Carat

Larger diamonds are found relatively infrequently in nature, which places them at the rarest level of the Diamond Quality Pyramid.

What also makes a bigger diamond so desirable is that it shows off a stone's fine color and cut, and therefore its brilliance, to its best advantage.

A diamond's size is measured in carat weight, and each carat is equal to 100 points. A .75carat diamond is the same as a 75-point diamond or a 3/4 carat stone.

While larger diamonds are highly prized, diamonds of equal size may vary widely in value and brilliance, depending on their qualities of clarity, cut, and color.

Clarity

The greater a diamond's clarity, the more brilliant, valuable, and rare it is--and the higher it is on the Diamond Quality Pyramid.

Virtually all natural diamonds contain identifying characteristics, yet many are invisible to the naked eye. Under the scrutiny of a jeweler's 10x-magnifying loupe or microscope, natural phenomena--called inclusions--may be seen. These are nature's birthmarks, and they may look like tiny crystals, clouds or feathers.

Diamonds categorized as internally flawless reveal no such inclusions. Flawless stones are at the peak of the Diamond Quality Pyramid and are treasured for their rarity and beauty. Diamonds with very, very small inclusions are graded as VVS1 or VVS2. The larger the inclusion, the lower the grade and the less rare the diamond. Inclusions that can be seen with the naked eye are graded I1 to I3.

The number, color, type, size, and position of surface and internal birthmarks affect a diamond's value. Major inclusions can interfere with the path of light that travels through a diamond, diminishing its brilliance and sparkle and therefore its value.

Clarity Scale

Category Flawless Internally Flawless Very Very Slightly Included Very Slightly Included Slightly Included Included
Grade FL IF VVS1 VVS2 VS1 VS2 S1 S2 I1 I2 I3

Color

Diamonds are graded by color, starting at D and moving through the alphabet to Z.

While most diamonds appear white, virtually all display barely perceptible tints of color. Evaluating a diamond's color for grading purposes is done by measuring the degree to which a diamond approaches colorlessness. Although it is difficult for the untrained eye to see these minor variations, a jeweler can help demonstrate them by showing diamonds side by side.

Diamonds graded D, E, and F are more expensive because they are more rare and therefore are highest on the Diamond Quality Pyramid. However, well cut diamonds with good clarity of all color grades can be equally dazzling, as it is the interplay of the 4Cs that determines each diamond's unique beauty.

Color Scale

Grade D E F G H I J K L M N - R S - Z
Category Colorless Near Colorless Faint Yellow Very Light Yellow Light Yellow

Cut

A well cut or faceted diamond, regardless of its shape, scintillates with fire and light--offering the greatest brilliance and value.

While nature determines a diamond's clarity, carat weight, and color, the hand of a master craftsman is necessary to release its fire, sparkle, and beauty. When a diamond is cut to good proportions, light will reflect from one mirror-like facet to another and disperse through the top of the stone, resulting in a display of brilliance and fire.

Diamonds cut too deep or too shallow lose light that spills through the side or bottom. As a result, poorly cut stones will be less brilliant and beautiful--and certainly less valuable--than well cut diamonds higher on the Diamond Quality Pyramid.

Common Shapes

Emerald
Heart
Marquise
Oval
Pear
Princess
Round