Basics Behind Diamond Jewelry
These days, as engagement rings undergo a lot of transformations as far as customized cuts and settings go, one thing that still stands true is the timeless elegance and appeal of diamonds. Diamonds are an essential part of any gift-giving event, especially those that commemorate a particular occasion like engagements, weddings and anniversaries. Nothing after all, symbolizes everlasting and durable love than a diamond after all.
In the 1940s, the Gemological Institute of America or the GIA, came up with a diamond grading system we all popularly refer to as the four Cs – cut, clarity, color and carat. Up till this day, it remains to be the standards by which we measure our diamonds against and without a GIA certification when you purchase a diamond, it could be rendered worthless or have little value.
Cut refers to the finished stone’s proportions, polish and symmetry. During the cutting process, tiny angles are sculpted into the hard stone’s surface, known as facets, to create its overall shape. If the facets are poorly placed, it can result in dullness whereas those with perfectly placed facets become the epitome of glitz and glimmer. While they are carved into a variety of silhouettes, at least 80% of diamonds are round brilliants which have the most sparkle and the most popular among consumers.
Among the popular cuts we know of include the pear-shaped cut, the marquise, emerald, cushion-cut, the asscher cut, the princess-cut and the heart-shaped cut. To determine what a well-cut diamond looks like, you need to check for brilliance (the way it reflects light), fire (the way it flashes color) and the way it sparkles or scintillation. When shopping for engagement rings, it is important to view the stone using different lighting environments.
As for color, there are two categories: colorless and fancy. Colorless diamonds are graded on a universal scale from D (completely clear) to Z (traces of yellow, gray, and brown), with a letter grade for each shade. A D color can be like looking into a piece of glass, while an E, F and G are nearly colorless. After a K or an L, the diamond’s color starts to turn into a very light yellow. The completely colorless stones are usually the rarest and most expensive but most consumers tend to go for the slightly warmer white color which is why most jewelry stores sell diamonds ranging from the D to the L grade.
Fancy diamonds which are those colored blue, yellow and pink are rarer and therefore more expensive than the colorless ones. Clarity on the other hand, is based on the naturally occurring imperfections of a diamond, which are internal flaws and surface flaws. GIA rates these using the following 11-step scale: Flawless (FL), Internally Flawless (IF), Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS 1 and VVS 2), Very Slightly Included (VS 1 and VS 2), Slightly Included (SI 1 and SI 2), and Imperfect Included (I1, I2, and I3). Though flawless diamonds do exist, they are very rare and not all jewelers can claim to have seen one.
And last but not the least, there’s the carat which is the weight of your diamond and not its size. It is also not to be confused with karats, which is the measure of gold’s purity. Unlike the three other Cs, the carat’s weight is not a direct reflection of the diamond’s cost. If your diamond cutter for example, chooses to leave in the flaws, the diamond will be bigger but it will cost less and be less brilliant.
A tip to remember when shopping for a diamond engagement ring, is not to be misled because if size matters and you are on a budget, it is best to just opt for a downgrade in quality and remember that the stones that weigh just under a full carat mark are also much less expensive than those at the full carat mark. Don’t worry if your beau gives you a smaller stone because once the stone is set, you won’t be able to tell the difference in size.