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Understanding The Price Of Loose Diamonds

With online shopping’s overtaking of retail stores, more and more customers are doing all of their holiday shopping online. For many couples, that means jewelry. However, buying diamonds online takes a bit more knowledge that picking out a sweater. To help our customers better understand the price of loose diamonds, we’ve put together this guide ahead of the holiday season. Known as the Four C’s, we’ve outlined how cut, color, clarity, and carat weight are factors which determine the price of a diamond.

Cut Is King

When it comes to the price of loose diamonds, cut is the most important of the Four C’s. Cut, though, refers to the quality of a diamond’s cut and not to the diamond’s shape. Essentially, the higher the quality of the cut, the higher the price. This is because a diamond’s cut will determine the proportions of the diamond, and therefore diamond cut determines the amount of reflected light. This means better quality cuts will create more fire and brilliance. Rated from highest to lowest, diamond cuts range from fair to good to very good to excellent to Affinity.

diamond cut example
An example of a diamond’s proportions with the cut rated Very Good. Diamond cut has a high impact on the price of loose diamonds.

Color and Clarity

Clarity and color are closely related because both terms refer to a lack of elements that will reduce light refraction. The best diamonds, then, are referred to as “colorless” diamonds as they appear to be completely clear. Additionally, diamonds with “flawless” clarity will have no inclusions- marks inside the diamond- or blemishes which are surface marks. Diamond color ranks from K, representing diamonds which have a yellow or brownish hue, to near colorless diamonds in the J through G range then colorless diamonds in D, E, and F. Clarity tops out at flawless followed by internally flawless then VVSI down to the low end of Slightly Included 2.

Why Carat Weight Matters

Finally, carat weight is the diamond’s size. Carat, though, is probably the most commonly recognized element of the Four C’s. For example, many times entertainment media will refer to a star’s diamond by carat size. Although carat size is the least important factor of the Four C’s, it still has a major impact on the price of a diamond. While diamonds of the same carat size will range in price due to cut, color, and clarity, larger diamonds cost exponentially more. This is because larger diamonds are much more rare, and finding them with ideal qualities even more so.

When shopping for the perfect diamond jewelry this year, it is best to be informed. Continue your diamond education on Adiamor!

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Why Do 1 Carat Diamond Prices Vary So Much?

When many people start shopping for engagement rings, they are unaware of how complex the process is. The first thing to do when buying diamonds online is to get educated about the four c’s. Learn about cut, clarity, color, and carat weight are all extremely important in deciding which diamond to purchase.  For many shoppers, the first item on their wish list is carat weight. However, carat weight is generally considered to be the last characteristic to consider. Because of this, 1 carat diamond prices can vary dramatically. While many customers will search for a 1 carat diamond, they are surprised to find the costs can vary between $1,000 and $13,000. To best help our customers be educated about their diamond purchases, we’ve put together this explanation as to why 1 carat diamond prices vary so much.

Cut, Clarity, and Color

As we’ve mentioned many times before, cut is the most important factor in determining a diamond’s value. The highest quality of cut is affinity, and affinity cut diamonds will have perfect symmetry. This means the diamond will produce the maximum amount of fire and brilliance, and therefore has the highest impact on how much a diamond costs. Additionally, clarity describes the amount of inclusions, or internal markings, that a diamond possesses. These inclusions are unique to each diamond, and they are also used to help identify and appraise diamonds. Finally, the most valuable diamonds are colorless diamonds. This means the diamond has not been affected by external sources that tint the diamond with yellow or brownish hues. Colorless diamonds allow for the maximum amount of light to pass through, which then provides the most sparkle.

 

1 carat diamond
The price of a 1 carat diamond can vary widely based upon cut, clarity, and color.

Tips On Shopping For Value

When shopping for an engagement ring on a budget, it is important to shop for diamonds with value in mind. Because a diamond’s cut is so important, be sure to select a loose diamond with at least a very good cut. Diamonds that have a clarity of Very Very Slightly Included will not contain inclusions visible the naked eye. In fact, a microscope would need at least 10x magnification to identify internal flaws. Finally, a 1 carat diamond that is near colorless in the G to I range will appear to be crystal clear to the naked eye. When these factors are combined with a 1 carat weight diamond, typical prices start around $5,000. While this is only a starting point, it does help first time diamond buyers understand how much they are spending on diamonds– and why a 1 carat diamond can vary so much in price.

To learn more about diamonds, visit the Adiamor Diamond Education center today!

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Know Your Diamonds, Part 4: Diamond Cut

In a continuing celebration of the diamond being April’s birthstone, we forge ahead with our Know Your Diamonds blog series. In part 4, we examine what most experts consider to be the most important of the four C’s: diamond cut. When many people think of diamond cut, they are actually thinking of a diamond’s shape. Diamond cut determines the gemstone’s proportions, and these proportions create brilliance, fire, and scintillation– also known as a diamond’s sparkle.

