Diamond cluster earrings are a beautiful way to add sparkle to any outfit, whether jeans and a T-shirt or an elegant gown. Clusters feature several smaller diamonds closely packed together to form an overall design, such as a star, heart, or flower. A departure from traditional diamond solitaires, diamond cluster earrings can be worn either as studs or dangling earrings. With the broad range of choices available, it is helpful to understand the different options.
In addition to the cluster's shape, the individual diamonds have a particular shape, which in some cases may be showcased in a central stone. Another choice is the setting: buyers need to decide what metal and setting type they prefer. Different backings are available as well, such as butterfly, omega, and screw. Last but certainly not least, buyers should familiarise themselves with the terms used to evaluate diamonds. These are often referred to as the "four C's": cut, colour, clarity, and carat weight. After learning more about diamond earrings, consumers can more easily find a pair of diamond cluster earrings to match their budget and style.
Diamond Stone Shapes
Diamonds can be cut into different shapes, each with its own distinctive qualities. The most common shape is the round brilliant cut, with 58 facets for maximum sparkle that appears to radiate from the centre. The princess cut is also popular; it is square instead of round, with corners angled at 90 degrees.
Other less-common shapes include: cushion, an antique-looking square cut with rounded corners and sides; baguette, a rectangular stone with pointed corners; trilliant, which is faceted like the round brilliant but in a triangular shape; heart-shaped; emerald cut, a rectangular stone that is step-cut with emphasis on clarity rather than sparkle; oval; marquise, an oval with tapered ends; pear-shaped; and asscher cut, which is similar to the emerald cut, but square.
Diamond Cluster Earring Setting Options
There are three main setting types for diamonds: bezel, and claw, and pave. They differ in their overall look, and some buyers may prefer one over the others.
With bezel settings, the metal surrounds the stones, forming a frame. This setting can create the illusion of larger diamonds, as well as add sparkle and texture to a cluster. Some may feel this setting is more secure, although it should be noted that claw or prong settings are also very secure.
In claw settings, the diamond is held in place by several metal prongs. This setting showcases the stone and allows more light to enter into it, maximising sparkle.
Pave settings are very common in cluster earrings. They feature several small stones set closely together. Beads of the setting metal hold them in place, creating the illusion of a continuous surface of precious stone.
Different Metals for Diamond Cluster Earrings
The metal used for an earrings setting is an important feature. Warmer-toned gold tends to flatter warm skin tones, while cool skin tones are better suited by platinum, white gold, and silver. Another consideration is whether the earrings should match other jewelry. Finally, some may be concerned about allergies to certain metals; in that case, hypoallergenic metals should be selected.
Pure gold is 24 carats, and is often considered too soft to use in enduring fine jewelry. For that reason, pure gold is mixed with other metals for a stronger, more durable alloy. 18 carat gold is 75 percent pure, and is considered ideal, while 9 carat gold is more affordable. Yellow gold has been alloyed with copper or zinc.
Buyers should be aware that gold is measured in carats, and this specification has no connection with the diamond weight. Look carefully at an item's description to verify which weight is being indicated.
White gold used to be formed by alloying pure gold with nickel for a colour similar to platinum. However, nickel is toxic, and is no longer used; instead, silver or palladium are mixed. Alternatively, yellow gold is coated in rhodium, which is hypoallergenic.
With its cool luster and considerable durability, hypoallergenic platinum is a popular choice for diamond earring settings. It is 35 times rarer than gold, and generally used in a 90 to 95 percent pure form mixed with iridium.
Silver is a more affordable precious metal that can be formed into beautiful, intricate designs. Sterling silver is an alloy with 7.5 percent copper and is labelled 925, .925, 92.5 or "Ster". Silver can tarnish over time, so proper care is required.
Another consideration when shopping for a set of diamond cluster earrings is what kind of fastening to choose. A few of the most common are butterfly, omega, and screw-back.
Butterfly fastenings are very common: they feature a post with a nut that fits over it. Look for posts with notches and adequate friction to ensure the backing stays in place.
Omega backs have a hinged, looped lever that closes over the post and holds it in place through pressure. These are used with dangling cluster earrings.
Screw or Threaded Back
Screw back fastenings are similar to butterfly backs, except that the post is threaded and the nut screws into place. This may be a more secure option for everyday wear.
Evaluating Diamonds: The Four C's
Diamonds are evaluated according to four main factors: cut, colour, clarity, and carat weight. Buyers should familiarise themselves with the different ratings and grades for each factor in order to better compare diamond earrings.
The cut of a diamond is considered by most gemmologists to be of primary importance, as it determines to a large degree the stone's brilliance and fire. In order to achieve maximum reflectivity, numerous facets are cut into the stone, and the right proportions must be found so that it is neither too deep nor too shallow, in which case some light is lost. Sometimes reflectivity is sacrificed in order to preserve the stone's size.
There are four main grades of cuts used in diamond cluster earrings: excellent, very good, good, and fair. The following chart provides explanations of these terms.
Exceptionally reflective for maximum brilliance and fire
In many ways ideal; a minimal amount of reflectivity may have been sacrificed to preserve size
Most entering light is reflected; stone may be shallower or deeper than ideal in order to optimise size
Size prioritised over brilliance; however, still a quality cut
Buyers should keep in mind that a quality cut can make small stones look larger, because they are more reflective. However, with cluster earrings where there is not a larger, featured stone, cut may be less of a priority.
