Diamond guide

For most, buying a diamond is a significant investment. Often the occasion involves not only a financial commitment, but an emotional one as well. In this Diamond Buying Guide you will find the information you need to learn how to buy a diamond.

Learn the 4 C's

You have probably heard about the 4Cs of a diamond, and you may even know that it stands for Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat Weight. Let us take a deeper look behind the 4Cs of a diamond!

A Diamond’s Cut Unleashes Its Light

Often confused with a diamond shape, the cut is actually the grading that determines how well the diamond sparkles. It encapsulates Brightness (white light reflecting from the top surface), Fire (flares of colour) and Scintillation (flashes of light).

Cut grades range from Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor.

Excellent Maximum fire and brilliance. Reflects nearly all of the light that enters the diamond, creating exceptional sparkle and life.
Very Good Properly reflects most of the light that enters the diamond, producing superior fire and brilliance. Under normal lighting conditions, appears very similar to Excellent Cut, but for a lower price.
Good Reflects a majority of the light that enters the diamond, for an above average appearance. An excellent value compared to higher cut grades.
Fair Allows much of the light entering the diamond to escape from the sides or bottom, reducing perceived fire and brilliance. More acceptable in diamonds of less than .75 carats, where differences in sparkle are more difficult to perceive.
Poor Allows most of the light entering the diamond to escape from the sides or bottom. The diamond may appear noticeably dull and lifeless, even to an untrained eye.Espeka does not offer Poor cut diamonds.

The grading takes into account various attributes of the diamond that cannot be seen or measured with the untrained eye. An excellent cut grading will have the best light performance, mainly influenced by the relationship of surface table and the depth of the diamond (not too deep or too shallow).

A diamond’s cut is crucial to the stone’s final beauty and value. And of all the diamond 4Cs, it is the most complex and technically difficult to analyze.

Diamond carat size

Diamonds are sold by the carat (shown as ct.), which is actually a unit of weight, though most think of a carat in terms of size. The word "carat" comes from the "carob" seed, the original unit of measure for diamond traders. Today, a carat is equal to exactly 0.2 grams (about the weight of a paper clip). Carat weight is unrelated to the similar sounding karat, which refers to gold's purity.

Two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different costs based on other factors (such as cut, color, and clarity). In understanding the importance of carat weight, know thy partner. If the recipient's heart is set on a certain size diamond, then carat weight will probably be the most important factor in your search until the desired size is attained. At that point, other criteria will take on more importance. Most women can tell you the carat weight and shape of their ideal diamond, and most men can tell you the price.

As the carat size of a diamond increases, the diamond's price increases at an increasing rate. Why? Because the larger the diamond, the more increasingly rare it is. Fewer than one in one million mined rough stones are large enough to produce a finished 1 carat diamond. So, as carat weight increases, you will typically pay more not only in total, but on a price-per-carat basis as well. The table below illustrates the typical relationship between diamonds of equal quality and increasing carat weights:

Carat weight 1.00 2.00 3.00
Price-per-carat $ 6,000 $ 12,000 $ 18,000
Total Price $ 6,000 $ 24,000 $ 54,000

Diamond color chart

Diamonds come in a variety of colors, some of them highly prized (pinks, blues, even yellow). However in a white diamond, the presence of a yellow tint will lower the price of a diamond. The less body color in a white diamond, the more true color it will reflect, and thus the greater its value.

Every Diamond has been assigned a color grade by the GIA in a viewing environment specially designed to eliminate color from surrounding surfaces as well as the light source itself. This allows the color of the diamond to be accurately measured. Minor differences in diamond color detected in this environment are very difficult if not impossible to detect in a normal environment. The diamond industry has adopted the GIA diamond color scale; almost every diamond sold today is rated using the GIA color scale, whether it was actually certified by the GIA or not.

GIA Diamond Color Grades Diamonds of D, K, and Z GIA Color Grade The GIA grades diamonds on a scale of D (colorless) through Z (light color). All D-Z diamonds are considered white, even though they contain varying degrees of color. True fancy colored diamonds (such as yellows, pinks, and blues) are graded on a separate color scale. Below is the GIA diamond color chart with definitions.

GIA DIAMOND COLOR SCALE
Colorless D-F While there are differences in color between D, E, and F diamonds, they can be detected only by a gemologist in side by side comparisons, and rarely by the untrained eye. D-F diamonds should only be set in white gold / platinum. Yellow gold reflects color, negating the diamond's colorless effect.
Near Colorless G-J While containing traces of color, G-J diamonds are suitable for a platinum or white gold setting, which would normally betray any hint of color in a diamond. Because I-J diamonds are more common than the higher grades, they tend to be a great value. An I-J diamond may retail for half the price of a D diamond. Within the G-J range, price tends to increase 10-20% between each diamond grade.
Faint Color K-M Beginning with K diamonds, color (usually a yellow tint) is more easily detected by the naked eye. Set in yellow gold, these warm colored diamonds appeal to some, and are an exceptional value. Others will feel they have too much color. Due to its perceptible color tint, a K diamond is often half the price of a G diamond.
Very Light Color N-R Diamonds in the N-R color range have an easily seen yellow or brown tint, but are much less expensive than higher grades. Espeka does not carry diamonds in this color range with certificates due to a lack of demand. If you desire a diamond in this range, request a price quoteusing the custom diamond search.
Light Color S-Z For almost all customers, S-Z diamonds have too much color for a white diamond. Espeka does not carry diamonds in this color range with certificates. If you desire a diamond in this range, request a price quote using the custom diamond search.


