Diamond Education

Buying a diamond is a very personal experience. Diamonds can be bought to signify love, significant accomplishments, milestones in your life or that of a gift's recipient. Unlike when you buy clothing, electronics, or cars, the features of a diamond may not seem quite so obvious to you. We would like to change that. The more you know about your diamond jewelry, the more confident you will feel when making your diamond jewelry choices. Cut, Carat, Color and Clarity are the universal language of the diamond. Understanding this language will help you understand your diamond. Take a moment to learn more about the 4Cs and find out how they play a an important role in making your diamond jewelry unique.


The shape of the diamond is often confused with the cut. Choose the shape that you like based on your style and you cannot go wrong.


The cut of a diamond determines its brilliance or sparkle. Each shape will be cut differently. Before a diamond is cut, the location of inclusions and flaws, the natural coloration, and the original shape of the rough stone are studied extensively. The stone facets are then mapped out and cut in a way that maximizes size, shape, and clarity. For optimal light performance, you will want a diamond that is cut neither too shallow nor too deep.

The term "cut" has two references: One is the diamond's shape, the other is the quality, determined by its proportions, symmetry and polish.

The top-selling diamond cut shape is the round brilliant. Other cut shapes including princess, marquise, pear, heart, oval, emerald, radiant, cushion and Asscher are considered fancy cut.

The cut of a diamond is considered to be the most important factor with respect to its beauty. The cut determines the brilliance of the diamonds - how light is reflected , dispersed and scintillated. Unlike color and clarity, there is not a single grade that defines it. Furthermore, two diamonds equal in carat weight, color and clarity can differ in appearance and value because of differences in cut quality.

The cut is the most complicated of the 4Cs. Unlike carat weight, color and clarity, whose value and rarity are related to the diamond's natural formation, cut quality is the result of human decision and diamond cutting skills.

Diamond Cut Quality: The Three Factors

  1. Proportions: the relative sizes and angles of the diamond's parts and facets
  2. Symmetry:the precision of the cut design, especially the facets
  3. Polish: the smoothness and luster of the diamond's surface

*Facet: a diamond's flat, polished surfaces

The cut grades are referenced on a diamond's certificate often using the GIA standards of Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor. For the most part, the actual measurements are mainly on the laboratory reports.

The quality of a diamond's cut always speaks for itself.


Diamonds are graded based on the amount of color they do or do not possess. The scale runs from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow). An absolutely colorless diamond is rare and therefore very valuable.

Choosing the right color for your diamond is based on personal preference. It's important to remember that you are generally searching for a stone with little to no color.

Diamonds are colored when the crystals grow inside the earth. Tiny traces of some elements like nitrogen can color the crystals. In addition, the pressure involved in the diamond formation creates distortion in the crystal structure which is believed to also contribute to its color.

The color evaluation on gem-quality diamonds is based on the absence of color. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) uses a 12-letter alphabetical scale of D to Z. Using this scale, the diamond on the lower end of the scale (D) will have the least amount of color - it is considered a colorless stone. The diamond at the higher end of the scale (Z) has deeper tones. However, when a diamond's color is more intense than the "Z" grading, it enters the realm of a "Fancy Color" diamond. In this case, the intensity of the color in the diamond can play a significant role in its value. The value of a Fancy Colored Diamond can surpass that of colorless diamonds if the intensity of the color is high and the color is rare.


  • D Grade: absolutely colorless
  • E & F Grades: essentially colorless. The difference between D, E, and F is so slight that only experts can see it when the diamonds are unmounted.
  • K, L, & M Grades: faintly tinted. Diamonds under 1/2 carat appear colorless when mounted. Diamonds over 1/2 carat may show a tint of color.
  • Grades N - Z: lightly tinted and visible to the eye

Diamonds with less color are more rare and valuable. Only about 5,000 of the polished diamonds produced each year weighing 1/2 carat or more are colorless. Most of the diamonds sold are grades G to L. For fancy diamonds, the value goes up with the intensity of the color.

Fancy colors include bright yellow, pink, champagne, blue and green. Red, purple and orange diamonds, though found in nature, are extremely rare.


How the diamond is set can make a difference in color too. Color is more important in rings than earrings and pendants because the diamond is usually larger.

  • Putting a truly colorless diamond in a yellow gold setting will reflect on the stone causing a yellowish tint.
  • Colorless and near-colorless diamonds come alive in a platinum or white gold setting.
  • A slightly yellow-tinted diamond will appear whiter in a yellow gold setting. Keep in mind that color is only one of the 4Cs so even when a stone has a visible tint, it can still be very lovely when mixed with good clarity and cut.


A diamond is distinguished by its natural characteristics, just as a person would be noted for her blue eyes or his brown hair. Notated as a diamond's clarity, these characteristics can be present on the surface (blemishes) or within the stone (inclusions). The clarity is judged by the number and types of these characteristics and is designated using a scale that runs from Fl, defined as flawless, to I3, defined as inclusions visible with the naked eye. A flawless diamond is truly rare.

Simply stated, clarity is a measure of the tiny imperfections found in a diamond.

A flawless diamond with little to no imperfections is often desired due to its rarity, but they are also the most costly. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that it is very common for diamonds to be formed with slight imperfections.

Clarity is evaluated using a 10-power magnification. This means that the object viewed appears 10 times its actual size. The diamond grader examines the clarity characteristics with respect to the nature and number of characteristics, as well as their size, color and position. The clarity grade assigned reflects the degree of visibility of the characteristics.


