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What to Look for in a Diamond

Buying a diamond is more than an emotion-charged purchase signifying love or esteem, it is also an investment. Most people have their first real contact with buying diamonds because they are getting engaged. For these diamond shoppers it is important to know what to look for when shopping for a diamond. Diamond jewelry can vary widely in price and quality.

A diamond is usually judged according to its clarity, color, cut, and carat weight. In diamond literature, these are called the Four C's. The higher the quality of a diamond using the Four C's, the greater the cost of a diamond is likely to be. So the object should be to buy the highest quality diamond at the lowest possible price.

Carat is the measurement used to weigh diamonds. One carat weighs about .2 grams. When nature makes diamonds, smaller ones are made far more frequently. For this reason, larger diamonds are more expensive.

Another factor to consider is the cut of the diamond. The cut can affect how much the diamond will reflect light. The proportions, symmetry, and shape are all deciding factors here. When a diamond is very well-cut it will be highly reflective and brilliant. If a diamond is poorly cut then the light reflected will be reduced, and much less brilliant. The different grades of cut include ideal cut, excellent cut, very good cut, good cut, fair cut, and poor cut. Of these, ideal cut would be the most desirable while poor cut is least desirable.

The next C is color. There are many colors of diamonds, with the most well-known being colorless, or clear. It sounds a bit counterintuitive, but the less color that is found in a diamond, the better. Of course there are exceptions to this when someone wants a pink or yellow diamond as a personal preference. Colorless diamonds are treasured because they let the maximum light through. Shining through the various facets this creates a dazzling effect that jewelers call "fire". There are different grades to rate levels of fire. The ratings include D, E, and F, which are colorless and nearly perfect. Next there are G, H, I, and J which are near perfect. Then, K, L, and M grades have some color to them. Finally there are O-Z grades, which have a lot of color. Again, the less color the diamond has, the more expensive it will be.

Clarity is the fourth C. The clarity of a diamond is determined during the pressure period of the diamond-making process. These are tiny flaws which diamond experts refer to as "inclusions". Inclusions may be air bubbles, cracks, minerals, scratches, or chips.

The clarity grading scale includes flawless (FL), Internally Flawless (IF), Very Very Slightly Included (VVSI), Very Slightly Included (VSI), Slightly Included (SI), and Included (I). It is interesting to note that diamonds are like snowflakes in a sense. No two diamonds have ever had the same inclusions. That makes each and every one very unique. Of course, people pay a premium for a flawless diamond, while most will settle for less than flawless.

There is usually some trade off when selecting diamonds. While some want the biggest diamond possible, they may rely on the carat weight alone. If someone does not mind how big the diamond is they may make their decision based on the other factors.

Choosing a diamond is not an easy task. Considering carat weight, color, clarity, and cut are essential before making any final decision.

Next Page: How to Spot a Fake Diamond


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