Diamond Engagement and Wedding Rings Buying Guide

Getting to know Gems

Becoming intimate with Gems

The major cost of the engagement ring is often the sparkling diamond or shimmering colored gemstone that you select to adorn it. To avoid costly mistakes, it is very important to learn as much as possible about the stone you are considering. The best way to take the risk out of buying a particular gem is to familiarize yourself with the gem. While the average consumer can’t hope to make the same precise judgments as a qualified gemologist whose scientific training and wealth of practical experience provide a far greater data base from which to operate, the consumer can learn to judge a gemstone as a “total personality” and learn what the critical factors are; color, clarity (sometimes referred to in the trade as “perfection”), sparkle and brilliance, and weight, and how to balance them in judging the gem’s value. Learning about these factors spending time in the marketplace looking, listening, and asking questions before making the purchase will prepare you to be a wise buyer more likely to get what you really want, at a fair price.

Selecting a Diamond

The diamond engagement ring has emerged as the universal symbol of love and commitment between two people. Not only is it the formal beginning; visible “announcement” of your your engagement, but the centuries old symbolism surrounding diamond reflects both the preciousness of the moment and commitment made by two people in love to cherish each other forever.
While some woman prefer other gems to diamond, or opt for the special significant of a family heirloom, a diamond is the overwhelming choice of today’s bride.

Some brides to be have no doubt been taken by surprise with the unexpected presentation of an engagement ring, but it is probably safest to go about the task of selecting the ring together. While the element of surprise is very romantic, keep in mind that the engagement ring is meant to be worn for a lifetime. So it is especially important that the bride-to-be really loves it; that it reflects her personal taste and style. If you are a die hard romantic who wants to surprise her, we suggest placing a photo of a ring you like inside the “tiny black ring box” and presenting her with this instead; it combines romance with practicality, and you are sending another important message: not only do you love her, but you understand the importance of working together on such important decision!

The previous and following articles, we will give everything you need to know to purchase a diamond with greater confidence; whether you are shopping for an engagement ring, wedding or anniversary band, or simply a beautiful piece of diamond jewelry to commemorate an important moment. The greater your awareness of the elements that determine diamond quality, the better chances of knowing what you want, getting exactly what you are after, and deriving lasting pleasure from it.

– What is diamond?

Chemically speaking, a diamond is the simplest of all gemstones. A diamond is plain, crystallized carbon; the same substance, chemically, as the soot left on the inside of a glass globe after the burning of a candle; it is the same substance used in lead pencils.

The diamond differs from these in its crystal form, which gives it the desirable properties have made it so highly prized; its hardness, which gives it unsurpassed wear-ability; its brilliance; and its fire. (But note that while diamond is the hardest natural substance known, it can be chipped or broken if hit hard from certain angles, and if the “girdle” has been cut too thin it can be chipped with even a modest blow.)

The transparent white colorless) diamond is most popular variety, but diamond also occurs in colors. When color is prominent it is called a fancy diamond. Diamond is frequently found in nice yellow and brown shades. Diamond color such as pink, light blue, light green, and lavender occur much more rarely. In diamonds, the colors seen are usually pastel. Deep diamond colors in hues of red, green, and dark blue are extremely rare. Historically, most colored diamonds have sold for more than their colorless counterparts, except for light yellow or brown varieties. Yellow or brown in very pale shades may not be fancy diamonds but off color stones that are very common and sell for much less than colorless diamonds or those with true “fancy” color.

In addition to natural color diamonds, “fancies” that have obtained their color artificially, through exposure to certain types of radiation and heating techniques, are readily available. The bill of sale (and any accompanying certification appraisal, etc.) should specify whether the color is natural or induced. If induced, the price should be much less, although the gem will often be just as beautiful as one with a natural color.

