DIAMOND BASICS

 

At Bailen Jewelers, we make every effort to educate our customers.  Buying diamond jewelry requires an understanding about what determines quality and value.  You may have heard of the "4C's," but you may not know the important details of cut, color, clarity, and carat weight.   Whether you are a first-time or experienced buyer, the information presented here will give you the knowledge to purchase finely cut diamonds with confidence and satisfaction.


Cut

The cut of a diamond enables it to make the best use of light.  The most critical factor in ensuring that a diamond releases its brilliance is the precision of the cut.  This may be the most important of the "4C's" in measuring the beauty, quality, and value of a diamond, because it is the only man-made feature.

 

The Ideal Cut

The ideal cut diamond is a round, brilliant one that has been cut to exact and mathematically proven proportions.  With 58 exactly positioned facets (small polished surfaces), its symmetry produces the ultimate luster and beauty.  With these proportions, all of the light entering from any direction is reflected through the top only, and dispersed in a spectrum of rainbow colors and sparkling flashes. 


The Premium Cut

A premium cut diamond possesses subtle differences from the ideal cut.  Dimensional variations affect a diamond's reflection of light, but the premium cut still achieves a pleasing balance between its proportions and the display of brilliance.


The Inferior Cut

The cut of many diamonds is "spread," or compromised,  in order to retain maximum size and weight from the original rough diamond.  Although a larger, heavier diamond will result, the "fire" and quality are sacrificed.  If the diamond is cut too deep light leaks out of the bottom, brilliance is diminished, and its center appears to be dark. 


Color

Although most diamonds appear colorless, they usually have slight tones of yellow or brown.  The rarity and cost decrease as these tones become more easily apparent.  This color results from traces of other elements that mixed with pure carbon during the diamond's formation millions of years ago.  Nitrogen is the most common trace element, and it results in a hint of yellow which is nearly undetectable.  A diamond with no trace of color is truly rare.

A diamond's true color is determined by viewing it from the side under balanced white light.  It is then compared to others in a "Master Set" whose colors have been predetermined by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America).  Based on the diamond's deviation from a truly colorless one, it is assigned a color grade. 


The GIA and AGS (American Gem Society) have devised the color grading scales shown at left. 

 

Clarity

Nearly all diamonds contain naturally occurring internal characteristics called inclusions, which can take the form of crystals, feathers, lines, etc.  The size, nature, location, and number of inclusions determine a diamond's clarity grade and affect its price.  Fewer inclusions result in a rarer, more valuable diamond.  However, flawless diamonds are exceedingly rare.  As a matter of fact, the term "flawless" is a highly restricted one.  The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has ruled that a diamond can only be termed flawless when no internal imperfections or external blemishes are visible to a professionally trained eye under a 10X binocular microscope in good light.

 

As with color, the GIA and AGS have created grading scales for clarity. 

 

Please note that all diamonds are viewed under a 10X binocular microscope.

 

FL=Flawless and IF=Internally Flawless: no inclusions visible.

VVS=Very, Very Small Inclusions: extremely difficult to find.

VS=Very Small Inclusions: difficult to find.

SI=Small Inclusions: relatively easy to find.

I=Imperfect: obvious under the microscope and just visible to the naked eye.


Carat Weight

Carat weight is the simplest of the "4C's" in determining the value of a diamond.  The weight of a diamond is expressed in carats, as with all precious gems.  One carat equals 1/5 of a gram, or 1/142 of an ounce.  One carat is also divided into 100 units called "points."  Therefore, a diamond weighing 1/2 carat can also be described as weighing 50 points.  Accurate measurement of weight occurs when a diamond is loose (free from any mounting) on a calibrated scale.




All information and diagrams courtesy of the Gemological Institute of America and the American Gem Society.

All diamond images courtesy of J. Landau Inc.

 


 

Bailen Jewelers 2315 Brownsboro Rd Louisville, KY 40206

502.893.8930   Email: thang999@yahoo.com