Whether you're buying a gift or treating yourself, selecting jewelry can be fun and exciting, but also overwhelming and confusing. At Herzog's, we want to give you all the information you need to make a well-informed choice (download Diamonds 101 pamphlet). Below are a few terms used in the industry to get you started. Whether you are purchasing a new diamond or considering a re-design for your existing jewelry, feel free to contact us for any additional information about diamonds. We are always willing to answer your questions with no obligation.
A diamond's value is based on four criteria: carat weight, cut, color and clarity.
Carat is actually a measurement of weight, not size. However, too many jewelers will advertise "approximate" weights such as "approximately" a 1/2 carat, which can actually be as low as 45 points. There is nothing wrong with buying a "light" 1/2 carat, however, the cost is significantly less. You should know exactly what you are buying and pay accordingly.
The cut, more than any other factor, gives a diamond its exquisite fire. ‘Cut’ makes no reference to whether the stone is round or square. Rather, it describes the proportions and precision necessary to create maximum light reflection--sparkle--within a diamond. Discounters often sacrifice cut in order to achieve their primary goal—high carat weight—and use high wattage lamps to hide the fact. But, without reflection, even a diamond with excellent color and clarity will appear flat and dead. And a dead diamond, no matter the size, is no bargain.
The grading scale for color starts with the letter D, being the whitest, or best, and goes down to the letter Z, being more yellowish. It is the whiteness in a diamond that allows the light to pass effortlessly through the stone and enhance the brilliance. A white diamond will look clean, crisp, and brilliant. A yellow diamond, on the other hand, will look darker and dirty.
Clarity refers to how many inclusions (or flaws) are in the diamond. Clarity has little to do with how the diamond looks under the microscope. Clarity is graded under 10x magnification by a gemologist. Minute flaws are invisible to the naked eye. However, the fewer inclusions, the rarer your diamond will be. If a diamond is rated SI-1 or above, it is flawless to the naked eye. If there is even a tiny inclusion visible to the unaided eye, the stone is usually graded an SI-2 or I-1.