A remarkable gift of Mother Nature, diamonds represent beauty, and brilliance like nothing else. Their sparkle, shine, and allure are hard to resist. When buying a diamond, it is likely that these are the very qualities that attract your attention. But there is a lot more to buying diamonds than just blindly giving in to their gorgeous appearance. While cut, clarity, and colour are important parameters to select a diamond, there's another vital aspect to consider as well.
It is the carat!
These four factors are known as the 4Cs of a diamond. Experienced diamond buyers know that the carat weight can be the game changer, as far as the worth of a diamond is concerned. It's something that you must not overlook when you buy a diamond. So, here's everything you need to know about the carat weight of diamonds to help you make an informed decision.
What is Carat Weight of a Diamond?
Like everything else around us, diamonds also have weights. To put it simply, the term carat weight refers to the weight of a diamond. Most people tend to confuse carats to be a measurement of a diamond's size. This, however, is a popular misconception. Diamonds and other gemstones are measured using a unit called metric carats. One carat is equal to 0.2 grams, which is the average weight of a raindrop.
A carat is further split into 100 points and jewellers use the point system to weigh smaller diamonds. So, if you buy a diamond ring having a 50-point stone, it will mean that your diamond weighs 0.50 carats. Even a fraction of a carat can bring about a considerable difference in a diamond's price. So, the point system is used to maintain precision in weight, which, in turn, will determine its monetary value. Most of the diamonds used to make fine jewellery are of one carat weight or less.
Understanding the Difference between the Carat and the Karat
A carat is not the same as the karat and it's not just the difference in spelling that we are talking about. Carat is the standard unit for expressing the weight of precious stones like diamonds and gemstones. Karat, on the other hand, refers to the purity of gold. The purity of gold is scaled from 1 to 24 where 24 Karat is the purest form of the metal. The abbreviation for carat is 'ct' while that for karat is 'k' or 'kt'.
Is Carat a Universal Measuring Unit?
The carat derives its name from the carob seed. They are a variety of small seeds that were supposed to have fairly uniform weight. Gem traders in the early days used these seeds to weight precious stones. The current unit of metric carat was first adopted in 1907. Today, it's a universal unit used all over the world to weight diamonds and gemstones.
How Does the Carat Weight Impact a Diamond's Price?
The price of a diamond increases with its carat weight. A diamond of high carat weight will be more expensive than those with fewer carat weights. This is because diamonds with higher carat weight are rare and so, are more desirable. But it's important to remember that a diamond's value depends on all the 4Cs, and not just the carat weight alone. So, two diamonds of equal weight can vary significantly in their prices if the cut, colour, and clarity of the two stones vary.
Can Two Diamonds with Same Carat Weight Differ in Value Due to Their Different Shapes?
Yes, they can. This is because the combination of certain shapes and cuts produce more brilliance than the others. Based on such factors, the price of a diamond can differ much. For instance, a diamond with a round brilliant cut will have much more sparkle and fire than one with an emerald cut. Due to this, the price of the first diamond will be more than the second one, even though both of them may have the same carat weight.
The very thought of diamonds conjures up pictures of everything grand. These sparkling and alluring gemstones are often called the epitome of perfection. And they have become the go-to gemstone whenever people want to look drop-dead gorgeous. There is no doubt why. It is the hardest gemstone available on the earth and the highly organised form of carbon. You cannot begin to describe its beauty and shine, can you? But that's not enough when you buy diamond jewellery online or offline. You, on the other hand, should know the fundamentals of this gemstone.
Seasoned diamond buyers, collectors, and investors know what makes these precious gemstones as valuable as they are. They give primary importance to the four Cs of diamonds. Cut, colour, carat, and clarity are those four Cs that determine the worth of a diamond. While the cut, colour, and carat aren't hard to find, it takes a fine eye to see how clarity affects a diamond's beauty and price. Here is everything you should know about the clarity of diamonds.
What is the Clarity of a Diamond?
As you know, diamonds are made of carbon. In fact, they are the most concentrated form of carbon available to us. Natural diamonds take millions of years to form. They face extreme heat and pressure in the earth's mantle. Most of such naturally occurring diamonds have flaws or imperfections. These flaws include different amounts of scars and inclusions on the surface of a diamond, which are called blemishes. Inclusions are internal features trapped in it during its formation. Very rarely do diamonds appear in a perfect and ideal condition. And therefore, they are very expensive as well. The scars or inclusions on diamonds are nature's birthmarks. They are the features that make these gemstones unique.
