Buying a diamond ring is always a challenging task, and the more expensive stone you choose, the higher the risk of getting in trouble. You simply cannot rely on the price tags to check the quality of the precious stone you’ve selected. These days, many retailers put brand markups on their jewelry, scaling up the price for each piece massively.
Diamonds are already expensive — but with these extras, their value rises exponentially. The stones become inaccessible, and the question of their quality goes into the background.
But if you’re ready to buy a diamond and don’t want to get in trouble, how to protect yourself from wasteful spending? Easy: learn how to check the diamond quality by yourself! Diamond Registry experts are glad to reveal their knowledge to you. With our tips, you can get the basics of choosing the best precious stones and detecting low-quality overpriced diamonds.
Understanding Diamond Ratings — The 4Cs of Cut, Color, Clarity & Carat
Let’s start with the basics. Each diamond is unique. And the individuality of stone comes from a composition of several elements — its 4Cs.
| 4 secret elements of each diamond are
To get the top diamond quality, learn where to spot and how to understand these factors. Later in this guide, we will compare each pair of them to help you choose. So, in the end, you’ll know which element among 4Cs you should prioritize to get the most beautiful stone.
Of course, we could choose an easier path: just paste here the plenty of recommended links that will turn your brain into the encyclopedia on diamond characteristics. But our aim is to create a convenient guide where the diamond ratings are clear enough for you to make a better decision in a jewelry store. That’s why you don’t need to search for additional information elsewhere — everything needed is in this text.
Cut refers to the ability of a diamond to reflect light and sparkle. To have a complete about it, you should take into account 7 components from visual and physical perspectives.
Visual components of a diamond cut are:
Scintillation. Meet this parameter by moving a polished diamond. You can notice how certain areas flash on and off under different angles and light. Also, note the “dark side” of a stone, which includes the dark upper girdles, windowing, and dark centers. The balance between these two areas determines the cut quality,
Pattern. Notice how dark and light areas are placed, coming out of internal and external reflections,
Contrast. It’s the alleviation of lighter and darker parts on the precious stone. The result of contrast comes in the appearance of a face-up pattern of it.
After examining visual factors, check the physical components of a diamond:
Weight coefficient. Specialists calculate this element by dividing the overall diamond’s weight to its diameter. You can check it in the diamond certificate.
Durability. This term refers to the strength of the diamond girdles — if they are thin and contain inclusions, the gem is poorly cut.
Polish. The quality of the final touches of a master. The attentive jeweler works without scratches and nicks.
Proportion. To detect this cut parameter, the specialists consider facet location and indication, along with table and culet alignment. And then, put it in the certificate.
| Cut quality depends on both visual and physical parameters
Diamond ratings based on its color
Color distinctions influence the diamond’s financial worth significantly — small differences in this parameter weight big.
Each diamond contains semi-transparent pigments in different proportions. For comparison, there appeared the grading scale for color. It ranges the gems from completely colorless (D) to the ones that have clear yellowish tone (Z). In this gradation, colorless diamonds are considered unique — and so, pretty pricey. To the diamonds placed in the normal color range, specialists apply ordinary estimation and leveling.
To check the quality of color by yourself, you’ll need a masterstone. These gems are exemplary round brilliant diamonds of D color. Mostly, these flawless stones are used in diamond grading institutes (like GIA) for certification. So, if you don’t have a masterstone in your hands, you can rely on the color grade mentioned in the GIA certificate.
| The closer the color letter of your diamond is to the letter D, the more qualitative it is
By the way, if the stone experienced ultraviolet light (UV), it possesses fluorescence. That’s the internal radiation that, instead of color, is not glaringly obvious. However, if you pick the right time, place, and lightning to look at the diamond, you may see the fluorescence effect in it. It’s likely to have blue color — and in a light-yellow diamond, the stone might seem almost colorless in the light of the sun. Contrast colors, such as blue and yellow, abolish each other, which makes yellow invisible to the human eye because of the blue color topping. However, the high concentration of the fluorescence can negatively impact the value of the diamond. The gem will look cloudy, or even a little bit “oily.” So, avoid it to increase the diamond quality.
Clarity grading system
The perfect shape of a diamond is not everything needed for the top quality. Frequently, the inclusions and flaws come into place — and just a handful of diamonds pass the final approval and become eligible to sell. These internal factors are various incorporations, area unevennesses, and blemishes. Thus, diamond ratings started relying on a diamond clarity scale to measure the quality in this parameter.
| Diamond clarity means purity of the stone
The top clarity means the absence of blemishes, inclusions, scratches, and other defects. In reality, it’s almost impossible to find flawless clarity — the stone cannot be 100% pure. However, the extent of imperfections may differ. There are cases when inclusions are placed inside the stone, being wide enough to break it. Alternatively, small diamonds or other minerals can be captured inside the diamond. They can appear during its formation and stay there even after cutting and polishing. In this case, the imperfection is severe enough to either damage a diamond or make it look “dirty.”
The scale for clarity ranges from flawless (FL) to severely imperfect (I3). To make a fair choice, go for either completely pure stone or the one with slight imperfections (VVS2). The latter is a fair compromise for the relative absence of flaws for the good money.
