What Makes a Quality Diamond
The diamond industry assesses and categorizes diamonds using the '4 C’s' – Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carats. However, we believe that there is more to be aware of than these properties. The following will help you in selecting the right diamond.
Cut deals with a diamond's proportions and angles, which determine how much it sparkles. Cut is different from shape (such as round, princess, oval, etc.). There are five cut grades, ranging from ideal to poor.
A properly cut diamond will refract the light that enters the diamond and return it through the top to produce the highly desired sparkle.
If the diamond is too shallow or too deep, some light will escape through the bottom, giving the appearance of shadows when viewed from the top.
Clarity refers to how many inclusions, or spots and flaws, are in a stone. Generally speaking, fewer inclusions means a more valuable diamond, but flaws don't necessarily reduce a diamond's beauty, especially if they can’t be seen by the naked eye.
The majority of diamonds do contain some flaws, most are inclusions of other minerals, created during crystal growth.
The system for clarity grading established and implemented by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is accepted by all diamond trading centers as the standard for diamond grading.
It assesses diamond clarity according to size, position, color, and number of inclusions or flaws present.
As the size and number of imperfections increase, the grading decreases down the scale towards imperfect. Diamonds devoid of inclusions or flaws are graded flawless, or “FL”.
The standard color grading scale from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) assigns alphabet letters to indicate color quality, from colorless to increasing tints of yellow that you can see unaided. Color is the most important factor to a diamond’s value.
The color grading scale developed by GIA is the most widely accepted in the world. The letter "D" is the purest value, representing a total lack of color, or "colorless." As you move down the scale (and the alphabet) through to near colorless, or “Z” (a faint yellow or brown), you will see an increase in the tint of yellow, visible with the unaided eye.
As a diamond's tint increases, its value decreases. Diamonds beyond "Z" that have color are classified "fancy" and their value increases. These are the blues, pinks, reds, etc.
A diamond can't be color graded face-up because the brilliancy (the return of light to the eye by the facets) and the dispersion (spectral colors) confuse the eye.
Therefore color grading is done face down in a white card or tray.
For proper illumination, a color corrected fluorescent light, free of ultraviolet rays should be used. This light is roughly equivalent to North daylight. Diamonds that are colorless to near colorless are the best to use in jewelry (Colors D-J).
If you are looking for a rarer diamond, get a diamond that is colorless (D-F). If you prefer to get a larger diamond for the same budget, get a near colorless stone (G-J).
Carat measures a diamond's weight, not its size as often confused. Five carats are equal to one metric gram, or, one carat is equal to 200 milligrams.
The heavier the diamond, the greater its value. Small stones of high color and clarity are easy to find than larger ones, so you will find them more common in jewelry stores. Heavier stones, however, are harder to find, leading to greater value and use of supply and demand principles. Based strictly on weight, diamonds are incredibly valuable.
The heavier the diamond, the rarer and the more valuable it is. Washington Diamond specializes in superior quality GIA certified diamonds of all shapes, from one-half carat and up for engagement rings.
Diamond certificates are issued by independent gemological laboratories.
While there are several grading laboratories, Washington Diamond sells diamonds that are certified only by the Gemological institute of America (GIA).
It is our opinion that these institutions have the most accurate and valuable standards that ensure proper quality in a diamond.
A certification recognizes quality characteristics identified in a uniform laboratory environment, which allows to you to gauge and compare quality and value. Read more about certifications
Unfortunately there are a number of scams, and unfair practices by dealers that make finding the right diamond more challenging.
The gift of a diamond is a significant and personal experience. Shopping for a diamond should be too. It is important to use the internet as great research tool, and read reviews about the diamond dealer you are planning to buy from.
But, the only way to buy a diamond with confidence is through personal consultation with a respected diamond specialist.
During your consultation your diamond specialist should provide you with education and guidance you need and show you how each diamond is graded and priced. Don’t hesitate to ask for the GIA certificate for any diamond you plan to buy. A respected dealer that you can trust will be able to provide the certificate.