Choosing the Right Diamond is Really Easy at
Steven DiFranco Jewelers!
Some people believe that diamonds are difficult to purchase. At Steven DiFranco Jewelers, we feel just the opposite. With a little time, and patience, we'll help you feel educated and confident about your diamond purchase. Most have heard of the 4 C's when it comes to buying diamonds. At Steven DiFranco Jewelers, we go one step farther. We like to tell you about the 5 C's, in the order of what we feel is the most important: Color, Cut-proportions, Clarity, Carat Weight, and Cut-Shape. We even go so far as to show our diamonds on a high resolution color computer monitor magnified to 30 power (30 X magnification). The diamond-grading standard is 10 power (10 X magnification). That extra magnification assures that you really know what you are buying.
At Steven DiFranco Jewelers, we believe color is the "C" that you should be most concerned with. Color can be judged with the naked eye, especially if the color is poor. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) set an alphabet scale as the color-grading standard. The best and most expensive diamonds are rated "D" because of their absence of color, and the lowest, non-fancy colored diamonds are rated "Z" because of them having yellow or brown color. The G.I.A. color grading scale for diamonds is as follows:
D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
The colors "H I J" are underlined because they represent an average color grade window. Obviously, the closer to the "D" end of the color grading scale, the more expensive, and the closer to the "Z" end of the color grading scale, the less expensive. Think of "D" color as a the same color of a glass of perfectly clear water, and "Z" color being the same color as a glass of iced tea.
Cut - Proportions
The second most important of the 5 C's should be the cut proportions of the diamond, or how its "made" as we say in the trade. To put it simply, diamonds are expensive, rare prisms that reflect light. Logically, a poorly formed prism will not reflect light and sparkle as well as a properly formed prism. Opinions on exactly what these proper proportions are greatly vary. In talking to one of Steven DiFranco Jewelers' diamond cutters, he disagrees with the standards set forth many years ago by renown stone cutter, Marcel Tolkowsky as to what ideal cut proportions really are. Now you can see why some people find that buying diamonds can be difficult. One of the factors that shows how well a round diamond is cut is the table percentage. Again, opinions vary, but as a general rule, 58% to 63% is very good. The depth percentage of a properly cut diamond will be approximately 58% to a maximum of 65%.
Just like humans, diamonds need to have proper proportions relating to their weight. For example, let's take a 200-pound man. A chart in a doctor's office might say that this 200-pound man should be about 6 feet tall to be proportioned ideally. What if this hypothetical 200-pound man is 5 foot 3 inches tall? He would be considered short and fat. A short and fat diamond (like a pancake) will not allow light to reflect back into the wearer's eyes, but fall through the bottom of the stone. This short and fat condition isn't a desirable situation for the human or the diamond. What if our hypothetical 200-pound man is 6 foot 8 inches tall? He would be considered tall and skinny. A tall and skinny diamond (like a telephone pole) will not allow light to reflect back into the wearer's eyes, but exit out the side of the stone instead. This is an undesirable situation. Steven DiFranco Jewelers thinks that a good rule of thumb in dealing with cut is to use the 60/60 rule; approximately 60% table and approximately 60% depth.
The outside edge or girdle of any shape diamond can be cut three different ways. The first way is to have the girdle rough ground. This will show as a white line, similar to the edge of sanded glass. This is the least expensive type of girdle. The next type of girdle is a polished one. A polished girdle will be just that, perfectly polished. The last type of girdle is the polished and faceted girdle. This is the prettiest, most expensive, and most desirable of the girdle cutting styles. Diamond girdles of any shaped diamond are also judged by their thickness. Diamond certificates will note the thickness of a girdle anywhere from "extremely thin" to "extremely thick". In a perfect world, "medium" would be the girdle thickness of choice. As a general rule, stay away from the words "very" or "extremely" in the girdle description. Diamonds that are well cut, with good proportions, seem to have a lively "personality".
In simple terms, clarity refers to how many, or how few flaws a diamond has under 10 power (10 X) magnification and the location of the flaws or imperfections. Flaws can be internal (inclusions), or they can be external (blemishes). Flaws can be black, white, or gray marks, of various shapes and sizes. The size and location of the flaws are keys in diamond clarity grading. The Gemological Institute of America has also set guidelines relating to clarity grading of diamonds. The G.I.A. Clarity grading system that we use at Steven DiFranco Jewelers is as follows:
FL = "Flawless". No flaws visible to a trained jeweler under 10 X magnification. Other properties of the diamond are absolutely perfect.
IF = "Internally Flawless". No flaws visible inside the diamond. There may be some surface imperfections, or problems with the cut or polish of the diamond
VVS1 = "Very Very Slightly Included 1". Flaws or imperfections are barely detectable to the trained eye under 10 X magnification.
VVS2 = "Very Very Slightly Included 2". Flaws or imperfections that are almost undetectable to the trained eye under 10 X magnification. Just slightly lower in clarity than a VVS1.
VS1 = "Very Slightly Included 1". Flaws or imperfections that are slightly detectable to the trained eye under 10 X magnification. Just slightly lower in clarity than a VVS2.