– The four factors that determine diamond value
Diamond quality and value are determined by four factors. These are called the “Four C’s.” If we were to rank then based on their important in determining the value of a diamond, we would list them as follows:

– Color (body color)

– Clarity (degree of flawlessness)

– Cutting and proportioning (often referred to as the make)

– Carat weight (which affects the size)

In terms of determining beauty, however, we would rank them in a different order:

1. Cutting and proportioning

2. Color

3. Clarity

4. Carat weight

Tips on getting the diamond you really want, within your budget

If you have an unlimited budget, you may feel it’s important to have a large stone of the finest quality available; a “D” flawless with an ideal make. But for most of us who must work within a limited budget, selecting the correct ring is a matter of learning how to juggle, and discovering what factors will best meet our needs, emotional as well as financial.

– In diamonds, go for color and sparkle first

If you have a limited budget, you have to compromise on something; either the size, color, clarity (flaw grade), or liveliness. Of these four factors, one can see size, color, and liveliness. In terms of what most people notice on the finger, the clarity is the least important in our opinion. Personally, on a limited budget we would choose a stone with the best possible color and liveliness personality.

What most people don’t understand is that even in SI2 diamonds, flaws are not really noticeable when the diamond is being worn and, in most cases, can’t be seen at all without using a magnifier. In fact, if you take a well cut one carat D-color and FL (Flawless)-clarity diamond and hold it nest to a well cut one carat D/SI2 diamond, you will not see any difference with the naked eye. Contrary to what many think, it is not the clarity grade that determines how lively an brilliant a diamond will be, But its cut and proportioning. And you may feel much more sparkling yourself if you can spend $7,500 for a diamond, D/SI2, that could look like a $36,000, D/IF, diamond to anyone without a magnifier!

The diamond brilliance and liveliness is as important as its color. After all, that’s what sets the gem apart from glass and cheap imitations. A well cut diamond has more sparkle; more brilliance and “fire,” than any other gem. But the key to the sparkle is in its being well cut. We have seen diamonds that were so badly cut that they had no life at all. In fact, one might just as well be looking at a piece of glass.

For this reason, we prefer diamonds with very fine makes. Diamonds that are cut to look a little larger than they actually are can also be pretty, but when they are cut too spread, they will be lifeless. In our opinion, we’d rather buy a diamond that’s cut exceptionally well; a diamond that really dances before the eye, even though it costs more. Because it does cost more, we would consider lowering the color grade a little in exchange for the best possible “make,” or coming down in size a little. As you shop around, be sure to pay attention to the way a diamond is cut. Ask to see diamonds with “ideal” makes. You’ll soon be able to spot differences in brilliance and liveliness. Then your eye will help you find the right balance for your own budget.

– A small difference in points can make a big difference in dollars.

The cost of a diamond increases significantly when it reaches the full, 1 carat weight. However, try to find a diamond that weight 90 points (or 9/10 of a carat). When set, few can see the difference between a 90 points diamond and one that is a full one carat diamond. The difference, however, is very noticeable in dollars. Where a fine one carat diamond (G/VS1 quality) might sell for $9,800, the same quality diamond weighting 90 points might cost only $8,500. The money you save could pay for a beautiful diamond studded wedding band!

A word of caution: Be careful that you aren’t sold a diamond that is too “spread” (a term used to describe a diamond that is cut to look larger than its real weight). We’ve seen diamonds weighing 90 points that are actually LARGER in dimension than 1 carat diamond that is cut well. These diamonds usually lack the brilliance and sparkle of a well made diamond. You may be pleased with with their size, but make sure you are pleased with the sparkle. After all, if you are paying for a diamond, you deserve a stone that show its full beauty.

– What to consider when selecting the color grade.

D-color is the rarest and most expensive color in white diamonds. There are very few diamonds that receive this very high grade. Diamonds graded from D through H on the GIA scale are graded in the “white” by other grading systems and, when mounted, will appear white. I and J colors are colored “slightly tinted” by other systems and you may see some yellowish or brownish tint in the stone body color. K and L may also be called “tinted white,” and you can more easily see the tint. M through Z may also be called “tinted color” or “off white” and appear yellowish or brownish white.

