Education

Diamond Shapes

Diamonds come in many different shapes. Each diamond shape possesses its own unique qualities, so exploring and learning about the various shapes is worth your while.

Asscher Cut Diamonds

The Asscher Cut Diamond, also called a "Square Emerald-Cut", is made using a step-cut process and has cropped corners. Because of the cropped corners, an Asscher Cut Diamond appears almost octagonal at first glance. They are bright, shiny, and clear in appearance. Like Emerald-Cut Diamonds, they have the clarity of glacier-water ice, allowing you to see all the way through the stone. However, since inclusions are obvious to the naked eye with Asscher Cut Diamonds, it is important to get one that is flawless or as close to flawless as possible.

Brilliant Cut Diamonds

The Round Diamond, or Brilliant Cut Diamond, is by far the most popular shape for diamond engagement rings. It is cone-shaped to maximize light return through the top of the diamond. It is cut to have 58 facets: 33 on the crown and 25 on the pavilion. The relationship between the angle of the crown (above the girdle) and the pavilion (below the girdle) is complementary. A steep crown angle is complemented by a shallower pavilion angle, and vice versa.

Cushion Cut Diamonds

The Cushion Cut Diamond is an antique cut that has a classic, romantic appeal. It is considered a cross between the Old Mine Cut, which was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and a modern Oval-Cut Diamond. The Old Mine Cut featured large facets and rounded corners, since the cutting was all done by hand at the time. They were designed to catch the beauty of candlelight. The Cushion-Cut Diamond contains 58 facets.

Emerald Cut Diamonds

The Emerald-Cut Diamond is a very popular style known for its beauty and precision. While it lacks the brilliance of diamonds cut with triangular and kite-shaped facets, it more than makes up for it in its extreme clarity – it’s like looking into glacier-pure ice. The Emerald-Cut diamond is named so because this style of cut was originally used only on emeralds. It is called a step-cut, which is the cut most commonly used on square or rectangular diamonds.

Heart Diamonds

The Heart Shaped Diamond has a cleft at the top and exhibits superior brilliance. It is among the most romantic of the diamond shapes. When selecting a heart shaped diamond, symmetry is essential, as the two halves of the heart must be identical. The split between the two lobes should be obvious and sharp, and the wings should have a round shape. Generally, heart shapes diamonds of less than .50 carats are not a good choice. As opposed to other diamond shapes, they appear smaller, especially after set in prongs. Bezel and three prong settings are best for small heart shaped diamonds.

Marquise Diamonds

The Marquise-Cut Diamond is a boat-shaped brilliant stone that is considered to be a "classic" shape for diamond engagement rings. As with all 'fancy cut' diamonds, color and clarity are the two most important qualities in this particular style of cut. The Marquise-Cut Diamond uses a cutting process similar to that of a Round Brilliant Diamond, but the diamond cutter maximizes the carat weight of the gem by elongating it into its distinctive ''boat-shape''. This way, they can eliminate all inclusions while maintaining as much of the unblemished stone as possible. However, because of the elongated shape, color and clarity imperfections are more obvious than they are in a traditional Round Brilliant Diamonds.

Oval Diamonds

The Oval Cut Diamond is a modified version of the most popular cut, the Round Brilliant. It is the perfect choice for buyers who are looking for characteristics similar to the Round "Ideal" Cut, but would like something in a shape that is more unusual. Oval Cut diamonds also create the optical illusion of length and serve to elegantly elongate fingers.

Pear Diamonds

The Pear Shaped Diamond combines the tradition and brilliance of a round cut with a less common shape to create an unusual diamond that can still make light 'dance' as it does in the traditional Round Brilliant Cut. It is probably the most subjective diamond shape, as its size and proportions are really a matter of taste. The diamond usually contains 58 facets, allowing for light to pass through it much the same way as in a Round, but makes more of an impression because of its much less common shape.

Radiant Cut Diamonds

The Radiant Cut Diamond combines the more stylish square or rectangular shape with the brilliance of the more traditional Round Cut. It combines two diamond cutting styles-the Round Cut style and the Emerald Cut style, to create a non-traditional, yet still brilliant, diamond. This cut, created in 1977 by Henry Grossbard, was designed to maintain the beauty of each different type of diamond, while still creating something altogether different from anything available at the time.

The Diamond Cut

The cut of a diamond not only refers to the diamond’s shape, it also refers to how effectively the diamond returns light back to the viewer’s eye. A well-cut diamond will appear very brilliant and fiery, while a poorly cut diamond can appear dark and lifeless, regardless of its color or clarity.

