As you can see, the clarity scale goes from flawless to I3. Diamonds from VS1 (very slightly imperfect of the first degree) to flawless are, for all intents and purposes, going to appear the same to the naked eye. The difference, in my opinion, between VS1 and VVS1 (very very slightly imperfect to the first degree) almost don’t exist in terms of value. That is, the increased cost isn’t justified by the slight difference in better clarity achieved. For those who want a very clean diamond, VS2 is a good choice. It should be absolutely eye clean. When viewed under 10X magnification, it should be difficult to see any imperfection, though they would be seen with some professional help. An SI1 (slightly imperfect to the first degree) diamond is also eye clean, but the imperfections will be more readily discernable under inspection. Some SI2 diamonds are eye clean. The classic SI2 diamond is, typically, eye clean on initial naked-eye inspection. When viewed under 10X magnification, the inclusions should easily be seen. After you have seen the diamond under magnification and taken a second look with your naked eye, you will normally see the inclusion because you know what it looks like and where to look. Diamonds that are graded I1, I2 and I3 will have increasing amounts of imperfections.
David Kruger has learned a thing or two in 43 years of buying and selling diamonds. The following explanation of the “Four Cs” of diamond assessment (color, clarity, cut and carat weight) is distilled from his vast experience and presented here to help you make the most informed diamond purchase possible, whether you buy from Kruger’s or not.
Diamonds can be accompanied by a grading report from any of several laboratories. The report contains empirical information concerning measurements and percentages that typically are calculated using a machine for extreme accuracy. Depending on the lab, these measurements will help determine cut, symmetry and polish grades for the diamond. Each lab will have their own set of parameters for these grades, so a very good cut grade from one lab could be another lab’s excellent cut grade. Additionally, the report will have a clarity and color grade included. This is done by the lab’s graders and can be submitted to more than one person for accuracy.
Color and clarity are much more subjective than the other information on the report. It is vitally important to know that there are labs whose reports offer clarity and color grades that are not entirely accurate and can be misgraded by one or more color and clarity grades. This is widely known in the jewelry industry. If you are shown one of these reports you might think you are buying a diamond of a certain grade when, in fact, you are buying something of lesser quality. At Kruger’s, predominantly we carry reports from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). These reports are the most universally accepted reports and the most consistent. When buying a diamond you should ask if the report is an accurate representation of the actual diamond. While the color and clarity are subjective elements of the report, they should not be off by an entire grade. Bottom line? Shop around and ask a lot of questions. Find the most helpful, understanding people who will treat you and the buying process with respect. If you have questions I am either in the store or out fishing.
The FOUR Cs
The terminology for diamond grading was largely created by the GIA. There are many places online that will explain these terms according to the current orthodoxy in the diamond business. I would like to give you the benefit of my explanation, which is gleaned from 43 years of buying and selling diamonds. I hope my layman’s explanation will help. If you have questions, please feel free to call us at the store. What follows is my perception and interpretation of grading terms.
Cut likely is the most controversial element of the diamond-buying process.
Cut is different from shape as it refers to proportion, facet arrangement, finish, symmetry and polish. There is a faction within the jewelry industry that is dogmatic in its cut parameters. There is also a faction that insists that “ideal” cut diamonds are the only ones worth buying. In fact, the GIA recently concluded an exhaustive study of diamond cutting and determined that there are numerous combinations of facet arrangement and proportions that will yield a beautiful diamond. In my opinion, the concept of “ideal” cut diamonds is a function of great marketing. Looking at several diamonds will help you decide for yourself what cut details are most important to you.
“I, myself, am a color buyer.”
Between color and clarity, color is much more apparent to the naked eye than clarity, up to a point.
A “D” color diamond is colorless, like a piece of glass. “E” and “F” colors are degrees of “D-ness.” When you get to “G” and “H” color you are looking at diamonds that are white like a piece of paper. “I” and “J” colors are what I refer to as “transitional” colors. That is, they are the transition from diamonds that are patently white to diamonds that are not altogether white. My perception is that “I” and “J” color diamonds are on the border between white diamonds (G and H) and diamonds that have a suggestion of yellow (K and L). So I explain that “I” and “J” colors are to white and yellow as gray is to black and white. When you see something that is the slightest bit gray, you don’t say it is black or white. That’s what “I” and “J” colors are to white and yellow. As you go down the scale, “Z” diamonds become ever more yellow.
Carat weight is the simplest part of the Four Cs. Diamonds are weighed on a decimal scale. A diamond that weighs .10 is a 1/10th-carat diamond. A diamond that weighs 1.25 carats is a 1¼-carat diamond. Pricing is where diamond weight comes into play. There are some natural price breaks that are directly related to weight. As an example, from .69 to .70 there is about a 20 percent price increase between the same qualities.