Ultimate Diamond Buying Guide 2022

Ultimate Diamond Buying Guide 2022

Top Tips Section

  1. Diamond shapes other than round are not graded for cut, which is the most important C.
  2. You can’t judge a diamond’s size by its carat weight, you need more information.
  3. Unlike color and clarity, where high grades are strict and rare, more than 60% of round brilliants receive the “Excellent” cut grade, so you need more information to make decisions.
  4. The most purchased diamond colors are F-G-H or I, set in white gold or platinum.
  5. The most purchased clarity grades are VS1, VS2 and “eye clean” SI1.
  6. For risk-free purchases, generous policies and robust consumer protection, consult our list of 5-star PriceScope Featured Vendors.
  7. Make sure your diamond comes with a grading report from the GIA, IGI, AGS or GCAL.
  8. Do not expose gemstone jewelry to mechanical cleaners. Learn our Seven Steps to Sparkle.

Top 10 Reasons to Buy a Diamond

A Proposal

The number one reason to buy a diamond, by far, is the engagement tradition. Most people reading PriceScope use our education pages, community forum and diamond concierge service to scratch that particular itch.

Celebrating Something

Whether an anniversary, birthday or other special occasion, a diamond pendant, bracelet, necklace or ring will add sparkle to any celebration.

Accomplishment of something great

Graduating from high school or university, achieving an important personal or professional milestone, accomplishing a lofty goal or advancement in one’s career can be rewarded with a diamond.

Owning something unique and special

Whether you value the forever aspect of natural diamonds, along with the fact that no natural substance has their incredible adamantine hardness – or you appreciate the technology that now produces gem-quality lab grown diamonds, there’s no denying the special aspects of a diamond as they relate to our planet, or scientific advancement.

As an investment

While they have maintained and increased in value over time, Diamonds are not actually a good investment for consumers with no access to trading channels. However, there are sellers offering upgrade programs, where the money you originally spent on a diamond will be fully credited toward a more expensive diamond in the future, making a spend with such sellers a down-payment on a future, better piece of diamond jewelry.

A promise

Whether a promise to a sweetheart, a family member, a valued friend or a colleague, diamonds have long represented faith and trust, as well as love.

Redemption

Depending on the circumstances it’s possible, when things have gone awry, that self-gifting a nice piece of diamond jewelry to oneself may bring a sense of satisfaction, happiness and equilibrium.

A Pure Gift

Why not? A diamond jewelry gift to someone who doesn’t expect it – on a day that’s not necessarily different than any other – can bring as much joy as any other occasion.

A Family Heirloom

Many people own diamond rings or jewelry which have been passed down from prior generations. It’s never to late to begin your own heirloom tradition.

To Express Wealth

There’s not much that screams “affluence” more than someone in a glittering formal gown and heels descending a red carpeted stairway, dripping in diamond earrings, necklace and bracelets.

What to consider before buying a diamond?

What’s your budget?

When deciding how much to spend on engagement we urge you to consider three critical concerns: Your intended’s expectations, your financial situation and the cost of diamonds. The goal is finding harmony between the three: Learn more about how much to spend on an engagement ring.

Give yourself time to research/learn before purchase.

There are many options out there. Determine what’s right for you by getting fully educated. Start with this page. Continue with our full PriceScope education section, describing everything you need to know about diamond and jewelry buying. Ask our forum members or free diamond concierge service for assistance.

Be advised: Find it all right here: From highest possible quality to practical cost-effective options, PriceScope’s Vetted Vendors offer the full range of options, concentrated in one place, supported by best vendor practices and robust consumer protection. Search diamonds now.

Pro tip: If you’re in a hurry, take this PriceScope Diamond Buying Shortcut.

1. How to choose the right diamond shape?

*PriceScope Priceless Tip: Shapes other than round are not graded for cut, which is the most important C.

Diamond Shape is the starting point for any diamond buying decision. When gifting a diamond, it’s extremely important to knowing the wearer’s preferred shape and choice of style.

What diamond shapes are there?

The vast majority of diamonds are round but other options exist, some of which are quite unique.

Diamond Shapes Chart

Diamond Shapes

What is diamond length to width ratio?

This ratio numerically illustrates how long and wide the stone appears from the face-up view. Expressed as “L:W”, it’s determined by dividing the length of the diamond by its width. For example, if a diamond had a length of 6.00 mm and a width of 4.00 mm, the length to width ratio would be 1:5.

Which length to width ratio is best for each shape?

Suggested length to width ratio chart

  • Round Brilliant: 1.0 – 1.03
  • Princess: 1.0 – 1.05
  • Cushion (square): 1.0 – 1.09
  • Cushion (rectangular): 1.15 – 1.25
  • Emerald: 1.50 – 1.75
  • Asscher: 1.0 – 1.05
  • Oval: 1.30 – 1.50
  • Pear: 1.45 – 1.75
  • Marquise: 1.85 – 2.1
  • Radiant (square): 1.0 – 1.05
  • Radiant (rectangular):  1.15 – 2.0
  • Heart: 1.0 – 1.1
  • Trillion: 1.0 – 1.1
  • Baguette: Around 5.1

Which diamond shape looks the biggest?

