Practical Advice for Your Search
How to Choose Diamond Carat
When shopping for a loose diamond choosing diamond carat size is generally a matter
of preferences for dimensionality, but also involves an understanding of how quality
factors affect diamond prices. Carat weight usually translates to approximate size
equivalents, but depending how the diamond is proportioned, stones of a given weight
might vary widely in actual size.
As diamond carat increases the cost “per carat” increases as well, leading to an
exponential increase in total price. For example a 1.01 carat diamond of a certain
quality might cost $5000 per carat, or $5050 total. The same quality in a 2.01 carat
might cost $8000 per carat or $16,080 total. So a diamond twice as big can cost
over three times as much.
Color and clarity grades can greatly affect the diamond carat range that can be
purchased with a given budget. Some compromise is almost always made in one or both
areas. Loose diamonds in the colorless range (DEF) sell for premium prices, as do
diamonds that are near flawless (IF, VVS1, VVS2). To many people these stones are
essentially indistinguishable from near colorless stones with minor inclusions (GHIJ
VS/SI). It is important to understand which factors are most important to you so
that you can select the ideal diamond for your budget.
How to Choose Diamond Color
Determining the best diamond color range to stay in is a very individual matter.
People vary widely in their color acuity. Some people can immediately detect a diamond
color that is outside the colorless range (DEF). Other people cannot distinguish
between colors several grades apart, even in controlled conditions.
Most shoppers are mainly concerned that the diamond does not look yellow to the
casual observer. Diamonds in the near-colorless range (GHIJ) generally fit these
criteria. And since near-colorless diamonds cost far less than colorless ones, many
people find their best value in this range. While placing a diamond color D next
to an I color will create a differential that most people can see, the I color on
its own looks essentially “white”. Another way to say it is that loose diamonds
in the G-J range, while not technically colorless, do not create an impression of
color. *See this page for more information on how
diamond color grading
is done in the laboratory.
Ideal cut diamonds appear slightly whiter than ordinary cuts because they return
a maximum amount of the ambient light back to the eye, to some extent overwhelming
any visible body color of the diamond itself.
How to Choose Diamond Clarity
In choosing loose diamond clarity it is interesting to note that very few people
actually buy flawless diamonds. That is because the best diamond clarity (FL) is
essentially indistinguishable from diamonds several clarity grades lower- except
with a microscope- yet they far more costly. Therefore, almost everyone makes some
compromise in this area.
Generally, shoppers are mainly concerned with imperfections that will be noticeable
to the unaided eye. Diamond clarity is graded under ten power magnification and
normally diamonds in the upper six categories (FL, IF, VVS1, VVS2, VS1 and VS2)
are all “eye clean”.
There is some logic to choosing clarities that exceed eye-clean status, as the presence
of inclusions can sometime impact light performance, even if they cannot be seen
with the unaided eye. Certain clarity characteristics, particularly in loose diamonds
with Si grades, can negatively impact brightness and fire.
Provided that imperfections are not easily visible to the naked eye and they do
not diminish light performance, choosing a lower clarity grade can be a smart tradeoff.
How to Choose Diamond Cut
Diamond Cut is arguably the most important of the Diamond 4 C’s. The proportioning
and craftsmanship of the diamond are the keys to its brilliance, fire and sparkle.
Loose diamonds much lower in color and clarity that are cut with high precision
can look much more beautiful than diamonds with perfect color and clarity but faulty
A polished diamond consists of a system of tiny facets, each one a mirror that must
work in concert with all other facets in order to bring forth the full expression
of the potential beauty within. No matter what size, color or clarity one may choose
it is a waste of this precious potential not to maximize light performance by compromising
loose diamond cut quality.
Ideal cut diamonds
are those that have been cut to specifications with extremely small tolerances that
enable the diamond to refract and reflect the optimal quantity and quality of light
back to the eye of the observer. For shoppers seeking the absolute finest in diamond
cut there are true super ideals such as
A CUT ABOVE® diamonds
. They must first receive the most prestigious certificate
from the foremost authority on diamond cut quality – a platinum certificate from
the American Gem Society Laboratories. From there they must pass additional light
performance and quality tests in order to become a member of the A CUT ABOVE® loose
diamonds brand. Simply put, they are the “Best of the Best” in terms of what makes
a diamond beautiful – brightness, dispersion and scintillation (otherwise known
as brilliance, fire and sparkle!)
While there is a premium associated with buying ideal cut diamonds, when you consider
the benefit of getting maximum performance from your combination of the other 3
C’s every time that diamond is observed, day after day and year after year, there
is no question that this premium is one well worth investing in.