Making the Grade: How to Choose Loose Diamonds

Judging the grade of a diamond may seem like an intimidating task but not at Vancouver Diamonds. When you meet with us, attention is given not only to sharing the 4Cs of diamonds but also explaining the other vital factors that everyone should know about when making such a big decision.

A series of diamonds with their names and colour grade indicated

DIAMOND COLOUR GRADE

When it comes to diamonds, colour means the lack thereof. A gem of good quality, both chemically pure and structurally perfect, will have no colour or zero hue.

To most people, any colour distinctions will be impossible to notice, but the hue of a diamond plays a significant impact on price and quality. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has a D to Z grading system with which to judge the degree of colourlessness.

To simplify:

  • D to F are colourless
  • G to J are near colourless
  • Faint (K to M) and very light (N to R) still appear colourless to the untrained eye but do have a hue
  • S to Z, at the very end of the scale, is where the colour begins to become visible to the average person

Colour is not all bad, however, a “Z” diamond may cost less than a “D” diamond, but one with an intense colour like blue, red or pink will cost far more due to how rare these diamonds are. Who can forget Jennifer Lopez’s 2002 engagement to Ben Affleck? When the actor proposed with a Harry Winston 6.1-carat radiant-cut fancy intense pink diamond with two trapezoid white diamond sides stones mounted in platinum and 18K pink gold her fans went crazy. The price tag? A cool $2.5 million.

A blue sapphire ring on a hand

 

JUDGING CLARITY

The lack of inclusions and blemishes is what determines the clarity of a diamond. Inclusions (internal), and blemishes (external) occur during the formation of the diamond. To determine the clarity of a diamond – the amount, size, relief, nature, and position of the inclusions and blemishes must be evaluated. Diamonds with fewer inclusions and blemishes will have a higher value.

You may have noticed when posting loose diamonds on the Vancouver Diamonds social media; there will be a reference to the GIA clarity scale.

If you are not familiar with GIA, here is a cheat sheet to help explain:

  • Flawless (FL) – No inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification
  • Internally Flawless (IF) No inclusions visible under 10x magnification
  • Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) – Inclusions difficult of a grader to see under 10x magnification
  • Very Slight Included (VS1 and VS2) – Inclusions are visible with effort under 10x magnification but can be considered minor
  • Slight Included (SI1 and SI2) – Inclusions visible under 10x magnification
  • Included (I1, I2, and I3) – Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification and may affect the transparency and brilliance

A large diamond ring on a Vancouver Diamonds gift box

 

CUT, NOT SHAPE

When discussing diamonds, their intense sparkle is the main topic. For a diamond to transmit light so it will sparkle brightly, the cut is critical. It is almost fitting that such an essential aspect of a diamond is also the most difficult to analyze. It all comes down to artistry and craftsmanship. The proportions, symmetry, and polish must all work in unison to deliver that brilliant sparkle.

The cut of the diamond is often mistaken for the shape such as Oval, Princess, Emerald, or Round Brilliant. A well-cut gem will direct more light through the crown (flat top portion), and the cut is graded from excellent to poor.

The effects of a diamond can be broken down into three categories: Brightness, Fire, and Scintillation. Brightness refers to the internal and external white light reflected from the gem. Fire is the scattering of this white light into rainbow colours. Scintillation is the sparkle, how much of it, and pattern of light and dark caused by reflections within.

A close-up of the Cullinan I Diamond on a hand

 

WHAT IS A CARAT?

Carat is the most straightforward C of the four. The carat is the measurement of how much a diamond weighs. A single metric carat is equal to 200 milligrams. Each carat is subdivided into 100 points. This way, precise measurements to the hundredth decimal can be made. The world’s largest cut diamond, the Star of Africa I or Cullinan I boasts an impressive 530-carats. It was cut from the Cullinan diamond, which weighed in at 3,106-carats!

A white gloved hand presents a diamond ring

BOOK YOUR CONSULT

While we may not have diamonds of that incredible proportion on hand, owner Josh Raber has an incredible selection of loose diamonds to show. Be prepared to be amazed at the difference wholesale diamond buying makes when creating the ring of your dreams.


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By |2019-11-08T09:06:42-08:00November 8th, 2019|Blog, Education|