When buying a diamond it is hard for an everyday person to identify the quality of the gem, or even worse, if it is fake or for real.
It is important you have a rapport with the jeweller to be assured you’re getting the good stuff.
Pre-1980, diamonds were graded by experts into three main categories: River, Wesselton and Cape. These terms are now obsolete, with the formation of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
GIA says it is the world’s foremost authority on diamonds, coloured stones, and pearls, and it aims to benefit the general public.
As a non-profit institute, GIA is recognised as the leading source of knowledge, standards, and education in gems and jewellery.
To answer the question – “can you see the difference?” we will focus on two of the Cs: colour and clarity.
GIA developed a system of grading very subtle colour variations. These range from D to Z. There are no A, B or C grades, as prior to GIA there were many different scales loosely based on A, B, C or 1, 2, 3. It was decided to start afresh, without any associations to older systems. So D is now the top spot.
The better the diamond, the less colour it has. Lower grade gems start to have yellow or even brown tints showing.
Seeing the difference between a D diamond and an E diamond with the naked eye is impossible, but when comparing a D to a K, there is a clear difference in colour.
Diamond clarity is also important
Diamonds often have inclusions as part of their make-up. There are many characteristics and flaws that fall under the broad title of inclusion, including bruise, cavity, chip, cloud, feather, crystal, plus many more. The fewer inclusions, the better the clarity.
Stones are divided into six categories, some of which are further classified, to form 11 specific grades.
- Flawless (FL): No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10x magnification
- Internally flawless (IF): No inclusions visible under 10x magnification
- Very, very slightly included (VVS1 and VVS2): Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
- Very slightly included (VS1 and VS2): Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterised as minor
- Slightly included (SI1 and SI2): Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification
- Included (I1, I2, and I3): Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance
Clarity affects the sparkle that all diamond lovers seek. Higher clarity means more impressive sparkle.
What to purchase becomes a balancing act, and is personal to individuals.
Some prefer to buy a better quality diamond simply because they know the science behind the gem, which makes it more precious to them.
Some go for size or sparkle over colour, perfectly happy with their piece of lightly tinted bling.
Of course, budget plays a significant role.
Speaking to an expert is your best bet, and the team at Village Jewellers is always happy to chat about the different aspects of selecting the perfect stone for you.
Many of our clients come in-store knowing next to nothing about diamonds, but leave thoroughly educated.
In fact, this becomes a significant part of our personalised process, adding emotional value to the end result.