The Most Important of the Four C’s

In the diamond industry, a diamond’s cut is widely considered to be the most important aspect. Diamond cut will greatly affect how a diamond sparkles as well as the diamond’s carat weight. In order to keep the maximum weight of the mined rough diamond, most diamonds are “spread” when cut. The result of spreading creates a heavier diamond. However, this technique sacrifices the potential fire and brilliance of the stone. Therefore, the diamond could potentially have less sparkle, especially to the naked eye. The way light enters and exits the diamond depends heavily on the cut because the width and depth have the greatest effect on how light travels within the diamond. The light exiting the diamond is also affected. Both shallow cuts and deep cuts have specific characteristics.

Shallow Cuts and Deep Cuts

When diamonds have shallow cuts, light leaks out of the bottom. Unfortunately brilliance is lost, and the diamond appears dark or watery. A shallow cut diamond with these characteristics is referred to as a “fisheye”. On the other hand, in diamonds with deep cuts, light leaks out of the sides. This means brilliance is lost, and the center of the diamond will appear to be dark. A diamond with these characteristics is referred to as a “nailhead”. When a diamond has an ideal cut, it will retain the maximum amount of light, resulting in a more brilliant diamond.

Diamond Cut Characteristics
Diamond Characteristics

Grading A Diamond’s Cut

There are several measurements used to grade a diamond’s cut. Two key factors in grading diamond cut are known as depth percentage and table percentage. Depth percentage measures the height of the diamond against the width of the gemstone. To calculate table percentage, a gemologist would take a measurement of the diameter of the top facet of the gemstone against the average width of the diamond. The GIA or AGSL grading reports that accompany every loose diamond from Adiamor list these percentages.

While different gem experts possess differing opinions on the best table size and the best depth for a diamond, these two factors are not enough to fully grade a diamond’s cut. A number of other factors contribute to the overall diamond cut quality, including crown angle, culet size, girdle thickness, polish, and symmetry.

Thanks for checking in on our current installment of the Know Your Diamonds series. For more information on diamonds, visit the Adiamor Education Center.

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Why Aren’t Fancy Shape Diamonds Given Cut Grades?

Of all the 4C’s, everyone can agree that it is Cut that has the most impact on a diamond’s sparkle, fire and brilliance- so why aren’t fancy shaped diamonds like the marquise, the cushion or the radiant shape graded on cut? The fact is that GIA only grades round brilliant diamonds and AGS grades both round and princess cuts; both of these well-known cut grades were only invented very recently- as in the 2000’s!

So why aren’t fancy shapes given a cut grade like rounds? Shouldn’t it be relatively easy to put together a comprehensive system for grading an oval as you would the round brilliant or a princess cut diamond- how hard could it be, right? Well the short answer is: Very.

Fancy diamond shapes are based off the two main faceting styles- brilliant and step cut faceting. This means there are nearly endless ways to modify the shapes to maximize light return, fire and scintillation by lengthening, shortening, adding or subtracting facets within the pavilion and crown of the gem. The diagrams below show just a few of the faceting variations the diamond cutter may employ to coax certain aspects out of the diamond rough when creating a cushion cut diamond shape:

Cushion Cut Diamond Faceting Styles
Cushion Cut Diamond Faceting Styles

Some of these faceting styles are meant to create the popular “crushed ice” look in which the diamond scintillates from all angles; the addition of the shorter facets in the pavilion actually causes light to reflect and refract back at the viewer at an accelerated rate. Other styles with more elongated facets are meant to emphasize the traditional Old Mine cut glimmer and higher rate of fire that is best shown off in candlelight.

Traditional Cushion Cut and "Crushed Ice" Cushion Cut Diamonds
Traditional Cushion Cut and “Crushed Ice” Cushion Cut Diamonds

All of them are gorgeous in their own way, but which has the better cut? It is true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder; one may prefer the fire and glimmer of the longer faceting style over the crushed ice and vice-versa, however we can agree that there are certain ideals to each shape to which the diamond cutter should strive.

Fire, brilliance, life- these attributes are all created according to set mathematical formula which determines the exact length and angles of the facets adjoining in perfect symmetry to ensure that light travels within the gem properly. This is the core of the issue- how to evaluate each diamond’s exact measurements, depth and crown angles to ensure that a diamond is ‘ideally cut’.

