Diamond Grades: Understanding the 4 C’s of Quality
Every diamond is like a snowflake; no two are alike. Because of this, there has to be a system in place to tell what the quality level if a diamond is.
When it comes to the grade, or quality, of a diamond there are four things that are put to the test: carat weight, clarity, color, and cut.
Carats have a pretty simple system. A carat is a measurement of weight, and each carat is made of 100 points. So, a half-carat would be .5 carats or, 50 points. There are special scales that are calibrated one to one thousands of a carat that are used in the jewelry trade. If you prefer to think in terms of grams, 1 gram is equal to 5 carats. Keep in mind, the carat is the weight, not the size!
Tip: a 1 carat diamond will consistently measure out to be about 6.5 mm.
The value of a diamond rises disproportionally as the weight increases. For example, having four .25 carat diamonds of the same quality does not equal the value of a single 1 carat diamond.Bigger diamonds are simply more valuable.
The clarity of a diamond is based on the type, size, number, position, and contract of inclusions (crystals or minerals within the diamond). Having contrast is important to the clarity, as having a dark one will be more visible and distracting from the beauty of the diamond. There are many scales for diamond clarity, however the most well known is the Gemological Institute of America scale, which looks like this:
• Flawless (no inclusions under 10x loupe)
• IF (internally flawless, surface blemishes exist)
• VVS 1, 2 (very, very slightly included: minute inclusions)
• VS 1, 2 (very slightly included: minor inclusions)
• SI 1, 2 (slightly included: noticeable inclusions)
• I 1, 2, 3 (included: observable inclusions)
Buyers Tip: Clarity can change the price of the stone, but if you are shopping for diamonds, then keep in mind clarity does not always affect the brilliance, so keep this in mind when comparing prices.
The color grades (according to GIA) ranges from D to Z. D is colorless, and Z is heavily colored, which usually means it’s yellow. Colorless will be the most expensive. Here is the breakdown:
• Colorless: D, E, or F
• Near Colorless: G, H, I, or J
• Faint Yellow Tint*: K, L, or M
• Very Light Yellow Tint*: N, O, P, Q, or R
• Tinted Light Yellow*: S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, or Z
* The tint viewed may actually be yellowish, brownish, or gray.
Blue and other diamond colors are called “Fancy Color” diamonds and are graded on a scale that describes their color, such as, Faint Blue, Very Light Blue, and Light Blue, with the darkest colors being the most valuable.
The beauty of a diamond comes directly from the cut of it. This is a somewhat complicated component of the look of a diamond. It also refers to the faceting along with the symmetry, proportion, and finish. The three basic styles of a diamond include brilliant, step, and mixed.
Brilliant cuts are designed to have the most sparkle and have many triangular and kite shaped facets. The step cut is more about the elegance of the diamond which has fewer facets and trapezoid/rectangle shapes. And lastly, the mixed cut is a combination of the step and brilliant cuts, giving you a beautiful and unique diamond.
All diamonds are cut with the play of light in mind. However if the cuts vary greatly from the standard then light can be lost from the bottom or sides. If this happens, the overall beauty of the diamond will decrease.
Tip: when you’re looking for diamonds, choose one that is beautiful to you, since they come in so many different styles, colors, shapes and sizes!
Diamonds we inlay
At Hawaii Titanium Rings, we use white and blue diamonds with a brilliant cut. The white diamonds we use are F in quality and G in color. We can only inlay up to 3mm diamonds; when a diamond is 3mm wide, the walls of the ring will also need to be 3mm+ deep. Clients often ask us if we will inlay their personal stone; stay tuned to our next blog post for the answer.