Understanding the Diamond Clarity Chart
Every diamond is unique. So are their flaws. Since the flaws are mostly microscopic, gemmologists use magnification up to 10x to inspect diamonds. And they do that keeping the diamond in the face-up direction. If any blemish or inclusion is not visible on viewing the diamond from the top, it won't help in finding the clarity grade. Therefore, experts use loupes or microscopes to analyse the type, position, and size of all the inclusions.
Skilled graders find different clarity features using the 10x magnification. They map the locations of the inclusions the same way on diamond plots. These plots refer to small maps for individual diamonds. They help in classifying each diamond. Every diamond has a different internal pattern. This means that no two diamonds are ever the same. And the diamond plots are like fingerprints that help to identify each individual diamond.
VVS1 and VVS2 - Very Very Slightly Included
This grading means there are only some inclusions that are hard to see even with 10x magnification. Inclusions in the VVS1 gems are visible from the bottom-up view while that of VVS2 are visible in the face-up view.
VS1 and VS2 - Very Slightly Included
When small inclusions, such as crystals of other elements, show up in diamonds under the 10x magnification, they get this clarity grading. You need to look very hard to find these imperfections. Of VS1 and VS2, the former has a high clarity grade than the latter.
SI1, SI2, and SI3 - Slightly Included
Diamond with a presence of clear inclusions under magnification feature this low on the clarity chart.
I1, I2, and I3 - Included
These diamonds contain obvious inclusions. You can see the inclusions in these diamonds with 10x magnification and often with the naked eye. Such diamonds tend to have low transparency and usually lack brilliance.
Diamonds are known to usher in the colours of joy and happiness in people's lives. And yet, the most desirable colour of this precious stone is actually no-colour! Yes, you heard us right. For something as brilliant and beautiful as diamonds, this may seem like a surprising aspect, but it is this very aspect that adds to the sparkle and shine of diamonds. Let's take a look at the gorgeous world of the most spectacular stone on earth and why its colourless form is such a rage among the people. In this article, we tell you everything you should know about the colour of diamonds - what it is, how it impacts the value of the stone, different colour grades, and buying tips, among others.
Colour or No-Colour: What Does the Term Diamond Colour Mean?
For most people, the word 'colour' evokes images of bright hues. Well, that's not the case with diamonds. In the diamond and solitaire lingo, the term colour actually refers to the lack of it unless we are talking about fancy colour diamonds. If you are to examine a structurally perfect and chemically pure diamond, you will find that it has no colours at all, much like a drop of clear water. In fact, gem-sized perfect natural diamonds are almost a rarity because such a diamond comprises of 100% pure carbon that contain no impurities at all. In the real world, however, finding such a piece of absolute beauty will be a rare phenomenon.
Almost all diamonds include some degree of colour impurity in their composition. Such impurities and/or structural flaws in the crystal lattice of the stone impacts its colour. Based on the intensity and hue of the diamond's colour, the stone's value can increase or decrease dramatically. For instance, a diamond with a tint of yellow in it often considered to be less valuable than a white diamond. Fancy coloured diamonds are a different story altogether. Diamonds with intense blue or pink colours can be considered to be highly valuable. The legendary Hope Diamond is an example of the precious stone having an intense blue colour. Red stones are among the rarest diamonds found on earth. It should be noted here that often the colour distinctions in the stone are so subtle that you can't see them easily. But it is these distinctions that make a difference to the price and quality of your diamond.
How Does a Diamond's Colour Impact Its Value?
Colour is one of the 4Cs that impact a diamond's appearance as well as value. When light hits a diamond's facets, some of the rays get scattered into a rainbow of colours. They then reflect off the stone's interior facets and bounce back to our eyes in flashes of colour. This is known as the fire of a diamond. If a diamond crystal has observable colour in it, its ability to reflect light decreases in comparison to a colourless diamond. So, fire and sparkle both suffer. As such, the value of the diamond also decreases. That is why people prefer colourless diamonds.
Diamond Colour Grades: A Quick Guide
Colourless diamonds may be the most popular ones, but diamonds exist in nature in almost every shade present in the rainbow and such fancy coloured diamonds are valued and graded differently. Thus, there are two grading system for diamonds - one for the normal range and one for the fancy colour range.
