Before visiting a jeweler to look at diamonds, it’s important to understand a few basics. We have you covered with this primer that explains the four Cs of diamond quality. For additional information, you can visit the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) at: http://www.gia.edu
Carat weight is the unit of measurement used to classify the size of a diamond. It’s also one of the main factors that determines a diamond’s value. Larger stones are more prized for their rarity, but size is only one aspect.
Diamonds are also graded for their clarity. This rating is determined by examining the stone under 10x magnification.
The clarity rating is affected by the presence of inclusions, which are naturally occurring imperfections — not necessarily visible to the naked eye — that often look like tiny crystals, clouds or feathers.
There are 10 levels of clarity that range from Included (the lowest) up to Internally Flawless (the highest.) Moving down the scale from Internally Flawless are VVS1 and VVS2, which are given to diamonds that have tiny inclusions only visible under magnification. The next level, VS1 has very small inclusions.
White diamonds are also evaluated under controlled lighting to measure their lack of color. The scale begins with the letter D, which refers to a colorless stone. The scale progresses through the alphabet to the letter Z, which refers to a stone that has the most color present.
The highest quality natural color diamonds are rated “fancy” for their brilliant hue.
A well-cut diamond reflects light vividly, giving the stone a fiery intensity. The cut of a stone is graded from excellent to poor.