The Perfect Diamond Ring

The smart groom-to-be does his research before buying his fiancée a diamond ring! There are more styles and cuts to choose from than ever before. It’s not enough to be educated about the four Cs of diamonds – cut, color, clarity and carats. Now there are all types of diamond cuts and settings to choose from.

The most popular style is still the round brilliant. It’s one of the earliest cuts ever developed and now relies on precise mathematical equations to create a stone with fire and brilliance that the earliest gem cutters could only have dreamed of.

But many brides want something completely unique. There are many traditional cuts to choose from. A pear-shaped is just that – wider at one end than the other. Or she can choose an oval, emerald or heart-shaped diamond. There are other cuts with unique faceting, such as the square princess-cut diamond.

Some cuts are patented, like the elongated Ashoka diamond or the Asprey & Garrard Eternal cut diamond. Other branded and patented cuts include:

Elara – a square-cut diamond with rounded corners
Asscher – a square diamond with rounded facets that gives an unusual complexity to the diamond
Couples diamond – this diamond is faceted to reveal either a circle of hearts or arrows inside. It’s a truly unusual diamond that requires precise cutting for the image to appear properly.

The price of a diamond increases exponentially with its carat weight. A one-carat diamond costs much more than 10 10-point diamonds and a two-carat diamond costs more than twice as much as a one-carat diamond (given equal quality in other areas).

One way to enhance a ring is with embellishments such as baguettes or trillions. A baguette is a small emerald-shaped diamond that can be placed on either side of the main stones and a trillion is a triangle-shaped diamond that also is a good enhancement to the center stone.

A Diamond’s Fire

The term fire is commonly used to describe a diamond, but what does it refer to? The ancient Greeks thought that fire in a diamond symbolized the eternal flame of love. Fire in a diamond is the dispersed light that appears as rainbow-like flashes of color. You can usually observe a diamond’s fire in places like restaurants or clubs where the light is lower. The amount of fire depends on how the stone is cut and faceted. Older cut diamonds appear as if they have more fire because they’re cut with steep crown angles and flatter tables of the facets.

Other characteristics that are used to evaluate a diamond include brilliance and scintillation. Brilliance requires both brightness and contrast in the diamond and refers to how light is reflected back to the viewer, or return-of-light in the diamond trade. To many jewelers, it’s the most important quality in a diamond, and is what people react to when they exclaim over a diamond.

Diamonds also have a quality called scintillation. Scintillation refers to how light disperses from the stone when it’s moved. While brilliance is the quality of dispersed light when the diamond is in a stationary position, scintillation is observed when the diamond moves in the light. They’re closely related qualities, while fire is a different attribute.

The way a diamond is cut will determine how much fire or brilliance it has, and often one may have to make a trade-off for one quality or another. Which way is the best way to go? For the most part, most diamonds are cut more for brilliance and scintillation rather than for fire. When shopping for a diamond remember that it’s in investment, yes. But what really matters is whether you love it. Qualities like brilliance vs. fire really do pale in comparison to that one critical element!

A Diamond’s Clarity

Diamond clarity is one the 4Cs of diamond qualities. It refers to any flaws, or inclusions in the diamond, and how visible or detectable they are. Inclusions can be foreign substances, or minute cracks or flaws. It also refers to the appearance of any surface flaws or scratches. As with the color grading scales, clarity also has a grading scale, with FL used to denote a flawless diamond. What FL means is that there are no flaws or inclusions that can be seen when the stone is examined under 10X magnification, the standard for examining for flaws.

Other clarity designations are:

IF stands for internally flawless. This means there are no internal flaws or inclusions, although there may be small surface flaws.

VVS1 and VVS2 stand for Very Very Slight inclusions that are difficult to see under magnification. VS1 and VS2 indicate Very Slight inclusions that can be seen under magnification but are invisible to the naked eye.

SI1 and SI2 denote Slight Inclusions that may or may not be visible to the naked eye.

I1, I2 and I3 are “imperfect”, with inclusions clearly visible to the naked eye. For I3, the inclusions impact the brilliance of the diamond and are large and obvious.

In most cases, there is nothing that can be done about flaws or inclusions, although in recent years lasers have been used to enhance some inclusions or fractures in diamonds by filling them in, much the way small dings in a windshield are filled in.

Certainly the most highly valued diamonds are those that are flawless – FL – or internally flawless – IF. But excellent values can be obtained at the VVS and VS grades, as these are flaws not visible to the naked eye, but only to an experienced grader under magnification.