VS2 = "Very Slightly Included 2". Flaws or imperfections that are detectable to the trained eye under 10 X magnification. Just slightly lower in clarity than a VS1.
SI1 = "Slightly Included 1". Flaws or imperfections that are relatively easy to detect under 10 X magnification. Just slightly lower in clarity than a VS2.
SI2 = "Slightly Included 2". Flaws or imperfections that are very easy to detect under 10 X magnification. Just slightly lower in clarity than a SI1. This is the last clarity grade where no flaws are visible to the naked eye (assuming normal vision).
SI3 = "Slightly Included 3". Flaws or imperfections that are extremely easy to detect under 10 X magnification. There is a slight possibility of detecting the flaws with the naked eye. At the time of this writing, the G.I.A. does not recognize SI3 as a clarity grade. Only the E.G.L. (European Gemological Laboratory) uses the SI3 clarity grade designation.
I1 = "Imperfect 1". Flaws or imperfections that are barely detectable with the naked eye (assuming normal eyesight).
I2 = "Imperfect 2". Flaws or imperfections that are easy to detect with the naked eye (assuming normal eyesight).
I3 = "Imperfect 3". Flaws or imperfections that are extremely easy to detect with the naked eye (assuming normal eyesight).
FL IF VVS1 VVS2 VS1 VS2 SI1 SI2 SI3 I1 I2 I3
The clarity grades SI1 and SI2 are underlined because they reflect "average" or "normal" clarity grading. SI2 is also the last clarity grade where a diamond is will show no visible flaws to the naked eye.
Humans are weighed in pounds, and diamonds are weighed in carats, or fractions thereof. For example, the weight of a 1-carat diamond will be written as 1.00 ct.. It will be said as "100 points" or "1 carat", the meaning is the same. This hypothetical diamond could also weight just slightly more than 1 carat, lets say 1.01 cts. Steven DiFranco Jewelers would call this "one hundred and one points". This diamond weight will be determined not by physical size, but by weighing on an electronic or mechanical scale.
Cut - Shape
Diamonds come in a wide variety of shapes, or cutting styles at Steven DiFranco Jewelers. Actually, there are even variations in cutting style for every shape! Some of the more popular shapes for diamonds are: round, marquise, oval, pear, princess, radiant, emerald, asscher, and triangular. There are also star and crescent shaped diamonds, which are much less common, and far more expensive. "Cut" was separated into two sub categories because the diamonds shape can also determine its value. For example, you'll pay a slight premium for certain shaped diamonds. Conversely, you may save 5% to 10% on an emerald cut diamond. Assuming all variables being equal, the shape selection of a diamond can vary the final price. This fact changes as the popularity of different shaped diamonds varies over time.
Certified Diamonds vs. Non Certified Diamonds
Who grades diamonds? Either a jeweler does, or an outside company specializing in diamond certification. The three companies that are the leaders in this field are: Gemological Institute of America (GIA), American Gem Society (AGS), and the European Gemological Laboratory (EGL). All the certified diamonds Steven DiFranco Jewelers stocks are graded by one of these three companies. Why would you want your diamond certified? The answer is simple, for your piece of mind. At the grading labs, no fewer than three gemologists look at the diamond to determine its proper grade. This assures you, as the consumer, that the "window of error" in the grading of the diamond is as small as possible. Please note that at Steven DiFranco Jewelers, we inspect every diamond very carefully to ensure that the certificate supplied is correct to industry standards. Close enough isn't good enough for our customers. All that being said, there can be variences between the different grading companies.
At Steven DiFranco Jewelers we recommend that any diamond at least .50 carat and up be certified. You'll even find that we occasionally stock some .25 carat (1/4 carat) certified diamonds.
The Bottom Line
You've read what we've written about buying diamonds, now what should you do? The one thing you shouldn't do is buy a treasured diamond over the phone, via mail, or on the internet. Diamonds MUST be seen in person to be suitably appreciated. Even two diamonds with similar characteristics can have two different "personalities" when viewed in person. Buying a diamond at Steven DiFranco Jewelers is not just a "Clarity and Color" decision, there is much more than that to properly buy a beautiful diamond to give to someone you love.
When you're ready to make that important diamond purchase for a loved one, stop into Steven DiFranco Jewelers and we'll be glad to show you our selection of GIA, AGS, or EGL certified diamonds.
Steven DiFranco Jewelers position on "Conflict Diamonds"
It has always been the position of my family to stay clear of conflict diamonds or any other gemstones that are acquired through immoral or illegal means. We ask each and every supplier about the source of their diamonds and gemstones. If we are unhappy with the answer for any reason, Steven DiFranco Jewelers does not buy their merchandise.
If you have any further questions about conflict diamonds or gemstones please feel free to call the store and ask for Steve. I will be happy to discuss this important topic with you in further detail.
Thankfully, this problem is not huge in scale, but it is my wish that DeBeers and the other world wide organizations put a stop to any situations that may involve the improper treatment of people relating to diamonds and gemstones.
Click HERE to read more about this issue.