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Diamond Buying Guide

Clarity

Flawless VVS1 VVS2 VS1 VS2 SI1 SI2 I1 I2 I3
Internally Flawless Very Very Slightly Included Very Slightly Included Slightly Included Included

Most diamonds contain naturally occurring internal characteristics called inclusions. The size, nature, location and amount of these inclusions determine a diamonds clarity grade. The fewer inclusions the more rare a diamond becomes. However inclusions not visible to the unaided eye have little or nor effect on beauty. A skilled observer grades diamonds with 10X magnification using a binocular microscope or 10X loupe with optimum lighting conditions. The grading categories range from flawless (FL) to included (I3).

Flawless

Flawless diamonds must be free from internal inclusions and external flaws. Internal graining may not visible face up. Small naturals on the girdle maybe acceptable as long as they do not cause the girdle to flatten.

VVS

Very, Very Slightly Included VVS1 VVS2 Diamonds are just that. These diamonds usually require a microscope to grade, as the inclusions are very, very small and difficult for a skilled observer to see.

VS

Very Slightly Included VS1 VS2 grade is used for diamonds that have very small internal and external blemishes that are difficult for a skilled observer to locate with 10X magnification.

SI

Slightly Included SI1 SI2 diamonds have small to medium sized inclusions that are obvious when examined with 10K magnification. However, these inclusions are usually not visible to the naked eye.

I

Included diamonds I1 I2 I3 have medium to large flaws that are usually obvious to the unaided eye. Highly included diamonds may be less durable.

Color

diamond color chartAlthough most diamonds appear colorless they actually have a slight tint of yellow or brown. As these tints become more apparent the diamond’s color grade descends. We use the GIA grading scale for color. D, E and F are colorless to the human eye, G, H, I and J are near colorless, K, L, and M are faint yellow and the alphabet continues to Z. Diamonds are graded for color under a controlled lighting environment with certified master color grading diamonds for comparison. The more yellow the diamond the less contrast exists between the diamond’s body color and the sparkle of fire a diamond reveals.

Cut

diamond cut chartThe cut of a diamond reveals the diamonds true beauty. Proportions are the measurements use to determine how a diamond is cut. A carefully proportioned diamond will maximize a diamonds light handling ability. However, there is not a single set of proportions that can guarantee a diamonds appearance. It has been determined by the Gemological Institute of America that there is a wide range of combinations of proportions that will produce a beautiful diamond. Cut Grades are assessed on a scale consisting of Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor.

Values are assigned to the various angel and measurements to determine the cut grade.

Carat Weight

Diamonds and other gemstones are weighed using metric carats. Just as a dollar is divided into 100 pennies, a carat is divided into 100 points, which means that a diamond of 50 points weighs 0.50 carats. One carat is equivalent to a 1/5 gram.

Brilliance

The combination of all the white light reflections from the surface and the inside of the diamond makes up its brilliance. A diamonds’ brilliance is responsible for its polished brightness.

Fire/Dispersion

Sometimes called “fire” dispersion is the breaking up of white light into the spectral hues and “rainbow” colors you see when light passes through a prism.

Polish

Polish refers to the equality of a diamond’s surface condition as a result of the polishing process or to blemishes created after the cutting process, often referred to as “wear and tear.” Polish features are located on the surface and do not visibly penetrate into the diamond as seen at 10X magnification. Polish is assessed on a scale consisting of Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor.

Scintillation

Sometime called “sparked”, scintillation refers to the tiny flashes of light that are visible when the diamond is moved.

Symmetry

Symmetry refers to the exactness of the shape of a diamond, the symmetrical arrangement and even placement of the facets. Symmetry is assessed on a scale consisting of Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor.

Shape

A skilled diamond cutter can cut a diamond in a variety of different shapes. Shape is a personal decision.

Diamond Shape

Fluorescence

Fluorescence is not directly related to a diamond’s color. This separate characteristic refers to the diamond’s ability to fluoresce under ultraviolet (UV) light. Our sun emits some UV light, but it is usually not great enough to detect fluorescence. The most common source of UV is a black light. When exposed to UV light, many diamonds will give off a distinctive glowing blue coloration. Although fluorescence may be displayed in various colors, blue is the most common in diamonds. The fluorescence of a diamond is defined by its intensity as either None, Faint, Medium, Strong, or Very Strong. Although fluorescence is a characteristic that can be measured, it is seldom an issue when selecting a diamond.

Weight Size Correlation

Weight size correlation is the relationship between the diameter of the diamond and its weight. A diamond may be beautiful but if the girdle is too thick it will appear smaller. If the girdle is too thin it might be susceptible to damage. Comparing two diamonds of the same weight and appearance, one diamond may have deeper proportions, thus appearing smaller.

seal         Creators of fine jewelry—serving the Washington D.C. area.  Specializing in custom-designed handmade jewelry,  diamond engagement rings, vintage and contemporary estate designer  jewelry.

Call 202-363-6305 or visit us at Mazza Galleria, 5300 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.

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