Not only do well-cut diamonds appear more brilliant, they also tend to appear larger than other diamonds of the same carat weight. An "ideal" diamond has both increased brilliance and diameter relative to more deeply-cut diamonds.

Ideal cut diamonds

An Ideal Cut Diamond is a round, brilliant, or princess cut diamond that is cut to ideal proportions and angles, and has excellent polish and symmetry ratings. An Ideal Cut Diamond is perfectly proportioned to refract light, producing that fire and brilliance up through to the table and crown.

Understanding Brilliance, Dispersion & Scintillation

A well-cut diamonds exhibit three different properties: brilliance, dispersion and scintillation. As light strikes a diamond's surface, it will either reflect off the table of a polished stone or enter the diamond. The light that is reflected off the diamond is known as the diamond's brilliance. As light travels through a stone, some of the light rays are separated into flashes of color. This is known as dispersion. The result of dispersion—the separation of white light into its spectral colors— is known as fire. Scintillation is flashes of color that are viewable as an observer moves a diamond back and forth.

Diamond Color

When shopping for a diamond, it is generally preferred to choose a stone with the least amount of color possible. Diamond color is graded on a scale from D-Z and is divided into five broad categories (colorless, near colorless, faint, very light and light). Diamonds come in all colors of the spectrum. The predominant color you see in a diamond is yellow, which is caused by the trace element nitrogen.

Generally, when comparing color between two diamonds, the diamonds need to be at least two color grades apart to even begin to see a difference. When diamonds are in the face up position it is almost impossible to see any color. When viewing the diamond from the side profile, you may start to detect some color; however, diamonds are admired for their beauty from the face up position and not the side.

Colorless Diamonds (D-F):

Diamonds within the colorless range are the most rare and valuable of all those on the color scale. D/E color stones display virtually no color, whereas F colored diamonds will display a nearly undetected amount of color when viewed face down by a gemologist.

Near Colorless Diamonds (G-J)

Diamonds within the near colorless range appear colorless in the face up position, but do display a slight amount of color when viewed face down against a perfectly white background. This trace amount of color will be undetectable to an untrained eye once the diamond has been mounted. Near colorless diamonds offer a tremendous value for their price.

Faint Color Diamonds (K):

Diamonds within the faint color category may show a slight hint color when viewed in the face up position; however, these are another wonderful option for those who are not sensitive to color. Some even love the color scheme that is displayed from these diamonds.

Diamond Clarity

Which Clarity Grade to Choose?

The Clarity Scale is as follows: Flawless (FL), Internally Flawless (IF), Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2), Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2), Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2), Included (I1, I2 and I3).

It is important to select a diamond that does not have any inclusions that will affect the overall beauty and durability of the diamond. If you want to be 100% sure that your diamond will be completely clean of "eye-visible" inclusions, stick with diamonds graded "VS2" or higher. Shopping for SI quality diamonds can be very rewarding, but you need to make sure the diamond that does not have any inclusions visible to the naked eye.

It is also a good idea to balance the clarity grade of your diamond with the color. If you are looking at diamonds in the D-F color range, focus on clarity grades of VS2 or higher. Diamonds in the G-I color range combined with SI clarity are excellent values.

Diamond Weight

Carat is a term that refers to the weight of a diamond. Prior to the twentieth century, diamonds were measured using carob seeds, which were small and uniform and served as a perfect counter weight to the diamond. The word "carob” is the origin of the word "carat" that we use today.

Diamond Size and Diamond Carat Weight

The size of a diamond is proportional to its carat weight. When rough diamonds are cut and polished into finished diamonds, up to 2/3 of the total carat weight may be lost. Since larger rough gems of high quality are found less frequently than smaller rough gems of high quality, a single two carat diamond will be more expensive than two one-carat diamonds of the same quality.

In the United States, the majority of diamonds used in jewelry and sold as loose diamonds are one carat or less in weight. The average engagement ring diamond sold in the U.S. is less than 1/2 carat in weight.

A diamond will increase in weight much faster than it increases in actual "face-up" diameter. For example, while an ideal cut one-carat diamond measures approximately 6.5mm in width, a diamond of twice its weight measures only 8.2mm wide—less than a 30% increase.

Which Carat Weight Is Right For You?

This question has no direct answer. It is a choice that depends on personal preference and budget. When looking at a diamond engagement ring, what is most visible is the size of the surface area on the top of the diamond. It is difficult to measure a diamond’s carat weight simply by looking at it. Although carat weight influences cost quite a bit, it is advisable to focus on diamond cut and diameter.

