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 Choosing the Perfect Diamond for Your Bride
 02-23-11

Choosing the Perfect Diamond for Your Bride

Throughout the world, diamonds are used to symbolize love and the unbreakable bond of marriage. Searching for a diamond, however, can be very stressful, since there are many factors which can affect your decision, such as shape, beauty, size, and cost. The following information will give you the knowledge you need to make that very special purchase.

Start by noting her taste. Does she wear gold or silver-toned jewelry? Does she favor sapphires or emeralds, or does she seem to be a traditionalist who would choose a single diamond?

Watch as she flips through magazines or admires someone else's ring. This can be a big clue! You can also be a bit more blatant and ask her friends and family what they think she'd like. Enlist one of her friends to ask her what kind of ring she likes. If the surprise of the engagement isn't an issue, you can even ask her exactly what she'd like, or even take her shopping with you.

Diamond Cut Grade

A diamond’s Cut is judged by the eye of beholder and therefore more subjective than the other four Cs of a diamond. Your diamond’s Cut is the most important characteristic to consider when choosing your diamond. A diamond’s Cut should not be confused with the diamond’s shape (round, princess, baguette, etc.). No matter what diamond shape you choose, each diamond shape has a set of optimum proportions that will reflect and refract the light back to the beholder’s eyes the best. Often overlooked by diamond buyers and diamond sellers alike are the interrelated proportions and angles of the diamond, also known as the Cut of a diamond. Ironically a diamond’s Cut and polish are what make a diamond sparkle, which is why we buy them in the first place. A polished diamond’s beauty lies in its complex relationship with light, how much enters the diamond, how much light returns to the observer’s eye and in what form. It takes the calculations of symmetry, depth percentages and angles to judge a diamond’s cut without looking at the diamond. When you can compare two diamonds side-by-side there is no need for math skills.

Take two equally lab-graded polished round diamonds, the same carat weight, color, and clarity but with different table-to-depth proportions. When you place them face up on your closed fingers and slowly rotate your hand, they appear completely different one blindly sparkles more than the other. The difference between the two is in the Cut and is the result of three interrelated attributes of light.

Brightness is the combination of all white light reflecting from the surface and interior of a diamond. The flashes of color that can be seen in a diamond are called the fire. The small areas of light you see flash on and off within a diamond when you slowly move the diamond is scintillation. Diamonds cut with the ideal proportions for their shape optimize the interaction with light; they will have excellent brilliance, fire, and scintillation. A diamond’s proportions affect its light performance, which in turn affects its beauty and overall value. This is why you need to look at the diamonds, not the certificates, when making your final decision. Have your local independent jewelry appraiser help you judge the cut of your final choice.

The cut and polish of a natural diamond are the only diamond characteristics that are totally dependent on the hand of man. A natural diamond’s color, clarity and carat size were determined by nature millions of years ago. A diamond cutter analyzes the rough diamond then determines how to extract the highest carat weight, what shape will produce the most profit out of the rough diamond, and how to avoid inclusions in the finished diamond. It is possible to take the same rough diamond, and either cut the rough diamond into the most beautiful diamond with ideal proportions despite heavy weight loss. Or a diamond cutter can shape the rough diamond to its maximum carat weight and monetary value, but lose the brilliance. These resulting diamonds are often called off-make diamonds.

Diamonds that are cut in any shape other than round brilliant are called "fancy cuts" and require an independent jewelry appraiser’s calculations of the diamond’s proportions in order to judge the cut. When judging a diamond’s cut remember to actually look at the diamond not the certificate, pick the diamond that has the most fire and brilliance in your eyes. When in doubt about a diamond consult your independent jewelry appraiser. While there is a clear reason to prefer the larger, rarer 2 carat diamond to a 1 carat diamond, or a clear preference for a E color over a J color, some people prefer diamonds to be cut in different ways. Some people like a "spready"-diamond, which has a larger than ideal table. This makes the diamond appear larger without making it weigh more. Some like rectangular-shaped princess cut diamonds more than the ideal square proportions. With a diamond’s cut, it is all in the eye of the beholder.

CLARITY

Clarity allows you to see the diamond's level of perfection. The more imperfections, or inclusions, a diamond has, the less sparkle or fire it has. The fewer imperfections a diamond has, the more light can pass through it, creating the fire that is so desirable.