This is sometimes referred to as ‘face-up’ size. Diamonds with a bigger face-up value will have a larger surface area relative to their carat weight. In general, compared to the round brilliant, these diamond shapes may offer a larger size-for-weight appearance.

  • Pear
  • Oval
  • Marquise
  • Emerald
  • Trillion

Which diamond shapes are the most affordable?

The most affordable diamond shapes are those which retain a higher percentage of the rough during the cutting and polishing process. In general, compared to the round-brilliant, these diamond shapes may offer more weight for the money, although they may not look as large for their weight.

  • Radiant
  • Cushion
  • Princess
  • Asscher
  • Emerald

Which diamond shape gives the best sparkle?

Sparkle is created by facets reflecting light effectively. A good quality cut will increase sparkle, but by nature, some diamond shapes sparkle more than others.

  • Round Brilliant
  • Radiant
  • Cushion
  • Marquise

Which diamond shape is the most vulnerable?

Certain diamond shapes have vulnerabilities which can affect durability if they are not set correctly. Any of these diamond shapes with exposed points and corners are more vulnerable to chipping. This is easily handled by choosing a suitable setting.

  • Pear
  • Marquise
  • Baguette
  • Princess
  • Heart

What diamond shape holds its value?

The round brilliant diamond holds its value best of all shapes. Additionally, collection quality round brilliants have historically held and increased in value best over time, especially auctionable diamonds of significant carat weight and value. Collection quality diamonds have special status in the eyes of many diamond professionals, collectors, enthusiasts, and auction houses.

2. How to choose the right diamond carat weight for your budget?

*PriceScope Priceless Tip: You can’t judge a diamond’s size by its carat weight, you need more information.

Diamond carat weight has the most impact on value but you can’t judge a diamond’s visual size by its weight, nor even its physical dimensions. Bright jewelry store lights make all diamonds look bright and big. When removed from spotlights, many diamonds go dark at the edges, seeming to shrink before your eyes. Read on and learn how to avoid this.

What is diamond carat?

One diamond carat equals 200 milligrams. Putting that in perspective, a small paperclip weighs about 600 milligrams, so a paper clip on your finger weighs about the same as a three carat diamond. A carat can also be divided into 100 points, so jewelers call a 1/4 carat diamond a 25-point diamond, a 1/2 carat diamond a 50-pointer, and so on.

Does carat size matter?

Yes, but you will also want to know the diamond’s physical spread from side to side, to ensure it “faces-up” the correct size for its weight.

What is total carat weight?

The term “total carat weight” (abbreviated ctw) refers to the sum of all diamonds in a piece of jewelry. A halo ring with a 0.75 carat center stone and 0.25 carats in small surrounding stones can be advertised as having 1.00 carat total weight or “1ctw.” Likewise, a bracelet with twenty 0.10 carat diamonds may be advertised as a 2.00 carats total weight bracelet, or “2ctw.”

How is diamond carat graded?  [ Novi – This makes no sense since it is weighed? is this important]

– Include size charts, imagery

[JP: It’s standardized. What charts and images are sought here?]

How to choose carat weight with confidence?

Diamond Cut Quality works in tandem with carat weight. The way a diamond is cut determined whether it has proper physical spread and proper visual spread. Choosing a diamond with superior cut quality is the best way to be confident you’re getting the best visual appeal and size appearance for the carat weight.

How does proportionate spread affect carat weight?

Diamonds cut shallow or deep go dark in some lighting or environmental conditions, looking smaller than they should for their carat weight. Be sure to correlate carat weight with side-to-side spread in millimeters. A diamond’s grading report will include its external measurements in millimeters, from which you can determine its physical spread, side to side.

Proportionate Spread

What is a good carat weight?

The best carat weight is one that has proper physical and visual spread, looking as large as it should in all lighting environments. Choosing a 1.00 ct diamond over an 0.80 ct diamond makes no sense if the 0.80 ct diamond appears larger than the 1.00 ct diamond in normal lighting.

Stones in different lighting

3. Why does diamond cut matter?

*PriceScope Priceless Tip: Unlike color and clarity, where high grades are strict and rare, more than 60% of round brilliants receive the “Excellent” cut grade, so you need more information to make decisions.

Cut is the most important diamond C: In strict diamond grading systems the highest color and clarity ratings show little or no visible differences across several grades. Alternately, several diamonds with the same “top” cut rating can vary notably in appearance. More than 60% of round diamonds receive the “Excellent” cut grade but some look far better than others. The way a diamond is cut drives all of its various Diamond Performance components.

How is diamond cut graded?

Diamond Cut grading is treated differently from lab to lab. Why? Because color and clarity have been strictly graded since the 1950s, but the world’s largest laboratory, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), didn’t grade cut until 2006. By then, other diamonds ratings systems for cut had been launched by other laboratories. As a result, there are a number of different approaches to grading cut. Cut grading is also different than color and clarity grading because, in strict diamond grading systems the highest color and clarity ratings show little or no visible differences across several grades. Alternately, several diamonds with the same “top” cut grade can vary notably in appearance.

