For most people, buying a diamond is a new experience, but that does not mean it should be overwhelming. Understanding a diamond’s different characteristics is straightforward and simple.
BisouMargaux’s diamond guide is designed to answer all your questions. It introduces a diamond’s basic characteristics, how such characteristics influence its appearance, and which are more important than others. In just a few minutes you will know everything you need to know to find your perfect diamond.
A great spakler does not always have to be a huge diamond!
Even if you are not a diamond expert, our very-experienced diamond specialists will go beyond general knowledge and diamond certificate to identify the “star” diamond among each grade. No matter what you require, we ensure you only receive the best sparkler.
The metric carat is the international standard unit of measurement of a diamond. One carat is equal to 200 milligrams, or 0.2 grams, and is divided into 100 points. For example, a 60-point diamond weighs 0.60 carats. Large diamonds are rare. As the size increases, so does the value per carat, which means the price rises exponentially with the size of the stone. If you have two diamonds that are identical in most respects – polish, carat weight, color and clarity – one may look bigger or brighter than the other due to the cut and skill of the cutter, and the stones may have different values. The chart below compares carat weight to “visual” size. For example, when you look straight at the girdle, or the widest round rim, of a 0.25 carat round brilliant cut diamond, you will see an approximate diameter of 4.10mm. Of course, what is special about diamonds is that every one is unique; measurements in the chart are for illustration purposes only.
|Round Brilliant Cut||Princess Cut|
|Carat Weight||Diameter (mm)||Carat Weight||Diameter (mm)|
A well-cut diamond will sparkle more and can look larger than its actual size; a poorly cut diamond may appear dull or glassy and have dark areas that indicate light is leaking out. Also, much of the weight of a poorly cut diamond may be “hidden” in its base, making the stone appear smaller than its actual carat weight.
What should I consider about carat weight in buying a diamond?
The jewelry professionals at BisouMargaux will help you achieve a balance between size and quality. If you prefer a larger piece and are working within a budget, we will take the time to look at 4C profiles with slight differences in color and clarity grades to illustrate ways to obtain a quality, larger diamond within your budget. The pictures below show how the shape of a large, raw diamond may require a choice between carat weight and “ideal” proportions – getting to ideal could require sacrificing so much weight as to be impractical.
On the left is a smaller, ideal stone cut from a large raw diamond. On the right we see a desire to retain maximum carat weight in exchange for less sparkle. Some people prefer a slightly shallow-cut diamond because it will appear a bit larger than its actual size; others may prefer a better cut to more carat weight because it will sparkle more. The bigger a diamond is, the more difficult it is to maintain excellence in cut. The setting of the jewelry piece will also affect the carat weight of the diamond(s) you choose. In a setting with multiple diamonds, the set piece will sparkle brilliantly even with smaller diamonds. On the other hand, a one-diamond setting will likely look more impressive with a bigger stone. In the case of rings, the appearance of size may also be affected by whether the woman’s finger is slender or thick.
Our Quality/Value Promise
With careful attention to proportion, symmetry and polish – and considering the design in which the gemstone will be set – the master cutters at BisouMargaux extract immense beauty from raw stones of any grade. Working hand-in-hand with our artisans, BisouMargaux provides the expertise to achieve the right balance of features, grade and design for maximizing quality, value and brilliance.
Natural diamonds began life as diamond crystals deep beneath the Earth – about 100 miles below the surface in an area called the mantle. At that depth the weight of the rock above produced the extreme heat and pressure that created diamond stones, which were delivered closer to the surface by deep-source volcanic eruptions. Considering the volatile conditions in which diamonds were formed, it is not at all surprising that internal flaws, or inclusions, and surface flaws, or blemishes, are present in almost all diamonds. Examples of inclusions are cracks, air bubbles, and the presence of other minerals in the diamond; blemishes are scratches, indentations and chips. The characteristics of a stone’s inclusions and blemishes and how visible they are under tenfold magnification are the basis for grading a diamond on the clarity scale. Both inclusions and surface flaws are classified as inclusions on the GIA clarity scale.
Gemological Institute of America (GIA) Diamond Clarity International Diamond Grading System
|Category||Flawless||Internally Flawless||Very Very Slightly Included||Very Slightly Included||Slightly Included||Included|
The GIA clarity scale considers the size, nature, position, color or relief, and number of flaws that are visible under tenfold magnification. Diamonds that come close to being perfect under this test are graded Flawless (FL). Flawless diamonds are exceptionally rare and expensive.
- Flawless (FL) – No inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader under 10× magnification
- Internally Flawless (IF) – No inclusions; some surface flaws are visible to a skilled grader under 10× magnification
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1, VVS2) – Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10× magnification
- Very Slightly Included (VS1, VS2) – Inclusions are visible under 10× magnification but are characterized as minor
- Slightly Included (SI1, SI2) – Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader under 10× magnification
- Included (I1, I2, I3) – Inclusions are obvious under 10× magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance
BisouMargaux – Where Luxury Meet Value
A diamond does not have to be flawless to be stunning – and here is where the expertise of the team at BisouMargaux comes in. We will help you select an exquisite diamond that will look much more expensive than it is once it is set. Keep in mind that a diamond clarity grade of FL to SI generally only affects the stone’s value but not its appearance – inclusions in this range are not visible to the naked eye. Diamonds of this clarity are sometimes referred to as “eye-clean.” As indicated above, the flaws in a diamond graded I1, I2 or I3 may affect the transparency and brilliance of the stone and are usually obvious to the average person. If you can avoid it, BisouMargaux recommends not buying diamonds below the SI2 grade. When BisouMargaux diamond professionals handpick stones we pay close attention to whether the inclusion is on the side or bottom and its pattern, since position and pattern have a significant effect on clarity and sparkle. Two diamonds with the same 4C grades can be priced differently based on where the inclusion is and its pattern. Indeed, two diamonds identical in most respects – polish, carat weight, color and clarity – could look very different in terms of brilliance due to the cut and skill of the cutter. A well-cut diamond can also look larger than its actual size. A poorly cut diamond may appear dull or glassy and have dark areas that indicate light is leaking out. A steep crown angle and small table typically produce slightly more fire but make the diamond looks smaller. BisouMargaux professionals have the expertise to achieve the right balance of features, grade and design for maximizing quality, value and brilliance.
