Photo by Harriette Earnshaw
Diamonds come in a surprisingly wide array of colors (yellows, blues, greens, and reds).
However, the most valuable white diamonds are completely clear ("colorless"); others may contain a slight yellow tint.
- White diamonds are graded on an alphabetical scale from "D" to "Z".
- A diamond with a grade of "D" is completley colorless (and very rare. D-grade diamond pictured above from Brilliant Earth).
- As diamonds move closer to the "Z" grade, they begin to display more of a yellow tint.
While the difference between these grade levels may be fairly difficult to see (unless you are a gemologist), the difference in price can be significant. For this reason, a diamond in one of the middle ranges usually offers the best value.
Most diamonds contain a few minor flaws or "inclusions" that affect their clarity.
- An inclusion is any spot, scratch, bubble, or line that occurred when the diamond was still being formed deep in the earth.
- Most inclusions are not visible to the naked eye, so gem laboratories use a magnifying glass (at 10x magnification) to determine the amount, size, position, nature, and color of the inclusions.
- The clarity of diamonds ranges from "flawless" to "included."
You should avoid diamonds with visible flaws that affect their overall beauty or durability, but it is not necessary to select a flawless diamond. To make sure that your diamond has no visible flaws, we recommend stones with a grade of SI2 or higher. However, some SI diamonds can provide great value as many are virtually flawless to the naked eye.
Carat refers to the diamond's size and weight.
- This word is often confused with "karat", a completely different term used to describe the quality of gold.
- Since all diamonds must be cut and polished to remove the outer layer of "rough", large diamonds are rare.
- The price of diamonds rises as their size and weight increase. Therefore, a two carat diamond can cost four times as much as a one carat diamond of the same quality.
- Some gemologists describe diamond weight in terms of points, not carats. 1 carat = 100 points • 1/2 carat = 50 points • 1/4 carat = 25 points • etc.