Why is diamond cut important?

Superior diamond cut quality can improve every other diamond C in appearance. Well cut diamonds have  proper physical spread, as well as edge to edge brightness for maximum visual spread, so they appear large for their carat-weight. In well cut diamonds light gets in and out on shorter ray-paths with greater intensity, improving face-up diamond color appearance. Well cut diamonds promote more visible brightness, dispersion, contrast and – in brilliant shapes – scintillation, which can mask inclusions. And well cut diamonds have brighter, more dynamic diamond performance qualities – widely considered their most appealing aspect.

Are diamonds cut for weight over beauty?

Yes. Unfortunately most diamonds are not cut well because carat weight has the most influence on price. That motivates diamond producers, when planning, to keep the most possible weight in the diamond. The typical rough diamond octahedron produces two finished diamonds. The primary stone has the most value. Diamond producers profit most by using angles as close to the rough outline as possible (circa 45 degrees) which can still earn a favorable grade like “Excellent” or “Ideal.” However, those angles often aren’t the best for brightness, resulting in darker, less lively diamonds.

Diamond rough planning

What are the diamond cut subsets?

The PriceScope community refers to several subsets of round brilliant diamonds. Steep-deep diamonds are most abundant. Producers use wide (steep deep) cutting angles to increase the diamond’s final weight, maximizing yield. Unfortunately this reduces their size appearance and creates darkness when removed from bright lights. The PriceScope Ideal is cut with proportionate angles which successfully reflect and return light back to the viewer’s eyes as brightness, fire, contrast, and sparkle. The Super-Ideal is a rare subset, cut within a small range of scientifically proven “ideal” proportions and  further fine-tuned to display Hearts & Arrows in a specialized viewer.

Three Subsets

What is the Holloway Cut Advisor?

The Holloway Cut Advisor (HCA) is an analytic tool that uses measurements of a round brilliant diamond to calculate potential light return, fire, scintillation and spread. When you register with PriceScope you can analyze three diamonds for free. HCA scores are also included in PriceScope round diamond search results.

Use our HCA to hit the Cut Quality Bullseye

Diamond Cut Quality Bulls eye

What is Ideal Scope?

The Ideal Scope is a portable diamond brilliance and leakage gauge. A lens with a hot pink reflector lets you see how much light comes from a diamond to your eyes. The most brilliant diamonds have pink/red (brightness) with a symmetrical black star (contrast) and minimal white or pale areas (leakage).

Ideal Scope

What are the key steps to assessing diamond cut?

For round brilliant diamonds, start by getting the average proportions. Enter those, or the grading report number, into the patented Holloway Cut Advisor (HCA) tool on PriceScope. For diamonds considered HCA Excellent, ask the seller for a Performance Scope Image – either Ideal Scope or ASET. If the seller doesn’t have such an image, they can use a 3D scan of the diamond to produce one using computer modeling. In-person viewing. Ultimately you want to select only the best cut diamond or diamonds and make comparisons with an In-Person Viewing exercise.

What is diamond leakage?

Light entering a diamond will either reflect and shoot up to the viewer’s eyes (as brightness) or escape through the bottom (as leakage or windowing). In general terms, brightness is desirable, leakage is to be avoided.

4. How to choose the right diamond color?

*PriceScope Priceless Tip: The most purchased diamond colors are F-G-H or I, set in white gold or platinum.

Diamond Color influences price the most after carat weight. A diamond’s color was caused by chemicals in the earth where it formed. Most of the world’s diamonds are yellow or brown. The objective for most people is to get a diamond that appears colorless, also described as “white.”

How is diamond color graded?

Most diamonds are graded on a scale ranging from D, which has the least color, all the way to Z, which is light yellow or possibly light brown. Other colors, and stronger levels of yellow and brown, are classified as fancy colored diamonds, and are graded on a different scale.

Diamond color chart: Slide left and right to compare.

interactive_slider_image_0
interactive_slider_image_1
interactive_slider_image_2
interactive_slider_image_3
interactive_slider_image_4
interactive_slider_image_5
interactive_slider_image_6
interactive_slider_image_7
interactive_slider_image_8
interactive_slider_image_9
interactive_slider_image_10
N-Z
M
L
K
J
I
H
G
F
E
D

N-Z Color Diamonds: Very Light / Light Yellow (or brown)
Diamonds in the very light (N-R) and light color ranges (S-Z) have noticeable yellow or brown tint which increases in saturation as the grades descend. They are seldom posted for sale online since the expense of bringing them to market with a laboratory grading report, shipping, etc., is not cost-effective for sellers.
PriceScope includes these ranges in our Diamond Search where many other online sites do not.
These colors are challenging to grade consistently, even for top-tier laboratories, so the normally acceptable standard deviation of +/- one grade does not apply. Nevertheless, be certain your diamond has the color grade it should earn by insisting on certification from a top-tier laboratory.

