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Before You Purchase A Diamond

Updated on November 14, 2009

Before You Purchase a Diamond

 Diamond Weights

The measurement of a diamond is called carat weight.  One carat is a weight of 200 milligrams, and is sometimes referred to as four grains.  The origin of the word carat comes from the word carob which is a bean from the Mediterranean.  The reason we call it carat is because in times past a diamond was weighed against the weight of a carob bean, one carob equals one carat.  Where the carob bean doesn’t grow like in Asia, rice was used to measure the weight of a diamond.  Note above the four grains—that means if a diamond weighs as much as four grains of rice it is a one carat stone.  When shopping for a diamond you may be told that it is a 2 carat ring.  This only means that the total carat weight of the ring is 2 carats.  If you are purchasing a ring with five stones on it with a total carat weight of 2 carats, you need to ask the jeweler what the carat weight of the largest diamond is.  Knowing this information will be a better indicator of what you are buying.

The Clarity of Diamonds

Now that you know how to classify a diamond by weight let us now learn how to classify a diamond by clarity.  Clarity is probably one of the most important aspects of choosing a diamond.  Most diamond purchasers don’t know how to judge a diamond by clarity, some still don’t even care.  I am here to tell you that it is more important to know the weight and clarity of a diamond than to buy a ring based on price or looks, although looks play a huge role in the clarity of a diamond.  It is actually fairly easy to grade a diamond.  The first part of grading a diamond on clarity is by visual inclusions and blemishes, and the visually clean diamonds.  That means that a diamond is visually inspected and found to have no blemishes or inclusions with the naked eye.  Obviously, if a diamond has a big scratch on it or a chip that can be seen without a jeweler’s magnifying glass is one you don’t want to buy.  Purchasing one of these is a waste of money because it is not worth nearly what you are paying for it.  You may be thinking that clarity means how clear it is, this is not so.  Clarity means what kind of imperfections there are on the diamond, externally and internally.  The actual grades of a diamond that I know are: FL, IF, I-1, I-2, I-3, VVS-1, VVS-2, VS-1, VS-2, SI-1, and SI-2.  FL and IF means that the diamond is either flawless or internally flawless, and that the diamond is perfect.  If a diamond has a grade of I-1, I-2, or I-3 that means the diamond is imperfect, and the 1-3 is an indication of how bad the diamond is, 3 is the worst though.  Now then if you find a diamond with a grade of VVS1 or 2 that means the diamond is very, very slightly imperfect and VS1 or 2 means very slightly imperfect.  SI-1 and 2 means the diamond is just slightly imperfect.  Ranking of the grades is important to know for value of the diamond.  One is best.

1.      FL and IF

2.      VVS-1 and VVS-2

3.      VS-1 and VS-2

4.      SI-1 and SI-2

5.      I-1, I-2, and I-3

Reference Above Diamonds

When you take a look at the diamonds I added here from Amazon you will notice that they include several factors about the diamonds. Now that you know what your clarity codes mean you can easily decipher the above mentioned diamonds. Jeweler's know this as well and they also know that by falsifying the facts about the diamonds they can get into big trouble.

Their biggest weapon is buyer's ignorance. If a jeweler tells you that a diamond is I2 for clarity, now you know that is not a good thing. But look at the prices of these diamonds that are sporting a clarity code of I2. It really is astronomical at how much a diamond really costs, even the imperfect ones. Imagine that diamond with a clarity code of FL, how much do you think that would cost. Like I said, a diamond is a huge purchase and having knowledge of what you are purchasing is like money in your pocket.

You may also quickly realize that with the clarities there are other pieces of information next to the diamonds. They may say G, or J-K. These indicate the diamonds color and will be further discussed in the next article Shopping For A Diamond.

How Diamonds Are Cut

When a diamond is mined it comes out unrefined, or uncut. This is most commonly referred to as a dirty diamond. Naturally, diamonds are not as beautiful as they are in a jewelry store. They are dull and look like glass. Before a diamond becomes the beautiful jewels we love they need to be cut and polished. Cutting a diamond is done by first cutting it into a circle or orb, and then shaped from there. The shape they are cut into is of little importance; instead it is the way or quality of how they are cut. If they are not cut properly they will lose their sparkle and won’t shine well. The diamond must be cut carefully into geometrical shapes that will allow the diamond to sparkle. Finally, the diamond is cut into a predetermined shape. Once the cutting is finished the diamond is put into a dop with another diamond to smooth the edges. Oddly enough, only a diamond has the strength to do this. Then the diamond is polished to bring out a higher shine.

Selecting Diamonds

Before you rush off to the local jeweler you need to learn how to select a diamond. Realizing that diamonds are certified by laboratories is the first step to selecting a diamond. They are graded based on four criteria; they are color, cut, clarity, and carat. The color of a diamond is a result of its composition and will never change. It is usually referred to by jewelers as the absence or presence of color in white diamonds. Colorless diamonds have the most sparkle and are the most sought after because the lack of color allows light to pass through them.

The cut of a diamond is also a determination of its quality. Diamonds are usually cut with many different angles, normally about 58. The angles and finish of a diamond decide its ability to reflect light. It is also true that the cut of a diamond impacts its durability. A poorly cut diamond is more likely to break or chip, and if it is cut too thin light will leak through. If light leaks through the diamond it will not sparkle or shine like a well cut diamond would.

As discussed above the clarity of the diamond is the inclusion or occlusion of flaws and imperfections. Clarity is if you can see faults on the diamond or if a jeweler with a magnifier can see faults within the diamond. Finally, carat is the last measurement of quality for a diamond. In the paragraph of diamond weights you learned what a carat is and how important it is in choosing a diamond.

Now that you know what to look for when purchasing a diamond, you are now ready to head over to the jewelry store to make that all important purchase. Aside from a house and a car, a diamond purchase is probably the largest purchase you may make. I would rank that purchase as number three in the scheme of things. When you do go into the store to buy that diamond, don’t be shy or nervous about asking these questions. It is of the utmost importance to buy a high quality diamond and now you are prepared to do so. I would recommend you read the following articles before you actually go to the store though.

Shopping For a Diamond

Diamond Scams To Avoid

Care of Your Diamonds

Rarity of Diamonds


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    • profile image

      jewellery channel 

      11 years ago

      great information shared wesleycox...

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      It's very true to have basic information about diamond 4c's - cut,color,clarity and carat before buying a diamonds. However, it gives you an understand to buy the one this suit to your budget without compromising much on its quality. Apart from carat, if could stress more on the cut of the diamonds because it is little difficult to gauge the proportion with respect to the different shapes of the diamonds.

    • wesleycox profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      Thanks for visiting ethel, good luck with that money issue.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      11 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Have some info now if I can just get some money :)

    • wesleycox profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

      Stacey: Thank you for reading and I hope this article will arm you for your next diamond purchase.

      Hmrjmr: Thanks for reading and I greatly appreciate the comments.

    • Hmrjmr1 profile image


      11 years ago from Georgia, USA

      As always another great Hub Wes!

    • profile image

      stacey reece 

      11 years ago

      Nice hub. I really didn't have a clue, I thought it was just by size and price. How silly I feel now!! :0)

      Really interesting and gives something to think about. Thanx.


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