The difference in cost between D and E color, however; even though both considered “white” diamonds, can be significant.

It is important to remember that when a diamond is set, it is extremely difficult to tell the difference between D, E, and F colors without comparing them immediately nest to each other. For those on a budget, selecting a diamond with E, F, or G color rather than D might enable you to bets meet all your expectations; a “white'” diamond with lots of sparkle in a pleasing size.

– The color of your setting can make your diamond appear more white.

If you are on a limited budget, keep in mind that if you feel you can’t afford a diamond as white as you would like and still have the size and sparkle that’s important, setting the stone in a white gold or platinum may make the diamond appear more white than it really is. Less white diamonds (L through M colors) can actually look more white in a white gold or platinum setting; the whiteness of the metal is reflected into the diamond and masks the yellow, making the diamond appear more white. Yellowish tinted diamond ( M – Z Colors) usually look more white in a yellow gold setting, where the contrast with with the bright yellow of the setting masks the yellowish tint of the diamond and often makes it appear more white.

– Flaws may mar the beauty of your diamond ring less than you think.

On a budget, they may add beauty! As discussed previously, flaws cannot normally be seen in a mounted diamond with the naked eye until the classification I1 clarity! And even in diamonds classified as “I'” flaws are not immediately visible when the diamond is set, especially when worn. So, while it’s important to know what the flaw grade is to be sure you are paying the correct price, this is the factor you can stretch the farthest without affecting the beauty of the diamond you select. It’s one area in which juggling can dramatically affect the budget while not affecting the sparkle. Therefore, we normally recommend trying to meet your personal preferences regarding the other three factors first. The price difference between Flawless and Internally Flawless, and each successive grade, can be dramatic. Looking at the diamonds without using a loupe, the D/SI@ would look like the D/IF!

– Consider shapes other than round.

While the round brilliant cut diamond is considered by most to be the cut that best reveals the diamond’s maximum beauty, it normally looks smaller than diamonds cut in other shapes. Today women are showing an increased interest in other shapes. In comparison to the round, pear shaped diamonds and marquise shaped diamonds look larger.

– Consider a design that uses several small stones than one large diamond.

As we discussed in greater depth in previous articles, may beautiful designs use several small diamonds rather than one large diamond. These designs offer a beautiful way to keep the budget down. The smaller the diamond, the lower the price per carat. For example, a one carat round brilliant cut diamond set in a solitaire ring more than a ring containing three diamonds having a total weight of one carat (each diamond weighing 1/3 carat). A solitaire, while it is the most popular ring style among new brides-to-be, is also the most expensive.

Look for the innovative designs available in multi gemstone rings. These offer an alternative that can create a very important and individual look.

– Illusion settings.

Certain settings create an illusion that diamond is larger than it is.

– Bold designs in gold and platinum add importance and distinctiveness to smaller diamonds.

New designs reflecting today’s more independent woman have had a major impact on the engagement ring and wedding band market. Using wider, innovative designs in metal can create a very impressive look, using a smaller diamond (less that one carat) as well as larger diamonds.

– Listen to your heart as well as your head.

The most important consideration in the selection of your engagement ring is how you feel about it. You want to feel a thrill; you want to feel excited; you want it to be your choice. If you really prefer yellow gold, don’t let someone talk you into platinum; if you really prefer the pear shape diamond, don’t let someone talk you into round shape diamond.
One of our clients was torn between two diamonds; one had the finest possible color D and she knew it was the “better” diamond.

The other was a little larger and it was not quite as white, F color, but it had a magnificent make and the sparkle was really dazzling. She decided on the slightly larger diamond, even though it was F color, because she was honest with herself and her fiancee; she really preferred a diamond that was a little larger, she was constantly drawn back to that diamond because of its “personality.” The other diamond was a “rarer” stone, color-wise, which made it more expensive on the per carat basis, but it was not the one she really felt excited about. She made the right choice in going with her heart and not her head!