Read more about N – Z color diamond

M Color: Faint –
M color diamonds fall at the border of the faint (KLM) and very-light ranges. Their warm tint is noticeable in casual viewing. It becomes more exaggerated when the diamond is set in white metal, seen against a white background or compared with diamonds of higher color. At 1.00 carat and above L color diamonds sell for less than half the price of comparable G color diamonds.
Top cut quality can sometimes cause M color diamonds to have less color appearance in normal viewing. Continue reading to learn why diamonds are color-graded upside down.
Color grading standards vary. Be certain your diamond has the color grade it should earn by insisting on certification from a top-tier laboratory.

Read more about M color diamond

L Color: Faint
L color diamonds are within the faint range (KLM). They have a warm tint which is noticeable and exaggerated when the diamond is set in white metal, seen against a white background or compared with diamonds of higher color. At 1.00 carat and above L color diamonds sell for around half the price of comparable G color diamonds.
Top cut quality can sometimes cause L color diamonds to have less color appearance in normal viewing. Continue reading to learn why diamonds are color-graded upside down.
Color grading standards vary. Be certain your diamond has the color grade it should earn by insisting on certification from a top-tier laboratory.

Read more about L color diamond

K Color Diamonds: Faint +
K color diamonds top the faint range (KLM). Their warm tint is evident to experienced gemologists but isn’t noticed by many people in casual wear unless the diamond is set in white metal, seen against a white background or compared with diamonds of higher color. At 1.00 carat and above K color diamonds sell for around half the price of comparable D color diamonds.
Top cut quality can sometimes cause K color diamonds to appear near-colorless in normal viewing. Continue reading to learn why diamonds are color-graded upside down.
Color grading standards vary. Be certain your diamond has the color grade it should earn by insisting on certification from a top-tier laboratory.

Read more about K color diamond

J Color Diamonds: Slightly Tinted White / Tinted White
J color diamonds fall within the near-colorless range (GHIJ). Some examples are slightly more tinted than others, but all J color diamonds represent good value since their warmth is only detectable against a white background or compared directly with diamonds of higher color: At 2.00 carats and above J color diamonds sell for around half the price of comparable D color diamonds.
Top cut quality can sometimes cause J color diamonds to appear more colorless in normal viewing. Continue reading to learn why diamonds are color-graded upside down.
Color grading standards vary. Be certain your diamond has the color grade it should earn by insisting on certification from a top-tier laboratory.

Read more about J color diamond

I Color Diamonds: Slightly Tinted White
I color diamonds are a tremendous value, as their slight warmth isn’t noticeable unless directly compared with diamonds of higher color grades. They fall into the near-colorless (GHIJ) range. Top cut quality can sometimes cause I color diamonds to appear more colorless in normal viewing. Continue reading to learn why diamonds are color-graded upside down. Color grading standards vary. Be certain your diamond has the color grade it should earn by insisting on certification from a top-tier laboratory.

Read more about I color diamond

H Color Diamonds: White
H color diamonds are high in the near-colorless range (GHIJ). They have a barely perceptible warmth that is difficult hard to detect unless placed side by side with higher color diamonds.
Top cut quality can sometimes cause H color diamonds to appear more colorless in normal viewing. Continue reading to learn why diamonds are color-graded upside down.
Color grading standards vary. Be certain your diamond has the color grade it should earn by insisting on certification from a top-tier laboratory.

Read more about H color diamond

G Color Diamonds: Rare White
G color diamonds top the near-colorless range (GHIJ). Placed against a pure white background, G color will have a barely detectable difference in tone next to colorless diamonds.
Top cut quality can sometimes cause G color diamonds to appear to completely colorless in normal viewing. Continue reading to learn why diamonds are color-graded upside down.
Color grading standards vary. Be certain your diamond has the color grade it should earn by insisting on certification from a top-tier laboratory.

Read more about G color diamond

F Color Diamonds: Rare White +
F color diamonds are very icy and belong to the colorless range (DEF). A loose diamond comparison is typically needed for gemologists to reliably detect tone differences between D, E and F colors.
Natural F color diamonds with top clarity grades fall into the collection category of diamonds which have historically held and increased in value the best over time.
Color grading standards vary. Be certain your diamond has the color grade it should earn by insisting on certification from a top-tier laboratory.

Read more about F color diamond

E Color Diamonds: Exceptional White
E color diamonds are extremely icy, comparable to D color. Solidly inside the colorless range (DEF), a loose diamond comparison is typically needed for gemologists to reliably separate D from E color.
Natural E color diamonds with top clarity grades fall into the collection category of diamonds which have historically held and increased in value the best over time.
Color grading standards vary. Be certain your diamond has the color grade it should earn by insisting on certification from a top-tier laboratory.

Read more about E color diamond

D Color Diamonds: Exceptional White +
D color diamonds are absolutely the iciest and most colorless. Topping the colorless range (DEF), they are extremely rare. There is no higher grade in the D-Z scale.
Natural D color diamonds with top clarity grades fall into the collection category of diamonds which have historically held and increased in value the best over time.
Color grading standards vary. Be certain your diamond has the color grade it should earn by insisting on certification from a top-tier laboratory.

