By Naomi J. Shaw
Diamond shopping can be somewhat overwhelming, particularly if you’re new to the wide world of diamonds. To ensure that the diamond you end up with is the right one for you, keep the following quick guide in mind as you begin your search:
A diamond’s value is primarily determined by its clarity, color, cut, and carat. Known as the “4c’s,” these factors play a huge part in any given diamond’s desirability, eye appeal, and price tag. Of the 4c’s, clarity is perhaps the most easily identifiable. Clarity is graded on a scale of “FL” (flawless) to “I3” (imperfect). While flawless stones appear internally perfect even under magnification, imperfect stones have black, cloudy, or glassy imperfections that are visible to the naked eye.
The most desirable diamonds are completely clear in color. Unfortunately, these diamonds tend to fall on the high-end of the price scale. Their less-valuable counterparts manifest yellow undertones of variant intensity. The diamond color scale is measured from “D” to “Z,” with “D” being the most clear, and “Z” the most yellow. If your are seeking a moderately priced diamond that still maintains aesthetic appeal, try shopping in the “G” to “J” range. These stones will appear mostly colorless when set against yellow gold, and are generally significantly more affordable than their colorless counterparts.
The quality of a diamond’s cut is determined by how well it affects the light around it. Measured on a scale of “excellent” to “poor,” cut plays a major part in the aesthetic appeal of any stone. While an “excellent” cut stone will appear fiery and brilliant in the light, a “poor” cut stone will often appear somewhat dull, absorbing rather than reflecting the light of its surroundings.
Carat is the measure of a diamond’s size. The larger a diamond, the less likely it is to fall on the higher-end of the cut, color, and clarity scale. For this reason, large, high-quality diamonds are often priced out of the average shopper’s budget. Diamond carat then becomes a matter of personal preference, with smaller, high-quality stones generally falling in the same price range as larger, low-quality stones.
Shape, like carat, is very much a matter of taste. While different diamonds shapes tend to come and go in popularity, don’t let trend play a factor in your final decision. Focus, rather, on how the shape of your choice flatters your hands. Marquise diamonds, for example, can help to lengthen short fingers, whereas princess-cut diamonds often appear to best advantage on long, thin hands. Fancy Diamonds Fancy diamonds comes in a wide variety of different colors, ranging from black, to red, to yellow. Naturally colored fancy diamonds are rare and hard to come by. As a result, many fancy diamonds are artificially colored. As you shop, be sure to keep the difference in mind. A naturally-colored pink diamond, for example, will generally have a high price tag attached to it, so be wary of “great deals” on colored stones.