Diamonds, named for the Greek word “unbreakable”, have been used in jewelry and religious icons for thousands of years and are the most widely recognized and highly prized gem in the world. They are synonymous with elegance, luxury and ever-lasting love and bring sparkle and pleasure to all who encounter them. But at Levy’s, we understand that making a diamond selection is a very important decision. With all the standards of perfection, colors, cuts and carats, where is one to start? We’ve compiled a list of all these aspects of diamond shopping and more for your convenience. Be sure that you’re making the right choice before you buy, and come down to Levy’s to let our Diamond experts help you in any way we can.
GIA (The Gemological Institute of America)
GIA is commonly known as the Harvard of gemology. A GIA certification is the benchmark of the industry. They have set their standards of jewelry and diamond grading so high that they have become the largest and most respected nonprofit institute of gemological research and learning. GIA is also responsible for creating the 4cs of diamond value, which are recognized by virtually all knowledgeable diamond buyers and expert jewelers. The 4cs include the following attributes: Color (D-Z grading scale), clarity (FL to I3), cut, and carat weight.
AGS (The America Gem Society)
AGS, which is backed by the consumer protection agency of the same name, holds standards that are close to those of the GIA. In fact, the founder of GIA is responsible for the creation of AGS. AGS grades their diamonds on a scale of points that number 0-10 to describe the cut, color and clarity.
HRD abides by the internationally accepted norms when using the 4cs method to determine the quality of a diamond. They also offer a Compact Diamond Identification Report for diamonds up to .99cts. HRD takes pride in the anonymity and objective manner in which they grade diamonds.
EGL (European Gemological Laboratory)
EGL uses the 4cs method when grading diamonds. Two benefits of EGL certifications are a lower cost and quick return. They have four labs in North America including New York and Los Angeles, and hold many other labs overseas.
The Four C's of a Diamond's Grade
The four C’s of diamonds are Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat. Diamonds are graded within these categories and scaled on the Diamond Quality Pyramid, which holds the largest, colorless and well-cut gems on the top.
Color describes the amount of color the diamond contains. This “C” ranges from colorless to light yellow; top rated diamonds have no color at all. The color is graded from D through Z, with D, E and F being the highest on the Diamond Quality Pyramid and the most expensive because colorless diamonds are more rare than colored diamonds.
Clarity refers to the purity of the diamond. Most diamonds include small particles called “inclusions” or flaws. The number, size, nature and location of these inclusions help to determine a diamond’s clarity. Diamonds categorized as internally flawless show no inclusions, are the most rare and are on the very top of the Diamond Quality Pyramid.
The Cut of a diamond refers to it’s proportions, symmetry, finish and polish. The factors determine the fire, brilliance, sparkle and overall beauty of the diamond. This is the only factor of a diamond that is influenced by humans and where the diamond cutter’s art and skill present itself. A well cut diamond, highest on the Diamond Quality Pyramid, will reflect light from one mirror-like facet to another, while cuts that are too shallow or deep may impede the natural brilliance and reflectivity of the stone.
Every Carat of a diamond is divided into 100 points or 0.2 grams. For instance, a 125 point diamond is 1.25 carats. While larger diamonds are near the top of the Diamond Quality Pyramid, stones of other sizes may hold their own value of brilliance, clarity and color.
“The Ideal Cut"
The Ideal Cut of a diamond describes a round, brilliant stone that has been cut to exact, mathematically correct proportions so that light entering from any direction is 100% reflected through the top and dispersed into a display of sparkling flashes and rainbow of colors.
“The Premium Cut”
The Premium Cut describes round, brilliant diamond that has been cut to exact and mathematically correct proportions as to achieve the same brilliance as the Ideal Cut, but with subtle dimensional differences.
The Kimberly Process is a joint governments industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds, or rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments. The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was created in 2000 when Southern African diamond-producing states met in Kimberly, South Africa to discuss a way to stop trade in conflict diamonds.
The KPCS imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as Conflict-Free, preventing conflict diamonds from entering legitimate trade. Participants of the Kimberly Process may only trade with other members who have met minimum requirements of the scheme. Since the inception of the Kimberly Process, diamond experts estimate that a fraction of one percent of diamonds in international trade are conflict diamonds compared to 15% in the 1990’s.