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These earrings look exactly same – so why is there such a big difference in cost?
Don’t be fooled – learn to value diamonds so that you can be confident about your next purchase
The earring on the left is VVS-EF and the earring on the right is SI-IJ. These letters refer to two characteristics of diamonds that greatly affect value: clarity and colour. The diamonds in the earrings on the left have fewer inclusions, or marks. They also rank higher in their value of colourless than the diamonds used in the earrings on the right. These differences account for the large variance in price.
If you want to learn how to value diamonds like a pro and feel more at ease with your next diamond purchase, read our comprehensive guide below.
The 4 Cs
Diamonds are classic, sophisticated and timeless. They are a rare byproduct of nature formed billions of years ago. Shopping for a diamond is a very different experience than shopping for clothes or cell phones or even other luxury products. Due to its rarity, its value is based on four characteristics: cut, clarity, colour and carat. These are often referred to as the 4 C’s. Let’s examine each one of these in greater detail.
The cut of a diamond has the greatest influence on its overall beauty because it determines how your diamond plays with light, a term known as “Brilliance”. When cut with the proper proportions and symmetrical facets, diamonds will reflect more light and give off maximum brilliance. A diamond's cut grade is an objective measure of its brilliance.
At Diseno Jewels, we believe that every diamond should shine. We only offer diamonds rated at or above Good, or Very Good cut grades, which provide the ideal balance of brilliance and value. We do not carry Fair or Poor cut diamonds.
Diamond Cut Classifications
Ideal Cut is a rare cut that will reflect almost all of the light that enters the diamond, thereby producing maximum brilliance. This cut represents the top 3% of diamond quality based on cut.
Very Good Cut:
Very Good cut reflects nearly as much light as the Ideal Cut, but for a lower price, making it a great value for money. This cut represents the top 15% of diamond quality based on cut.
Good cut is much less expensive than a Very Good Cut. It reflects most light that enters. This cut represents the top 25% of diamond quality based on cut.
Fair or Poor Cut:
These cut grades are either too deep and narrow, or too shallow and wide. As a result, the diamond loses most of its reflected light out of its sides and bottom. Fair and Poor Cut diamonds appear dull or glassy, even with excellent clarity or colour.
A well-cut diamond will always appear beautiful. Diamonds with the highest cut grades require substantial time and skill to produce, which is why they cost more than a poorly cut stone. Cut is so important to a diamond’s beauty that up to 75% of the diamond’s carat weight can be lost in order to achieve a high quality cut. Do not compromise on the cut, because even if a diamond is graded well in the other Cs, a lower grade cut can result in a dull, muted effect.
After cut, colour is considered the second most important diamond characteristic. This is because the first thing the human eye detects a diamond's brilliance, and then its colour.
Understanding Diamond Colour
Most diamonds have a yellowish tint. The less colour it contains, the more valuable the diamond. At Diseno Jewels, we only carry Colourless (D-F) or Near-Colourless (G-J) diamonds.
This is the highest diamond colour grade. Minute traces of colour can be detected only by an expert gemmologist.
G-J Near Colourless:
This range is an excellent value. Colour is difficult to detect unless compared side-by-side against diamonds of better grades.
K-Z Noticeable Colour:
The colour, usually a yellow to brown tinge, is visible to the naked eye.
Pairing Diamonds and Metals
The metal of your ring setting can visually impact the diamond’s colour. Pairing diamonds with similar toned metals can neutralize colour in the diamond. Consider setting Near Colourless diamonds (G-J) in yellow gold and Colourless diamonds (D-F) in white gold or platinum.
The visible difference between diamonds of one colour grade (G-H or I-J) is so minor that it is difficult to detect with the unaided eye, but the cost savings can be significant. Keep this in mind when choosing your diamond colour grade.
What are Coloured Diamonds?
