There are different ways to think about and discuss diamond value. The size and quality of diamonds determine diamond prices. But for a diamond shopper trying to sort through the complications of the diamond 4 C’s, what is most important is determining what tradeoffs can be made that will result in getting the best diamond for a given budget. And the best way to approach that goal is to look at the diamond grading scale and see how gemological grades impact the beauty of diamonds. In the grand scheme of things, while diamonds are rare and incredibly durable, it is the amazing fire and brilliance of the gem that makes it desirable.
The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) developed the diamond grading scales in the 1950’s in order to facilitate communication about diamond quality and to give consumers a basis to understand the value of a diamond. The GIA system is used to a very large extent by diamond dealers and jewelers all over the globe today. In many cases there is little or no difference in appearance between certified diamonds
separated by even several gemological grades.
This fact is demonstrated most clearly when looking at the diamond clarity
scale. There are eleven clarity grades in the GIA system, but in the first 4 grades the diamonds are so pure that you would have to use a microscope to see anything at all in the diamond. The next two to three grades are usually so clean that you cannot see any flaws with the naked eye and it is necessary to use 10x magnification to see inclusions. In effect, then, holding other factors equal, a shopper could sacrifice 6-7 grades of gemological clarity without suffering any appreciable drop-off in diamond beauty. And in the process save a lot of money!
Looking at the diamond color
scale in the same way reveals something similar. The top three grades (DEF) are “colorless” and icy-white. The next four grades are “near-colorless” and appear white to the casual observer. Diamonds do not start to appear obviously “tinted” until you get below the near-colorless range. So depending on your color sensitivity and taste, you may be able to tradeoff as many as 7 color grades and still have a beautiful diamond with that all-important and dynamic property - diamond sparkle
Where beauty does drop off quickly is when diamond cut quality
is compromised. One might ask, since the beauty of the diamond is all-important why would cut quality ever be compromised? That is a question more and more modern diamond shoppers are asking as they become better informed about ideal diamonds
and optimizing light performance. The answer is rooted in the fact that the market has historically been more concerned with diamond size and carat weight than with the harder to understand aspects of light performance. But that is changing rapidly as plenty of good information is easily available online today on high quality websites, online forums or a helpful diamond buying guide
In summary, determining the best diamond value has some personal components to it in terms of the tradeoffs that are right for the individual. But it is clear that for most people the value of diamonds is in the magical ways they can refract and reflect white and colored light back to the eye. An ideal diamond does not have to have top color or clarity to be extraordinary!