In checking the clarity grade, the masterstone is helpful. However, you need the eye of scientists to analyze the formation and spot the tiniest defects. Only in the laboratory can the specialists determine their severity. And you can see their findings as a clarity grade in your diamond report.
People apply the same logic to diamonds as they use to apples: the more this good weighs, the higher it costs. However, the reality with precious stones is trickier than a simple measurement of kilograms.
| It’s hard to find a big diamond — and such uniqueness, not the carat weight itself, increases its value
The value of diamonds rises with their overall uniqueness. And so, a high-quality diamond is not the biggest one — but the stone that is big enough to reveal all the great characteristics it possesses.
While determining the diamond value, jewelers use the “price per carat” notion. In practice, it divides these stones into pricing categories. That's why the price between a 0.5-carat diamond and a 1-carat diamond doesn’t increase twice. These stones belong to different pricing categories — and so, the price rises under this logic and by considering other diamond elements.
There is one more factor, important enough to gain an informal “the 5th C” title. It’s a GIA certificate that is valuable for several reasons:
GIA was the first institution to introduce the idea of diamond 4Cs,
It possesses the enhanced laboratory equipment to evaluate each diamond element,
This grading institute has the top reputation among all the diamond certification centers,
Its report contains all the information about the key diamond parameters.
Thus, always check the presence of a diamond certificate to ensure the quality of a stone. Also, aim at seeing the highest grades in each parameter in it.
How to choose a diamond of the best quality?
Of course, that would be great to find a diamond that is top-notch in all 4Cs dimensions. But let’s face the truth — it’s tough to find such stone. And even if you’re lucky to spot the one in a jewelry shop, the chances you have the budget to buy it are low.
In other stones, the correlation between the rarity, weight, and value is always different. By concentrating on one grade among 4Cs, you disregard the rest automatically. And then, you’ll notice that the price will change inconsistently. For instance, a 1-carat diamond will worth $5,500, but the 3-carat diamond of the same quality but one difference can cost $20,000 already.
| The diamond quality is not a case of getting the best of the best jewel. It’s the art of making a fair compromise between various factors that come into play
In the given circumstances, you will always sacrifice something. In practice, determining the perfect value of a diamond becomes subjective, and you, as a customer, always have the last word. But we as diamond experts can help you get the best deal by understanding the interrelation between these factors.
Diamond Quality Charts and Rating Scales Illustrated: Typical Cases
Let's see the typical combinations of diamond elements to understand what to do in a jewelry shop. Frequently, you will choose between carat weight and cut, or color and clarity due to the budget constraints. We described the most typical challenges you will face while buying an engagement ring to teach how to make a fair compromise between key specifications in a diamond.
What to choose: a better diamond cut, a fancier diamond shape, or a heavier carat weight?
The diamond cut is always more preferable. To understand the reason why look behind the scenes of a jewelry store to the cutter’s room.
Here’s the typical procedure of a high-end diamond cutting:
The jeweler addresses the content of a raw diamond. If it’s clear, the professional can potentially turn it into 1 or 2 good diamonds,
The jeweler splits the rough diamond if needed. If not, he starts to cut the outline of the decided shape,
The jeweler cuts the diamond facets,
An essential step of polishing takes place. Even though cutting facets means semi-polishing, the diamond is not ready yet. The polishing procedure, if done accurately, may decrease a diamond to one-third.
From this overview, you see that picking a particular shape is just one of five steps in the diamond cutting. Moreover, a well-done cut makes a diamond small and lighter.
Thus, the diamond cut should become your priority. That’s because the quality of working with a raw diamond determines everything.
If the diamond survives so far, it can go to a wholesaler directly or a laboratory for trade.
| How to prioritize 4Cs to get the top quality:
Clarity and Color balance
What to choose: a better clarity or color grade?
The dilemma between these 2 elements is really tough. We recommend finding a perfect balance between them. If needed, you can sacrifice carat weight and fancy shape — but remember that cut should still remain your priority.
The best clarity and color in a diamond are hard to discover. The experts working for decades in the industry may never meet an opportunity to spot such a stone. Moreover, perfectly pure diamonds are very expensive: Internally Flawless and D color share the top positions in diamond price lists. So, you won’t need the maximum in these parameters to buy a high-quality diamond: VVS2 clarity and H color are great options.
However, be careful while determining the quality of clarity and color grades. Note the peculiarities of fractions and the nature of diamond color. The same inclusion in the different places affects the quality differently. Sometimes, it may even damage the stone. In this case, it falls under the category Included (I1, I2, I3) diamonds you’d better avoid.
Also, be careful with high-pressure high-temperature treatment (HPHT) that boosts diamond color and erases naturally placed brown tones. This is a temporary artificial measure that doesn’t contribute to the quality of the stone but masks its imperfections for sale. Be careful with that and check the presence of HPHT in a diamond certificate.
Where to find a high-quality stone?
To protect yourself from wasteful spending and guarantee to get a high-quality diamond, refer to Diamond Registry! We have more than 60 years of experience in the diamond market and know everything about these precious stones. Let us find a perfect diamond for the wholesale price and even create custom-made jewelry for you! Just contact us through the form on our website to get assistance from us.