Clarity is graded under a jeweler's loupe (10x magnification) on the following scale:

FL

Flawless

IF

Internally Flawless

VVS1, VVS2

Very Very Slight Inclusion

VS1, VS2

Very Slight Inclusion

SI1 - SI3

Slight Inclusion

I1 - I3

Inclusion


Flawless
- An FL diamond contains no imperfections. These diamonds are extremely rare and very expensive.

Internally Flawless
- An IF diamond has no internal inclusions and very few minor external inclusions.

Very Very Slight Inclusions
- A VVS1 diamond has very small inclusions, mainly externally. These inclusions are so small that they are hard to find, even with a jeweler's loupe. A VVS2 diamond has a little larger inclusion than a VVS1, but it is still hard to see under a jeweler's loupe.

Very Slight Inclusions
- A VS1 diamond has small inclusions, usually around the edge of the stone. It is not easy to see these inclusions under a jeweler's loupe. A VS2 diamond has small inclusions, usually around the heart of the stone. These inclusions may be a little difficult to see under a jeweler's loupe.

Slight Inclusions
- An SI1 diamond has few inclusions, usually around the edge of the diamond. These inclusions are easy to locate under a jeweler's loupe. An SI2 diamond has inclusions, usually around the table of the diamond. These inclusions are very easy to locate under a jeweler's loupe. An SI3 diamond has inclusions, usually under the table of the diamond. These inclusions are very easy to locate under a jeweler's loupe.

Inclusions
- An I1 diamond has several inclusions inside the diamond that are very easy to locate under a jeweler's loupe and may even be seen by the naked eye. An I2 diamond has several inclusions, usually in the heart of the stone. These inclusions are easily seen by the naked eye. An I3 diamond has several inclusions that are very easily seen by the naked eye.


CARAT

Carat is the unit used to measure the weight of a diamond. It is equal to 200 milligrams or 142 carats to the ounce. The cost of a diamond increases exponentially as its size or weight increases. For example, a two-carat diamond costs much more than two one-carat diamonds. This is because bigger diamonds are harder to find.

You don't want to have to go back to the jeweler for a resizing if you can help it...ideally the ring will slide right onto her finger and stay there as a symbol of your love! But how can you find out what size ring she wears, without making her suspicious?

Sneak into her jewelry box and do one of the following:

• Make an impression of one of her rings in a piece of clay or other
  moldable material.

• Trace the inside of the ring onto a piece of paper.

• Take one (only if she will not notice!) to the jewelry store with you.

If your fiance-to-be is not in the habit of leaving jewelry where you can have easy access to it, ask one of her friends or a member of her family to try to get the information out of her. It's amazing what girls talk about with one another without the slightest suspicion!

The most common and popular diamond shape is round, or brilliant; Close to 75% of diamonds sold are round! This is because they tend to sparkle more than other shapes. Other shapes are known as "fancy".

Diamond Treatments to Make Clarity Enhanced Diamonds

Diamond clarity is a large factor in calculating the cost of a diamond. Laboratory treatments can help increase a diamond’s clarity while keeping the price affordable for a diamond engagement ring. A significant black inclusion in an otherwise suitable diamond may distract from its beauty, lowering the price of the diamond substantially. With today’s laser technology, we can drill in and dissolve this inclusion and then fill the hole with a clear, diamond–like substance, making the diamond more visually appealing while keeping the total cost per carat affordable. Many people prefer visibly flawless diamonds (Si1 or better clarity). Clarity enhanced diamonds are perfect for brides who want a large carat size and high color but are limited by budget.

The term "enhanced diamond" sounds more desirable than "treated diamond," but they mean the same thing. The processes for diamond clarity enhancements are laser drilling to remove inclusions and fracture filling the holes and tracks left by the laser. Clarity treated diamonds will cost less and look like natural diamonds of high clarity. A clarity treated diamond allows a buyer to go for a higher diamond color while not losing carat size or quality of cut. Compare the price of a GIA graded 2.00ct round brilliant i2 D color to a GIA graded 2.00ct round brilliant Si1 D color. With clarity enhanced diamonds, you can get a D color diamond with the "look" of the Si1 for the price of an i2. Remember, once a diamond has been clarity enhanced, it can no longer receive a clarity grade of "vs, Si" from GIA only "clarity enhanced," because the diamond is no longer in its natural state.

Laser Drilling Diamonds to Enhance Diamond Clarity

Without altering the strength of a diamond, a laser drilling diamond treatment removes the inclusions permanently. A small laser is used to drill into the diamond, tunneling to the inclusions. The inclusions are then dissolved by chemical solutions. Laser diamond treatment leaves lines that resemble tiny jet contrails inside the diamond, and are seen under side–view 10x magnification. When viewed from the top of the diamond, it appears as a tiny white dot. Unfilled cracks in diamonds can also produce color flashes that follow the lines and shape of the treated area. It becomes very difficult to detect this diamond treatment when the laser drilled areas are fracture filled with a clear diamond–like substance.