The normal colour grading of diamonds refers to the lack of colours. The less the colour, the higher the colour grade will be. One exception to this rule is the fancy coloured diamonds. Such diamonds are available in various colours like pink, green, blue, and yellow and the colour grading improves as the colour becomes strong in the stones. In case of the white diamonds, the colour grade is measured on a scale ranging from D to Z.
Colourless Diamonds (D, E, F): D is the highest colour grade for a diamond. Stones belonging to this colour grade are almost colourless and icy white. E and F colour graded diamonds have very slight traces of colour in them that remain undetected unless examined by a gemologist. This group of diamonds is rarest and the most expensive one. Such diamonds are best mounted on white gold or platinum. Yellow gold or other coloured settings are generally avoided as they may take away from the luminous beauty of this category of diamonds.
Nearly Colourless (G, H, I, J): This colour grade displays nearly no colour. The diamonds in this category appear colourless to the naked eye. If you are looking for a diamond to mount in platinum or white gold, go for G or H colour graded stones. For yellow gold mounts, you can opt for I or J graded diamonds. The diamonds of this group are less expensive than the D-F group and are often used as the central stones in rings.
Faint Colour (K, L, M): Diamonds in this colour grade possess a slight tint of yellow that can be seen even with the naked eye. Due to this, diamonds of this group are not as desirable as the two previous groups. They are also not as rare or as expensive as the other two groups mentioned above. Diamonds belonging to this group can be set in yellow gold mounts for an appealing look.
Very Light Colour (N, O, P, Q, R): This group of diamonds has visible colour. Often the colour is a tint of yellow or brown. There is very little demand for such diamonds and they are available at a much low price range. Most reputed jewellers avoid dealing in this category of diamonds for making ornaments.
Light Colour (S-Z): The diamonds belonging to this colour grade exhibit easily noticeable yellow or brown tint. As they are placed at the low end of the colour grade, they are among the least expensive diamonds. Such diamonds are usually not considered for making ornaments.
What's Diamond Cut?
The cut of a diamond refers to its facet alignment, proportions, and finish. It does not refer to the diamond's shape, which indicates the overall form of the stone, such as round, oval, square, etc. Of the 4Cs that define a diamond's value factor, the cut quality is the only one that is the result of human effort. A good cut gives the diamond its fire and brilliance. When properly cut and shaped, a diamond's ability to reflect and refract light increases greatly. So, a well-cut diamond will appear to shine brightly while a poorly cut one may seem to be lifeless.
Diamonds have been present on earth for billions of years. But it's only a few hundred years ago when man learnt that a diamond's beauty can be transformed by giving it a proper cut. Since then, different styles of diamond cuts have been developed to enhance the stone's material properties. Whether you want to buy solitaire diamond rings or a classic pair of diamond earrings, a basic understanding of the cut will help you to make a wise buying decision.
The Different Styles of Cut
The popular diamond cut styles are:
Brilliant Cut Style: In this style, the facets are cut in a way so as to maximise the brilliance of the diamond. The classic round cut is classified as brilliant cut.
Step Cut Style: This cut style has facets running parallel to each other and to the edge of the diamond. Due to the presence of stepped facets, it is named thus. Asscher, emerald, and baguette cut come under this style.
Mixed Cut Style: This is a blend of brilliant and step cut styles. It combines the optical effect of the brilliant style with the dimension of step cuts. The princess cut is a popular cut representing this style.
Fancy Cut Style: This style includes any cut that is not a classic round cut. Among the fancy cuts are the heart cut, the pear cut, and the oval cut.
A List of Popular Diamond Cuts and Shapes
Let's take a look at some of the popular diamond cuts and shapes that you are likely to see when you go shopping for various types of jewellery, like diamond bracelets, pendants, nose pins, etc.
Round Cut: It is the most popular cut used for shaping diamonds and gemstones. The USP of this cut is its incredible brilliance. The brilliant round cut is considered by many as the classic diamond cut.
Princess Cut: This cut displays the sparkle of the brilliant cut in a rectangular outline. It is the second most popular cut. If you are looking for a square or rectangular diamond with lots of sparkle, this cut can be a good choice.
Asscher and Emerald Cuts: The emerald cut displays rectangular shape with trimmed corners in step cut style. The square version of it is called an Asscher cut. These two cuts differ just in their outlines. They are not as brilliant as the princess cut.
Cushion Cut: They are square or rectangular in shape with rounded corners. This gives them a pillow-like look and hence, the name. This cut displays much brilliance.
