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Diamond Guide      

diamondsDiamond Grading
Diamonds are graded in the industry by what is commonly known as "The Four C's", Clarity, Color, Carat and Cut. The clarity and color of a diamond are most often evaluated against the standards established by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

Almost all diamonds have naturally occurring internal characteristics or flaws called inclusions. The amount, size and placement of these inclusions within the diamond will affect how well a diamond refracts and reflects light which will affect the diamond's ability to sparkle with fire and beauty. The various grades of clarity range from flawless (FL) where there are no inclusions or surface blemishes to very large and/or numerous inclusions (I3) that may affect the physical integrity of the diamond. The grading scale developed by the GIA relates to inspections performed by a trained professional using a 10x magnifying loupe and is as follows:

Diamond Clarity Grades
FL Flawless, no inclusions or surface blemishes visible
IF Internally Flawless, no visible inclusions, insignificant surface blemishes
VVS1 Extremely difficult to see inclusions at 10x
VVS2 Very difficult to see inclusions at 10x
VS1 Difficult to see inclusions face up at 10x
VS2 Somewhat easy to see inclusions face up at 10x
SI1 Easy to see inclusions at 10x
SI2 Very easy to see at 10x, may be visible to the unaided eye
SI3 Very easy to see at 10x, visible to the unaided eye
I1 Obvious at 10x, visible to the unaided eye
I2 Obvious at 10x; easily visible to the unaided eye, durability somewhat affected
I3 Prominent inclusions; extremely easy to see with unaided eye; durability affected

Color in diamonds is caused by the presence of trace elements during the formation of the diamond. Gem quality diamonds are generally clear for the most part and can range from being truly colorless (the most valuable) to a light yellow. They can also be found in a variety of "fancy" colors such as light blue, pink, or green. The common grading scale used uses the letters "D" through "Z" of the alphabet. "D" represents a truly colorless stone while "Z" represents a light yellow color. Diamonds that have other colors such as light blue, pink, etc. are simply graded as "fancy." Diamonds graded as "fancy" in color can vary widely in value depending on the diamond's beauty and market conditions. Diamonds can also be colored by irradiation, however these are usually somewhat less valuable. The following is the grading scale used by the GIA to determine the color grade:

Color Grading Chart
Near Colorless
Faint Yellow
Very Light Yellow
Light Yellow

While all of the "four C's" play a major role in the quality of a diamond, an excellent cut is required to release it's natural beauty. A diamond must be cut to almost ideal proportions so that the light traveling through it can be reflected and refracted in the proper directions to show off its fire. The finish of each facet is also critical so that as little light as possible is diffused as it passes through the surface. Diamonds come in a variety of cuts such as round, princess, marquis, emerald, pear, heart and trillion. The most popular cut is the round brilliant and it is believed to be the best cut to bring out the brilliance of a diamond.



A diamond's size is determined by its weight measured in carats. A carat is equal to 1/5 of a gram and is divided further into "points" where 1 carat = 100 points. The larger a diamond is of a given clarity, color and cut, the more rare and thus the more valuable. Because large diamonds are more rare, the value grows somewhat exponentially with size when the other characteristics are the same.

A word about certificates...
From time to time diamonds come with "certificates" of quality and grade. It is important to note that these have absolutely no effect on the value of a diamond, but they can go a long way toward instilling a sense of confidence in the buyer. A "certified" diamond is one that has been evaluated in an accredited laboratory of one of the following organizations: the Gemological Association of America (GIA), European Gemological Laboratory (EGL), International Gemological Institute (IGI), and the American Gem Society (AGS). Certificates from these organizations make no guarranties or appraisals, but document the various characteristics of a diamond determined by extensive testing and evaluation. Appraisals are routinely done by graduate gemologists and may or may not include a price value, usually associated with replacement costs for insurance purposes. These prices are not usually realistic in the market place, but the appraisals are a convenient way of documenting a diamond's quality grade. Look for the appraisal to be performed by a graduate gemologist who is trained by an organization such as the GIA, IGI, EGL, or AGS. The appraiser's signature is followed by the words "Graduate Gemologist, GIA," etc. Appraisals by a graduate gemologist, GIA are available for all of the diamonds we sell.

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