Named for the Greek word for "invincible," the diamond is the most sought after gemstone on earth. It is also the hardest substance on earth and is more rigorously graded than any other gem.
Because of their beauty and purity, diamonds are the perfect gemstone for engagement rings. Choosing a diamond is not that difficult if you know something about how a diamond is graded.
A diamond is graded by what's called the four C's: cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. Additionally, you’ll also want to know more about the shape of the diamond you want, as well as its certification.
Since diamonds are so hard, they used to be cut by other diamonds. Now, of course, diamonds are cut by lasers. The trick to cutting a diamond is to not cut it too shallow or too deep. The right cut brings out its full radiance, sparkle and fire. If you think a diamond does not look as radiant as it should, it may be because it was not cut well.
The clarity of a diamond refers to its flaws. A perfect diamond should have no flaws, but nearly all diamonds have them anyway. However, the gem you choose should only have flaws that are invisible to the naked eye. A person should only see these flaws if they look through a special magnifying glass called a jeweler's loupe.
A flawless diamond should be perfectly transparent and colorless. The exceptions to this are diamonds that are supposed to be colored. These are called "fancies." You'll find that most "colorless" diamonds have just a hint of yellow in them, which is caused by nitrogen. Again, you'll be able to see this with a jeweler's loupe.
Diamond colors are graded from D, which is absolutely colorless, to K-Z. In these diamonds, the color can be easily seen with the naked eye.
Carats refer to how much a gem weighs. Since 1907, a carat is equivalent to 0.2 grams. Usually, the higher the carat weight, the more expensive the diamond.
Another important part of choosing a diamond is the shape of the stone. The round brilliant cut is the most popular cut today because it really brings out the diamond's beauty and reflects the most light through the front of the stone.
Other shapes a diamond comes in are:
- Cushion: This is a square cut with rounded corners, like a cushion.
- Marquise: This is a football shaped cut allegedly inspired by the lips of a French king's mistress.
- Oval: Oval cuts can be almost round or fairly elongated, and they can look relatively larger than other diamond shapes of the same carat due to the way it is cut.
- Emerald: This is a step cut originally created for the emerald gemstone, which is a much softer gem than the diamond. It was made to protect the brittle ends of the cut.
- Asscher: The Asscher cut is a square step cut that is similar to a square emerald cut, but with more brilliance.
- Princess: This is a square, beautifully faceted cut. Relatively new, it was developed in 1980.
- Pear: This is a type of brilliant cut. Its length to width ratio ranges between 1.40 to 1.70. When worn on a ring, the tapered end can be pointed either towards the hand or away from it depending on your preference.
Another important "C" when it comes to how to choose a diamond is its certification. A certificate from a reputable society such as the GIA lets you know that the diamond is truly what the seller says it is.
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