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Last Updated:
12/06/18 1103 hours GMT

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The Faller Guide to Buying Diamonds

A diamond’s beauty, rarity and price is determined by the interplay of all the 4C’s – carat , colour, clarity and cut.

Only through viewing the diamonds in person can you really gauge your own definition of beauty and decide for yourself the relative importance of these criteria.

But these short explanations of the 4C’s will enable you to understand their importance and allow you to better evaluate diamonds and diamond jewellery.

Carat, shortened to .ct, is a measure of weight.  One carat equals 200mg.  A carat is divided into 100 points so a 50 point diamond is the same as a 0.50ct diamond or a 1/2ct diamond.

As larger stones are rarer they have a greater value per carat. If quality is equal, a 1.00ct diamond will cost much more than two 0.50ct diamonds.

Colour refers to the body colour of the diamond rather than the surface rainbow of reflected light known as fire.  A colourless diamond, like a clear window allows more light to pass through it, emitting more sparkle and fire than a coloured diamond. Off-white diamonds absorb light, inhibiting brilliance. Diamonds of a clear white (without colour), are very rare and are valued accordingly. Using the colour grading system established by the Gemmological Institute of America (GIA) diamonds are graded from D (colourless) to Z (fancy diamonds) D to G being considered white. H to N being slightly tinted white to tinted colour. Fancy coloured diamonds, most commonly yellow to brown but also more rarely blue, green etc have their own criteria for grading.

Clarity refers to the presence of imperfections known as inclusions in a diamond. They are identifying characteristics such as minerals, microscopic diamond crystals and fractures which occur naturally during the formation of the diamond.

The clarity scale devised by the GIA as an international standard, is based on the visibility, to a trained eye, of inclusions under 10x magnification. Ranging from F/IF (flawless/ internally flawless), VVS1 -VVS2 (very very small), VS1–VS2 (very small), SI1-SI2 (slightly included), I1-I3 (included, visible to the naked eye). The higher the clarity the greater the value of the stone.  Flawless diamonds are very rare and therefore are much more valuable. While minor inclusions may do little to detract from the beauty of the stone, depending on their location, nature, size and number, some inclusions can reduce the flow of light through the diamond, thereby reducing its brilliance. As the nature and placement of inclusions in each diamond is unique, particularly in larger diamonds 1.00ct plus even similarly graded diamonds can vary greatly in beauty. Also the importance of clarity depends on the cut of the diamond. For example an emerald cut with its long rectangular facets is easier to see through so inclusions are more visible than in similarly graded brilliant cut diamonds.

Cut refers to the angles and proportions of the diamond. In an ideal cut round brilliant diamond, its 57 or 58 facets are precisely cut to scientific formulas. These act as a series of tiny mirrors, constantly capturing and reflecting light and bouncing it back through the top of the stone resulting in a display of brilliance and fire. Each stone loses, on average more than half its original weight during cutting and polishing. A poorly cut stone, either cut too deep or too shallow allows light to leak out through the sides or bottom resulting in less brilliance.

Cut is also commonly used in reference to shape i.e. - round brilliant, square brilliant (princess), oval, pear, heart etc. While the round cut is the most brilliant of all diamond shapes the “fancy shapes” have their own guidelines to be considered well cut.

As a guarantee that the quality of diamond that you are paying for is accurate, it is recommended that the diamond be independently graded and certified by a recognised diamond laboratory.

In pre-set jewellery the setting affects the appearance of the diamond. Some settings particularly rimset can make your diamond look bigger. After setting, a diamond cannot be as accurately graded as a loose diamond. Inclusions located near the girdle (edge) of the diamond can be hidden by the setting and sometimes the reflections of the setting itself can be confused with inclusions. The colour of the metal can be reflected in the diamond. A yellow gold setting can make a white diamond appear lower or warmer (ie. more yellow). J-N colour graded diamonds are complimented by yellow gold settings as the contrast will show more in a platinum setting. Higher quality, whiter diamonds are best enhanced by platinum settings. 

If you are purchasing a diamond it is worth taking into account these factors in choosing the most suitable style of mounting.

All our diamonds are from legitimate sources not involved in funding conflict and in compliance with UN resolutions and we hereby guarantee that the diamonds are conflict free based on personal knowledge and/or written guarantees.

Pearls by Faller