The carat weight measures the mass of a diamond. One carat is defined as 200 milligrams (about 0.007 ounce avoirdupois). The point unit equal to one one-hundredth of a carat (0.01 carat, or 2 mg) – is commonly used for diamonds of less than one carat. All else being equal, the price per carat increases with carat weight, since larger diamonds are both rarer and more desirable for use as gemstones. The price per carat does not increase linearly with increasing size. Instead, there are sharp jumps around milestone carat weights, as demand is much higher for diamonds weighing just more than a milestone than for those weighing just less. As an example, a 0.95 carats (190 mg) diamond may have a significantly lower price per carat than a comparable 1.05 carats (210 mg) diamond, because of differences in demand. In the wholesale trade of gem diamonds, carat is often used in denominating lots of diamonds for sale. For example, a buyer may place an order for 100 carats (20 g) of 0.5 carats (100 mg), D-F, VS2-SI1, excellent cut diamonds, indicating a wish to purchase 200 diamonds (100 carats (20 g) total mass) of those approximate characteristics. Because of this, diamond prices (particularly among wholesalers and other industry professionals) are often quoted per carat, rather than per stone. Total carat weight (t.c.w.) is a phrase used to describe the total mass of diamonds or other gemstone in a piece of jewelry, when more than one gemstone is used. Diamond solitaire earrings, for example, are usually quoted in t.c.w. when placed for sale, indicating the mass of the diamonds in both earrings and not each individual diamond. T.c.w. is also widely used for diamond necklaces, bracelets and other similar jewelry pieces.
Clarity is a measure of internal defects of a diamond called inclusions. Inclusions may be crystals of a foreign material or another diamond crystal, or structural imperfections such as tiny cracks that can appear whitish or cloudy. The number, size, color, relative location, orientation, and visibility of inclusions can all affect the relative clarity of a diamond. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and other organizations have developed systems to grade clarity, which are based on those inclusions which are visible to a trained professional when a diamond is viewed under 10x magnification. Diamonds become increasingly rare when considering higher clarity gradings. Only about 20% of all diamonds mined have a clarity rating high enough for the diamond to be considered appropriate for use as a gemstone; the other 80% are relegated to industrial use. Of that top 20%, a significant portion contains one or more visible inclusions. Those that do not have a visible inclusion are known as “eye-clean” and are preferred by most buyers, although visible inclusions can sometimes be hidden under the setting in a piece of jewelry. Most inclusions present in gem-quality diamonds do not affect the diamonds’ performance or structural integrity. When set in jewelry, it may also be possible to hide certain inclusion behind mounting hardware such as prongs in a way that renders the defect invisible. However, large clouds can affect a diamond’s ability to transmit and scatter light. Large cracks close to or breaking the surface may increase the likelihood of a fracture. Diamonds are graded by the major societies on a scale ranging from flawless to imperfect.
The finest quality as per color grading is totally colorless, which is graded as “D” color diamond across the globe, meaning it is absolutely free from any color. The next grade has a very slight trace of color, which can be observed by any expert diamond valuer/grading laboratory. However when studded in jewellery these very light colored diamonds do not show any color or it is not possible to make out color shades. These are graded as E color or F color diamonds. Diamonds which show very little traces of color are graded as G or H color diamonds. Slightly colored diamonds are graded as I or J or K color. A diamond can be found in any color in addition to colorless. Some of the colored diamonds such as pink are very rare and are priceless. A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond is perfectly transparent with no hue, or color. However, in reality most gem-sized natural diamonds are imperfect. The color of a diamond may be affected by chemical impurities and/or structural defects in the crystal lattice. Depending on the hue and intensity of a diamond’s coloration, a diamond’s color can either detract from or enhance its value. For example, most white diamonds are discounted in price as more yellow hue is detectable, while intense pink or blue diamonds (such as the Hope Diamond) can be dramatically more valuable. The Aurora Diamond Collection displays a spectacular array of naturally colored diamonds, which occur in every color of the rainbow.
