Buying diamonds is no longer restricted to the very rich. The opening up of world markets, access to the internet and the discovery of several diamond mines in the world have all made buying a diamond within the grasp of the common man. However it is very easy to get confused, cheated or duped while buying diamonds. To protect oneself from such unpleasantness one has to make sure they buy certified diamonds. The first basic step in knowing how to go about buying a diamond is to know the parameters of a diamond. We all have read about the four Cs from time to time, what exactly are they and how do you decode the certificate your chosen diamond may come with?
The cut is not the shape of the diamond like round brilliant, pear, marquise or oval cuts. Rather it is the proportions to which the diamond is cut. It is the only man-made cut out of the 4 Cs and the overall appearance of the diamond depends on it. The amount of ‘fire’ or the brilliance of the diamond depends on how well it is cut. The Gemmological Institute of America (GIA), who invented the 4cs, grades diamond cuts as Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor. Diamonds with a cut grade of Good and very good are generally good value for money.
Color in diamonds is graded on the scale of D to Z, with D being totally colorless and considered top-quality. However it is very rare and usually there is not much difference for the layman in colors D, E and F. Colors G to I is the point where the human eye begins to perceive a slight tint of color (either yellow or brown). Commercially, G-H grade diamonds are used extensively in jewelry and this is acceptable. However if you really want to go for high grades an E-F color grading is just your thing.
Every diamond has some kind of impurity or imperfection in it. These could be crystals, fractures, naturals, pits or myriad other ‘inclusions’ as they are called. Clarity grades range from F- Flawless to I3- heavily included. See note below for the complete chart. Generally VS-SI diamonds are good value for money and the normal person, without a jeweler’s loupe can hardly detect the exact grade or quality of a diamond. If one does really prefer a higher grade VVS is as good a grade as any. Buying F or IF diamonds is not really worth the extra money.
Carat Carat denotes the weight of a diamond.1 carat is equal to 0.2 grams, or 1 gram is equal to 5 carats. The carat is divided further into 100 points or cents. So a 25 cent diamond means 0.25 cts, a diamond weighing one carat and 33 cents is denoted as 1.33 cts. Diamond prices jump drastically at certain weights for example a 1.00 carat diamond will cost considerable more than one weighing 0.98 cents. Similarly one weighing .49 cts will cost less than a 0.50 cent stone. Note: Carat is not too confused with Karat, which is the unit denoting the purity of gold.
Other terms that you might come across in a diamond certificate are polish and symmetry. These two are self-explanatory terms and are rated as excellent, very good, good, fair and poor.
Note that the certificate should be from a reputed gemological laboratory such as the GIA, CIBJO, AGS (American Gemological Society), EGL (European Gemological Laboratories) and IGI (International Gemological Institute).