How The Experts Grade Diamonds
Have you ever found yourself looking at a diamond and wondering how special it actually is?
If so, you’re not alone. There are 4 very specific ways to determine the quality of your diamond, known as the 4C’s:
Here’s where it all started
Today the leading authority in the US diamond trade is the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). It was founded as a non-profit resource for jewelers in 1931. While other gem labs are in operation, the most common grading system used is that introduced by the GIA in 1953 and relies upon the 4C’s of diamonds.
Let’s Take A Closer Look At Each Aspect Of The 4C’s
The color of your diamond is graded on an alphabetic scale that starts with the letter D.
What does it all mean?
The letter designations for color are as follows:
D, E, F – Indicate colorless, or white, diamonds. Only slight deviations visible to the naked eye separate the three grades.
G, H, I, J – Mark near-colorless diamonds that still appear white to casual viewing.
K, L, M – Signify faint yellow, including brownish tints.
N, O, P, Q, R – Symbolize very light yellows (and browns).
S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z – Proclaim, light yellow or brown.
The lower a diamond is on the alphabetical grade, the less rare and less valuable it is.
On the other hand
Some diamonds with good hue saturation below Z are considered “fancy” diamonds and the value may increase with eye appeal. Yellow diamonds are the most common, with other colors being much rarer and more valuable (i.e., the blue Hope Diamond). Red is the rarest tone of all.
The clarity of your diamond is typically determined at 10x magnification through a microscope or jeweler’s loupe. Understanding clarity within a diamond typically depends on the size and number of inclusions, or imperfections.
The fewer inclusions there are, the better the stone reflects or refracts light, and the more valuable the diamond.
FL – Flawless: Extremely rare, with no inclusions that are visible using 10x magnification.
VVS1, VVS2 – Very Very Slightly Included: There are no inclusions but there are blemishes that are visible using 10x magnification.
VS1, VS2 – Very Slightly Included: Inclusions are not seen by the naked eye, however, can be viewed under 10x magnification. These are considered minor inclusions.
IF – Internally Flawless: No inclusions, but contains a blemish that is visible at 10x magnification. These are nearly identical to FL graded diamonds.
SI1, SI2 – Slightly Included: Diamonds of this grade are easy to see at 10x but not generally visible to naked eye.
I1, I2, I3 – Included: Inclusions visible to the naked eye; I3 would be considered an inferior diamond.
Keep in mind
This does not refer to the style of the stone (Marquise, Princess, etc.) but rather the proportions, angles, and symmetry of the diamond’s facets. Given two similar stones, the one with the perfect cut will be more valuable than the one that’s poorly faceted.
No doubt about it
Cutting diamonds is quite technical and requires careful planning and years of practice. Science has developed sensitive equipment for the measurement of light, but when it comes to your diamonds, it’s still very much in the eye of the beholder.
This is a measurement of the weight, or mass, of the stone. One carat equals about .2 grams. Typically a large raw diamond is cut around flaws into as many quality stones as possible, so weights may vary, but increasingly larger stones are more the exception and more valuable.
Your 1.1 carat weight diamond will command a higher price than a comparable stone of 1.0 carats