Radiant Cut: Yet another brilliant cut, it has a square or rectangular shape. It has some features of the emerald cut as well.
Oval Cut: A modified form of the round cut, it also displays much brilliance. An oval cut is a great choice for stones mounted in gold rings.
Marquise Cut: An oval-looking outline with two pointed ends defines the marquise cut. This cut is good for diamonds that need to be mounted in jewellery.
Pear Cut: This cut has an almost oval shape, but a pointed end gives it the impression of a pear. It has features of both the oval cut and the marquise cut. In other words, it looks like a teardrop.
Heart Cut: This cute cut is similar to the pear cut. But the rounded end has a cleft, which makes it look like a heart. It is one of the most popular cuts for making rings.
Trillion Cut: This unique cut has a triangular outline. The ends of this shape can be pointed or rounded.
Shape of a Diamond
The contours of the rough diamond also determine the best shape for it. There are many different shapes that a diamond can be cut into. Each shape not only affects the way it looks but also affects its sparkle and fire. Some shapes can also affect the perceived value of a diamond by making it look bigger than it actually is.
What are the most common diamond cuts?
When buying diamond necklaces, earrings, bangles, and other types of ornaments, their shape is usually the first filter. Though shape and cut are technically different terms, they are often used interchangeably by laymen. The ten basic shapes or cuts that you may choose between are:
Round: This is the most popular shape of diamonds for rings and solitaire earrings. A round cut diamond maximizes brilliance and luster. This classic shape is timeless and very versatile.
Princess: Traditionally, a princess cut referred to a diamond cut in the shape of a square. It features sharp, pointed corners and can have anywhere between 40 to 144 facets. Today, rectangular diamonds can also be given a princess cut.
Oval: The oval cut is considered a modification of the round cut. It offers a similar brilliance and sparkle. Oval diamonds are usually flanked by other stones. When it comes to rings, this cut is preferred by people with short hands as it creates an illusion of longer fingers.
Marquise: This cut is named after the Marquise de Pompadour. It can be described as an oval with pointed ends. This unique cut is considered one of the most dramatic cuts for a diamond. This shape makes the diamond look bigger than its carat value.
Pear: The pear shape combines the contours of the round cut and the marquise cut. When buying pear cut diamonds, it is important to look for symmetry. Like the oval cut, when set in rings, a pear-shaped diamond also gives the illusion of a slender hand.
Emerald: An emerald cut diamond speaks of glamour and opulence. This cut features a rectangular shape. A large table and step cut facets. The large table accentuates the diamond's color and makes inclusions more apparent. From Beyonce to Elizabeth Taylor, the emerald cut is an all-time favourite.
Cushion: This cut may also be known as the pillow cut. Cushion cut diamonds may be square or rectangular. They are known for their rounded corners and large facets. This makes the diamonds appear brighter. A cushion cut is usually limited to higher carat weight diamonds.
Radiant: This is a combination of the emerald cut and the round cut. Radiant cut diamonds are usually square. Their trimmed corners are inspired by the emerald cut while the facets reflect a round cut. A radiant cut is one of the rarest cuts.
Asscher: This cut is easily confused with the emerald cut except that it is square. The resulting look is dramatic and attention-grabbing. The Asscher cut has a chunky profile, stepped facets and clipped corners. The cut was created in the early 1900s and is very popular amongst people who like vintage style.
Heart: The heart cut speaks of romance and sentimentality. As the name suggests, a stone is cut in the shape of a heart for this cut. This cut is difficult to perfect and hence, its demands a higher price and is usually limited to stones with a high carat value.
Trillion: A diamond cut in this way is triangular in shape and it often has rounded edges. The trillion cut, also known by other names such as the Trilliant, has a unique charm compared to other cuts. Triangle-shaped diamonds are used as both central stones and accent stones.
How is the Cut of a Diamond Graded?
The cut of a diamond can be graded as poor, fair, good, very good and excellent. This takes into consideration the shape, facets, angles, symmetry, culet size, and polish. Poorly-cut diamonds appear dull and do not have any sparkle. On the other hand, diamonds that are graded as an excellent cut reflect nearly all the light that falls on them. Thus, they sparkle brilliantly. Very good diamonds appear similar to excellent cut diamonds under normal lighting. When two diamonds of the same grade are being compared, individual components such as their depth%, table%, symmetry, culet size, etc. may be used as tiebreakers.