Read more about D color diamond

Do I need to spend big to get a colorless stone?

Most people cannot detect a difference of 2-3 color grades unless the diamonds are placed next to each other, especially in the colorless (D-E-F) and near-colorless (G-H-I-J) ranges. With that said, taste comes into play. For those who love the icy appearance and rarity of a colorless diamond the extra spend may be worth it.

How does diamond shape affect color?

Fancy shapes may reveal more color than round brilliant cuts in the face up position because they have broader facet arrangements. This is largely a non-factor in diamonds graded DEF. The potential for more visible color appearance or color concentration increases the more you consider diamonds graded GHIJ and below.

Is diamond color graded upside down?

Yes. Gemological laboratories perform D to Z color grading with the diamond upside down and viewed through the side because of three factors which may influence color appearance in the “face-up” position: The diamond’s shape, the way the diamond was cut and the possible presence of diamond fluorescence

Do larger diamonds show more color?

Yes. As they get larger in size, diamonds show more color. As diamonds increase in carat weight the presence of color becomes more noticeable, simply because whatever color exists throughout the diamond occurs takes on more mass. The presence of color in diamonds graded K and below becomes especially noticeable at weights above 2.50 – 3.00 carats.

What is undisclosed undertone?

Undisclosed undertone is something that isn’t disclosed on diamond grading reports. It’s a subtle or not-so-subtle brown, grey or green undertone which influences overall color appearance. This issue is disclosed among traders but isn’t always communicated by diamond sellers to consumers.

How does cut affect diamond color?

Remember that diamonds are color-graded upside down, viewed through the side. “Face-up” color is the diamond’s color appearance when viewed from the top. In well-cut diamonds light gets in and out on shorter ray-paths with greater intensity. This can cause the appearance of less color when the diamond is seen from the top.

Color Reduction

Alternately, if the diamond is cut so that light escapes through the bottom – or bounces around inside – the color within that diamond may be exaggerated when seen from the top.

Which diamond colors are recommended for different ring settings?

Round brilliant diamonds benefit from kite-shaped facets which promote sparkle, so they can be set in white metal in colors from D-J. Colors below J are well-suited for yellow metal settings. Colors with brown undertone look great in rose-gold settings. Fancy shapes are recommended for setting on a different schedule. See all metal recommendations here.

Does color affect diamond price?

Diamond Color influences price the most after carat weight. Collection quality diamonds are those with color and clarity combinations which trade for the highest values and continue to hold that value best over time. Combining a non fluorescent D colorE color, or F color with Flawless, Internally-Flawless, VVS1 or VVS2 clarity gives a diamond collection quality status in the eyes of diamond professionals and enthusiasts. Some people choose high color and clarity combinations for this reason.

5. How do you choose the right diamond clarity?

*PriceScope Priceless Tip: The most purchased clarity grades are VS1, VS2 and “eye clean” SI1.

– Definition on diamond clarity.

What is diamond clarity?

The world’s natural diamonds formed between 1-3 billion years ago, 100 miles beneath the earth’s surface. As they grew, chemicals and elements present in the earth became trapped within their crystal lattices. Diamond Clarity evaluates a gemstone’s relative freedom from such internal characteristics, classified as inclusions, and from surface characteristics, classified as blemishes.

How is diamond clarity graded?

A gemologist analyzes clarity by looking down through the top of the stone at 10-power (10X) magnification. All inclusions and blemishes seen at 10X are considered when deciding the clarity grade. There are 11 different clarity grades.

Diamond clarity chart: Slide left and right to compare clarity grades.

interactive_slider_image_0
interactive_slider_image_1
interactive_slider_image_2
interactive_slider_image_3
interactive_slider_image_4
interactive_slider_image_5
interactive_slider_image_6
interactive_slider_image_7
interactive_slider_image_8
I3-I2
I1
SI2
SI1
VS2
VS1
VVS2
VVS1
IF-FL

Included 2 (I2) and Included 3 (I3)
A diamond with characteristics which are obvious at 10X magnification, which threaten the diamond’s durability, or which interfere with light transmission is classified as Included. The included grade is divided into three tiers (I1, I2, I3).

The I2 and I3 grades are reserved for diamonds with significant and/or abundant clarity characteristics which either threaten the diamond’s durability, interfere with light transmission or both.

While PriceScope includes diamonds with these grades in our Diamond Search, we do not recommend diamonds with I2-I3 clarity for meaningful gifting or ownership.

Clarity grading standards vary. Be certain your diamond has the clarity grade it should earn by insisting on certification from a top-tier laboratory.

Click to learn more about Included Diamonds.

Included 1: (I1)
A diamond with characteristics which are obvious at 10X magnification, which threaten the diamond’s durability, or which interfere with light transmission is classified as Included. The included grade is divided into three tiers: I1 falls below SI2 but doesn’t have the negative implications of I2-I3.