A discussion of diamond color usually refers to the presence or absence of color in white diamonds. The ideal standard for white diamonds is as close to colorless, or white, as possible. Here it is important to distinguish between white diamonds and “fancy colored” diamonds, which is a separate category of gemstone. Whiter diamonds allow more light to pass through, which is why they appear to have more fire and sparkle. On the Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA) diamond color-grading scale, D indicates colorless and G through I is considered near-colorless. D through Z is a measure of the increasing presence of color – from faint, very light or light yellow to brownish tints.
An easy way to assess a diamond’s color is to put it inside the fold of a clean white piece of paper to see how much color is present – how “white” it is compared to the white paper. As with clarity, color differences along the spectrum are subtle and generally obvious only to a diamond professional, especially for diamonds graded G to I. Indeed, the untrained eye can detect very little, if any, color in the G, H and I grades. Truly colorless diamonds are rare and expensive.
BisouMargaux – Where Luxury Meet Value
With the help of our experienced gemstone professionals, you can still obtain a brilliant diamond graded slightly less than colorless that will look much more expensive than it is once set. Indeed, two diamonds identical in most respects – polish, carat weight, color and clarity – could look very different in terms of brilliance due to the cut and skill of the cutter. A well-cut diamond can also look larger than its actual size. A poorly cut diamond may appear dull or glassy and have dark areas that indicate light is leaking out. A steep crown angle and small table typically produce more fire but less light return. When our diamond professionals handpick your diamond, we pay close attention to the interrelationships of the stone’s 4Cs and your chosen design. For example, if your setting is yellow gold, you can go a little lower on the color grading scale without affecting appearance. BisouMargaux professionals have the expertise to achieve the right balance of features, grade and design for maximizing quality, value and brilliance.
Among the 4Cs of diamond cut, clarity, color and carat weight, the quality of a diamond’s cut is the only attribute that is totally dependent on the skill of a human being – the diamond cutter. And what most people do not realize or often overlook is that cut affects so much more than the shape of a diamond. Cut also determines a diamond’s sparkle, brilliance and visual fire, or scintillation – the flashing of different lights from your jewelry as you move around. A masterful cutter extracts the greatest beauty from a diamond by capturing the light entering the stone and dispersing it, creating a bouncing effect. A quality cut breaks up the light into a spectrum of colors that produces the sparkly effect and returns maximum light to the human eye. With careful attention to proportion, symmetry and polish – and considering the design in which the diamond will be set – a master cutter can elicit immense beauty from a raw stone of any grade. The relationships of the different parts of a diamond can affect its interaction with light and thus, how much it sparkles. An expert cutter will consider the proportions of the top flat facet (table), the top or crown, the girdle (the line around the middle of the stone), and the underside (pavilion or base) to determine the optimal composition with respect to light. A properly cut diamond draws light that is reflected from one facet to another and dispersed through the top of the stone. If the cut is too deep, some light will escape from the opposite side of the pavilion. If the cut is too shallow, light will escape through the pavilion without being reflected. Here we illustrate the proportions for maximizing light dispersion and return.
- Diameter – The width of the diamond as measured through the girdle.
- Table – This is the large, flat top facet of a diamond.
- Crown – The upper portion of a cut gemstone, above the girdle.
- Girdle – The narrow rim of a diamond that separates the crown from the pavilion. It is the largest diameter to any part of the stone.
- Pavilion – The lower portion of the diamond, below the girdle. It is sometimes referred to as the base.
- Culet – The tiny facet on the pointed bottom of the pavilion, which is the portion of a cut gem below the girdle.
There are numerous scenarios for picking and choosing attributes of the 4Cs to meet your definition of quality and value. Understandably, since well-cut diamonds are rarer, they cost more than shallow-cut or deep-cut diamonds. For example, the shape of a large, raw diamond may require a choice between carat weight and “ideal” proportions – getting to ideal could require sacrificing so much weight as to be impractical.
The illustration on the left shows a smaller, ideal stone cut from a large raw diamond. On the right we see a desire to retain maximum carat weight in exchange for less sparkle. Indeed, two diamonds identical in most respects – polish, carat weight, color and clarity – could look very different in terms of brilliance due to the cut and skill of the cutter. The sparkle of a well-cut diamond often makes it appear larger than it is. A poorly cut diamond may appear dull or glassy and have dark areas that indicate light is leaking out. A steep crown angle and small table typically produce slightly more fire but make the diamond looks smaller. As you can see, diamond cut is a complex affair. To maximize quality, brilliance and value, be sure to deal with a retailer who works with an experienced master diamond cutter. In the hands of a skillful cutter, a lower-grade stone can be made to appear several levels above its actual grade.