Diamond Grading report (certificate)

Today, few fine diamonds over one carat are sold without a diamond grading report (or certificate, as they are also called) from a respected laboratory. Reports issued by the GIA, Gem Trade laboratory, are the most widely used in the United States and in many countries around the world.
A grading report does more than certify the diamond’s genuineness; it fully describes the stone and evaluates each of the critical factors affecting quality, beauty, and value. The information they contain can provide verification of the facts as represented by the seller and enable one to make a safer decision when purchasing a diamond. Another important function of the reports is to verify the identity of the specific diamond at some some future time. Also for insurance purposes, the the information provided on the report will ensure replacement of the lost or stolen diamond with one that is truly compatible quality.

The availability and widespread use of these reports can, when properly understood, enable even those without professional skills to make valid comparison between several diamonds and more informed buying decisions.

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What You Should Know When Buying a Diamond Ring

Diamond information for couples interested in buying a diamond engagement ring. At a point in nearly every man’s life, there comes a time when his heart knows it’s time to buy a diamond engagement ring for the woman he loves. Only then will you feel comfortable buying a diamond engagement ring. There are many things to consider when learning how to buy a diamond, you should never rush into buying a diamond without first doing a little research as to how the diamonds are priced. Buying a diamond is no different, except most of know us very little about diamonds. Buying a diamond ring is often an emotional – not to mention expensive – experience.

Diamond Ring:
Buying a diamond ring can be a huge investment and you want to get one with the perfect diamond in it, so you may be intimidated if you are a first time buyer. Buying a diamond means investing in a piece for forever. Every individual buying a diamond seeks out the best they can afford. When buying a diamond, consider your budget and where the stone will be worn to help determine the ideal carat size. The Four C’s of Buying a Diamond, to determine the best price for your ring, you need to be familiar with the four C’s. The four C’s of cut, color, clarity, and carat are explained.

Diamond Color
Most diamonds have a slight hint of yellow and the diamond color scale is based on the amount of yellow present in a diamond. It’s the absence of color that adds value to the diamond. Diamond color is graded according to the GIA Grading Scale. Grades are based on the amount of yellow that is visible when viewed face down through the pavilion using the GIA Diamond Lite. The color scale ranges from D (colorless) to Z (yellow tinge).

Diamond Cut
To achieve the maximum reflection of light that causes a diamond to sparkle requires a diamond to have an Ideal/Excellent cut grade. Ideal cut diamonds are graded as such because they fall within the ideal cut grade parameters specified by the diamond grading labs. The better cut grades are likely to display more fire and brilliance and since their appearance is more desirable, they are priced accordingly. The GIA and EGL have only extended ideal/excellent cut grade parameters to round brilliant stones at this time. Determining a diamond’s cut grade, however, goes beyond simple measurements of width and depth. Diamond Cut is perhaps the most important of the four C’s.

Diamond Clarity
A diamond’s clarity is determined by the number, nature, position, size and color of internal characteristics called “inclusions” and surface features called “blemishes”. These show themselves as the various characteristics which make up the clarity of a diamond, included crystals, feathers, clouds etc. These characteristics are sometimes not visible to the naked eye and they are what make each diamond unique. This clarity grade becomes more important as the diamond size increases. The clarity scale was developed by the Gemological Institute of America GIA to quantify these imperfections.

Diamond Carat
It is a common misconception that carats refer to the size of a diamond. In reality, a carat is the standard unit of weight by which diamonds are measured. Since a carat is a measure of weight, not size, one diamond of the same carat weight may look bigger than another depending on the cut. A premium cut diamond may actually appear bigger than many diamonds of a higher carat weight.

Diamond Shape
Stones come in different shapes – round, oval, marquise, pear, emerald, heart, princess, and radiant.

Round
A round brilliant is a great choice if you want the most sparkle and the most enduring classic shape round-brilliant diamonds are the only shape to have this ideal proportion defined. Brilliant cut diamonds have facets that are shaped like triangles and kites. Today’s round brilliant diamond has a total of fifty-eight facets, but you’ll see varying facet numbers in vintage brilliant cut diamonds. Even though Round Brilliant cut diamonds are the most expensive in the market, they make up the overwhelming majority of diamonds found in engagement rings, and are popular as stud earrings and pendants.

