Selecting Your Diamond

Learn about diamonds and precious stones and what to look for when shopping. This basic jewelry education will help you narrow down to what you are looking for. The first step in selecting the right diamond is to choose a shape that best represents the look or personality of the person who will wear it. Some popular diamond shapes are shown below.

American Ideal Cut

Traditionally, light entered an ideal-cut diamond from the table or top of the diamond, hit a facet, came across and hit a like facet and then exited back through the top of the diamond creating an optimum balance of brilliance and dispersion for its owner.






Today, ideal-cut diamonds fall within the parameters of a dozen variables that impact optimum brilliance (reflective or white light return) and dispersion (color play). Light enters anywhere from the girdle up, hits within a critical cone angle, hits, hits, hits until it seeps out of the angle and exits the girdle. There may be a variance of up to 40% in price-per-carat based on cut-grade when comparing diamonds of the same size, color, clarity, and GIA certificate. For this reason, it is imperative that your jeweler reviews your diamond with you so that you understand the unique characteristics and value of your investment.



Popular Diamond Shapes

The 4 C's 

The value of your diamond is determined by examining the "Four C's"

CutIncludes both the shape of the diamond and the quality and precision of the workmanship involved in its fashioning.


Involves the determination of how much yellow, brown or gray is present in a diamond. Some diamonds can also be "fancy" colors like blue, pink, purple and green.
ClarityInvolves analysis of the size, number and types of characteristics in or on a diamond.
Carat Weight Is the precise determination of metric weight on a true balanced scale.


CUT-Phases of Cutting

1. Rough  Determines shape and general size.
2. ProportioningGoverns weight loss/light return
3. Polish and Symmetry    The result of labor and workmanship


CUT - Visual Characteristics

Cut for BeautyCut for Size or Weight


CUT - Polish and Symmetry

Each of the facets on a diamond results from the progression of grinding, then smoothing, then ultimately striving for optical perfection. Diamonds "resist" the process all the way and can only achieve optical flatness through painstaking patience of the cutter, facet after facet.The cutter must reset the holding device every time he starts a new facet. If care is not taken to align and complete each facet properly, the diamond will display any number of asymmetrical details.


CUT - Grading Cut Quality

Professional gemologists around the world use different systems and descriptive terms when assessing diamond cut quality.

The only system with defined grades for cut use the American Gem Society system which describes relative cut quality on a scale of 0-10, with "0" being the best. Most graders use a series of descriptive terms for each of the cutting factors – proportions, polish and symmetry.


Color is determined by looking at the diamond table down through the backside.  Color grade begins with the letter “D”.  It is absent of body color like a drop of distilled water.  (Body color is not to be confused with dispersion or color play that occurs due to cut).

The diamonds in the photo above are described from left to right as follows:

  • D-E-F Colorless
  • G-H Near Colorless or Fine White
  • Near Colorless or White
  • J Near colorless or Crystal
  • Faint Yellow

The same diamonds were photographed under two varying lighting conditions to illustrate color range.

*Note. The first six diamonds are ideal-cut.  The second from the right is shallow-cut and thus allows light to seep through the bottom of the diamond.

The diamond on the far right is deep-cut allowing light to seep through the pavilion or side of the diamond.


Clarity describes the degree to which a diamond is free from internal and external characteristics. Some characteristics verify a diamond’s natural origin. The fewer characteristics or inclusions a diamond has, the rarer and more valuable it is. The various clarity grades and levels within the grades are determined by size, quality, location, type and color of characteristics in or on the diamond.

  • FLAWLESS: No inclusions or surface blemishes visible to an expert under 10X magnification.
  • INTERNALLY FLAWLESS (IF): No inclusions visible to an expert under 10X magnification.
  • VERY, VERY SLIGHTLY INCLUDED (VVS): Even an expert would have difficulty locating inclusions under 10X magnification.
  • VERY SLIGHTLY INCLUDED (VS): Inclusions are only slightly visible to a trained eye under 10X magnification.
  • SLIGHTLY INCLUDED (SI): The diamond appears free of inclusions to the unaided eye when viewed face up, but has easily visible inclusions to a trained eye under 10X magnification.
  • INCLUDED (I): Moderate in quality, these popular diamonds provide a good size/price value. Inclusions are easy to see under magnification and sometimes visible to the unaided eye.


Carat Weight

  • The weight of a diamond is measured in carats.
  • One carat is divided into 100 “points;” a ¾ carat diamond, for example, weighs 75 points.
  • The size of a diamond is measured in millimeters.
  • Larger diamonds are rarer than smaller diamonds.
  • The relationship of size to weight or weight to size is an important value consideration.

Although size and weight play a major role in determining a diamond’s value, bigger is not always better. Remember that cut, color and clarity must also be considered in choosing the best diamond for you.



Diamond Facets