Diamond Anatomy

While every diamond is unique, all diamonds share certain structural features. A diamond’s anatomy, or its basic structure, determines its proportions, brilliance, dispersion and scintillation. Each part of the diamond has a specific name, and having a basic understanding of how each part contributes to the diamond as a whole will help you find your perfect diamond.

A diamond is comprised of the eight main components. They are Diameter, Table, Crown, Table Spread, Girdle, Pavilion, Depth, and Culet. Below is a brief description of each part of a diamond and its location.

  • Diameter: The width of a polished stone, measured from edge to edge.

  • Table: The largest polished facet located on the top of the diamond.

  • Crown: The top part of a diamond extending from the table to the girdle. The crown is made up of bezel facets (crown mains), star facets, upper girdle facets (upper halves), and a table facet.

  • Girdle: The very edge (widest edge) of the diamond where the crown and pavilion meet.

  • Pavilion: The bottom part of a diamond extending from the girdle down to the culet.

  • Depth: The total height of a diamond measured from the table to the culet.

  • Culet: The small or pointed facet at the very bottom of the diamond.

Before purchasing a diamond, make sure that you have a basic understanding of a diamond’s anatomy. This will allow you to truly appreciate diamonds and all their intricacies, communicate with experts about a particular diamond, and, most importantly, it will assist you in making a well-thought out decision about which diamond is best for you.

Proportion – Understanding Brilliance, Dispersion & Scintillation

Well–proportioned diamonds exhibit three different properties: brilliance, dispersion and scintillation. As light strikes a diamond's surface, it will either reflect off the table of a polished stone or enter the diamond. The light that is reflected is known as the diamond's brilliance — the flash of white light one sees when looking at a stone. As light travels through a stone, some of the light rays are separated into flashes of color. This is known as dispersion. The result of dispersion—the separation of white light into its spectral colors — is known as fire. Scintillation is flashes of color that are viewable as an observer moves a diamond back and forth.

Diamond Polish

What Is Diamond Polish?

Diamond polish influences how well light is able to pass through a diamond. It is a very important attribute in determining a diamond's overall brilliance. When choosing a diamond, it is best to pick one that is laboratory certified with good, very good or excellent polish. Diamonds with poor polish are significantly less brilliant because they have microscopic polish lines that blur the surface of the stone—this also reduces the amount of light that enters or exits the diamond. Be aware that many diamonds have a poor polish because some diamond cutters reduce their costs by not spending sufficient time to properly polish a diamond.

How Is Polish Graded?

Polish is graded the same that way symmetry is graded. On a GIA report, the grades are Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair or Poor. The same applies for AGS and IGI reports, which also include ideal in their list.

  • EX or E - Excellent, Flawless at 10X magnification

  • VG or VGD - Very Good, Extremely difficult to locate under 10X magnification

  • GD, GO, G - Good, Very difficult to see under 10X magnification

  • F, FR, FA - Fair, Noticeable under 10X magnification

  • PR, PO, P - Poor, Easy to see under 10X magnification / Visible to unaided eye

  • VP, VE - Very Poor, Relatively easy to see with the unaided eye

  • EX or EP - Extremely Poor, Obvious to see with unaided eye

There is very little difference between these ratings to the unaided eye. A diamond with a polish rating of Good can still be a remarkable stone. It is only under magnification that the differences in these ratings become clearer. Polish rated Fair (FR) and Poor (PR), however, indicates that the flaws in the polish are visible to the naked eye and affect the overall beauty of the diamond.

It is also important that your ring does not have a porosity problem or rough spots in the metal. Porosity is when there are little surface holes that get worse as you go deeper into the metal. Generally the result of mass producing rings with poor quality control, porosity makes a ring weak and is non-repairable. A ring with porosity will eventually break down.

Fluorescence

What Is Diamond Fluorescence?

Fluorescence is a naturally occurring phenomenon that appears in certain minerals and gems. Some quality diamonds display a visible light when they are exposed to ultraviolet light. This light is known as fluorescence. Under most lighting conditions, a diamond's fluorescence is not visible to the naked eye, although the diamond will exhibit a soft colored glow if held under an ultraviolet lamp.

Do All Diamond Fluoresce?

Not all diamond fluoresce. If a specific diamond does not fluoresce, the grading report will list the diamond's fluorescence as either inert or none.

What Are The Different Types of Diamond Fluorescence?

The degree of fluorescence varies from faint to medium to strong to very strong. Faint means that the stone has a slight glow that is difficult to see under ultraviolet light. Very strong means that the diamond emits a deep glow that is very clear under ultraviolet light. The color of the fluorescence can also vary, although blue is the most common color. Yellow, green and white are other colors that a fluorescent diamond may exhibit.

