About Diamonds | Ralph Mueller & Associates

Learn how cut, carat, color and clarity impact on a diamond's overall appearance.

About Diamonds

Learn how cut, carat, color and clarity impact on a diamond's overall appearance.

Diamond Grades Explained

Diamonds are graded according to a system developed by the GIA in the 1950s, which established the use of four important factors to describe and classify diamonds.

The four factors used to classify diamonds are: Cut, Carat, Color and Clarity
A properly cut diamond returns all the light that enters it, maximizing the brilliance and beauty.

A diamond cut shallow will 'leak' light reducing the brilliance. More weight is retained from the diamond rough, but at a sacrifice of brilliance and beauty.

A diamond cut deep will 'leak' light also reducing brilliance. More weight can be retained from the diamond rough, but again at a sacrifice of beauty.

Simply put "CARAT" means weight (1 carat equals 1/5 of a gram). 

In reference to Diamond's pricing, weight is a very important factor to its cost. Every Diamond belongs in a weight grouping-classification; a range of weight where the prices per carat for each Color and Clarity group combination are listed. 

The main reason is obviously due to rarity in nature, but current market conditions at any specific time plays a very important role. Certain sizes and shapes fall in and out of demand due to what is fashionable or considered affordable in society. Because of this, some size groupings for a given shape may have a higher demand and price per carat than one expects given its rarity in nature. 

For example a diamond falling into the 1 carat weight classification (1.00-1.49CT) almost always commands a big jump in per carat pricing from the light 1 carat weight classification (0.90-0.99) when compared to other weight classifications. 

When a one carat has this "magical" weight or size in many peoples eyes, it not only makes demand & price high, but it also causes a chain reaction for most of the diamond rough that would ordinarily be cut into beautiful light caraters to then be cut into not so beautiful 1 caraters. 

The diamond cutter simply retains more weight at a sacrifice of beauty to get into the "Magical" weight classification and pricing.  

You will learn all the diamond quality factors have trade-offs and it is important to obtain the best combination that suits your individual tastes from someone knowledgeable and with integrity.

The GRADING SCALE arbitrarily begins with "D" to avoid the confusion that other grading scales suffer, for example with "A", "AA", or "AAA" and so on where one does not truly know the highest classification. 

All diamonds are color graded by a gemologist against a master set from G.I.A, from the side, face-down, under controlled lighting (daylight equivalent) and against a white background. 

The first three grades D-F represent the finest & brightest colorless diamonds for the discriminating customer who demands not only the most beautiful but also the rare. 

G-H color grades offer very white & bright face-up colorless diamonds that are not as expensive due to their rarity, but when mounted in jewelry are difficult to separate from the higher grades. 

I-J color grades still face up white, but to the trained eye are not as bright or have very slight tint face-up. 

K-L color grades will have a slight tint even the average person will begin to notice. 

M or Lower grades the face up color will be noticed. 

Each grade translates into a 10-15% difference in value for diamonds for a given size grouping down to M and then change again depending on the Hue & Color for Fancy diamonds. 

Color should reflect one's tastes and budget. For example one can go with a higher color grade and lower clarity grade to suit their tastes and stay within budget. 

Color & Cut are the two factors that influence a diamond's beauty the most.

The FLAWLESS GRADE (FL) is used to describe diamonds in which a skilled observer (a gemologist), under favorable lighting conditions, cannot see any inclusions with a binocular microscope at ten power magnification or with a 10x corrected loupe. Small extra facets on the pavilion near the girdle, not visible when viewed from above, are permitted as are small naturals when they are confined to the girdle and do not flatten the girdle outline. Internal graining is permitted provided it does not draw any color or texture and is not observed through the crown (face up).

The INTERNALLY FLAWLESS GRADE (IF) describes diamonds which have no internal characteristics observable under the the same conditions as (FL) described above, but which have minor surface blemishes that do not penetrate the stone.

The VVS1 & VVS2 GRADES(VERY, VERY SLIGHTLY INCLUDED) are used to describe diamonds which have very, very small inclusions which are difficult for a skilled observer (a gemologist) to see under the conditions using a binocular microscope at ten power magnification or with a 10x corrected loupe. Colored or textured graining is permitted, provided it is not observable through the crown (face up).

The VS1 & VS2 GRADES (VERY SLIGHTLY INCLUDED) are used to describe those stones with very small inclusions which can be difficult to observe under the conditions of 10x magnification. Except for larger stones or occasionally with Emerald Cut diamonds, these are rarely visible to the unaided eye.

The SI1 & SI2 GRADES (SLIGHTLY INCLUDED) are used to describe stones with small inclusions which are usually obvious when viewed under the conditions of 10x magnification by a skilled observer (a gemologist). Stones in these grades may sometimes have inclusions which are difficult to see with the unaided eye (large stones & Emerald Cut diamonds mostly).

The I1, I2, & I3 GRADES (IMPERFECT) are used to describe stones with medium to large inclusions (Piques) which are usually obvious to a skilled observer (a gemologist) with the unaided eye. An I1 may have an inclusion located to the side while an I2 will have it centrally located or numerous inclusions.

Proportion Analysis For Optimal Light Return