Adiamor has created (in conjuction with our diamond cutting partners and through decades of hands-on diamond experience) an easy to understand chart which details the Ideal through Good cut grades for each fancy diamond shape by determining a diamond’s depth and table percentages. Depth and table percentages are calculated by dividing the length of a diamond’s table or its total depth by its diameter; for example if a diamond’s total depth is 5.6mm and the diameter is 10.0mm, then its depth percentage is 56%. These mathematic formulas help us to be able to determine if a diamond will sparkle in an attractive manner, as they are loosely based upon the ideal brilliant cut faceting formula used for rounds which are graded. Combined with a diamond plot depicting the faceting style of the pavilion of the diamond, we are able to get a fairly good idea of how well a diamond has been cut.

Affinity Diamond Depth and Table Measurements
Affinity Diamond Depth and Table Measurements

As to why these fancy shapes aren’t officially graded by GIA and AGSL (among others) is simply that there are too many variations on each shape to keep up! Each year, there are new twists to a classic shape, evoking even more brilliance and beauty. However, expect this state to change in the future, as more and more people within the industry begin to agree upon particular parameters for table and depth percentages, length to width ratios and more, assigning a cut grade to these gems will become the norm.

For now, however, when shopping for fancy shape diamonds, just keep in mind that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder! The general appearance of the diamond should attract the eye and it should have plenty of brilliance and fire; try to find diamonds that have at least Very Good Polish and Symmetry as this means that both the facets align properly and are crisply polished, with defined junctures that pass light from one area to another. Work with your jeweler or gemologist to establish which table and depth percentages will ensure that your diamond has been cut to proper proportions and keep an eye on the length to width ratios to keep the diamond’s shape within normal parameters. Above all, love the gem you buy!

Loose Adiamor Diamonds
Loose Adiamor Diamonds
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Evolution of Diamond Shapes

Diamonds can be cut in a wide variety of styles. As the technology of diamond cutting advanced through history, cutters were able to improve light return of diamonds, as well as experiment with different diamond shapes.

Humans were originally unable to cut diamonds at all. Sometimes diamonds were placed in jewelry in rough form, as they came out of the ground. The Romans actually believed that cutting a diamond would cause it to lose its mystical power of protection over the wearer.

Ancient Roman ring with two uncut diamonds
Ancient Roman ring with two uncut diamonds. Photo Courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum.

Eventually people figured out that diamonds themselves could cut and polish other diamonds, and rudimentary cut styles began to evolve. One of the first cuts to become popular was the rose cut. This cut has facets which rise to a point on the top of the diamonds, while the underside is flat.

In the 1700s and 1800s when the bountiful mines of Africa were producing an immense amount of rough, diamond cutting took on a different role. People tried to make diamond shapes that reflect light and look beautiful in jewelry, developing the brilliant faceting style. The cuts that took precedence in this time included the Old Mine and old European cuts. These cuts were the precursors of the modern diamond cuts of today. The old mine cut developed into the cushion cut, and the old European was the predecessor of the modern round brilliant cut.

A cushion cut diamond halo engagement ring customized .from Adiamor
A cushion cut diamond halo engagement ring customized .from Adiamor

 

Around the turn of the century, diamond cutting technology took a major leap forward. The modern round brilliant cut was developed, which created so much fire and brilliance it became the most popular cut for the past century.

The Asscher and emerald cuts developed in the early 1900s reflected the geometric design ideals that defined the Art Deco era. These step cuts do not have as much flashy sparkle as brilliant cuts, but instead create hypnotic reflections, drawing you into the diamond.

3-Stone Diamond Engagement Ring from Adiamor
3-Stone Diamond Engagement Ring from Adiamor

 

Once the brilliant style of cutting was found to reflect so much light and create so much sparkle, people began to experiment with different shapes of brilliant faceting. During the twentieth century, cutters elongated the round to create ovals, formed square brilliants which became princess cuts, and cropped corners off those squares to create radiant cuts. Hearts, pear shapes and marquise cuts were other evolutions of brilliant cut diamonds.

Some cuts create certain visual effects. Rounds face up the largest and reflect the most light return (this makes sense if you think of a circular room full of mirrors; it would reflect more light than a room of any other shape). Any elongated shape also utilizes its carat weight well and appears large. Elongated shapes include rectangular radiants, emeralds, marquises, pears and ovals.

 

Cushion Cut Diamonds have vintage appeal, but can appear smaller than the Round Brilliant shape
Cushion Cut Diamonds have vintage appeal, but can appear smaller than the Round Brilliant shape

One shape which carries a lot of its weight in its depth, not its spread, is the cushion cut. While they give an old world, vintage-feel which attracts many, they do not appear as large as round brilliants of the same carat weight. For those who value the cushions’ pleasing shape and historical appeal, appearing large is not a priority. For those who want a diamond which spreads weight out more and looks larger, a different cut might be the right choice.