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Everything You Need to Know When Selecting a Diamond

Picking a diamond can be overwhelming. But simply knowing a few key things can help make the process much easier. Here are things that you should consider when picking a diamond. 

Grading Scales

There are different grading scales that people go by when choosing a ring, with the top two being GIA certified (Gemological Institute of America) and EGL (European Gemological Laboratory) certified. GIA is the industry standard, as they have the strictest and most accurate grading system. EGL is still a strong grading system, but when comparing the same diamond between the two systems, the EGL can be a bit more lenient. Keep in mind, there will also be a price difference when buying a GIA certified stone versus a EGl certified stone. 

The 4 Cs

When selecting a diamond, it’s important to consider each of the 4 Cs: Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat weight.


The cut is often confused with the shape (round, emerald, pear, etc.) of the diamond; however, the cut is really about how well the facets of the diamond interact with light. The grading system for the standard round brilliant diamond evaluates seven components. The first three are brightness, fire, and scintillation, and collectively, these determine the diamond’s overall face-up appearance. 

Brightness - Internal and external white light reflected from the diamond.

Fire - The scattering of white light into all the colors of the rainbow.

Scintillation - The sparkle that the diamond produces, and the pattern of light and dark areas caused by reflections within the diamond.

The remaining four components - weight ratio, durability, polish, and symmetry - help showcase the diamond’s design and craftsmanship.


The color of the diamond can greatly affect the value of it. If two diamonds are the same cut, clarity, and carat weight, but one has a hint of color in it, it will drastically decrease the value of the diamond. 

The color grades are denoted by letters, starting from D (the highest color grade), all the way to Z (the lowest color grade). The scale is as follows:

D - F: Colorless 

G - J: Near Colorless

K - M: Faint Yellow

N - R: Very Light Yellow

S - Z: Light Yellow 

GIA Color Scales


When it comes to clarity, diamonds are graded by two things: blemishes and inclusions. Together, they are called clarity characteristics. A blemish is any type of irregularity on the surface, such as scratches or nicks. Inclusions are any internal markings beneath the surface of the diamond. They are both very helpful when identifying a diamond and helping to prevent imitation diamonds, because no two diamonds have the same clarity characteristics. Many inclusions and blemishes are too tiny to be seen by an untrained eye. To the naked eye, a VS1 and an SI2 diamond may look exactly the same, but these diamonds are very different when it comes to the overall quality and price.

There are 11 clarity grades in the GIA clarity grading system. The clarity characteristics of a diamond are determined by five factors: size, number, position, nature, and color or relief. If an inclusion is located in the center of a stone it will be more visible, reducing the value of the stone, rather than if the inclusion was along the side and less visible.

GIA Clarity Scale

Carat Weight

Diamonds are measured by their carat weight, and those weights are stated in metric carats, abbreviated “ct.” A metric "carat" is defined as 200 milligrams, and each carat can be subdivided into 100 points. This allows jewelers to be exact in terms of measurements to the hundredth decimal place. It should come as no surprise that the larger the carat, the more expensive it is. Larger diamonds are more rare and sought after than smaller diamonds. If all other components are the same (cut, clarity, color) and the only difference is the carat weight, the two diamonds will still have dramatically different price points. For example, a 1.00 ct diamond weighs the same as four 0.25 ct diamonds, but the single 1.00 ct diamond will cost significantly more than buying the four smaller diamonds, despite their overall weight being equal. Also, keep in mind that there is an inverse to this: diamonds can be the exact same carat weight, but if the cut, color, and clarity are different, they will also differ in price and value.

This is a lot of information to take in, so there is nothing wrong with asking questions when talking to a jeweler. Don’t worry, you aren't expected to know everything about diamonds. However, it is still a good idea to have a basic understanding of what you will be buying prior to going in. Hopefully this article gave you a bit more insight and information.

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