Most of us don't buy diamonds every day. When you're ready to make that purchase, you should have an idea of what you're purchasing. There's a lot that goes into the value of a diamond. One of the most common questions I get is, "How much is a 1.00ct diamond?" Well, that depends on a lot of factors. To help you better understand, I'll go over four of the most important factors that go into the value of a diamond.
Since no two diamonds are a like, gemologists had to come up with a grading system for fashioned diamonds. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) created the first, and now the most widely used grading system we use today. The four C's used to describe and grade a diamond are: carat weight, color, clarity, and cut. If you are someone who wants to be sure of what you're buying, ask for a stone is a certification. You will pay a few hundred dollar more for a certed stone, but you can rest easy knowing your stone is exactly what the sales person sold it to you as. There are many different diamond certifications, but the most reliable and accurate is a GIA certification. In a GIA certification, multiple gemologists work together to determine the grades of your diamond.
Carat, not to be confused with karat, is the weight measurement we use for diamonds and gemstones. Each carat can be subdivided into 100 points. For example, a 1.00ct diamond has a 100 points of carats, and a 0.78ct diamond has 78 points. You may also hear a salesperson call a stone a "twenty-five pointer" or a "fifty pointer" referring to a 0.25ct or a 0.50ct diamond. The price goes up along with the carat weight. The larger the stone, the more rare and more desirable the stone is. But that doesn't mean two 1.00ct stones will cost the same. There are three other important factors when it comes to pricing diamonds, color, clarity, and cut. If you're working with a budget and want a 1.00ct stone, you might consider going with a 0.95ct. Side by side, you won't see a difference in size, but a 1.00ct diamond could cost thousands more than a 0.95ct. No need to get hung up in numbers.
The color range on colorless diamonds is often referred to as the "D-Z color grading scale." This system is used to grade degree of colorlessness by comparing a stone under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions to a set of masterstones to establish a value of color. When the scale was first established, gemologists started in the middle of the alphabet and worked their way up and down the alphabet, expecting to fill the entire alphabet. They never discovered better than a "D" grade. To the untrained eye, these differences are so subtle, you might not even see the difference in a "G" grade stone and a "F" grade stone. The following are the possible color grades that can be given to a diamond:
Some of you may think you need to have a "D" color stone because it is the best. Although that is true, a "D" grade stone is going to be much more expensive than a "G" or an "H". To the naked eye, most people will not see any color in a "G" or "H" colored stone, so they are a common choice so that you get the near colorless look you want without paying a premium price.
In the depths of the Earth, diamonds are formed by exposing carbon to extreme heat and pressure. This process often results in what we call inclusions and blemishes inside and outside the diamond. The clarity grade is determined by the number, size, relief, nature, and position of these special characteristics. The less of an impact these characteristics have on a stone, the higher the value. The following are all of the possible clarity grades that can be given to a diamond:
- Flawless (FL)
- No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10x magnification
- Internally Flawless (IF)
- No inclusions visible under 10x magnification
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2)
- Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
- Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2)
- Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor
- Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2)
- Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification
- Included (I1, I2, and I3)
- Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance
Flawless stones are extremely rare, therefore are very expensive in comparison to stones with slight inclusions. To the naked eye, many people won't even be able to tell the difference between a VVS1 and an SI1. Because of the price difference, you may choose to go with an SI1 because you simply can't see the difference. Others will purchase a VVS1 stone because it has more value.
Cut is probably the least "exciting" but unknowingly one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a diamond. Over the years, diamond cutters have come up with the perfect formula for cutting diamonds that gives a stone the most brilliance and life. Many people forget this "C" because they assume all diamonds are cut the same. No diamond is exactly the same. I won't bore you with the specifics that go into the perfect proportions and a diamond, but I will help you understand why it matters and how you will notice the difference.
If a stone is too deep or too shallow, the light, instead of bouncing from facet to facet inside the stone, will pass through entirely. This causes the stone to look dark and have little brightness. You will likely notice the difference in a well cut diamond and a poorly cut stone, even without much knowledge of the correct proportions. A well cut stone will simply look prettier and brighter than a poorly cut stone. In a poorly cut stone you won't see as much fire or scintillation, meaning you will not see any flashes of color or light and the stone will have less sparkle than a well cut stone.
I always tell my customers when they can't choose between two stones that are nearly identical in grades and pricing, "Pick which one you think is the prettiest." I truly mean that. At the end of the day, this is a piece you will love and cherish. Ten years from now, you likely will not remember the color, clarity, cut, and carat weight of your diamond. But you will look at your diamond and admire how beautiful it is. Sometimes the prettier stone isn't them most expensive, and your opinion will often differ from someone else's. Although you should be aware of what you're buying, it's also important to not get caught up with grades and value. If it makes you happy, that's all that matters.
Written by Claire Avery