Fracture Filling Diamonds to Enhance Diamond Clarity

Fracture filling is a diamond treatment where a clear, glass–like substance is used to fill in small cracks. This diamond treatment creates an optical illusion that conceals cracks from casual observers. Some signs of fracture filling can be seen using a 10x jeweler’s loupe, and others require a microscope. Trapped air bubbles are a sign of fracture filling that can create a cloudy appearance. Ask your jeweler which treatments were used on the diamond and if your enhanced diamond requires any special care, like avoiding the high heat of sizing a ring, or ultrasonic cleaners.

There is nothing wrong with buying a treated diamond if those treatments are disclosed by the jeweler and you pay an appropriately lower price for the diamond.
 
GIA Diamond Color Grades

 Remember, diamonds are not all truly colorless, but it is the colorless diamonds that other color shades are judged against. The diamond color grades below do not apply to fancy colored diamonds- fancy colored diamonds have their own color grading standards


Diamonds with Color Grade D, E, F

D: Absolutely colorless. This is the highest color grade, which is extremely rare.

E: Colorless. Only minute traces of color can be detected by an expert gemologist. This is a very rare diamond.

F: Colorless. Very slight color detected only by the trained eyes of an expert gemologist or independent jewelry appraiser, but still considered a "colorless" grade. These are very high quality diamonds.

Diamonds with colors of D–E–F are known as the colorless grades. Diamond color grade D is reserved for larger diamonds whose colors can be more accurately graded due to the diamond’s size. Diamonds that are less than .50 carats usually receive a top color grade of F due to the greater difficulty of precisely grading a small diamond. Diamonds with colors D, E and F are essentially without color and differ more in diamond clarity and cut proportions.

Diamonds with Color Grade G, H

G–H: Near colorless. Color is only noticeable when compared to diamonds of better color grades; these diamonds are known as the "face up colorless" grades because they appear colorless when mounted in an engagement ring. This is due to the brilliance or sparkle of the diamond masking this very slight tint when viewed through the table (or top) of the diamond. Diamonds with a color grade of G–H only show a slight tint of color when turned upside down for proper diamond color grading.

Diamonds with Color Grade I, J, K, L

I–J: Near colorless. Color is slightly detectable. These diamonds are an excellent value for the money. An ideal cut diamond of the I–J color range will still face up mostly colorless and can save you a good deal of money over a diamond with a color grade of a higher range. Diamonds in the K–L range may still be acceptable for diamond jewelry, but will appear to have a warmer color–tone than diamonds of higher grades.

Diamonds in this diamond color range include some very nice diamonds. Make sure the diamond is properly proportioned or has a "good make." Ask your local independent jewelry appraiser to help evaluate the diamond’s proportions. Medium to strong blue fluorescence can help cancel the yellow tint seen in I–K color diamonds, but only when viewed in natural light (such as the sun). Again, cut is the key to ensuring diamonds with a slight tint of color will still appear bright and beautiful. Within the lower diamond color grades, cut becomes an even more important C in the four C’s of diamonds.

Diamonds with Color Grade M to Z

The lower diamond colors M through Z have an increasing amount of yellow tint, ranging through the off–color diamonds and ending at the end of the diamond color scale (Z), beyond which diamonds are considered to have a fancy color grade (Z+). The yellow color in diamonds graded M–Z is especially noticeable when the diamond is set in mounting made of platinum or white gold. Sometimes jewelers set "off color" yellow diamonds in yellow gold mountings and then try to sell them as uncertified light fancy yellow diamonds. Be wary of jewelers offering uncertified fancy vivid yellow diamonds. They could be HPHT color treated diamonds. Without proper gemological evaluation by a recognized gemological laboratory (GIA, EGL, AGS), these diamonds are just off–color diamonds, not fancy colored diamonds, and should cost less than the white colorless diamonds in the store.

The term "fancy" beside any diamond’s color imparts a higher value and higher price to the diamond. Do not accept the term fancy for any diamond you purchase unless it is accompanied by an origin of diamond color report and a full diamond grading report from a recognized gemological lab that identifies the diamond’s color as being of natural color origin and truly fancy in color. When in doubt, take the diamond to your local independent jewelry appraiser for a pre–purchase verification.

 

 

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