When buying a diamond, there are quite a few things to consider, from diamond grading to carat weights to clarity and beyond.
Two characteristics that are important for every diamond buyer to understand are color and clarity. Unlike cut and carat, which are positive characteristics that you want to be sure to maximize, color and clarity are known in the jewelry industry as negative characteristics.
This means you want to make sure to purchase a diamond where the presence of color (in colorless diamonds specifically) and lack of clarity are as inconspicuous as possible.
All About Colorless Diamonds
Colorless diamonds may appear similar to the untrained eye, but most have slight yellow coloring. The more yellow a diamond is, the lower the quality. True D-grade colorless diamonds are rare and rank high on the diamond grading scale.
The Diamond Grading System
Diamond color is rated on the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) color scale, with diamond color grades ranging from D to Z. Grade D has no color under magnification or to the naked eye. On the opposite end of the spectrum, diamonds in the S-Z range are noticeably yellow or even brown and grey. Most diamonds used in jewelry range from the D to M grades (we only use diamonds in the higher color range at Coffin & Trout Fine Jewellers and our melee is exclusively in the D-F color range).
A gemologist will select the best cutting style for a diamond’s color, and a jeweler is trained to place a diamond in the most attractive setting for that particular stone shape. Certain metals, including yellow and rose gold, can obscure the yellow tone of a diamond, while white gold and platinum draw more attention to the color.
What that means for you is that when set, a well-cut diamond in a lower color range looks as stunning as a more expensive diamond. This allows you to maximize the value for your diamond dollars.
Here are a few things to remember when selecting a diamond:
- Color is just one of the many indicators of value.
- A diamond’s setting (whether in a ring or other piece of jewelry) is important to how you will perceive the color.
- The differences between close color grades is fairly miniscule, and often not visible to the naked eye.
- The difference between color grades that are three or four grades apart (such as a G and a J) can be noticeable.
What About Fancy Colored Diamonds?
Diamonds aren’t just colorless; they also come in a variety of eye-catching hues. These diamonds come in coveted shades well beyond the Z range, from bright yellow to deep brown. More rare are diamonds in other shades suchs as blue, green, pink, red, or even black and gray.
As the strength and purity of the color increases, so does the value of fancy colored diamonds. These gems are graded on a scale that ranges from “Faint” to “Fancy Vivid,” “Fancy Deep,” or “Fancy Dark.”
Diamond clarity is another characteristic that is indicative of value and is measured on a scale from the GIA. Experts look at a diamond face up with a 10x magnification microscope, looking for naturally occurring blemishes or flaws called clarity characteristics or inclusions. Clarity grades refers to the lack of inclusions.
A diamond with no inclusions is extremely rare. Just as with color, a certified gemologist knows how to cut and set a diamond to highlight its best qualities and its brilliance, despite its natural flaws.
This scale rates diamonds from FL/IF (Flawless or Internally Flawless) to I1-I3 (Imperfect).
- FL-IF: Flawless or Internally Flawless. No internal inclusions.
- VVS1-VVS2: Very, Very Small inclusions that are very difficult to detect under 10x magnification.
- VS1-VS2: Very Small inclusions that are somewhat easy to be seen under 10x magnification by a trained Gemologist.
- SI1-SI2: Small inclusions that can be seen under 10x magnification and may be visible to the naked eye.
- I1-I2-I3: Imperfect. Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification and, in most cases, to the naked eye.
When selecting a diamond, it’s best to look at all 4 C’s: Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat Weight. It’s the combination of those four factors that determines the overall value and beauty of a particular diamond.
At Coffin & Trout, we can help you select the right diamond for you. Stop in to learn more about our diamond selections today.