When many people think of a diamond cut, they are typically thinking of the shape (round, pear, marquise, etc.) instead. However, the cut refers to the quality and amount of light that passes through a diamond.
When a diamond is cut properly at the highest quality or an "ideal cut," the greatest possible amount of light reflection will occur in the diamond, creating their famous sparkle. The lowest quality cut diamond, or "poor cut," refers to a severely shallow or deeply cut diamond.
If a diamond is cut too deeply or shallowly, it can reduce the shine and, consequently, reduce the value. If a diamond is cut too shallowly, it will allow light to pass straight through and create a more dull looking diamond. Likewise, if the diamond is cut too deeply, light will hit the diamond in a way that it will be reflected from the side on the bottom, also reducing the amount of sparkle that is desired.
A diamond's clarity refers to how many inclusions are visible to the naked eye or under 10X magnification. The more inclusions a diamond has, the less it will cost due to a lower value.
The inclusion scale is split up for each section of inclusions:
- FL/IF (flawless or internally flawless)
- VVS1/VVS2 (very, very slightly included)
- VS1/VS2 (very slightly included)
- SI1/SI2 (slightly included)
- I1/I2/I3 (included).
Flawless or internally flawless are paired together because neither diamond will have inclusions, and only the internally flawless diamond may contain blemishes. Keep in mind that I3 diamonds may have so many inclusions that it affects the diamond's durability, and most jewelers will not even sell them.
The rest of the clarities may have inclusions under 10X magnification or might be visible to the naked eye, but they are more difficult to see.
Diamond color is graded on an alphabetical scale from D-Z, D being colorless, and Z being the most yellow/brown. The closer the diamond color is to D, the higher the price will be, considering that D is the rarest color to achieve from any diamond.
The diamond color scale is split up into four different sections to categorize and seclude diamonds of similar colors from those of different colors.
The first, most expensive, and highest quality colors are first on the scale, D-F; these colors are virtually colorless and the most desirable in a diamond.
G-J, which are nearly colorless.
K-M which are slightly yellow
N-Z are the diamonds that are light yellow or brown.
Many jewelers will not even carry diamonds of the colors N-Z due to how low their quality is and how much it reduces the value of the diamond.
Typically, there are 10 common stone shapes when buying a diamond: round (the most common), princess, cushion, marquise, emerald, radiant, pear, oval, heart, and asscher. Because the round is the most common, it tends also to be the most expensive.
When people think of diamonds, the round shape is typically imaged. Because they are such a classic and maintain a bright sparkle, round cut diamonds remain very popular around the world. Round diamonds have a very good cut that allows even a lower clarity or color grade to produce a fairly bright sparkle, another reason it is such a popular shape. Being the most expensive cut, when a round diamond is cut and processed, it loses more of its carat weight than any other shape.
As the second most popular shape, the admiration of the princess cut has been growing since it was introduced in the 1980's. Because of the way they are cut, the princess shape tends to hide any inclusions that help with pronouncing the sparkle. However, the way this particular shape is cut also tends to make the color look more prominent in the diamond. When being cut and processed, this shape retains most of its carat weight, and the final product tends to be less costly.
The asscher shaped diamond is not the most popular shape. However, it is the center of many vintage pieces including many of today's vintage style engagement rings. Unlike the princess shaped diamond, the way that asscher shape is cut tends to magnify imperfections; therefore, it is recommended to get a higher quality of clarity to minimize visual flaws.
As an alternative to the emerald cut, the radiant cut diamond has a 70 facet cut that amplifies any shine that it already had. Again, the way this particular diamond is cut, it has a tendency to amplify color that makes it necessary to go with a diamond color of higher quality such as an H or better.
Along with the Asscher cut, the cushion cut is a favorite center diamond for the vintage style jewelry and engagement rings. The cushion shape gets its name because it seems to look like a pillow. As time has passed, the way a cushion diamond is cut has been evolved to include more facets, which gives it a brighter, more pronounced sparkle and fire.
