The Six C's
Most jewelers describe diamond grading in terms of the "4 C's." Color, Clarity, Carat Weight, and Cut. Yet two additional C's, Certification, and most importantly, Conscience are just as critical to understand. Here is a brief explanation of the different aspects of diamonds that you need to consider in your purchase.
A diamond on an engagement ring symbolizes one's most cherished and noble sentiments. Its sourcing need to align with your values, which is why, for us, Conscience is the first "C." We can trace the diamonds we sell from our website and store for engagement rings from the mine, through cutting, right to you. We also tell you the truth about the diamond's sourcing, which allows you to make an informed decision. Click here to learn about our Canadian and Namibian diamonds.
When purchasing a diamond, you will want a pure, white color. Millions of carats of diamonds are mined each year, and of those, only a handful are actually pure white, making them exceedingly expensive. The rest contain trace gaseous elements, often nitrogen, trapped inside the carbon. This causes brownish or yellow coloration that can range from barely visible to outright impairing.
Diamond color is graded with letters according to its whiteness. Grades of 'F' and below are rarer and demand a premium price because they are the most white. Any diamond that is 'G' or even 'H' is still so white that it takes training to actually notice. Some people find the whiter diamonds too stark and wan, not nearly warm enough.
At Artisan Wedding Rings, we recommend color in the 'G' to 'H' range, which we feel represents the best value for your money. However, should you wish to have a whiter diamond, we can accommodate you.
Diamonds are graded with numbers and letters that describe the level of inclusion in the stone. VVS1 means "very very slight" inclusion. VVS2 means slightly more inclusion than VVS1. VS1 is slightly more inclusions than VS2. If you end up with I3, inclusion level 3, you're getting a diamond that is not really gem quality.
Most diamonds that we sell are SI1, slight inclusion level 1, or less. SI1 has inclusions which are not easily visible to the naked eye. In the trade, this is called 'eye clean'. Though we can source higher grade diamonds, the SI1 category represents to us, the best over all value to our customers.
While the first three C's mentioned so far were determined by the rough diamond that came out of a river, ocean or mine, how that diamond actually is transformed into a sparkling gem is determined by the cut. Cut is absolutely critical and you do not need to be an expert to recognize that some cuts are better than others.
Every diamond has three sections. The 'pavilion' is the bottom of the diamond. The 'girdle' is the thin middle section which sits between the pavilion and the top part of the diamond, which is known as the 'crown.' The crown is where the facets are cut to reflect and refract the light.
The objective for the cutter is to cut and polish a diamond so that it has ideal proportion and symmetry, to maximize the 'brilliance.' Brilliance refers to how intensely light comes or "dancesƊ from the diamond as you view it. "Scintillation" refers to the sparkle or how much the diamond glitters.
At Artisan Wedding Rings, for most of our customers we recommend and provide 'very good' to 'excellent' cuts. We feel that these categories provide the best value for our customers. However, we can get any cut that is available.
Of all the C's, the carat weight is the most straight forward and easy to understand. A carat is a fifth of a gram. We can source diamonds of all carat weights, depending upon what your preference is.
Diamonds are often sold with third party certification papers from diamond grading labs, such as the GIA and the EGL. With these certifications, you know whether you are getting a diamond that is considered 'G', 'SI1' or 'H', 'VVS 2'. Certification is helpful to consumers, because it allows some objective comparison.
However, insiders in the jewelry business know that some labs are "softer" in their grading than others. This has huge financial ramifications. European Gemological Laboratories (EGL) Certification is not necessarily equal to certifications from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), which makes using online comparisons not entirely trustworthy.
The diamonds we sell all come with third party laboratory certification papers, wherever possible. We prefer to work with GIA certification as much as we can because we believe they are conservative and highly reputable in their valuation.