ADVICE ON CHOOSING A DIAMOND - THE FOLLOWING ONLY APPLIES ON DIAMOND JEWELLERY
For centuries diamonds have been a symbol of love; there is evidence that diamonds were used in wedding rings as far back as the 15th Century. Today diamonds are traditionally associated with engagement rings but times are changing with many ladies buying quality diamond rings for themselves.
We’re often told to think of the 4 C’s when choosing a diamond but what does this actually mean? Cut, colour, clarity and carat weight were all identified as being important measures of diamonds as far back as the 1930’s when the 4 C’s grading system was created. “The 4 C’s provide a standard measure of the quality of diamonds throughout the world” explains Michelle Burns Harrison, Chapelle Jewellery “and these will be different for each and every piece of diamond set jewellery. In the same way people are individuals, so too are diamonds so using the 4 C’s as an international grading system is really useful for both customers and retailers alike.”
A highly skilled cutter will take on the responsibility of shaping the stone, creating many facets to ensure maximum sparkle, brilliance and fire is achieved. The shape of a stone is referred to as the ‘cut’ and diamonds are assessed on the basis of the ideal cut. “Facets within an ideal cut diamond will bounce the light out of the stone in a rainbow of fire. Achieving this ideal cut relies on the diamond cutters skill and experience.”
Colour is also one of the assessment areas; diamonds are deemed to be of a higher quality and therefore more desirable the whiter they are. The colour grades are split into bands with the top standard being D, known as exceptional white +, within the colourless category which also includes the slightly lower grades of E and F. “The difference between each colour grade is difficult to see with the naked eye but when the stones are graded K or below the colour is much more noticeable. At grade K the diamond has a yellow tint which increases the further down the scale you go. I would suggest, that wherever possible, the colour grade of J or above be chosen.”
Each diamond has a long and difficult journey before becoming a piece of exquisite jewellery with on average over 250 tons of ore being dug out to produce a diamond weighing 1 carat. It’s not surprising that after such a difficult voyage diamonds have inclusions, referred to within the Clarity section of the 4 C’s. A skilled cutter will cut a diamond to minimise the visibility of inclusions however in most instances these slight markings will be seen. “We like to refer to inclusions as nature’s fingerprints with each one being unique to the diamond” explains Michelle, “ and basically the fewer of these natural characteristics the higher the clarity grade.”
Contrary to popular believe, the fourth and final C, Carat, doesn’t refer to the size of the diamond, rather the weight. “We often surprise customers when we explain that carat is weight not size!” revealed Michelle. “Customers are sometimes confused as 1 carat can also be referred to as 100 points so ½ carat is also called 50 points!” The price of diamonds jumps up at certain carat weights with key weights being 1/4 carat ½ carat, ¾ carat and of course 1 carat.
Choosing the right diamond is not always easy! Selected diamond retailers now stock rings which are certificated, so the quality of the diamonds is much easier to identify. Certificated rings are assessed according to the 4 C’s by independent gemologist so customers and retailers can be confident of the standard of diamonds in the piece.
Hopefully we have given you an insight into the magical world of diamonds. Don’t forget, although diamonds are thought by many to have magical powers, the true power is found in the beauty which radiates from within. It’s only when a diamond reaches the earth’s surface, after billions of years in the making, that the true brilliance of each individual stone is known.
When we speak of a diamond's clarity, we are referring to the presence of identifying characteristics on (blemishes) and within (inclusions) the stone. If you think about the incredible amount of pressure it takes to create a diamond and the fact that natural diamonds are not grown in a sterile laboratory, it's no surprise that most diamonds have flaws.
Basically there are two types of flaws: inclusions and blemishes. Inclusions refer to internal flaws and blemishes refer to surface flaws. However, in the diamond grades listed below, you'll note that none of the grades include the term "blemish" -- for the purposes of grading diamonds, all flaws are called "inclusions." Inclusions include flaws such as air bubbles, cracks, and non-diamond minerals found in the diamond. Blemishes include scratches, pits, and chips. Some blemishes occur during the cutting processes (most often at the girdle). Diamonds with no or few inclusions and blemishes are more highly valued than those with less clarity because they are rarer.
After carat weight, Clarity has the most influence on cost. But grading inclusion size, quantity, colour, reflectivity, placement and type is difficult; graders are humans trying to mediate between buyers and sellers. Ultimately Diamond grading reports are just "expert opinions" under 10 times magnification. Even GIA has given different grades for the same diamond.
• FL, IF Flawless: No internal or external flaws, extremely rare. Internally Flawless: no internal flaws, but some surface flaws. Very rare.
• VVS1-VVS2 Very, Very Slightly Included: Inclusions are very difficult to detect under 10x magnification. An excellent clarity grade.
• VS1-VS2 Very Slightly Included: Inclusions are not typically visible to the unaided eye, and difficult to see under 10x magnification. A very good clarity grade.
• SI1-SI2 Slightly Included: Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification, and may be visible with the unaided eye. A good diamond value.
• I1-I2-I3 Included: Inclusions are visible under to the unaided eye. This clarity grade represents the best value for those who prefer size over quality.
High Clarity is symbolic of "purity" and rarity. Diamond 'quality' traditionally meant 'Clarity'. Flawless and VVS (Very Very Slight) diamonds are said to be "investment grade", but that is nonsense; demand and liquidity of medium clarity, SI (Slightly Included) and VS (Very Slight) makes them easier to sell or trade up. Inclusions in diamonds are rarely "flaws" that result in breakage like, say, emeralds. Medium clarity diamonds are just as brilliant as Flawless diamonds.
Remember than from a clarity point of view all eye clean diamonds will look the same to the unaided eye whether the clarity grade is Flawless or SI2.