All You Need to Know About Diamonds
Learn about all the diamond characteristics and how to purchase the right brilliance at the right price.
Start with a Shape
When selecting a diamond the first thing to decide on is the shape. Diamonds offer a wide variety of shapes, each of which is unique to the personality and taste of its wearer.
How to Decide on a Diamond Shape
Each diamond has its own unique characteristics, just like a fingerprint. Once a diamond is recovered from kimberlite, it is cut into various shapes, the shape is decided on the basis of the inclusions and the raw form of the diamond procured; which also determines its size. These major and minor specifications impact the final look of the stone.
The diamond shape also determines its reflection and refraction, as the shape is directly linked to the cut and the cut to its brilliance. These shapes are given names such as round, oval, heart, pear, which are named directly after the shape, whereas some others have fancier names like princess for square, baguette for rectangle, cushion for pillow shaped diamonds and so on. The diamonds however have one important feature and functionality – reflection, the shape decides how the diamond will be cut to maximize light return.
A diamond shape can also increase or decrease its value. The round being the most popular shape, followed by princess, pear, oval and baguette. However baguettes and tapers are used mainly for settings rather than solitaires.
SHAPE YOUR FUTURE
Diamond Shape: Round
The “round brilliant cut” consists of nearly 75% of diamonds sold. Due to its shape a round diamond can reflect maximum fire, scintillation and brilliance as compared to any other shape. The round cut is the oldest shape and had evolved over time from the Old European to the RBC and best suited for all designing purposes from vintage to contemporary.
The most popular cut for engagement rings around the world, the princess cut comes second in popularity to round diamonds. The square cut diamond is a modified brilliant cut that was earlier called the ‘profile’ cut designed to minimize wastage and appear larger than a round cut for a lesser price.
The modified brilliant cut resembles the round cut in fire and brilliance with an added advantage of looking bigger due to its elongated shape. Oval cut diamonds possess the ‘bow-tie’ effect, a shadow cast in the centre of the diamond that resembles a bow, it is a common feature of all brilliant cut diamonds that have an elongated shape.
A combination of round and marquise, this modified brilliant cut is one of the fanciest of diamonds and can look quite large on the finger, making it a popular choice for fanciful engagement rings. However with increase in weight its length and width ratio also increases giving it a slimmer appearance.
Similar to the oval, the marquise shape is a modified brilliant cut with a ‘bow-tie’ effect. Legend has it that the name of this cut was derived from the Marquise of Pompadour as it was designed to resemble the shape of her lips. Just like oval solitaires, the marquise also can get slimmer in appearance with an increase in carat weight.
Cushion cut diamonds come with a square shape with rounded corners, resembling a pillow, hence the name. It is a modified cut whose brilliance resembles the ‘crushed ice’ look giving it a greater scintillation. The price of a cushion can be very reasonable as compared to a round solitaire and yet giving a very similar look if designed with a strategic setting.
A step cut diamond, the emerald solitaire does not sparkle like a brilliant cut. The step cut was discovered for the cutting of emeralds, hence the name. Very few diamonds are cut in this way. Usually a square or rectangular shape with blunt edges, this type of diamond has a large pavilion and no culet, as the culet is a long line. A step cut diamond with all four edges is called a ‘baguette’.
The radiant cut along with princess is a solitaire that has brilliant cut facets on both crown and pavilion. It differs from the princess cut due to its cropped edges, which often gets covered by prongs. However the radiant cut need not be square in shape, it is mostly a rectangle.
Needless to say the heart solitaire is unmistakably the symbol of love. A brilliant cut diamond, the heart shape is unique in cut due to its distinct lobes. A three prong setting is used for this diamond as it may be difficult to preserve the heart shape of a smaller size in any other setting.
Triangular shaped brilliant cut diamond with rounded sides. Trilliant diamonds are popularly used on the sides of three-stone rings.
The CUT Chart
The cut refers to the symmetry and proportion of the facts of a diamond; how well the diamond is cut determines the diamond’s ability to reflect and refract light. The perfect diamond has a Table percentage of 53% to 57% and a Pavilion depth of about 43%. The thickness of the Girdle and Culet are two very important determinants of the ideal cut, the culet should be nothing more than a fine dot and the girdle neither too thick nor too thin. The facets on the crown and pavilion if cut a few degrees out of alignment can dull the brilliance of a diamond and render it inferior or of low grade.
A CUT Beyond
The cut is a diamond’s most crucial ‘C’. Everything depends on the cut. A diamond’s cut can increase or decrease its value; as the precision and craftsmanship of a cut can enhance or diminish the brilliance or luster of a diamond. The diamond is divided into parts like the table, crown and pavilion, whereas its reflection is divided into brilliance, dispersion and scintillation.
Deep Cut - In a cut too deep the pavilion is too long in proportion to the crown and the light that enters is lost through the side of the stone making it look dull and lose brilliance.
Shallow Cut - In a cut too shallow the pavilion is too flat in proportion to the crown and the light that enters is lost through the bottom of the stone making it appear dark. This type is called the fish eye.
Ideal Cut - In an ideal cut or perfectly cut diamond the light is reflected back to the observer from the top of the stone emitting maximum brilliance.
The carat weight of a diamond is the most important and visible feature that is considered when comparing its price. A slight difference in weight can make a significant difference in price. “Carat” (ct.) is a phase representing the weight of a diamond, the price of a diamond is directly proportional to its weight. The cut off weights are 0.50ct, 0.75ct, 1.00ct so on and so forth.
Diamonds are not always as white as they look to the untrained eye. However, just the lack of color makes diamonds more expensive, too much color can also make it priceless and rare. Most diamonds exhibit a yellow or brown tinge, a completely colorless variety will allow more light to pass through it emitting maximum brilliance. The diamond is shaped like a prism and acts in the same way, and so color in a diamond diminishes the fire by acting as a filter. A colorless diamond will emit a spectrum of colors.
D E F - Colorless diamonds with very slight difference in levels that can be detected only by a gemologist.
G H I J - Nearly colorless diamonds with slight traces of color and are called “top top light color”. The price differs from colorless ones.
K L M - A visible faint yellow tint that can be seen by the naked eye, preferably set in yellow gold to create a camouflage.
N – R - Diamonds with a brown or yellow tint and are comparatively less expensive than the above range, named as “very light color”.
S – Z - Prominent brown color; can be used as colored diamonds alone or rejection amongst colorless ones. Widely called “ light color”.
Like all things natural, diamonds too are flawed. Diamonds like all other minerals and gemstones are born with several inclusions that develop during its formation. Although almost invisible to the naked eye, inclusions do decide a diamond price. Internal characteristics are known as inclusions while external characteristics are known as blemishes all of which are mostly visible through a 10X loupe. List of diamond inclusions include, cloud, feather, needle, pinpoint, crystals, twinning wisps, whereas bruise, chip, cavity, cleavage and knot appear on the surface of the stone.
I2 - Inclusions that are easy to locate even with the naked eye and may occupy a large part of the diamond.
SI2 - Inclusions that are easy to locate under 10X magnification and are large enough to affect the brilliance of the diamond.
SI1 - Inclusions that are easy to locate under 10X magnification but not easily visible by the naked eye.
VS2 - Very slight inclusions visible under 10X magnification.
VS1 - Very very slight inclusions visible under 10X magnification.
VVS2 - Very very slight inclusions barely visible under 10X magnification. Impossible to see with the naked eye.
VVS1 - Very very slight inclusions difficult to see even with a 10X magnification.
IF - Internally Flawless, with no internal flaws.
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