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Diamond Education

Carat

This is the size of the diamond. Diamonds and other gemstones are weighed using metric carats. Just as a dollar is divided into pennies a diamond is divided into 100 points which means a diamond of 75 points weighs 0.75 carats. Which is a 3/4 carat diamond. The majority of diamonds used today in fine jewelry weigh one carat or less.

Cut

Without a doubt, the allure of any one particular diamond depends more on cut than it does on anything else!

Although extremely difficult to analyze, the cut of a diamond has three attributes-brightness (the total light reflected from a diamond), fire (the dispersion of light into the various colors of the spectrum), and scintillation (the visible light flashes or sparkle when a diamond moves).

An understanding of the cut of a diamond begins with the shape of the diamond, with the standard round brilliant dominating the majority of diamond jewelry.

All other diamond shapes are know as fancy shapes or fancy cuts. These include the marquise, pear, oval, and emerald cuts as well as new shapes such as hearts, cushions, triangles, along with a variety of other recently developed shapes which are gaining popularity.

Clarity

When speaking 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 the majority of 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.

Diamonds are graded for clarity under 10x loupe magnification. Grades range from Flawless (diamonds which are completely free of blemishes and inclusions), to Included 3 (diamonds which possess large, heavy blemishes and inclusions that are visible to the naked eye).

Below you will find the different levels of grading a diamond for clarity.

  • F
    Flawless: No internal or external flaws. Extremely rare.
  • IF
    Internally Flawless: no internal flaws, but some surface flaws. Very rare.
  • VVS1-VVS2
    Very Very Slightly Included (two grades). Minute inclusions very difficult to detect under 10x magnification by a trained gemologist.
  • VS1-VS2
    Very Slightly Included (two grades). Minute inclusions seen only with difficulty under 10x magnification.
  • SI1-SI2
    Slightly Included (two grades). Minute inclusions more easily detected under 10x magnification. I1-I2-I3
diamonds F-IF diamonds VVS1-VVS2 diamonds VS1-VS2 diamonds SI1-SI2 diamonds I1-I2-I3
F-IF VVS1-VVS2 VS1-VS2 SI1-SI2 I1-I2-I3

While the presence of these clarity characteristics (inclusions and blemishes) do lower the clarity grade of a diamond, they can also be viewed as proof of a diamond’s identity. GIA certificates include what is known as a “plot” of a diamond’s inclusions — think of it as a “diamond fingerprint.” Since no two diamonds are exactly the same, comparing the uniqueness of your diamond’s clarity characteristics with the plot provided on the diamond certificate offers assurance that the diamond you pay for is the same diamond you receive.

While Flawless diamonds are the rarest, a diamond does not have to be flawless to be stunning.

In fact, until you drop to the “I” grade, a diamond’s clarity grade has an impact on the diamond’s value, not on the unmagnified diamond’s appearance.

Diamonds with VVS and VS grades are excellent choices for both value and appearance.

More affordable (and still a great choice) are those diamonds which gemologists call “eye-clean” – diamonds with no inclusions visible to the naked eye. These diamonds are SI1 and SI2 and unless the recipient carries a 10X loupe (a strong jewelry magnifying glass), she won’t see the inclusions.

As to I1-I3? Maybe when there’s a diamond grade that’s defined as “you can see the flaws just by looking at the diamond,” nothing more needs to be said.

Okay, to be “fair” to I1-I3 — not everyone notices visible flaws in a diamond. And not all “visible” flaws are “equally” visible — think about the difference between dripping mustard on a starched white dress shirt and dripping mustard on a brightly-colored Hawaiian shirt (not that we think you have a lot of mustard dripping experience). Obviously, one shows up a lot more than the other — visible diamond flaws are like that.

Color

When jewelers speak of a diamond’s color, they are usually referring to the presence or absence of color in white diamonds. Color is a result of the composition of the diamond, and it never changes over time.

Because a colorless diamond, like a clear window, allows more light to pass through it than a colored diamond, colorless diamonds emit more sparkle and fire. The formation process of a diamond ensures that only a few, rare diamonds are truly colorless. Thus the whiter a diamond’s color, the greater its value.

 

Diamonds graded G through I show virtually no color that is visible to the untrained eye.

Fancy color diamonds do not follow this rule. These diamonds, which are very rare and very expensive, can be any color from blue to green to bright yellow. They are actually more valuable for their color.

To grade ‘whiteness’ or colorlessness, most jewelers refer to GIA’s professional color scale that begins with the highest rating of D for colorless, and travels down the alphabet to grade stones with traces of very faint or light yellowish or brownish color. The color scale continues all the way to Z.

diamond color

Diamonds graded D through F are naturally the most valuable and desirable because of their rarity. Such diamonds are a treat for the eyes of anyone. But you can still obtain very attractive diamonds that are graded slightly less than colorless. And diamonds graded G through I show virtually no color that is visible to the untrained eye.

And while a very, very faint hint of yellow will be apparent in diamonds graded J through M, this color can often be minimized by carefully selecting the right jewelry in which to mount your diamond. Keep in mind that, while most people strive to buy the most colorless diamond they can afford, there are many people who actually prefer the warmer glow of lower-color diamonds.

Americas Pawn hopes this has helped shed some light on the 4 C’s of a diamond for you!