Diamond Education

Diamond EducationA Brilliantly Simple Guide
Think of this as the CliffsNotes for the “Big Book of Everything Diamond.”  You don’t need to be a gemologist to follow along! We’ll give you the highlights, explain the terminology, and a diamond education.  Of course, we absolutely adore diamonds and we’d be happy to share an encyclopedia’s worth of information, but instead we’ll provide a little guidance, some important tips and the most important facts.

Diamonds are fascinating and buying one should be exciting and fun.  So let’s start at the beginning.

First Things First.
You’ve found the love of your life.  You’re ready to make the leap. Chances are this is your first diamond. And the first step to take is to figure out the perfect diamond shape.

SHAPE makes a difference.
Did you know that the shape you choose for your center diamond has an impact on how your ring looks and feels?  Consider the benefits of each of these shapes when you’re choosing.

  • Round Brilliant — the most popular; cut for maximum brilliance.
  • Princess Cut — the most popular fancy-cut; has a great deal of sparkle.
  • Oval — a modified brilliant-cut with similar fire; elongated shape creates the illusion of greater size.
  • Cushion — a square cut with rounded corners, much like a pillow; arguably giving the most sparkle.
  • Asscher Cut — an elegant square shape with blocked corners that make diamonds appear octagonal.
  • Emerald — rectangular with parallel facets and blocked corners; produces a hall-of-mirrors effect.
  • Marquise — an elongated shape with tapering points at both ends; flatters the finger.
  • Pear — teardrop-shaped, with a great deal of sparkle.
  • Radiant Cut — a combination of the emerald cut and the round brilliant; typically with blocked corners.
  • Heart — a sentimental cut that is sometimes hard to find.

Beyond The Four C’s.
Understanding the first four C’s is helpful when selecting a diamond, but it doesn’t make you an expert, and it won’t help you distinguish the difference between two diamonds of similar quality. That takes formal training. That’s why it’s important to know your jeweler. The staff members of Walters & Hogsett are trained professionals who know diamond education. Many of us are graduates of the Gemological Institute of America. We are your diamond experts—and the first place to consider when you’re looking for that important fifth C…Confidence.

That said, here’s a crash course in the basics, in the order we believe is most important.

Now go pick out the perfect diamond!

CARAT WEIGHT is about more than size

This one may seem fairly self-explanatory.  But there are a few things you need to know. Carat weight is a measure of a diamond’s weight, and a reflection of its size. So two diamonds of slightly different sizes may have the same carat weight.  Size also depends on how evenly weight is distributed and the quality of the cut.  So two diamonds with the same carat weight can vary greatly in value, depending on the color, clarity and most importantly, the cut. It’s really a matter of deciding what matters most to you, size or quality, and then finding the best combination of size, color and clarity for your budget.

CLARITY can be clearly explained

Part of the wonder of diamonds is the fact that they are created by incredible natural forces. In fact, natural diamonds are formed by tremendous heat and pressure deep within the earth. Understandably, the powerful process can result in internal “inclusions” and external “blemishes.” These are simply fancy words for imperfections, or characteristics, as we like to call them.

A diamond’s clarity is determined by the number, size, nature and position of its inclusions and blemishes. No diamond is perfect, but the closer it comes to perfection, the higher its value. A “flawless” diamond is rare. Inclusions seldom affect a diamond’s beauty, although they do affect price.

Internally Flawless


Very Very Slight Inclusions


Very Slight Inclusions


Slight Inclusions



See the Scale

COLOR means less is more

Just because a diamond looks white doesn’t mean it’s colorless. In fact, the white diamond spectrum ranges from totally colorless to light yellow.  The amount of color in a diamond is signified with a special lettering system that ranges from D to Z.  The letter D is awarded only to rare, totally colorless diamonds.  In other words, the more colorless a white diamond is, the greater its beauty and value.

* A colorless diamond can be graded D, E or F. Less than ¼ of 1% of all the diamonds in the world fall into this category.

* A near colorless diamond can be graded, G, H, I or J. The majority of diamonds sold in the industry are represented by one of these grades.

Colored diamonds, such as pink, blue, chocolate or bright yellow, are also available, but they are rated on a different scale than white diamonds.



Near Colorless


Faint Yellow


Very Light Yellow


Light Yellow

See the Scale

CUT is (pretty much) everything

Ever wonder what gives a diamond its sparkle? The cut…the cut…and did we mention the cut?

Cut is widely considered to be the most important of the 4Cs, having

Cut, being the only aspect of a diamond controlled by man, expresses the diamond’s natural sparkle and has the biggest impact on your diamond’s appearance and quality.  It’s a big deal.  And that’s why we suggest you invest in a quality cut grade first and foremost.  We’re not saying that carat, clarity and color are unimportant, but sacrificing sparkle for a larger diamond, or one that’s color can only be distinguished under magnification isn’t the best strategy.

But in spite of the importance of cut, there weren’t any standardized criteria for cut grading before the mid 20th century.  When criteria were finally standardized, it included brightness, fire, scintillation, weight ratio, durability, polish and symmetry.  A cutter who is working with a diamond rough is trying to maximize each of these to make the diamond more rare and valuable.  Needless to say, it takes a master level of craftsmanship to achieve maximum sparkle.

So what’s best?  A diamond cut with the ideal proportions for its shape. Think of it like this: The bottom of the diamond has facets, and those facets act like mirrors. When the facets are cut at the proper angles, light enters through the top of the diamond, bounces off the mirrors, and returns back to your eye in a full spectrum of color.

And the opposite is true for a poorly cut diamond with incongruous proportions. It will allow light to escape out the bottom and sides, resulting in a dull, dark appearance.

In short, the angles allow the diamond to capture and reflect light or sparkle.  For a really brilliant diamond, with excellent polish and symmetry, you should choose a cut grade of Very Good or Ideal. And finally, perfection in cut will also increase your diamond’s value, making it, so to speak, a cut above the rest.

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