For colourless diamonds the differences between D to G are barely visible but can offer 20 to 40% better value. D is generally more for the investor or diamond connoisseur.


H graded diamonds are often considered on the border between premium colourless and tinted diamonds, and therefore offer great value without any visible yellow or brown tint unless compared side by side with a whiter diamond.


I and J colours will generally face up white from the top, but you will be able to detect slight yellow or brown tints when viewed from multiple angles.


K and L are acceptable on a certificate in terms of tint if that major compromise is needed to reach size within a budget. Espeka strongly recommend setting these diamonds in Yellow or Rose Gold jewellery to make the diamond appear less tinted.

Diamond clarity

Because they are formed deep within the earth, under extreme heat and pressure, virtually all diamonds contain 'birthmarks', small imperfections inside the diamond (called inclusions), or on its surface (called blemishes). Clarity refers to the degree to which these imperfections are present. Diamonds which contain numerous or significant inclusions or blemishes have less brilliance because the flaws interfere with the path of light through the diamond.

The position of an inclusion affects how easily it can be seen. Diamond cutters make every effort to cut a stone so that inclusions are not visible through the table of the finished diamond. The preferred position for inclusions is under the bezel facets or near the girdle because they are harder to see there.

Almost all diamonds are graded for clarity using the 11 point diamond clarity scale created by the GIA, including diamonds which were not actually graded by GIA . In grading diamond clarity, the GIA considers the number, size, color, reflectivity, and position of every flaw visible under 10x magnification. Below is the GIA diamond clarity chart with definitions, accompanied by further explanatory comments.

GIA DIAMOND CLARITY SCALE
FL Flawless:No inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification. Extremely rare, less than 1 in 5000 jewelry quality diamonds are rated FL.
IF Internally Flawless:No inclusions, only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification. FL and IF diamonds appear identical unless viewed under 10x magnification by a skilled grader. Less than 3% of jewelry quality diamonds are rated IF.
VVS1
VVS2
Very, Very Slightly Included:Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification. VVS1 inclusions are typically only visible from the pavilion, while VVS2 inclusions are visible from the crown. In each, the inclusions are invisible to the eye, appearing identical to the higher grades unless viewed under 10x magnification by a skilled grader.
VS1
VS2
Very Slightly Included:Inclusions are clearly visible under 10x magnification but can be characterized as minor. Inclusions are not visible to the naked eye. Perhaps 1 in 100 untrained observers can detect VS2 inclusions with the naked eye, on close inspection under ideal conditions.
SI1
SI2
Slightly Included:Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader using 10x magnification. SI1 is the lowest grade with flaws often invisible to the naked eye. SI2 inclusions are usually visible to the naked eye, although they will require close inspection.
I1
I2
I3
Included:Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance. I1 diamonds have inclusions that are almost always visible to the naked eye.


As magnification is needed to see impurities in diamonds with VS1 grading or higher, a choice of VS1 or higher is a subjective quality choice which goes beyond what can be seen to the unaided eye. Larger Diamonds with these higher grades are much rarer and therefore command greater pricing premiums, and also tend to perform better as an investment.


Although SI1 and SI2 are in general not eye clean, the impurities may be light in color or scattered and so in up to 20% of cases, SI1 graded diamonds may appear to be eye clean. That number falls to just 5% for SI2s. There are many different types of impurities, but feathers and crystals are the most common forms of inclusions found in diamonds.

Diamond fluorescence

Fluorescence is the visible light some diamonds emit when they are exposed to invisible ultraviolet (UV) rays. On a GIA diamond grading report, fluorescence refers to the strength, or intensity, of the diamond’s reaction to long-wave UV, which is an essential component of daylight. The light emitted lasts as long as the diamond is exposed to the ultraviolet source. Approximately 25% to 35% of the diamonds submitted to GIA over the past decade, exhibit some degree of fluorescence.

However, only 10% of those show strengths of fluorescence that may impact appearance (i.e., strengths noted on laboratory reports as medium, strong or very strong). In more than 95% of the diamonds that exhibit fluorescence, the color seen is blue. In rare instances, the reaction is yellow, white or another color.

The Shapes

It is often said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but perhaps less often pointed out that there is one to suit each and every kind of "girl". Every diamond has its own story and it is up to you which one you will choose to tell yours.

Certificate

All our diamonds over 1ct are certified by GIA, HRD or IGI so you can be certain of the quality.Certification is an important part of diamond selection. Diamond grading is done in gemological laboratories specially designed to grade diamonds based on their symmetry, color, carat and other characteristics. These are reports, not appraisals. Grading from a qualified laboratory is important because a detailed certificate has to be provided to you at the time you purchase your diamond. A lab certification allows you to be fully confident in your diamond’s grading.

The gemological institue of America (GIA)

Headquartered in Carlsbad, California, on an expansive campus that serves as the world’s premier college for gemological studies, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is the United States’ leading gemological body and world’s premier gemological organization—at the very least in terms of gemological training and research.

More on GIA


HRD

HRD stands for 'Hoge Raad Voor Diamant' in Flemish, meaning the 'Diamond High Council'. Based in Antwerp it is a major gemological laboratory and the leading authority of diamonds in Europe. HRD offers certification on white diamonds, fancy color diamonds, treated diamonds, and even laboratory grown diamonds. If you are trading diamonds in Europe it is always wise to have your diamonds certified by the well-respected HRD.

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IGI

The International Gemological Institute was established in 1975 and is headquartered in Antwerp – one the key centers of the diamond business. IGI has several branches all around the world and is one of the largest labs in the world. It also has a gemology school.

More on IGI

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