How to Understand the Different Technical Aspects of a Diamond

Understanding the technical aspects of a diamond can feel overwhelming at first. Perhaps this is because of the sheer value of diamonds, or maybe it’s because of the different grades and how measurements are identified. Below is a short guide that might be of some help.

The Diamond Cut

People tend to confuse the cut of a diamond with the shape of a diamond. The cut is the most important characteristic of a diamond because it has the most influence on a diamond’s overall beauty. The brilliant sparkling that is seen when light hits a diamond is because of the cut. The grading of a diamond’s cut measures its light performance. If a diamond is cut too shallow, light will leak from the bottom, and if it’s too deep the light will leak from the side. An ideal diamond cut reflects the light out of the top of the diamond.


The Color of the Diamond

The color grading of a diamond doesn’t actually measure the color, but instead measures the lack of color, or whiteness of a diamond. D identifies the highest color grade and Z the lowest color grade of a diamond. Color appears in a diamond as a shade of yellow, and is why the measurement is based on the whiteness of a diamond. It’s also why this aspect is second to cut in importance. The basis for this ranking of importance is because of the human eye’s ability to identify the characteristics. A human eye can more easily identify the sparkle of a diamond before color variations.


The Clarity of the Diamond

The number and size of imperfections that are present in all diamonds determine the measure of a diamond’s clarity. Most of these imperfections are microscopic in size and have virtually no bearing on the beauty of the diamond. The grades in regards to clarity are as follows with the first being the most rare:

  • - FL, IF: Flawless, Internally Flawless. 
  • - VVS1, VVS2: Very, Very Slightly Included. It’s difficult to see imperfections at less than 10x magnification.
  • - VS1, VS2: Very Slightly Included. Imperfections are not visible to the unaided eye.
  • - SI1, SI2: Slightly Included. The unaided eye may possibly see Imperfections.
  • - I1: Included. Has minor inclusions that may be seen by the unaided eye.


The Carat Weight

The measurement of carat weight is sometimes confused with the size of a diamond. For using the carat weight to identify the size of a diamond, two other criteria must be identified. First, the distance across the diamond in millimeters must be measured and the cut grade of the diamond must be identified. If this seems a bit confusing, think of it in terms akin to a person. A person can weigh 200 pounds and be 5 feet tall, or weigh 200 pounds and be 6 feet tall. Likewise, a diamond with a lower carat weight and high cut grade will appear bigger than a larger carat weight diamond with a poor cut.

Remember, the two most important characteristics are the cut and color of a diamond. By identifying these two elements when selecting a diamond, the process will become much easier. Most of all, remember that what looks the most beautiful to the viewer is also likely to measure well technically.