I1 diamonds have inclusions which are obvious at 10X magnification, and possibly without magnification. It’s possible for some I1 diamond to approach the definition of eye-clean, but these frequently have inclusions so prevalent that light transmission is compromised (read about undisclosed haze, clouds, etc.). I1 inclusions are typically visible in every diamond shape.

Clarity grading standards vary. Be certain your diamond has the clarity grade it should earn by insisting on certification from a top-tier laboratory.

Read more about I1 Diamond Clarity

Slightly Included 2: (SI2)
A diamond with characteristics which are considered noticeable when viewed at 10X magnification is Slightly Included. The SI grade is divided into two tiers.

SI2 is a range below SI1. The inclusion/s present were quickly noticeable to the gemologist as soon as the microscope or loupe was used.

The majority of SI2 diamonds have inclusions people with normal vision can detect. It is possible for an SI2 diamond to be eye-clean, but beware of SI2 diamonds with inclusions so tiny and numerous that light transmission is hindered (read about undisclosed haze, clouds, etc.). SI2 inclusions are typically detectable in emerald cuts, Asscher and other step cuts due to their long, flat faceting style.

Clarity grading standards vary. Be certain your diamond has the clarity grade it should earn by insisting on certification from a top-tier laboratory.

Read more about SI1 Diamond Clarity

Slightly Included 1: (SI1)
A diamond with characteristics which are considered
noticeable when viewed at 10X magnification is Slightly Included. The SI grade is divided into two tiers.

SI1 is a rather wide range occurring below VS2. The inclusion/s present were somewhat noticeable to the gemologist as soon as the microscope or loupe was used.

Some SI1 diamonds are
eye-clean, appearing identical to the naked eye as diamonds with higher clarity. Other SI1 diamonds have inclusions people with normal vision can detect. SI1 inclusions are easier to detect in emerald cuts, Asscher and other step cuts due to their long, flat faceting style.

Clarity grading standards vary. Be certain your diamond has the clarity grade it should earn by insisting on certification from a top-tier laboratory.

Read more about SI1 Diamond Clarity

Very Slightly Included 2: (VS2)
A diamond with characteristics which are considered minor at 10X magnification is Very Slightly Included. The VS grade is divided into two tiers.

VS2 is just below VS1. The inclusion/s present were not immediately evident to the gemologist, even with the use of a microscope or loupe.

VS2 should be eye-clean. A small percentage of VS2 diamonds may have an inclusion that someone with extremely high visual acuity can personally detect, but this is rare.

Clarity grading standards vary. Be certain your diamond has the clarity grade it should earn by insisting on certification from a top-tier laboratory.

Read more about VS2 Diamond Clarity

Very Slightly Included 1: (VS1)
A diamond with characteristics which are considered minor at 10X magnification is Very Slightly Included. The VS grade is divided into two tiers.

VS1 is just below VVS2. The inclusion/s present were only evident to the gemologist after several seconds spent searching, even with the use of a microscope or loupe.

VS1 diamonds are reliably eye-clean. There are rare cases where a person with extremely high visual acuity encounters a VS1 diamond with something they can personally detect, but this is an anomaly.

Clarity grading standards vary. Be certain your diamond has the clarity grade it should earn by insisting on certification from a top-tier laboratory.

Read more about VS1 Diamond Clarity

Very Very Slightly Included 2: (VVS2)
A diamond with characteristics which are considered minute at 10X magnification is Very Very Slightly Included. The VVS grade is divided into two tiers.

VVS2 is just below VVS1. The inclusion/s present were challenging for the gemologist to find, even with the use of a microscope or loupe. VVS2 diamonds are naked eye-clean by any definition.

VVS2 diamonds with top color grades fall into the collection category of diamonds which have historically held and increased in value the best over time.

Clarity grading standards vary. Be certain your diamond has the clarity grade it should earn by insisting on certification from a top-tier laboratory.

Read more about VVS2 Diamond Clarity

Very Very Slightly Included 1: (VVS1)
A diamond with characteristics which are considered minute at 10X magnification is Very Very Slightly Included. The VVS grade is divided into two tiers.

VVS1 is closest to flawless. The inclusion/s present were very challenging for the gemologist to find, even with the use of a microscope or loupe. VVS1 diamonds are naked eye-clean by any definition.

VVS1 diamonds with top color grades fall into the collection category of diamonds which have historically held and increased in value the best over time.

Clarity grading standards vary. Be certain your diamond has the clarity grade it should earn by insisting on certification from a top-tier laboratory.

Read more about VVS1 Diamond Clarity

Flawless and Internally Flawless: (FL-IF)
A diamond with no internal or external characteristics visible at 10X magnification is considered Flawless (FL). A diamond with surface blemishes but no internal inclusions is considered internally flawless (IF). Flawless and Internally Flawless diamonds are naked eye-clean by any definition.

These grades are widely considered equivalent. Some diamantaires believe only loose diamonds fall into the Flawless category and become Internally Flawless once mounted into a setting.

FL and IF diamonds with top color grades fall into the collection category of diamonds which have historically held and increased in value the best over time.

