4 criteria determine the quality of a diamond ring

The quality of diamonds has been translated into 4 Cs.

  • Carat
  • Colour
  • Clarity
  • Cut

These 4 properties of diamonds give an idea of the quality and identify the stone used in a diamond ring.

Carat

Let’s take a 1 carat diamond engagement ring with a 1 carat diamond as an example. Carat expresses the weight of the diamond. A 1 carat diamond weighs 0.2 grams and is divided into 100 points. The scale gives a very precise diamond weight and is rounded off to two decimal places.

Colour

The colour of most diamonds used in diamond engagement rings and other diamond jewellery varies from white to yellow. The correct colour of a diamond is determined on the basis of an international colour or master scale. The colour ranges from D, colourless (the whitest and the most desired), to Z, the most yellow.

Apart from colourless or white, a diamond may have other colours like orange, brown, blue or pink, etc. The most intense colours of these shades are called ‘fancy colours’. These ‘fancy’ coloured diamonds are extremely rare and therefore very expensive.

For diamond engagement rings, G & H colours are the best value for money. Lower grade colours have a visible yellowish tinge and the prices of high-grade colours tend to rise above the ideal price-quality ratio due to their rarity. However, high-grade colours (D, E and F) are the best option for investment purposes.

Colour Name Old name
D Exceptional White+ Jager
E Exceptional White River
F Rare White+ River
G Rare White Top Wesselton
H White Wesselton
I Slightly tinted white+ Top Crystal
J Slightly tinted white Crystal
K Tinted white+ Top Cape
L Tinted white Top Cape
M Tinted colour Cape
N Tinted colour Low Cape
O Tinted colour Very Light Yellow
P-Z Tinted colour Light Yellow

G colour

This is the highest ‘almost colourless’ grade. With the naked eye, the very small colour difference is not always obvious to a non-expert when compared with higher graded diamonds. This is certainly not obvious when the diamond is viewed separately or when set in a ring. This grading offers an excellent value for money and looks fabulous in a platinum or 18 carat gold jewel.

H colour

This is the next ‘almost colourless’ grade. A slightly yellowish tint is visible when the diamond is compared to higher graded diamonds and only very slightly visible when the diamond is viewed separately or when set in a ring. This diamond looks beautiful in a platinum or 18 carat gold jewel and offers excellent value for money.

Clarity

Experts determine the clarity or brightness of a diamond. The stone is examined under a microscope (10x) in order to identify any inclusions or blemishes. Since diamonds are formed deep in the earth under extreme temperatures and pressures, they often contain unique ‘birthmarks’ or inclusions, which are either internal or external. These are tiny impurities that in part determine the brilliance of a diamond. Diamonds with fewer blemishes allow more light to pass through them, resulting in a more beautiful sparkle.

Two types of flaws or impurities affect the clarity of the diamond:

  • External impurities: superficial impurities due to wear and tear though use or damage caused by cutting
  • Internal impurities: impurities that are located inside the diamond

The most common internal impurities are:

  • Small black or dark stains/spots – dark spots that occur in carbon
  • Clouds – microscopic cloud-like inclusions that affect the brightness
  • Fractures/feathers – most internal diamond impurities are formed by a molecular fracture in the formation of the carbon structure of the stone

The degree of clarity is often determined using a magnifying glass or microscope (magnification 10x). This implies that an impurity that cannot be noticed by an expert at a magnification of 10x is considered to be non-existent.

For a diamond ring (for example for a 1 carat diamond engagement ring) the best value for money is VS2 or SI1. With low-grade clarities you can see the imperfections, while with high-grade clarities, the optimal price-quality ratio is surpassed by the rare nature of the diamonds. For investment purposes, we recommend opting for the high-grade clarities (LC, VVS1, VVS2, VS1).

LCIF

LC/IF

VVS1

VVS1

VVS2

VVS2

VS1

VS1

VS2

VS2

SI1

SI1

SI2

SI2

P1

P1

P2

P2

P3

P3

VS2 (Very Small Inclusions)

These diamonds have small inclusions invisible to the naked eye by a non-expert. Diamonds in this grade of clarity provide the best price-quality ratio.

SI1 (Small Inclusions)

These inclusions are very slight or invisible to the naked eye, depending on the quality of the diamond, the eyes of the viewer and the light conditions.

These diamonds offer an exceptional price-quality ratio.

Cut

The cut of a diamond is the factor bringing the brilliance and sparkle of a diamond to the fore and is the most important property of a diamond. The cut refers to a diamond’s symmetry, size and brilliance. If the proportions are not correct, (for example, the depth of the diamond is not deep enough, or too deep) light escapes through the sides or the base of the diamond. A well-cut diamond will reflect light back through the crown (top).

VG (Very good cut)

The very good or ‘VG cut’ represents approximately the top 15% of diamond quality based on cut. This reflects nearly as much light as the ideal cut, but at a lower price. In other words, this cut represents an exceptional price-quality ratio for diamonds set in jewels.

The ideal combination with the ideal price-quality ratio

For the client, combinations of the above-mentioned colours and clarities provide the 2 optimal quality combinations that guarantee a diamond with a beautiful white colour (no yellow hue) and with only minor impurities invisible to the naked eye.

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