A Guide to Buying Diamonds
The Four C’s of Shopping for Diamonds in Dallas TX
A diamond is one of the most difficult commodities to buy today due to one simple fact: You cannot visibly identify all the elements that make a diamond more expensive. With all other commodities, sight is a great rationalizer. When consumers can see a difference, they can more easily justify whether or not they need a product.
In grading diamonds, we grade its characteristics by the four C’s (clarity, color, carat weight and cut). The price of a diamond also is based on its rarity. A rare 1.0 carat, round brilliant cut diamond of D (colorless) color and Flawless clarity that is cut within ideal parameters wholesales for $23,500 per carat. On the other hand, a 1.0 carat, round brilliant cut diamond of M (yellow) color and I3 (Imperfect 3rd degree) that is cut outside ideal parameters wholesales for $1,000 per carat.
If money is no object, of course you would choose the rarest gem and feel good about paying that price for the diamond. Most people can’t justify spending that much on a diamond, so they begin by deciding what they are willing to sacrifice and still have a desirable diamond. You can accomplish this by moving up or down the scale on three out of the four C’s (carat weight, clarity, color). The forth C (cut) is already established, so what you see is what you get. Of all the C’s, the cut is what our jewelry experts recommend you never sacrifice.
Select Diamond Cut
The cut of a diamond is not its shape, but it’s the faceting, angles, diameter and distance from table to tip (culet). Some 35 years ago, scientists changed the standard cutting styles of the round brilliant to coincide with the physics of light reflection and bending. An ideally cut diamond is one that has been cut to exacting standards, allowing light to come into the diamond through the top, bend and reflect back out through the top. This outward light movement is what we call brilliance.
Tiffany & Co. has been referred to as selling a “Tiffany” diamond. They refuse 99% of the world’s diamond supply for not meeting their exacting cutting standards. Most cutters refuse to meet these standards, because they feel too much of the diamond is lost in the process. It is reported that only one in 1,000,000 diamonds mined can ever be cut into a 1.0 carat diamond or larger. Depending on what the rough gem lends itself to be cut into, approximately 30% of the stone must be sacrificed. That means that a rough stone must weigh approximately 1.32 carats to yield a 1.02 carat polished diamond.
Standards for ideally proportioned stones are stated as percentages or ratios of measurement. For example: GIA certified stone recorded as 1.00 carats, measuring 6.40-6.45 X 3.85 millimeters of F color and VS2 clarity, 60% depth, 60% table, thin to thick girdle, and no florescence. The 60% depth is a factor using the measurement from the top of the table to the tip of the diamond (3.85), and dividing that distance by the average of the diameter distance (6.40 + 6.45 / 2= 6.425). For example: 3.85 divided by 6.425 equals .60. The top surface of each round diamond forms an octagon plateau called the table. The measurement distance from opposite edges is again divided by the average diameter distance to give you the diamond’s table ratio.
Our jewelers use a practical geometric theory. If the depth ratio is within 58 to 62 percent and the table ratio is within 58 to 62 percent, then the angles of the diamond cuts must yield optimum brilliance. A diamond that is cut outside these parameters allows light to pass through the bottom or sides of the stone and not back through the top, thus, not allowing for optimum brilliance.
Simply put, the sparkle of a diamond is the characteristic that gets noticed by others, leading it to be judged as merely “nice” or “spectacular.”
Carat Influences Diamond Value
Carat refers to the weight of a diamond. One (1) carat weighs 1/5th of a gram. One carat can be divided into 100 points, just as $1 can be divided into 100 cents. Therefore, 1/2 carat equals 50 points, 1/4 carat weighs 25 points and so on. The more a diamond weighs and the rarer the diamond, the more expensive it is. A diamond on a scale measured in carats may weigh 1.04 carats and the price per carat at wholesale may be $4,000, so the stone at wholesale price would be $4,160. The price of rounds remains the same price per carat from 1.0 to 1.49 carats. Therefore, a $4,000-per-carat diamond weighing 1.27 carats would cost $5,080.