Oval
The elongated shape of Oval diamonds gives a very flattering effect to your finger when worn in a ring, and is found in some of the most beautiful diamond engagement rings. Unlike round cut diamonds, oval cut diamonds have an elongated shape, which makes the diamond appear larger in carat weight. Oval cut diamonds are essentially elongated round cut diamonds. Many women with smaller hands or shorter fingers prefer the look of oval cut diamonds and pear shaped diamonds because they truly slenderize and elongate the fingers on the hand.

Marquise
While marquise diamonds are not as popular as round cut diamonds or princess cut diamonds, they are still quite sophisticated and elegant. A marquise cut diamond has a uniquely beautiful shape that is favoured by many women, but a small percentage of brilliance will be sacrificed for the beauty of this uniquely diamond shape. Compared to the round cuts, the marquise diamonds are not as popular these days. In addition, the shape of the marquise diamond almost makes the stone appear larger than it is. The Marquise shape was created for Louis the XIV and is has become a timeless classic.

Pear
The pear shape is a stunningly feminine diamond shape with a rounded end on one side and a tapering point at the other. Due to their elongated shape, pear cut diamonds are known for their slenderizing effect. .The Pear cut allows a range of cutting styles, so that the teardrop shape can be wider, slimmer, or cut to Ideal proportions, based on your choice and preferences. Pear shaped diamonds have a rounded end and a single point. While pear shaped diamonds are not as traditional as round cut diamonds, or as trendy as princess cut diamonds, they are still coveted by many people.

Emerald
The emerald-cut diamond is among the most classic of diamond shapes that is distinguished by beveled corners and step facets, emerald cut diamonds are more transparent than other shapes, resulting in the need for higher standards of clarity. The emerald cut can be one of the least expensive to cut because its shape is most like the natural shape of the rough diamond crystal. Because of the angle, size and shape of the facets, the emerald cut shows less brilliance and fire dispersion than the other brilliant cut diamonds. However, the emerald cut stone reveals a classic beauty and elegance not seen in other cuts. The trim lines of Emerald cut diamonds lend an elegant, sophisticated air to both the simplest of ring designs.

Heart
The heart-shaped diamond is the most romantic of diamond shapes and a symbol of love and affection, the heart cut diamond is an excellent choice for an anniversary or engagement ring. It is a tender gesture to make to someone special. A quality heart-shaped diamond is lovely and distinctive, with an even shape and well-defined outline. They are the ultimate symbol of romance, and more and more people are choosing heart cut diamonds for engagement and anniversary rings. Heart Shaped Diamonds are rarer and more expensive as it takes a large piece of diamond rough to shape cut and polish to something that is the ultimate symbol of love “the heart”

Princess
A modern innovation, the princess shape dazzles and sparkles with its star burst facet pattern, while still leaving the crown of the diamond flat and open. The princess cut is stunning set as a solitaire it is a modern classic of clean, square lines and beautiful sparkle. Its sharp corners are usually contained in a four-pronged or bezel set in wedding rings. You will also find Princess cut diamonds are often channeled into the wedding band itself. Princess Cut Diamonds are for those people who love the sparkle and brilliance associated with round cut diamonds, but prefer the shape of a square. While the round brilliant solitaire seems to be the most popular shape right now for engagement rings, many people are deviating from this trend and going with princess cut diamonds.

Radiant
The radiant cut was first patented in the late 1970’s by Henry Grossbard, with its angular shape and brilliant cut facets it makes a scintillating alternative to other cuts such as the Emerald cut. The radiant shaped diamond can be considered a modified brilliant diamond that is closely related to the princess cut diamond because of its square shape. High quality Radiant cut diamonds combine the fire and sparkle of Emerald and Round cuts.

