For most people, buying a diamond is one of their first major purchases, and it is connected to the most important and emotional milestones of life. So choosing the right diamond can be intimidating and confusing, especially for someone embarking on this task with no former understanding of diamonds. On this page, we will give you the basic tools you’ll need in order to make the right choices and find the diamond of your dreams.
The starting point is the Four Cs – Color, Clarity, Cut and Carats. Understanding the Four Cs will help you know the exact quality of the diamond you’re considering, and you’ll also be confident you are
getting value for your purchase. The Four Cs give you the information you need to compare the characteristics of a diamond and make the best choice with confidence.
But there’s more to choosing a diamond than the 4Cs. One of the most important factors in a diamond’s beauty is the way it returns light through the its crown, creating fire, sparkle and brilliance. Two diamonds of the same Four Cs may still have different light performance. Some certificates, such as GemEx, record diamond’s return of light, giving you another way to compare it with other diamonds.
Another choice to make is between a generic diamond or a branded diamond. While a no-name diamond may appear just as beautiful as a branded one, when you choose a branded diamond that bears a trusted name like Leo Schachter you can rest assured you are getting consistent quality and craftsmanship.
And lastly, make sure that you are buying your diamond from a trusted retailer who will provide you with a money-back guarantee, the ability to exchange or upgrade your diamond and ongoing high quality service.
The Four Cs
In nature, diamonds usually have tints of color, most commonly yellow and brown. Only the rarest of diamonds are virtually colorless. Gem quality diamonds are graded for color using the letters of the alphabet from D on up.
D, E and F are considered colorless and because of their rarity they are more costly. As the letters go up, the diamond will have more of a yellow tint and be less valuable.
The exceptions to this rule are diamonds that have a vivid color. That puts them into the category of Fancy Color diamonds, and their natural color adds to their value.
Cut refers to the precise angles of the facets of the diamond. This, more than any other factor, determines how brilliant and sparkling a diamond will be.
While Color and Clarity are characteristics that depend on nature, Cut is in the hands of the artisan. A skilled diamond polisher will cut each diamond to bring out the maximum fire, sparkle and brilliance, while taking into account its natural imperfections and the desired carat weight.
The ultimate test of a well cut diamond is its return of light. While this has usually been determined visually, today it can be measured scientifically using a scanner developed by GemEx Systems.
As a natural substance, diamonds are rarely pure and flawless. They will usually have imperfections called inclusions that may affect the appearance of the diamond, depending on the nature of the inclusions, their size, their position in the diamond and the distance from the surface. Since the brilliance of a diamond is the result of light rays bouncing through the diamond’s facets and returning through its crown, any imperfection that blocks the passage of light through the diamond will have some effect on its brilliance.
Diamond laboratories grade the clarity of a diamond using a scale that ranges from Flawless to I3. Flawless diamonds are extremely rare and beautiful, so they are the most valuable.
A carat is a weight measurement originally derived from the carob seed, which weighs approximately one carat.
Diamonds are very rare in nature, and larger diamond crystals are extremely rare, so the larger the diamond, the more valuable it will be. As a diamond’s size increases, its value rises in a steep curve. A 2-carat diamond, for example, will cost much more than twice the cost of a 1 carat diamond.
While a bigger diamond may not be more beautiful than a smaller diamond, its value will always be affected by its carat weight.
The scale at the right shows the comparative sizes of round diamonds of different carat weights.
When you buy or sell a diamond, a certificate by an independent laboratory is your assurance of its quality and its Four Cs grading. The most prominent gemological labs are the GIA, IGI, AGS, EGL and IGL.
In addition to these, there are labs that grade specific aspects of the diamond, such as GemEx, which uses technology to measure the light performance of a diamond.
Manfacturers and retailers will sometimes offer their own certificates to demonstrate their commitment to stand behind their product. Branded products, such as the Leo Diamond®, Peonia®, Ideal by Schachter Diamonds® and LVE® each carry a brand-specific certificate in addition to independent laboratory certification.