This guest post and infographic (below) was kindly provided by Naomi Janelle Shaw.
Every diamond is one-of-a-kind, distinguished by its internal patterns, inclusions, color, shape, size, and radiance. If you are seeking the perfect diamond, it’s important to have an understanding of the diamond grading scale. The following quick guide will give you an idea of what to look for in the perfect stone–and what not to look for:
Diamond clarity is the first, and one of the easiest, things to look for in a stone. Graded from flawless (FL) to imperfect (I3), heavily included stones are generally unattractive even to the naked eye. Upon close inspection, you will see that they contain small black spots, internal fractures, or appear cloudy and glass-like. While imperfect stones fall on the lower-end of the price scale, their flawless counterparts are typically extremely pricy, particularly in larger carat sizes. If clarity is important to you, try shopping in the VS1 to FL range. Stones that fall between VS1 and VS2 do contain very small inclusions, but these inclusions are hard to identify without a magnifier.
Traditional white diamonds are graded on a color scale from “D” to “Z”. Color is determined by the amount of yellow present in a stone (an extremely undesirable trait). The perfect diamond is blue-white in color, whereas a lower-grade stone will have distinct yellow undertones. Even if you are shopping on a budget, never purchase a diamond that falls below an “M” on the color scale. Such stones are visibly unattractive, and have little to no resale value. Another factor that falls under the color umbrella is fluorescence. Beneath UV light (such as is found in natural sunlight), some diamonds manifest yellow undertones that are not visible beneath artificial lighting, while some develop an oily appearance. If you are shopping uncertified diamonds, be sure to request to view the stone you are considering in natural light prior to purchasing.
Diamond cut is measured by how effectively a diamond reflects the light of its surroundings. Rated from “excellent” to “poor,” cut can have a significant effect on a diamond’s beauty, The perfect diamond reflects all of the light around it, appearing notably sparkly, fiery, and brilliant. In contrast, a poor-cut diamond will always appear just a little dull. Often confused with cut, “shape” is another aspect of diamond appearance, but is more a matter of personal preference than anything else. Diamonds can be purchased in everything from novelty heart-shapes to traditional round shapes. If you are shopping for a diamond ring, try on a variety of different shapes before settling on a favorite.
Carat is the measure of a diamond’s weight. Diamonds come in everything from miniature accent-stones to glittering large stones. The larger a diamond is, the less likely it is to be internally perfect. Since large, high-quality stones are so pricy and hard to come by, it is generally best to stick to diamonds measuring 1 carat or less if you are shopping on a budget.
As you shop, remember that personal preference plays a large part in diamond selection. The perfect stone for you does not have to be internally perfect–and don’t let anyone tell you it does. If you love it, buy it.
Check out this helpful infographic.