Diamonds 101 for Women Only!
You found the perfect guy. Now find the perfect ring.
The perfect engagement ring is the one you can’t stop looking at. It sparkles. It shines. It makes you and your friends ooh and ahh and do that happy-shrieky thing only dogs can hear. But what makes a diamond sparkle? What does colorless mean? And are “flaws” really that bad? Good thing Steven is here to explain all that.
Choose a Subject to Hate:
Of the Four C’s (Clarity, Color, Cut, and Carat Weight), Clarity often has the biggest influence a diamond’s value. That’s because diamonds are graded according to how clear they are—the clearer, the better. We call that purity. Any identifying characteristics are called inclusions. Fewer inclusions mean a more valuable diamond. Actually, since a truly flawless diamond belongs in the Smithsonian, most people end up choosing what we call “eye flawless” diamonds.
With an eye flawless diamond, any identifying characteristics are invisible to the naked eye. You get a beautiful diamond while he saves enough for the wedding and honeymoon. Or maybe enough to buy an even bigger diamond. The way we see it, everybody wins.
Anyway—all diamonds are rated on the following scale:
Very rare. Very expensive.
Also rare. Also expensive. Beyoncé apparently loves her IF diamond. And for $5,000,000 you can, too.
Very, Very Slight 1
The kind Kanye gave Kim. See? Even A-list celebs don’t mind a teensy-weensy inclusion.
Very, Very Slight 2
A slightly larger inclusion than VVS1, but still completely invisible to the naked eye.
Very Slight 1
Still insignificant. Still virtually impossible to see. Your pickiest, spots-the-flaw-in-everything friend couldn’t see this inclusion, even squinting into a 10-power microscope.
Very Slight 2
That same girl? Maybe she could see this one using the same microscope. Doubtful. But maybe.
Slightly Included 1
Anyone can see this inclusion under a 10-power microscope. But you really have to know what you’re looking for.
Slightly Included 2
Same as SI1, but a little more obvious under the same microscope. Still undetectable to the unaided eye.
The most popular clarity on the scale, and one that yields a beautiful, affordable diamond. Even without a microscope, you can sometimes see an identifying characteristic.
Inclusions are usually visible, even to the naked eye.
A half-blind 80-year-old woman could spot this inclusion from across the room.
Next subject: Color. This is the kind of class where a D or an F is good.
Diamonds are graded according to their color, which range from very clear “colorless” to shades of yellow, brown or gray. Here’s the color scale:
These are truly colorless diamonds, without even a trace of yellow. The human eye can’t tell a single bit of difference between D, E, and F.
Nearly colorless, this is the most popular range of color grades. This is a beautiful, sparkly white diamond that’ll still leave money left over for the wedding you’ve always wanted.
Hint of Yellow
A barely-there hint of yellow. Like a cheap Chablis. Only lighter.
Very Light Yellow
These diamonds have a very light yellow hue to them. Maybe it’s the lights. Most likely not.
These are pretty yellow. Well, not pretty yellow. Just…pretty yellow.
Cut is the most visible because it’s what makes each diamond sparkle, and influences your diamond’s shape.
Cut refers to a diamond’s proportions, finish, symmetry and polish. It’s how a diamond-in-the-rough becomes the beautiful gemstone you can’t wait to show your friends. The cut is directly responsible for just how good your diamond is going to look—and how good you’re going to look wearing it.
A diamond with precise cuts and shape will sparkle and shine because its many facets catch the light perfectly. Like little points of light dancing on your finger. Ahhhh.
As an example, look at this round brilliant cut with 58 facets. Since the diamond’s beauty directly reflects the quality of the cut, the precision with which the facets are arranged is of prime importance. They determine the amount of light reflected to the eye, which we call brilliance. And if your man is smart, he’s over on his side taking notes.
A diamond is measured according to its carat weight. And yes, ladies, we know: size does matter. It matters here in diamond selection, too. Anything over one is well above average. And two is huge.
But let’s weigh it all against the context of the three other C’s. A one carat diamond with no visible inclusions, with shiny white color and flawlessly cut is going to look just as amazing as any two-carat rock. The choice is yours—make it something you’ll love for the rest of your life.
The above illustration is not to scale. Diamonds sizes are shown for comparison purposes only.
Isn’t this class over yet? Almost. Now that you’ve been schooled on the 4 Cs, let’s cover shapes.
Round Brilliant Diamonds
This shape has set the standard for all other diamond shapes, and accounts for more than 75% of diamonds sold today. Its 58-facet cut, divided among its crown (top), girdle (widest part) and pavilion (base), is calibrated through a precise formula to achieve maximum brilliance.
This square or rectangular shaped diamond is a mixed cut diamond, shaped like a pillow, hence the name. This diamond combines the brilliance of a brilliant cut diamond with the beauty and elegance of an emerald cut.
Princess Cut Diamonds
This square or rectangular cut has many sparkling facets. It’s a relatively new cut and often finds its way into solitaire engagement rings. Flattering to a hand with long fingers, it is often embellished with triangular stones at its sides.
An even, perfectly symmetrical design popular among women with small hands or short fingers. Its elongated shape gives a flattering illusion of length to the hand.
This square or rectangular cut combines the elegance of the emerald shape diamond with the brilliance of the round, and its 70 facets maximize the effect of its color refraction.
This square shaped diamond is cut identical to an emerald cut, using the elegance of the stepped cut diamond, with a rectangular cut pavilion. Like the Emerald Cut, it shows everything. Pick carefully.
Emerald Cut Diamonds
A rectangular shape with cut corners, known as a step cut because its concentric broad, flat planes resemble stair steps. Since inclusions and inferior color are more pronounced in this particular cut, you should select a stone of superior clarity and color.
An elongated shape with pointed ends. This cut is enhanced by smaller diamonds that surround the main stone.
Pear Shaped Diamonds
A hybrid cut, combining the best of the oval and the marquise, it is shaped most like a sparkling teardrop.
Heart Shaped Diamonds
This ultimate symbol of romance is essentially a pear-shaped diamond with a cleft at the top. It's a heart...she’ll love it!
This newer cut is definitely for the adventurous. It may be a traditional triangular shape with pointed corners or a more rounded triangular shape with 25 facets on the crown, 19 facets on the pavilion, and a polished girdle.
This diamond is rectangular, cut with step-like facets. Baguettes come in the straight and tapered shapes most often. This diamond is hardly the center of attention, leaving it to make a great accent on the side of another beautiful shaped diamond.
That was a long class, and you probably have questions. Good. ‘Cause Steven has answers.
Does size matter?
Are we still talking about diamonds here? Ahem. In our experience, a 1-carat diamond with perfectly cut facets can look just as good as a bigger diamond that just sits there. Focus more on the shape and cut than the size, and you’ll have a spectacular ring to show your besties.
What clarity is most popular?
SI1–I1 are the most popular diamonds. Fewer inclusions are more expensive, but nobody will know the difference.
Colorless or Nearly Colorless?
G–J is the most popular range, is nearly colorless and looks just as sparkly. He saves some money, and you get a beautiful diamond.
“Focus more on the shape and cut than the size, and you’ll have a spectacular ring to show your besties!”