Clarity grading standards vary. Be certain your diamond has the clarity grade it should earn by insisting on certification from a top-tier laboratory.

Read more about IF-FL Diamond Clarity

What are inclusions?

Inclusions are characteristics trapped within the diamond.

What is an eye clean diamond?

Many people just want an “eye-clean” diamond, meaning one which has no inclusions invisible to the naked eye. There is no laboratory definition for this, but a PriceScope survey of gemologists resulted in this consensus:

Eye-Clean: No inclusions visible to the unaided eye when viewed from the face up position in daylight equivalent or fluorescent lighting between 6-12 inches from the eye using 20/20 vision.*

See a diamond clarity chart showing eye-clean clarity grades.

Eye clean vs 10x, what’s the difference?

Eye-clean is determined when viewing a diamond with the naked human eye. 10X examination is performed viewing the diamond with a magnifying loupe or microscope.

How to assess diamond clarity confidently?

Successful online sellers like our recommended PriceScope vetted vendors, have methods of reliably classifying and communicating diamond clarity, whether you’re examining it in-person or purchasing online. They also offer liberal inspection periods and free returns so you can make your purchase with complete confidence. You can read about how to choose diamond clarity with confidence here.

What factors affect diamond clarity?

In addition to visibility at 10 power magnification, gemologists also consider Location, Number, Color, Size and the Nature of inclusions and blemishes when deciding the diamond clarity grade. You can read definitions for each of those additional factors on our Diamond Clarity page.

What are clouds not shown?

In clarity categories VS2, SI1, SI2 and below the comments “clouds not shown” or “additional clouds not shown” typically indicate the diamond grader considered them a non-issue. The comment is simply on the record for other gemologists who may examine the diamond later.

What is diamond clarity haze?

Since clarity grading is limited to 10X magnification characteristics beyond that scrutiny can go unreported. Undisclosed diamond haze is caused by large clouds of microscopic pinpoints when they become dense enough to interfere with light transmission and reduce transparency.

What are sleepy stones?

Trade members may refer to hazy diamonds as being “sleepy stones,” a phenomenon which occurs on a sliding scale. Slight cases may not even be noticed by the average jeweler. In moderate cases the diamond will seem to need a cleaning when seen in some lighting environments. In the most severe cases the diamond is notably reduced in its performance qualities in all lighting environments.

6. How to choose the right diamond vendor?

*PriceScope Priceless Tip: For risk-free purchases, generous policies and robust consumer protection, consult our list of 5-star PriceScope Vetted Vendors.

As the world’s largest diamond and jewelry community, PriceScope is a place where many would like to advertise and list products. Few meet our standards. PriceScope Vetted Vendors provide safe online purchase experiences with generous inspection periods, hassle-free returns, and standout long-term benefits for clients.

Who are trusted PriceScope diamond vendors?

PriceScope’s Vetted Vendors meet or exceed PriceScope’s rigorous requirements for truthful advertising, best business practices, and proactive consumer protection. They deliver the high-quality customer service standards developed by over 100,000 PriceScope members over the past 20 years.

How do we assess our recommended vendors?

We take the trust of our members very seriously – to protect our diamond and jewelry community, each of our potential associations involve a thorough vetting process. This often takes more time and effort, but it helps ensure the vendors who meet our requirements are the most consumer-friendly, setting industry benchmarks in truthful advertising, best business practices and consumer protection.

What principles do we stand by for our vendors?

Components we have considered include, but are not limited to: Company history, including founders/owners, reviews/ratings and references. Truthful advertising, including messaging philosophies, proper promotion of strengths, proper use of terminology and industry esprit de corps. And best business practices and consumer protection through product selection, information provision, education, policies and short, mid and long-term client experience.

7. Do I need a diamond certification?

*PriceScope Priceless Tip: Make sure your diamond comes with a grading report from the GIA, IGI, AGS or GCAL.

What is a diamond certification.

Diamond Certificates (or grading reports) are issued by an independent gemological laboratory, following a secure, standardized diamond grading process. It’s an assessment of the diamond’s 4Cs, which are used to establish its value.

Who is the GIA?

The GIA is the most widely recognized gemological institute, considered the world’s foremost authority on diamonds, colored stones, and pearls. A public benefit, nonprofit institute, the GIA has been the leading source of knowledge, standards, and education in gems and jewelry.

Who is the IGI?

The IGI is the world’s largest gemological organization, operating 18 laboratories and 14 schools of gemology around the world. In addition to being the world leader in lab grown diamond grading IGI issues grading reports for finished jewelry, serving more consumers than any other lab.

Who is the AGS?

The AGS began grading diamonds in 1996 and is best known for their strict cut and performance standards. The AGS Platinum Report is the certificate of choice for diamond brands renowned for superior cut quality. They are one of two top-tier laboratories offering cut quality assessments for certain fancy shapes.

Who is the GCAL?

The GCAL, established in 2001, is the only laboratory issuing diamond “certificates” backed by a guarantee. The GCAL focuses on diamond cut analysis, using a copyrighted diamond-specific performance assessment method, and provides a unique diamond fingerprint known as Gemprint. They are one of two top-tier laboratories offering cut quality assessments for certain fancy shapes.

