Diamonds: How to Select a Quality Stone

There are 4 Characteristics that determine the quality of a diamond: CUT, COLOR, CLARITY, and CARAT-WEIGHT.

The Cut:
Many people confuse cut with the shape of a diamond. The shape you select is a matter of individual taste, and today your choice is only limited by the skill and imagination of craftsmen. It is their efforts during every stage of the fashioning process that reflects the maximum amount of light . Most Round, Brilliant-Cut or Fancy-shaped diamonds posses 58 carefully angled flat surfaces, called facets. It is the precision of each facet's placement that affects the amount of fire, brilliance, and ultimate beauty of your diamond. When a diamond is cut to good proportions, light is reflected from one facet to another and then dispersed through the crown, or the top of the stone. If the cut of the diamond is too deep, some light escapes through the opposite side of the pavillion, or bottom If the cut of the diamond is to shallow, light escapes through the pavillion, or bottom before it can be reflected.

The Color:
The most prized diamonds are colorless diamonds, because their beauty depends entirely upon their remarkable optical properties. In such diamonds, all colors of the rainbow are reflected back to your eye. While the majority of gem diamonds appear to be colorless, others can contain increasing shades of yellow to brown, some of which are referred to as champagne diamonds. Other diamonds of exceptional color, red, blue, green, pink, and amber are known as "Fancies". The color grading scale varies from totally colorless to light color or tinted. The difference between on grade and its neighbor is very subtle. Experts never try to remember color; they use master diamonds of known color for comparison. D,E,F = colorless grades G,H,I,J = Near colorless grade K,L,M = Faint Yellow N,O,P,Q,R = Very Light Yellow S,T,U,V,W,X,Y,Z = Light Yellow Clarity

The Clarity:
Because of the unique optical properties, diamonds, more than any other gemstones, are capable of producing the maximum amount of brilliance. While minute crystals of diamond or other minerals are contained in almost all diamonds, a diamond that is virtually free of inclusions and surface markings will be judged as flawless. In these diamonds, nothing interferes with the passage of light nor spoils the beauty. But these diamonds are extremely rare and will command a high price. To determine a diamond's clarity grading, it must be examined under a 10x magnification by a trained, skilled eye. What minute inclusions there may be make every diamond unique. These are, in fact, nature's fingerprints and do not mar the diamond's beauty nor endanger its durabilty. Without high magnification, you may never see these inclusions. However, the fewer there are, ther rarer your diamond will be. FL= Flawless IF= Internally Flawless VVS1 & VVS2 = Very very small inclusions VS1 & VS2 = Very small inclusions SI1 & SI2 = Small inclusions I1, I2, & I3 = Inclusions Visible to the naked eye.

The Carat-Weight:
As with all precious stones, the weight- and therefore the size- of a diamond is expressed in carats. One carat is divided into 100 "points" so that a diamond of 25 points is described as a quarter or 0.25 carats. Size is the most obvious factor in determining the value of a diamond, but be aware that two diamonds of equal size will command very differerent prices depending on their quality. However, diamonds of high quality can be found in all size ranges.

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