Next to cut, gemmologists often consider colour to be the second-most important factor in choosing a diamond. The presence of nitrogen in some diamonds cause them to have a yellow tinge. Colourless diamonds are prized for their absolute transparency. Colour can affect light's ability to travel through the stone, thus reducing brilliance.
Colour is graded from D to Z, with D being the ideal. The differences between gradations can be very difficult to detect by the naked eye. In general the gradations are grouped as follows: colourless (D, E, F), nearly colourless (G, H, I, J), faint yellow (K, L, M), very light yellow (N, O, P, Q, R), and light yellow (S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z).
Settings in yellow or rose gold can help conceal slightly yellow diamonds, while any colouring is more obvious in platinum, white gold, and silver settings.
All diamonds have some markings in them, resulting from their formation (internal markings called inclusions) or the cutting and polishing process (external markings called blemishes). The clearest diamonds are the most highly valued, while more inclusions and blemishes can obstruct the passage of light through the stone. The following chart outlines the ratings for diamond clarity.
To a trained eye, no inclusions or blemishes can be detected when magnified 10X; flawless diamonds are exceedingly rare
Internally Flawless (IF)
When magnified 10X, a trained eye cannot detect inclusions, but there may be miniscule blemishes; IF-grade diamonds are extremely rare
Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1, VVS2)
Under 10X-magnification, a trained eye may perceive with difficulty a few tiny inclusions and/or blemishes; VVS diamonds are of excellent quality
Inclusions can be seen with effort by a trained eye when magnified 10X, but are rarely visible to an unaided eye; very good quality
Inclusions are visible to a trained eye when magnified 10X, though very difficult to detect with the naked eye; good quality and value
I1 indicates inclusions are obvious when magnified 10X, and might be seen by the unaided eye; I2 and I3 indicate inclusions are visible to the unaided eye and may affect brilliance
Clarity is one area, particularly with cluster earrings, where buyers can make some compromise to fit within their budget. All eye-clean diamonds, those without flaws visible to the naked eye, look the same in terms of clarity. Even certain SI-grade stones fall within this group, and can be much more affordable than diamonds of higher-grade clarity. In some cases, the setting can conceal a visible flaw; buyers should consult with a jeweller concerning this issue.
A diamond's weight is expressed in carats (ct), where one carat equals 200 milligrams, or 0.2 grams. The weight is usually one of the first specifications given for a set of diamond earrings. Consumers should be aware that the weight indicates the total weight of the diamonds in both earrings. For example, a one-carat set of diamond cluster earrings may be made up of 10 0.10ct stones.
Larger, heavier diamonds are more rare, therefore they cost more than their weight in smaller individual stones of equal quality.
Certification is a way to prove the value of a diamond, according to its "four C" ratings: cut, clarity, colour, and carat. Diamonds are certified by independent bodies not involved with the buying or selling of the stones. Certificates may be issued by one of these major institutions: the International Gemological Institute (IGI), the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), or the European Gemological Laboratory (EGL).
Buyers of cluster earrings may find fewer certified items, since a diamond must be at least 0.25ct, with a colour rating of G, to qualify for certification. For diamonds with colour ratings of H or I, they must be at least 0.30ct.
Conflict-Free Diamonds and the Kimberley Process
Some diamond mines are controlled by forces opposed to internationally-recognised governing bodies, and the profits of these so-called conflict or blood diamonds help fund illegal activities, including military actions against those governments. In 2002, in an effort to increase transparency of diamond origin, the United Nations introduced the Kimberley Process, according to which nations selling diamonds must provide proof that they were mined in government-controlled areas.
Consumers can look for retailers that carry only conflict-free diamonds and pledge adherence to the Kimberley Process.
How to Buy Diamond Cluster Earrings on eBay
If you have decided to buy a pair of diamond cluster earrings over the Internet, you will find a wide selection on eBay's online auction website. To get started, simply type keywords like "diamond cluster earrings" into the search bar on eBay's home page. You can then refine your search results by entering a price range, selecting weight, condition, metal type, and more.
When you have found a pair of earrings you are interested in, take a moment to read the item description carefully. Note details like the "four Cs", item condition, and whether certification is offered. If you have questions about the earrings, you can contact the seller through eBay.
You should also get to know a little more about the seller. Checking their feedback rating and reading comments left by past buyers are good ways to get an idea of how reliable they are. Top-rated sellers complete a high volume of transactions with excellent customer service.
Diamond cluster earrings are a beautiful way to add sparkle and elegance to any jewellery collection. With options ranging from delicate cluster studs to dramatic dangling pieces, there is something for every style and budget. There are several choices to make when selecting a set of diamond clusters.
Probably the most important choice is deciding on a design that suits the wearer. Next, they need to choose a setting metal, whether yellow or white gold, platinum, or silver. The setting style may be claw, bezel, or pave, with a butterfly, omega, or screw backing. When comparing different earrings, it also helps to understand how diamonds are evaluated, according to the "four C's": cut, colour, clarity, and carat weight. Buyers wishing to protect their investment should opt for certified diamonds, and buying conflict-free stones is a way to ensure that they have been sourced responsibly.
Learning more about diamonds helps consumers find a set of beautiful cluster earrings for themselves or as a gift.