How Does Fluorescence Affect A Diamond?

Fluorescence usually has no effect on a diamond's appearance in regular lighting conditions. In some cases, however, a strong blue fluorescence can make a yellow colored diamond appear whiter. In rare cases, it can or cause a stone to appear milky or oily.

Clean-to-the-Eye Diamonds

What Are Clean-to-the-Eye Diamonds?

A diamond can be clean-to-the-eye if the diamond appears to be free of inclusions when viewed face up in daylight (or fluorescent lighting) by the naked eye (with 20/20 vision) from a relatively short distance (6-12 inches).

The concept of a clean-to-the-eye diamond varies slightly in definition from retailer to retailer, but three major factors influence the definition of a clean-to-the-eye diamonds:

1) Distance and point of reference

2) The lighting under which the diamond is evaluated

3) The vision of the viewer

According to GIA and AGS, diamonds that are considered Flawless (FL), Internally Flawless (IF), Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) and Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) are considered clean-to-the-eye.

On the other hand, Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) diamonds may or may not be clean-to-the-eye. They need to be assessed individually to see if they are a good value.

Included (I1, I2 and I3) diamonds are considered not clean-to-the-eye.

How to Choose the Perfect Diamond

When looking to buy a wedding or engagement ring, it is important that you know how to choose the perfect diamond. While some people prefer gemstone or rough diamonds, classic diamonds are still the most popular stone on the market and so it is essential that you understand everything you can about them. When searching for the perfect diamond*, there are four categories (or characteristics) to consider.

Diamond Care

Cleaning Your Diamond Jewelry

Depending on the setting you choose, you can soak your diamond engagement and/or wedding rings for up to 30 minutes in a solution of dish-washing liquid and water. This is best suited to prong and cathedral settings. In pave and basket settings, however, soaking the rings can increase the likelihood of the gems coming loose. Be mindful of this when you decide to soak any jewelry piece use mild dish soap in warm water and soak your jewelry for a few minutes. Using a soft cloth or cotton swab, gently scrub the metal (gold, platinum, silver) and then rinse. Repeat the process if necessary, but always proceed with caution when it comes to soaking jewelry.

For extra shine, you can soak diamonds in window cleaner afterwards. Because glass cleaner contains some harsh chemicals, do not soak for more than a minute at a time, and do not use this process at all with rhodium. To ensure that all of the glass cleaner is rinsed off, use the same mild dish soap solution. Dip your ring into the solution, rinse it with warm water, and then dry it completely.

You can use toothpicks to remove dirt that is lodged in between the prongs and the diamonds, but be extra careful not to scratch the metal or move the positioning of a prong. If fibers from cloth get stuck in the setting, gently use tweezers to remove them. Again, be careful of the metal. Even though diamonds can only be scratched by other diamonds, the precious metals into which they are set can be scratched more easily.

Ionic cleaners can be used on most diamond jewelry. If your engagement ring is set with stones other than diamonds, consider other cleaning methods, as some gemstones are adversely affected by the electrical current in the ionic cleaning process.

When storing your diamond jewelry, be sure to keep it separate from other jewelry. Remember that diamonds can not only scratch any other jewelry you have, but can scratch each other as well. Make sure that two diamond pieces are not being stored in such a way that they touch each other.

Insuring Your Diamond Jewelry

Once you have purchased your beautiful diamond jewelry, you will want to make sure that it is properly insured, in the event of theft or loss. Although homeowner's and renter's policies will cover a portion of your jewelry loss, it is often a small amount in comparison to the original cost of a diamond engagement ring or wedding ring. It is advisable to find out how much is covered by the policies you have in place, and then look into additional policies.

If you choose to get additional insurance, find out if there is a deductible and how much it is. Most insurance companies will not insure fine jewelry without an appraisal, so make sure you find out which appraisal reports are acceptable to your insurance company. Ask if the policy covers you fully, whether the item is merely damaged, or even if it is lost overseas. Many policies will have riders that do not allow for this level of coverage. Make sure you read the details of the policy carefully before you pay for extra insurance. Also find out if your jewelry is covered at the full replacement cost, and if you can receive a cash settlement in lieu of a replacement item.

Be aware that your insurance company may require updated appraisals on a regular basis. Be prepared to have your jewelry appraised every few years. Ask what the rules are for the particular insurance company you choose. Also find out if there is a discount if you have a home security system, such as an alarm system.

When you invest in diamond jewelry, you want to make sure that your investment is protected. Research insurance companies online or call around for information to make comparisons before you choose.