The majority of my engagement ring clients usually come and see me after some very intensive research, usually on ‘Dr Google’! To be truly educated takes years of practical knowledge and courses, therefore I recommend visiting our Orsini Atelier to discuss diamonds in more detail.
Diamonds have been mysteriously forged from within the earth approximately 3500 million years ago. They have always been prized for their rarity as well as being symbols of enchantment and love.
Diamonds are not difficult or complicated to purchase if you understand the key aspects of quality. A simple way to assess the quality of a diamond is the ‘4 Cs’ – cut, colour, clarity and carat weight. Determining the shape of the diamond is also a very important decision.
The 4 C’s
The cut of a diamond describes the technique in which a diamond has been shaped and polished from its beginning form as a rough stone to its final proportions. Image below of a rough diamond prior to cutting.
Diamonds with a high cut grade will have a high degree of brightness and sparkle.
There are mathematical guidelines for the angles and length ratios at which the diamond should be cut in order to reflect the maximum amount of light. Round brilliant diamonds, the most common, are guided by these specific guidelines, though fancy cut stones are not able to be as accurately guided by mathematical specifics.
The most frequent mistakes by the diamond cutters when cutting a round brilliant cut diamond are listed below, some of these are also relevant with fancy cut diamonds;
- An incorrect number of facets
- A thick girdle creating excessive weight. It is easy to mistakenly believe that the number of carats is the most important aspect to a diamonds value, one common mistake is to leave too thick a girdle. This gives the diamond a higher price however it also diminishes the brilliance and beauty.
- The ‘nail head’ effect. This is caused when a diamond is cut too deep, if you look at the stone from the top a dark nail head may appear in the center of the stone.
- The ‘large angle’ effect is when the table of the diamond is too large, the stone is dulled. Even worse, it produces an unattractive large angle effect across the crown.
At Orsini we believe that the cut is crucial as this is where the beauty and brilliance of a diamond is reflected. Diamonds should always be ‘cut for beauty not weight’. Sarah has expert diamond knowledge and endeavors to select diamond that have been very well cut to ensure maximum sparkle.
Round brilliant diamond after the cutting process below
Colour is a key aspect to consider when buying a diamond. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) set an alphabet scale as the colour- grading standard. The best and most expensive diamonds are rated D, and the lower quality diamonds are rated Z. Using the G.I.A. colour grading scale, the average colour grades are ‘H I J’ as underlined below.
D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Diamonds that are closer to the D end of the colour grading scale are rarer and more expensive, while diamonds that are closer to the Z end of the scale are less expensive. The Z colour is the same as a glass of iced tea, however the D colour as the same as a glass of perfectly clear water. At Orsini we recommend diamonds in the E-G scale as they appear beautifully white, however do not have the premium pricing of the rarer D colour diamonds.
A diamonds clarity rating is the key measure of its overall quality.
The natural internal defects of a diamond are called inclusions. These may be crystals of a foreign material or another diamond crystal, or structural imperfections such as tiny cracks that can appear whitish or cloudy. The number, size, color, location, orientation, and visibility of inclusions can all affect the relative clarity of a diamond. The most obvious flaws are; clouding, substantial crystallization (a mark that occurs as the crystal forms, substantial crystallization constitutes a considerable flaw on the surface or depth of the diamond), nodes and naturals (a part of the surface that is left in its original rough state).
The GIA diamond grading scale is divided into six categories and eleven grades.The clarity categories and grades are:
- Flawless category (FL) diamonds have no inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification.
- Internally Flawless category (IF) diamonds have no inclusions visible under 10x magnification, only small blemishes on the diamond surface.
- Very, Very Slightly Included category (VVS) diamonds have minute inclusions that are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification.The VVS category is divided into two grades; VVS1 denotes a higher clarity grade than VVS2. Pinpoints and needles set the grade at VVS.
- Very Slightly Included category (VS) diamonds have minor inclusions that are difficult to somewhat easy for a trained grader to see when viewed under 10x magnification. The VS category is divided into two grades; VS1 denotes a higher clarity grade than VS2. Typically the inclusions in VS diamonds are invisible without magnification, however infrequently some VS2 inclusions may still be visible. An example would be on a large emerald cut diamond which has a small inclusion under the corner of the table.
- Slightly Included category (SI) diamonds have noticeable inclusions that are easy to very easy for a trained grader to see when viewed under 10x magnification. The SI category is divided into two grades; SI1 denotes a higher clarity grade than SI2. These may or may not be noticeable to the naked eye.
- Included category (I) diamonds have obvious inclusions that are clearly visible to a trained grader under 10x magnification. Included diamonds have inclusions that are usually visible without magnification or have inclusions that threaten the durability of the stone. The I category is divided into three grades; I1 denotes a higher clarity grade than I2, which in turn is higher than I3. Inclusions in I1 diamonds often are seen to the unaided eye. I2 inclusions are easily seen, while I3 diamonds have large and extremely easy to see inclusions that typically impact the brilliance of the diamond, as well as having inclusions that are often likely to threaten the structure of the diamond.
Diamonds with higher clarity grades are more valued, with the exceedingly rare Flawless graded diamond fetching the highest price. Minor inclusions or blemishes are useful, as they can be used as unique identifying marks analogous to fingerprints. In addition, as synthetic diamond technology improves and distinguishing between natural and synthetic diamonds becomes more difficult, inclusions or blemishes can be used as proof of natural origin.
4. Carat – weight
Diamonds are weighed in carats, or fractions of carats. For example, the weight of a 1-carat diamond will be written as 1.00 ct. and said as “1 carat” or “100 points”, and if a diamond were to weigh fractionally more than 1 carat eg. 1.01 cts, this would be called “one hundred and one points”. It is important to realise that it is not about the physical size of a diamond, it is all about the weight on an electronic scale.
The price per carat does not increase smoothly with increasing size. Instead, there are sharp jumps around milestone carat weights, as demand is much higher for diamonds weighing just more than a milestone than for those weighing just less. As an example, a 0.95 carat diamond may have a significantly lower price per carat than a comparable 1.05 carat diamond, because of differences in demand.
Diamonds do not show all of their beauty as rough stones; instead, they must be cut and polished to exhibit the characteristic fire and brilliance that diamond gemstones are known for. Diamonds are cut into a variety of shapes that are generally designed to accentuate these features.
There are a wide variety of shapes, or cutting styles, and there are even variations in cutting style for every shape. The more popular shapes for diamonds are: round brilliant (the most sparkly), princess, emerald, oval, radiant, marquise, pear, triangular (or trillion) and square emerald (asscher). The less common and more expensive diamonds are the star and crescent-shaped diamonds.
Diamond Grading Reports
At Orsini I try and always source diamonds with a credible certification, especially when over 0.5 carats.
Sarah Hutchings, the Director at Orsini Fine Jewellery, has been trained through GIA as well as having her practical Diamond Grading Certificate through the GAA.
I hope this basic diamond information has been helpful. The most exciting part is seeing the diamonds in real life! Sarah can get diamonds on appro for you to view in her Auckland, NZ showroom so phone if you would like to book a diamond consultation with Sarah or the team at Orsini Fine Jewellery. Ph 09 3543115.