There is a lot to consider when buying a diamond ring. First, a trusting relationship with your jeweler is paramount (think of your most trusted advisor, lawyer or doctor). Next, educating yourself is vitally important. You can get some education on your own, but then I advise turning to your jeweler.
Keys to the selection of a diamond are color, clarity, cut and carat-weight. These 4C's are used around the world to describe a diamond's characteristics. If you can remember one important aspect of a diamond, it is cut (more about that later). Understanding how the 4C's come together in a diamond will help you gauge a diamond's value
Color: Diamonds vary in color, ranging from colorless through very pale yellow, darker yellows and even browns. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) developed a color scale that ranks a diamond's color from D (absence of color) to Z (off-color). Colorless (white) diamonds are rarer than off-colored diamonds and are more valuable. [The color scale does not apply to fancy color diamonds, which are very rare. They can be any color from blue, pink and green to vivid yellow and are actually more valuable for their color and intensity.]
Clarity: When diamonds were formed from crystallized carbon billions of years ago, most contained traces of minerals or tiny fractures. Under 10X magnification, these often appear as "feathers" or "clouds" and are called "inclusions." The fewer and less visible the inclusions, the more rare and valuable the diamond. Diamonds graded I-F are flawless; these are extremely rare. Below that are VVS (Very Very Slightly Included), VS (Very Slightly Included) and SI (Slightly Included). Any of those grades has an impact on the diamond's value. Next are diamonds graded I (Included), which have inclusions visible to the naked eye; we recommend that you not consider these.
Cut: This characteristic is one we urge you to measure carefully. Cut determines the brilliance of a diamond and decides up to 50 percent of its value. It refers to the angles and proportions of a finished diamond: the more precise the cut, the more brilliance and sparkle. You'll need to educate yourself about cut and look very carefully under a microscope. This is where your relationship with your jeweler is invaluable. You can look at three diamonds of equal color, clarity and carat-weight, and if one is poorly cut , it should reflect a much lower cost. Often when clients of mine begin to realize how a diamond's cut reflects so much more beauty, they insist on a finer cut diamond.
Carat-Weight: Carat is a measure of weight, not size, and is equal to 200 milligrams. A carat can also be divided into 100 "points," so a 75-point diamond is the same as a ¾ carat diamond. Heavier, larger diamonds occur very infrequently in nature, so their rarity makes them more valuable (assuming constant cut, color and clarity, of course). A diamond's cut can also affect its appearance of size. For example, a smaller, well-cut diamond can have the appearance of a larger diamond with just an average cut.
Understanding the 4C's is a good way to start when you are looking for a beautiful diamond for your loved one, or even for yourself! Addessi Jewelers would be happy to demonstrate these diamond characteristics first hand. After all, you should enjoy shopping for one of nature's most beautiful objects.