Diamond cutting is the art and science of creating a gem-quality diamond out of mined rough. The cut of a diamond describes the manner in which a diamond has been shaped and polished from its beginning form as a rough stone to its final gem proportions. The cut of a diamond describes the quality of workmanship and the angles to which a diamond is cut. Often diamond cut is confused with “shape”. There are mathematical guidelines for the angles and length ratios at which the diamond is supposed to be cut in order to reflect the maximum amount of light. Round brilliant diamonds, the most common, are guided by these specific guidelines, though fancy cut stones are not able to be as accurately guided by mathematical specifics. The techniques for cutting diamonds have been developed over hundreds of years, with perhaps the greatest achievements made in 1919 by mathematician and gem enthusiast Marcel Tolkowsky. He developed the round brilliant cut by calculating the ideal shape to return and scatter light when a diamond is viewed from above. The modern round brilliant has 57 facets (polished faces), counting 33 on the crown (the top half), and 24 on the pavilion (the lower half). The girdle is the thin middle part. The function of the crown is to refract light into various colors and the pavilion’s function to reflect light back through the top of the diamond. Tolkowsky’s calculations included some approximations, but he calculated the ideal dimensions for a diamond that are still used today. The further the diamond’s characteristics are from the Tolkowsky’s ideal, the less light will be reflected. However, there is a small range in which the diamond can be considered “ideal”. Tolkowsky’s calculations can be repeated for a narrow range of pavilion angles. Such calculations show a slightly larger table percentage, and a trade-off between pavilion angle and crown angle.
Diamonds do not show all of their beauty as rough stones; instead, they must be cut and polished to exhibit the characteristic fire and brilliance that diamond gemstones are known for. Diamonds are cut into a variety of shapes that are generally designed to accentuate these features. Diamonds which are not cut into a round brilliant shape are known as “fancy cuts.” Popular fancy cuts include the baguette (French, meaning rod or loaf of bread), marquise, princess cut (square outline), heart, briolette (a form of the rose cut), and pear cuts. Newer cuts that have been introduced into the jewelry industry are the “cushion” “radiant” (similar to princess cuts, but with rounded edges instead of square edges) and Asscher cuts. Many fancy colored diamonds are now being cut according to these new styles. Generally speaking, these “fancy cuts” are not held to the same strict standards as Tolkowsky – derived round brilliants and there are less specific mathematical guidelines of angles which determine a well-cut stone. Cuts are influenced heavily by fashion: the baguette cut – which accentuates a diamond’s luster and downplays its fire – was all the rage during the Art Deco period, whereas the princess cut – which accentuates a diamond’s fire rather than its luster – is currently gaining popularity. The princess cut is also popular amongst diamond cutters: of all the cuts, it wastes the least of the original crystal. The past decades have seen the development of new diamond cuts, often based on a modification of an existing cut. Some of these include extra facets. These newly developed cuts are viewed by many as more of an attempt at brand differentiation by diamond sellers, than actual improvements to the state of the art.
The quality of a diamond’s cut is widely considered the most important of the four Cs in determining the beauty of a diamond; indeed, it is commonly acknowledged that a well-cut diamond can appear to be of greater carat weight, and have clarity and color appear to be of better grade than they actually are. The skill with which a diamond is cut determines its ability to reflect and refract light. In addition to carrying the most importance to a diamond’s quality as a gemstone, the cut is also the most difficult to quantitatively judge. A number of factors, including proportion, polish, symmetry, and the relative angles of various facets, are determined by the quality of the cut and can affect the performance of a diamond. A diamond with facets cut only a few degrees out of alignment can result in a poorly performing stone. For a round brilliant cut, there is a balance between “brilliance” and “fire.” When a diamond is cut for too much “fire,” it looks like a cubic zirconia, which gives off much more “fire” than real diamond. A well-executed round brilliant cut should reflect light upwards and make the diamond appear white when viewed from the top. An inferior cut will produce a stone that appears dark at the center and in extreme cases the setting may be seen through the top of the diamond as shadows. Several different theories on the “ideal” proportions of a diamond have been and continue to be advocated by various owners of patents on machines to view how well a diamond is cut. These advocate a shift away from grading cut by the use of various angles and proportions toward measuring the performance of a cut stone. A number of specially modified viewers and machines have been developed toward this end. Hearts and Arrows viewers test for the “hearts and arrows” characteristic pattern observable in stones exhibiting high symmetry and particular cut angles. Closely related to Hearts and Arrows viewers is the ASET which tests for light leakage, light return, and proportions. The ASET (and computer simulations of the ASET) are used to test for AGS cut grade. Proponents of these machines argue they help sellers demonstrate the light performance of the diamond in addition to the traditional 4 Cs. Detractors, however, see these machines as marketing tools rather than scientific ones. The GIA has developed a set of criteria for grading the cut of round brilliant stones that is now the standard in the diamond industry and is called Facetware.