How do standards vary across certifications?

Generic reports accompanying economical pieces like those seen in mall or department store jewelry counters should not be confused with loose diamond certification (or grading reports). These documents are not item-specific, they are mass-produced to describe a production run of numerous similar pieces. They are not nearly as strict, accurate or expensive as stand-alone diamond grading reports or jewelry identification reports, prepared for a specific piece.

Is carat weight universal?

Yes. Diamond grading scales are calibrated to three decimal places. Most laboratories establish carat weight to two decimal places, with the exception of the AGS, which reports to three.

How are color and clarity grades certified?

Diamond color employs the alphabet, starting with D (colorless) and progressing from E to Z as the presence of tint increases. Diamond clarity uses a set of acronyms in a diamond ratings system which is not as intuitive as color and clarity. The grades are subjective decisions made by trained gemologists examining the stones.

How are cut grades certified?

Diamond cut grading is treated differently from lab to lab. Why? Because color and clarity have been strictly graded since the 1950s, but the world’s largest laboratory, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), didn’t grade cut until 2006. By then, other diamonds ratings systems for cut had been launched by other laboratories. As a result, there are a number of different approaches to grading cut.

What is diamond standard deviation?

No two diamonds are alike. Color and clarity occur on a sliding scale and a diamond sitting directly on the border of two grades may come out on one side of the other, depending on the subjective opinion of the gemologist making the judgment. To that end, a standard deviation of +/- one grade is generally deemed acceptable among professionals.

What is an under graded Diamond?

Under grading occurs when a jewelry professional intentionally claims a diamond has lower grades than it would normally receive according to strict, industry-accepted international standards. The goal of intentional under grading is to win consumer business by creating fear-based doubts about other professionals.

Is it worth buying a certified diamond?

Any diamond of value should be accompanied with a grading report from a top-tier laboratory. Expensive jewelry pieces should either be accompanied by an finished jewelry grading report or, at minimum,  come with a grading report describing the central gemstone. For inexpensive pieces full grading may not be practical.

How much does a diamond certification cost?

Laboratory analysis and grading charges are largely based on the diamond’s carat weight. For a one carat loose diamond the charge has historically landed near $100. There are many services offered by the different grading laboratories. Consumers may contact them for full explanation of services and fees.

Are diamonds certified the same?

Presuming you stay with certification from a top-tier diamond certification laboratory, diamond ratings for color and clarity will typically remain within one grade for any specific diamond. Considering how granular and subtle those diamond ratings systems are, a one grade difference is technically negligible. Of course, those values are used to establish a diamond’s value so it’s in the best interest of shoppers to use the strictest set of grades.

8. How to take care of your diamond?

*PriceScope Priceless Tip: Do not expose gemstone jewelry to mechanical cleaners. Learn our Seven Steps to Sparkle.

Your jewelry was designed to be worn. Frequently and proudly. You will be able to keep your jewelry in top condition by learning How to Clean Jewelry.

Should I clean my diamond regularly?

Yes. Each day, before retiring follow this Careful Cleaning Credo: Remove all jewelry and wipe each piece down with a clean soft dry cloth to remove perspiration, chemicals, etc. This prevents buildup and helps maintain optimum beauty between professional cleanings.

Should I insure my diamond?

Engagement Ring Insurance is a personal decision, but diamond is the hardest material known to man, but even the most flawless diamond can chip if struck along its crystal’s cleavage plane. For this reason we believe every diamond owner should carry insurance.

Should I get my diamond inspected regularly?

Yes. Enlist the help of a professional jeweler every so often to deep-clean and check integrity. How frequently depends on your wear habits – as a general rule we recommend once or twice per year.

How to bring back the diamonds sparkle?

Periodically it’s prudent to perform thorough home jewelry cleaning. Due to their superior hardness, toughness and stability, there is a seven step process which can be safely performed with diamonds. Other jewelry should be considered on a case by case basis.

How to prevent my diamond from getting cloudy?

Clean the bottom of the diamond regularly with a soft brush. Light enters the stone from above, but the bottom facets play a critical role in both reflection, which helps the stone be bright, as well as refraction. Light that would normally reflect gets drawn out by grease or oil on the underside. This mutes how diamonds and gemstones sparkle.

Should I use a professional to clean my diamond?

If you clean your diamond and gemstone jewelry after each use according to this credo, and additionally clean daily-wear jewelry using these careful seven steps once per week your visits to a professional will be less frequent. Nevertheless, for deep cleaning we recommend visiting your jewelry pro once or twice per year.

Summary

Deciding on a diamond is somewhat similar to deciding on your life-partner. If you approach the project rashly or impulsively, without attention to detail, there’s a chance it won’t turn out as well as you might have hoped. On the other hand, if you dedicate time and effort getting to know what makes diamonds different from each other, what appeals least versus most, and where the sweet-spot lies for you – in terms of value, quality, pedigree and long-term support – there’s a great chance you’ll live happily ever after.

Scroll to Top