorescence can make a light yellow diamond look closer to colorless in sunlight.
Blue and yellow are color opposites and tend to cancel each other out, so blue fluorescence masks the yellow color. If the fluorescence is too strong it can make the stone look cloudy or “oily,” which can lower the value of the diamond.
The GIA Diamond Clarity Scale has 6 categories, some of which are divided, for a total of 11 specific grades.
Flawless –No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10x magnification
Internally Flawless (IF) –No inclusions visible under 10x magnification
Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2)– Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2)– Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor.
Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2)– Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification
Included (I1, I2, and I3)– Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance
Diamonds are a natural formation and few things in nature are absolutely perfect. This is as true of diamonds as anything else. Natural diamonds are the result of carbon exposed to tremendous heat and pressure deep in the earth. Diamonds have internal features, called inclusions, and surface irregularities, called blemishes. Together, they’re called clarity characteristics. Clarity is the relative absence of inclusions and blemishes.
Among other things, blemishes include scratches and nicks on a diamond’s surface. Inclusions are generally on the inside, and some might break the surface of the stone. Sometimes, tiny diamond or other mineral crystals are trapped inside a diamond when it forms. Depending on where they’re located, they might remain after the stone has been cut and polished, and they can affect a diamond’s appearance.
Clarity characteristics might have a negative influence on a diamond’s value, but they can have positive effects as well. For one thing, they help gemologists separate diamond from imitations. (This is easier with included diamonds than with flawless ones.) And because no two diamonds have exactly the same inclusions, they can help identify individual stones. They can also provide scientists with valuable information about how diamonds form.
Flawless diamonds are very rare—so rare, in fact, that it’s possible to spend a lifetime in the jewelry industry without ever seeing one, and they command top prices.
At the other end of the scale are diamonds with inclusions that can be easily seen by the unaided eye. Between the two extremes are diamonds with inclusions visible only under 10X magnification. Stones in the middle range make up the bulk of the retail market.
There are 11 clarity grades in the GIA clarity grading system. They are Flawless, Internally Flawless, two categories of Very, Very Slightly Included, two categories of Slightly Included, and three categories of Included.
The effect of a clarity characteristic on the clarity grade is based on its size, number, position, nature, and color or relief.
Many inclusions and blemishes are too tiny to be seen by anyone other than a trained diamond grader. To the naked eye, a VS1 and SI2 diamond may look exactly the same, but these diamonds are quite different in terms of overall quality. Sometimes, one factor makes more difference to the clarity grade than the others. But it’s not always the same one. The relative importance of each factor varies from diamond to diamond. For example, an inclusion off to the side of a stone would have less impact on clarity than the same size inclusion located directly under the table. In this case, the position is probably the determining factor. This is why expert and accurate assessment of diamond clarity is extremely important.
Diamond carat weight is the measurement of how much a diamond weighs. A metric “carat” is defined as 200 milligrams. Each carat can be subdivided into 100 ‘points.’ This allows very precise measurements to the hundredth decimal place. All else being equal, diamond price increases with diamond carat weight, because larger diamonds are rarer and more desirable. But two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different values (and prices) depending on the three other factors of the diamond 4Cs: Clarity, Color, and Cut.
How Big Of Diamond Do You Want?
This is probably the easiest of the 4 C’s to figure out. Once you have determined the quality & characteristics of the diamond you want, you will find that the price point varies most significantly across the size spectrum. That’s because a diamond’s value increases exponentially according to its size.
Remember, a one-carat diamond isn’t 10 times rarer than a .10 carat just because it’s 10 times bigger; in fact it’s many thousands of times rarer. An estimated 250 tons of diamond-containing earth has to be mined to obtain a 1 carat gem-quality diamond. It’s this rarity that makes the diamond such a powerful symbol of timeless love.
There’s no hard fast rule about the average size of an engagement diamond. That is a truly personal decision. You can weigh your choices along with the setting style of the ring. A ring with a smaller center diamond surrounded by accent diamonds can have a larger total carat weight; if it’s a solitaire, you may opt for a single larger stone.
The selection of your diamond is a very important and if you’re depending heavily on the technical specs & numbers as your guide, you need to consider this:
In addition to the industry standards of GIA, there are a number of professional organizations that issue diamond grading reports. That means there are different interpretations of standards for judging the 4 C’s of diamond quality. One company’s “VS1” may be another’s “SI1,” and a report may give a higher grade for a color that might not get a passing grade from another company. So, these grades will vary in the actual market.
For the most reliable standard, we recommend choosing a diamond graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). They’re widely recognized as the world’s highest and strictest standard for diamond grading. An “E” color diamond will be the whitest “E” around, and a VS1 will have the best clarity compared to other diamonds in the VS1 ranking. GIA grades are the nearest to an absolute standard in diamonds, so you can feel sure that you’ll be getting the absolute best for the criteria you choose.
And most importantly, the 4 C’s provide a way to objectively compare and evaluate diamonds, but numbers alone can‘t describe a diamonds mysterious and captivating beauty, for that personal connection you’ll have to come visit us and see for yourself.