Only one in every 10,000 diamonds has a natural colour. The rarity and value of a naturally coloured diamond depends on the intensity of the colour. As diamonds form deep in the earth’s core, exposure to trace elements of different naturally occurring minerals affect their colour. For example, Boron turns a diamond blue and Nitrogen turns a diamond yellow or brown. Yellow is the most common colour and red is the rarest. Other very rare colours include green, grey, orange, pink, purple and blue. Black diamonds are another popular colour that is seen frequently in jewellery. Unlike the coloured diamonds mentioned above which are coloured due to trace elements, black diamonds are coloured due the inclusions present in them. Additionally, somewhere between black and colourless diamonds, a mixture of the two, called salt and pepper diamonds has recently marked its popularity in the jewellery markets.
What is Diamond Fluorescence?
Fluorescence is caused by trace elements reacting to certain types of UV light. Diamonds with strong fluorescence may glow in daylight due to the sun’s UV rays. Blue and yellow are the most common fluorescence colours of a natural diamond. One should keep in mind that fluorescence has no widely perceptible effect on the color appearance or transparency of diamonds and should not be a major factor in the purchase of a diamond since its effects are negligible.
Most diamonds have tiny imperfections that manifest during its natural growth or whilst developing its best cut. These clarity characteristics are called inclusions. The clarity of a diamond is determined by the number and position of its inclusions—less inclusions means better clarity.
Clarity is graded on a scale from flawless (FL) to heavily included (I3), and refers to the tiny, natural inclusions that occur within it. Many of these inclusions are microscopic, and do not affect a diamond's beauty in any visible way. For the best value, select a diamond with inclusions that cannot be seen without magnification, such as an SI or VS grade. Choosing a lower diamond clarity grade can save money and let you prioritize one of the other 4Cs, like cut or carat.
Understanding Diamond Clarity
IF, FL - Internally Flawless, Flawless:
IF diamonds have few blemishes and FL diamonds are practically perfect, making them extremely rare.
VVS2, VVS1 - Very, Very Slightly Included:
These are excellent quality diamonds. Even under 10x magnification, it is very difficult to see any imperfections.
VS2, VS1- Very Slightly Included:
Inclusions can be seen only under magnification. This grade of diamonds is more affordable than the previous two.
SI2, SI1 - Slightly Included:
A good diamond value because inclusions are not typically visible to the naked eye.
This grade usually has eye visible inclusions. Diseno Jewels does not carry diamond jewellery made with the I1 grade.
I3, I2 - Heavily Included:
As with I1, I2 & I3 diamonds too, have noticeable inclusions without magnification. Diseno Jewels does not carry diamond jewellery made with I3 or I2 clarity grades.
Understanding Eye-Clean Diamonds
For an excellent value, choose eye-clean diamonds, which have no inclusions visible to the unaided eye. These diamonds are much less expensive than the extremely rare Flawless (FL) or Internally Flawless (IF) diamonds.
Understanding How Diamond Clarity and Cut Work Together
As diamond size increases, the size of the facets, or tiny flat surfaces on the diamond, also increases. This can make inclusions more visible. Be sure to prioritize a higher clarity grade as the size of your diamond increases.
Understanding How Diamond Clarity Affects Different Shapes
Some diamond shapes require a higher clarity grade than others. Emerald and Asscher shaped diamonds are designed with rectangular facets that emphasize transparency and let you see further down into the diamond, which can make inclusions more visible. For these diamond shapes, choose a clarity grade of VS1 or better to ensure that any inclusions will not be seen.
Round, princess, oval, marquise, pear, and heart shaped diamonds may not require as high of a clarity grade. Cut with a brilliant facet pattern, which reflects light from many different angles, these shapes naturally hide many inclusions.
Contrary to popular belief, carat is the physical weight of your diamond, not its size. Beware that bigger is not always better. Here is what you must consider when choosing your carat weight:
The size of your finger:
The smaller or thinner the finger, the larger the diamond will appear.
