There is a lot to consider when shopping for a diamond engagement ring. Design itself aside, the centre diamond is the most important component of your ring and is a good place to start your shopping journey.
Whilst there are many nuances and intricacies per each diamond that only a well trained jeweller can explain, let's talk about the main 4Cs that can give a good idea about a diamond.
Often we have clients coming to us saying "I did research online on 4Cs, and I think I need the most colourless diamond with no inclusions", when in reality most clients will purchase a colourless or near-colourless diamond with very slightly included clarity grade.
As a professional jeweller, we always suggest prioritising the carat weight in your budget and can help you understand where you can go a little lower in colour and clarity without sacrificing the diamond beauty.
Over the years, we have had many clients and friends who wished they did not purchase a D colour VVS1 years ago and instead opted for a larger carat size. We are yet to find a lady who complains her diamond engagement ring is too large.
Diamond colour grades for colourless diamonds start with the letter "D" and go to "Z". Then we have fancy colour diamonds in every colour of the rainbow.
For natural diamonds, At Valentina Fine Jewellery, we only use GIA certified diamonds for our engagement rings. Here is the GIA colour chart for D-Z colour diamonds.
Interestingly, diamond colour is graded with the diamond upside down, because you see much less colour face up.
Within the D-Z colour range, you can also come across different tints, which are not mentioned on the GIA report - brown and grey. As an experienced jeweller, this is just one of the things we look out for when offering you a curated selection of diamonds. Moreover, two diamonds graded the same colour grade can appear very different, again reinforcing the use of a trustworthy jeweller to help you select the best.
A "J" near-colourless diamond can be as beautiful, if not more than a "D" or "E" colour diamond, especially if cut well.
Typically going up just one colour grade can increase the diamond price by around 15%. Also, depending on the gold colour you are planning to set your diamond in, will determine how your diamond will look i.e. for yellow gold we would have a different recommendation than for white gold ring settings.
A natural diamond is a product of nature and therefore it has flaws, otherwise known as inclusions in the industry. Here is the GIA clarity scale, with 11 clarity grades. These range from eye clean diamonds to visible inclusions, possibly even detrimental to the diamond's longevity at the lower end.
Our philosophy at Valentina Fine Jewellery, is as long as the diamond has no visible inclusions to the naked eye or large table inclusions that could compromise the sparkle and light reflection, it is a waste of money to buy a diamond with "Flawless" clarity.
We often hear clients say "but I'm a clarity guy". That is until you compare an Internally Flawless diamond with a "VS1" diamond face up notice that you cannot see any difference if they are both well cut.
Diamonds with "VVS" and "VS" clarity grade face up look identical in most cases. Only once you get into the "SI" category, you notice the difference. This is where the sparkle can starts looking limited and the stone begins to appear dull.
Evaluating diamond clarity involves determining the number, size, relief, nature, and position of a diamond's inclusions and blemishes. All these factors are important combined consideration when grading clarity and no diamonds are the same.
For most diamonds, we recommend staying within "VS1/VS2" clarity, and again, we only select the best in this range for you. Some diamond shapes hide clarity characteristics better than others and we are here to guide you using our extensive knowledge.
For the diamonds we present you, there are many more diamonds in the same clarity grade that we do not show you, as we consider them to be of inferior quality - diamond grading can be subjective! Here are 3 different examples of "VS2" GIA graded diamonds:
And don't forget, you are seeing a 1 carat diamond super magnified, whereas to a naked eye all 3 are completely eye clean. Whilst some diamonds on the chart look preferable, in reality their inclusions can be more prominent due to location or nature of the inclusion.
This is why it is crucial to have a trusted jeweller who will check the diamond for you to ensure you are getting the best in your budget and not purchase from an online aggregate such as James Allen or Blue Nile.
Carat refers to the diamond weight. 1 carat equals to 0.2g in weight.
Two diamonds of the same carat weight can look very different face up i.e. one bigger than the other. Whilst carat weight is a good guide of size, a professional jeweller should guide you to find the best stone in this carat with the best proportions.
The price of a diamond will increase as the carat weight increases, it's important to note it’s not a linear price increase: a 3 carat diamond won’t cost three times more than a 1 carat diamond. It will in fact cost much more due to larger diamonds being much rarer.
We often see other jewellers advertising diamonds that are "spready" or "spread larger than it's carat weight". Whilst this may be appealing, the shallowness of a stone will cause light leakage and you will be sacrificing sparkle in many of these stones.
Equally, diamonds which are too deep can look dark, and you are paying for a carat weight that does not correlate to the face up size.
At Valentina Fine Jewellery, we believe the cut is the most important C of 4Cs as it ultimately unlocks the beauty of the stone. The cut is how a diamond is faceted and proportioned to reflect as much light as possible, giving it maximum brilliance and shine.
So many factors go into determining the cut - table size, crown angle, pavilion angle and more. The cut also includes symmetry and polish, both of which are important factors to note.
Often, a diamond shape is often mistaken for the cut, learn more about diamond shapes here.
When a diamond cutter cuts a diamond, they have to facet and proportion that diamond according to its natural shape and size. When you cut a diamond, weight is removed, decreasing its carat weight and value.
The cutter has to balance the quality of the cut against the carat weight. The cut is all about light reflection within the diamond causing that sparkle we all love.
Sadly, even in top high end brands, the sales staff struggle to explain the light reflection and light leakage as they are not trained Gemologists/Diamond specialists like us. Here are examples of light leakage in deep and shallow diamonds.
The cut has the potential to create a perfectly cut diamond with full brilliance, fire and sparkle or to create a poorly cut diamond that is lack-lustre.
Never go for a larger diamond that is poorly cut with dark areas, it literally is a waste of money. Below is an Excellent, Good and Poor diamond examples.
A triple excellent cut, polish and symmetry can also hide colour and inclusions well.