Now you know the different shapes of diamonds that you can purchase and which shape will accentuate individual fingers or provide brilliant sparkle we can now move on to the ring.

There are many different metals used for rings today which can be grouped into two, precious and non -precious, those in the precious group including silver, gold, and platinum, while those in the non-precious group can include brass, copper ad nickel. Most rings today are made of gold or platinum so we will focus our discussion on these two precious metals.

Gold
Gold comes in various colors that can reflect the carat value of the carat of yellow gold with 10k, 14k and 18k being the most popular. Did you know that you can get Rose Gold, white gold and yellow gold and that white gold is more a silver color than white? Until recently white gold was yellow gold with as much of the yellow gold removed as possible, however it was still not a true white color. To give you that white (silver) brilliance the rings are plated with Rhodium or palladium.

Platinum
Platinum became very popular for its natural white (silver) color and durability. Customers that buy white gold rings that have rhodium plating will have to have the ring re-plated every few years if it’s worn regularly, as the rhodium wears off. With platinum the color stays the same no mater how often you wear it. Platinum is about twice the price of 14K Gold and can push the price of the setting and diamond out of the range of some customers.

Ring Mounts
There are thousands of different settings available for you to choose from; they come in all shapes and sizes, from solitaires to multi stone rings. Your choice is a personal one; however you should consider when you are going to be wearing your ring. If you plan to wear it daily then pick something with a low profile that protects the diamond and setting from getting damaged if you accidentally catch it against something. This could lead to the diamond coming loose and having to be reset, to forcing the diamond out of the mounting and breaking it.

On the other hand, if you are only going to wear the ring for special occasions then purchase a mount that holds the diamond high so that it’s well displayed and allow the light to enter unobstructed from the top and show the scintillating fire and brilliance.

Remember that if you are purchasing a high quality diamond for your ring that having other diamonds around it will detract from your central diamond. If on the other hand you are purchasing a smaller center diamond adding smaller ones around the outside will make the center one look larger.

Diamond Flaws

Exterior Flaws

Blemishes

These diamond flaws are present on the surface of a stone and can occur naturally. However, these are more likely to be caused due to the external environment, when a diamond was being cut and polished. These blemishes are classified as under.

Scratches

These are fine lines found on the surface of the diamond. They may have been present naturally or caused when a diamond was cut. While minor scratches can be removed through proper polishing, deep scratches need to be carefully considered while purchasing a stone.

Extra facets

These are usually cut to remove blemishes or certain close to surface inclusions on diamonds. At times these extra facets are also cut to enhance the brilliance of the diamond. These do not usually affect the clarity grade of a diamond.

Fracture

A breakage in diamonds that is not parallel to the cleavage plane is referred to as a fracture. Fractures are usually irregular in shape making a diamond look chipped. The practice of fracture filling is commonly employed to improve the clarity of such diamonds.

Fingerprints

Fingerprint inclusions in the shape of fingerprints can sometimes be found in diamonds. However such inclusions are rare in diamonds as compared to other stones like rubies. Such inclusions are usually formed during fluid assisted partial healing of fractures already present in stones. For this to take place in diamonds, high pressures and temperatures are required, which is unusual. Till now few such inclusions have been reported in natural blue and colorless diamonds. While this could indicate that diamonds have been HPHT treated , giving the required temperatures for fingerprint inclusions, such is not always the case. The earth may also cause geologically high temperatures, leading to the formation of fingerprint inclusions.

Pits

Small holes may be present on the surface of a diamond. These pits are usually not visible to the naked eye. However, pits present on the table facet of a diamond are usually visible and reduce the clarity of a diamond.

Nicks

Diamonds are also chipped at places causing the appearance of nicks. This is often repaired by adding extra facets. However too many facets reduce the brilliance of a diamond and are to be avoided.