The size of your setting:
Not all settings will fit all diamond carats or shapes. If you have already selected a setting, check the diamond specifications of your ring or ask us for help. We can accommodate almost any special jewellery request.
Cut, colour, and clarity have a great effect on the overall beauty of your diamond. Keep this in mind when determining which carat size is right for your budget.
Remember that a diamond's cut will affect how large the diamond looks. When a diamond is skillfully cut, it reflects the maximum amount of light, which makes the diamond appear larger than a poorly cut diamond of equal carat weight.
Certain diamond shapes will look larger than others, even though their carat weight is exactly the same. For example, marquise and pear shapes have elongated silhouettes that make them look larger.
A diamond’s shape refers to the general silhouette of the stone – the diamond’s visual outline when viewed from above. Choosing a diamond shape is a reflection of personal style. Here are a few popular shapes:
This is the most popular cut for diamonds. They are often referred to as RBC or “Round Brilliant Cut” which is intended to enhance the diamond’s sparkle with the least possible sacrifice in carat weight. In order to do so, the diamond must be cut with a standard proportion and fixed number of facets totalling to 57 (or 58, if the culet, tip of the diamond, is cut). These diamonds are most versatile to use in all jewellery styles.
This square shaped diamond is a cutters favourite as it yields maximum size from the rough. This makes it less expensive than their traditionally round cut counterparts. A princess cut can look modern or vintage, depending on the setting. When choosing a setting for a princess diamond, make sure that the corners are well protected.
The cushion cut diamond, once referred to as old mine cut, is a square cut with rounded corners, like a pillow. While generally less brilliant than round brilliant diamonds, cushion cut diamonds often have better fire, which is part of their appeal. This is a classic cut with modern flair and is durable thanks to its rounded edges.
A Baguette diamond is a thin, elongated, rectangular-shaped diamond. The cut consists of parallel lines and remarkable clarity. Baguettes are both great center pieces and graceful side stones. Its clarity and appealing symmetry make it a classic and timeless diamond. Similar to the Baguette, is a tapered Baguette which narrows down toward the base.
The Emerald cut diamond gets its name from the technique originally designed to cut Emeralds. Due to its large table surface, the Emerald Cut Diamond offers abundant reflections through its step cut. More notably, the Emerald Cut showcases size better than other diamonds of the same carat.
The radiant cut diamond is a beautiful symmetrical & non-traditional cut. It combines the brilliance of a round cut and the purity of an emerald cut. Its trimmed corners give this loose diamond shape versatility to shine in all kinds of jewelry, especially engagement rings.
Oval diamonds, a classic shape, showcase similar brilliance and fire to the Round Cut. They are an exquisite choice for those who want their fingers to appear longer and slimmer. The Oval’s elongated silhouette offers a large appearance compared to other shapes of the same carat.
The narrow body of the Marquise Diamond resembles the shape of an elongated eye. Also known as “Navette”, this shape creates an illusion that the diamond is larger than it truly is. Its stunning large crown is complementary to wearer as it makes the finger appear longer and more slender. Keep in mind when setting a Marquise Diamond, two prongs should hold the pointed ends to prevent chipping.
The pear shape looks like a teardrop, and is a very popular and is an elegant, timeless choice. Sentimentally, when wearing a pear shape for a ring, the pointed end is meant to face toward the heart of the wearer. Symmetry is critical to the appearance of a Pear Shaped Diamond so it shimmers evenly.
This is one of the newer shapes in diamonds, which makes it even more special. It is a great choice for modern romantics and has high emotional value. This makes it a unique cut to set as a main stone or as the centre of a design for earrings, pendants or even rings.
Other fancy shapes in diamonds are Triangular cuts, Lozenges, Trapezoids, Half moons, Kite shapes, Hexagonal, Octagonal shapes, etc.
While it’s smart to factor in the various affordability factors and visual appeal between the different diamond shapes, the most important aspect is choosing a shape that you like.