FL Diamonds: Flawless - No internal or external flaws

The term FL or flawless is used for diamonds in which a qualified observer, under favorable lighting conditions, cannot find internal characteristics and/or faults by thorough examination with a 10X loupe.

IF Diamonds: Internally Flawless - No internal flaws

An IF diamond has no internal characteristics but which, due to minor finish faults, is not flawless and therefore cannot be designated FL or flawless, may be called IF or internally flawless provided the finish faults are so minute that they can be removed by a gentle polishing with only an insignificant loss of weight.

VVS1, VVS2 Diamonds: Very, Very Slightly Included - Very difficult to see inclusions with 10x magnification

The term VVS is used for diamonds with internal characteristics very, very difficult for a qualified observer to find under observation conditions as described. Further, there may only be insignificant finish faults.

VS1, VS2 Diamonds: Very Slightly Included - Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification and may be visible with the unaided eye

The term VS is used for diamonds in which it is difficult for a qualified observer, under observation conditions as described, to find either a few somewhat larger internal characteristics or several very small ones.

S1, S2 Diamonds: Slightly Included - Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification to a skilled grader

The term SI is used for diamonds in which a qualified observer may, without difficulty, under observation conditions as described, find internal characteristics. Further, there may only occur single finish faults of an insignificant kind.

I1, I2, I3 Diamonds: Included - Inclusions are visible with the unaided eye.

The term I or imperfect is used for diamonds in which a qualified observer, with the naked eye, can see internal characteristics and/or in which such major faults occur, which substantially reduce the value of the stone.

Only about 2% of the world's diamonds are actually flawless. Most retail stores carry VVS as their highest grade. VS or SI are considered by most to be "fine quality" diamonds.


Diamonds often possess unique markings - either internal (known as inclusions) or external (known as blemishes). A diamond's clarity grade depends on the absence or abundance of such inclusions and blemishes.

The clarity grade of a diamond not only affects the value and price, but can also be a good indication of the diamond's vulnerability. Heavily included diamonds can be prone to breakage.


  • Cleavage or Feather - inclusion along atomic grain
  • Fracture - irregular shaped break
  • Natural - unpolished surface, the original 'skin' of rough diamond
  • Pit - small indentation on a flat surface


  • Bearded or Feathered Girdle - minute or small hairline fracture extending from the girdle into stone
  • Carbon spot - included crystal
  • Cavity - opening on surface
  • Chip - broken along external edge
  • Cloud - group of pinpoints
  • Grain/Twinning Line - irregularity in crystal growth
  • Included - inclusions within the diamond
  • Internal Grain Line - visible part of internal grain structure
  • Laser Drill Hole - clarity enhancements to remove/reduce appearance of inclusions
  • Nick - minor surface chip
  • Pinpoint - small included crystal (appears white)
  • Scratch - small groove (can be due to normal wear)


Carat weight is the easiest to understand of the 4Cs. A diamond's weight is measured in carats. The carat is subdivided into 100 equal parts called 'points'. One point equals .01 carat or 1/100 carat. A one carat diamond equals 100 points.

Carat weight is written in decimal numbers, but it is frequently expressed in fractions which are easier to understand. Diamond weight fractions are approximate and refer to ranges of weight. The chart below from The Diamond Council of America® provides a handy reference source for carat weight.

Diamond prices increase with carat weight because larger diamonds are less common and more desirable. However, two diamonds of equal carat weight can have dramatically different values depending on three other factors: Color, Clarity and Cut.

In jewelry pieces with more than one diamond, the carats are described in terms of total carat weight (T.W.). This is the combined total weight of all the diamonds in the piece. Determining the carat weight that is right for you depends primarily on your budget and taste.

When comparing two diamonds, please note that just because one is twice the carat weight of the other does not mean that it will appear to be twice the size. See the chart below as a guide for distinguishing the differences in diamond carat weights.



Caring for your diamond jewelry keeps the diamonds looking their best and prevents them from being lost or damaged.

A regular, professional cleaning is recommended, usually every six months. Diamond jewelry can easily acquire a buildup of dirt, make-up and other materials that can diminish brightness, especially if it is worn every day. At Neves Jewelers we offer professional cleanings free of charge. Our licensed Gemologists will also check for loose diamonds, bent or broken prongs or loose settings. Regular professional cleaning and inspections will also ensure your diamond warranty remains in effect.


If you wear your diamond jewelry every day, you should clean it once a week. Ultrasonic cleaners are convenient and effective. However, you should avoid using an ultrasonic cleaner if your diamond has a serious crack or inclusion. The vibrations of these cleaners may enlarge such flaws.

If you choose not to use an ultrasonic cleaner, clean your diamond jewelry with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a clean liquid detergent. Rinse with fresh water and dry polish with a chamois or microfiber cloth.


  • DO store your diamond jewelry separately in your jewelry box. Since diamonds scratch other diamonds, and can also scratch pearls and other gemstones, the optimum way to store diamonds is alone or in a soft pouch.
  • DON'T wear your diamond jewelry while doing activities like household chores, gardening or sports. If you do, make sure your jeweler checks your item for loose or broken prongs regularly.
  • DO take your ring in for inspection and professional cleaning at least twice a year.
  • DON'T wear your diamond jewelry while applying lotions, makeup, hair sprays or perfumes.These chemicals can dull the sparkle of your diamond jewelry.
  • DO insure your diamonds against loss or theft. A diamond engagement ring is an investment of both money and emotion. Your insurance company can provide a rider to cover any costly items such as an engagement ring or other diamond jewelry. Ask Neves Jewelers for more information!