Clarity Measures Diamond Perfection
Clarity is a scale that measures the range of diamond inclusions or imperfections. The scale is as follows:
- FL – Flawless
- IF – Internally flawless
- VVS1, VVS2 – Very very slightly included
- VS1, VS2 – Very slightly included
- SI1, SI2 – Slightly included
- I1, I2, I3 – Included
Clarity is important because 70% of all diamonds mined are not suitable for jewelry use. They are used in drilling and medical uses instead. Of the other 30% that are used, 70% are found in the I3-SI2 range. The I1 clarity diamonds are the least included of all the clarity scale, with inclusion visible to the naked eye. At the SI2 level, inclusion is masked by the brilliance of the diamond, but can be easily detected with the aid of 10-power magnification. The VS category appears clean to the eye, as well at to the loop (hand held magnifier) clean. These inclusions are usually small pinpoints resembling small dust specks on the stone, but are really encapsulated within the stone. The imperfections of a VVS diamond are only visible at 30-power magnification. Flawless and Internally Flawless clarity diamonds exactly as perfect as they appear
The average diamond is included to some degree. For a diamond to be formed, thousands of years in the making, without some foreign matter (a dust speck or organic material) float down onto its surface and becoming encapsulated, would be rare. Consider the expansion and cooling, heat and pressure, earthquakes and seismic disruptions within the earth –any of those conditions would cause these inclusions.
Dazzling Diamond Color
Color grading is a scale noting the absence or presence of a yellowish hue within a diamond. The scale ranges from D to Z, with D being colorless and Z being a brown hue. Diamond colors in between are various levels of colorless, near colorless, faint yellow, yellow and brown.
The difference in mining a diamond and mining pencil lead is approximately 20 miles. Both elements are 99.95% carbon-based, but a diamond is grown or formed some 120 miles below the earth’s surface. A diamond takes between 100,000 and 500,000 years to form. The key ingredients creating this hard white stone are a combination of heat, pressure and gasses. One of these gasses is nitrogen. Diamonds absorb all colors in the spectrum, but blues and indigos in the stone react with nitrogen to cast a yellowish hue. For a stone to be absent of any yellow, as in a colorless or near colorless, it must have been formed in a geographic region and depth where nitrogen is scarce. That, in itself, is rare. The highest percentage of colorless and near colorless stones are mined in Australia and Angola. Russian/Siberian mined diamonds have what is noted as florescence. Instead of nitrogen in this region, a gas called boron creates a bluish hue.
All of these combined characteristics establish the value of a diamond. Pricing of a diamond ranging from 1.00 to 1.49 carats can be calculated on a chart similar to the sample below.
IF VVS1 VVS2 VS1 VS2 SI1 SI2 SI3 I1 I2 I3
D 235 173 148 112 88 74 62 49 42 28 16
E 161 152 129 103 83 69 59 46 40 27 15
F 146 133 118 94 79 66 56 44 38 26 14
G 103 99 95 83 74 62 54 42 37 25 13
H 85 81 76 70 64 59 52 41 35 24 13
I 72 70 65 59 56 53 47 38 32 22 12
J 60 58 56 54 49 47 44 34 28 20 12
K 54 52 50 48 42 41 37 31 26 18 11
L 48 46 45 43 39 37 33 29 24 16 10
M 40 39 38 36 32 30 27 23 20 15 10
Numbers above missing 00.00
The chart shows the actual wholesale price for a round brilliant diamond of that category. Prices change twice to three times a year. For example, based on this chart, a 1.25 carat F VS1 stone would wholesale for $11,750.
Our expert jewelers understand that diamond selection is difficult and requires knowledge of specific criteria, but we also understand that choosing a diamond is a very personal selection. You buy a diamond based on seeing the diamond, not on a price list. Each diamond is different, with different characteristics that make it unique. Our diamond buying guide information is extremely technical, but we hope it will make all the difference for our customers, helping them buy with confidence.
Don’t forget, this is a romantic purchase! Keep it light and keep it fun. Buying a stone online can be easy, but we recommend that you compare different stones in person. See for yourself what you may be willing to sacrifice to fit this diamond purchase into your budget, and make her happy at the same time.
We look forward to working with you. Contact our diamond jewelers in Dallas today. We’ll help you make your special moment a memory for a lifetime.