The emerald cut is a more rectangular version of the asscher shaped diamond and has cut corners with step facets coming off each other, however, there are not many. Because of the small amount of facets in the diamond and amount of rough it retains during processing, this is a popular option for those who are on a lower budget.
Because the marquise shaped diamond is long and narrow, it tends to create the illusion of the person wearing it to have longer, more slender fingers. Their extended length creates the ability for them to look bigger than any other diamond shape of the same carat weight.
The oval shaped diamond is a spinoff of the round shape. With a longer length, it is similar to the marquise cut in that it tends to make your fingers look elongated and more slender.
The pear shaped diamond is a combination of the round and marquise shape due to its tapered point at one end. These diamonds are unique because although there is a point, there are no straight edges. These diamonds can vary in width whereas the narrower cuts would be ideal for earrings while the more widely cut diamonds would be ideal for rings.
The heart is the ultimate symbol of love, which is why this particular shape of diamond is popular for many solitaire rings and pendants. Because the symmetry on a heart must be perfect, the cleft where the two halves meet must be sharp and distinct while the wings are slightly rounded. Like the pear shaped diamond, hearts are available in a wider or narrower ratio.
When looking at a piece of authentic jewelry, it should have a stamp in a discreet spot that tells you what the content of the metal is.
For example, usually, on the inside of a gold ring, it will be stamped with
- 10K (10 out of 24 parts)
- 14K (14 out of 24 parts)
- 18K (18 out of 24 parts)
- 22K (22 out of 24 parts)
- or the purest form of gold, 24K (24 out of 24 parts), however, 24K gold is too soft for jewelry use.
By doing the division of each number over 24, this will tell you the exact percentage of gold in the piece of jewelry.
In silver, you will often see a three digit number such as .925 sterling or 925 sterling; this means that the metal is 92.5% sterling silver.
For platinum, you will also see a three digit number such as 900 which means that it is 900 out of 1,000 parts or 90% platinum. Platinum may also be abbreviated on the inside of the ring or another discrete spot on the piece.
When buying gold, you should understand what each karat means, 10K, 14k, 18K, etc. This indicates the amount of gold that is in a specific piece of jewelry while the rest is comprised of other alloy metals.
In the U.S., 10K is the minimum standard for the amount of gold in a piece of jewelry to be considered authentic, and 24K is too soft to be used in jewelry practice.
Depending on the color of gold (white, yellow, rose, etc.), different alloy metals will take up the rest of the percentage of metal in the jewelry piece.
In white gold, there tends to be a higher content of nickel, zinc, platinum, and silver to help with altering the color of the gold. Platinum, being rarer than gold, tends also to be much more expensive.
Platinum is an extremely durable metal and is heavier than gold, as well as a more vibrant white than white gold.
In silver, fine silver is .999 pure, which is considered to be pure silver. Silver is even softer than gold which is why it is also mixed with other alloy metals to make it stronger.
A setting is what your diamond is placed inside of on your jewelry piece.
Typically, there is a setting shaped for any shape of diamond (round, heart, marquise, etc.). The most popular setting is correlated with the most popular shape diamond-round.
Most of our products are set in prongs. However, there are other settings available, such as a tube, which encases your diamond with no prongs.
Originally, carats were only used to measure the weight of diamonds, however, as of recently, it has also been used to measure gemstones.
The carat weight of a diamond or gemstone varies, and typically, a 2 carat diamond will be worth twice as much as a 1 carat diamond.
The same scale goes for gemstones, although different types of gemstones are not on the same scale. A 1 carat sapphire will differ in price from a 1 carat emerald due to the varied densities in the two stones.
When buying jewelry, especially gold, the higher the karat, the heavier the metal is. A 10K ring would weigh less than a 14K ring of the same size. The heavier the metal, the more it tends to cost due to the amount of precious metal in the jewelry piece. Platinum is heavier and also more expensive than a piece of gold.