Naturals

This refers to the original surface of the diamond which has not been polished and left as it is. Naturals are usually left on or near the girdle of the diamond. While these are considered as blemishes, the presence of naturals is a sign of good cutting practice, where the cutter has managed to retain as much of the original weight as possible. Indented naturals are also seen to exist on some stones, where the portion of the natural is seen to dip inside slightly from the diameter of the stone. Here the cutter usually leaves the indented natural either at the girdle or pavilion of the stone, in order to keep it less noticeable. In such positions, the natural is not visible even with a loupe. Indents can be removed if the cutter polishes out rougher. However, this would result in a drop of the diamond’s weight by up to 25%.

Carbons

Diamonds are made from carbon, usually graphite. Nevertheless, while a diamond is being formed, it may not totally crystallize leading to the presence of small dots of black carbon. These black spots have been classified to be those of graphite, pyrrhotite and pentlandite. These surface flaws resemble a small black dot and may affect the clarity of the stone depending on the size of imperfection. The occurrence of this kind of flaw is rare in diamonds as compared to pinpoint inclusions. Carbons are usually seen in white or blue-white stones. However carbons are not commonly found in diamonds of poorer colors.

Chips

The breaking off of a small piece of diamond towards the surface is usually referred to as chipping. The term may be confused with ‘diamond chips’ which refer to very small pieces of diamonds. These are usually caused due to minor impact from the environment. Downward impact caused when a stone is being set or is being worn, can cause chips on the culet of the diamond. As these are commonly caused when a diamond is worn, it is suggested that while diamonds are being set, a little space be left between the base of the diamond and the head of the prongs of the ring. This space acts as a cushion protecting the diamond from possible chipping when it falls. Chips are however easy to remove.

Cavity

Larger chipping in diamonds leads to a diamond cavity. This term thus refers to the presence of a large or deep opening in a diamond. These can be caused either accidentally or when a diamond cutter has removed a large crystal inclusion close to the diamond surface.

Internal flaws

Crystal/ mineral inclusions

Some diamonds show the presence of small crystals, minerals or other diamonds. These are classified in various categories depending upon the size and structure of the inclusion. While many such inclusions are small in size and not visible to the naked eye, some diamonds may have large inclusions, which can be seen with the naked eye and can affect a diamond’s clarity and also its life. Some crystals resemble a diamond inside a diamond and may also add to the look of the stone. These take on shapes of bubbles, needles or grains and are classified as under

Pinpoint inclusions

As the name implies, these inclusions are minute crystals usually white in color present inside the diamond. These resemble a small point of light and are, by far, the most common of all flaws found in diamonds. Most pinpoint inclusions do not affect the clarity of a diamond and are not visible to the naked eye and are usually not indicated on the plotting diagrams of diamond reports. Comments such as pinpoints not shown may be listed in the comments section.

Needles

Diamond crystals in a diamond can also be present in the form of long and thin needles. These may not be visible to the naked eye, unless the needle inclusion is of a noticeable color or has a noticeable presence. Some needle inclusions are known to give diamonds a special look too.

Cloud

The presence of three or more pinpoint inclusions close together can create an area of haze or a cloud in the diamond. While the occurrence of a small cloud is not visible to the naked eye, presence of many pinpoints covering a large area can affect the clarity of the diamond. These are usually indicated on grading reports in the form of tiny red dots close together or as circles and other formations.

Knots

When diamond crystals extend to the surface of the diamond, they are referred to as knots. These can be viewed under proper lighting conditions with a diamond loupe. Certain knot formations may also cause raised areas on particular facets of the diamond. The presence of knots may affect both the clarity and durability of the diamond and are best avoided.

Grain lines

Crystal inclusions in diamonds can also occur in the form of lines, known as grain lines. These are usually formed due to improper crystallization of the diamond, when it was being formed. Grain lines can also be caused due to improper polishing of the diamond. Even skilled diamond cutters may come across diamonds with variations in hardness when a facet is polished. This can cause microscopic lines across the facet. These grains are usually difficult to remove without excessive weight loss. Grain lines are commonly seen in pink fancy diamonds. A saturation of grain lines on pink stones can also make them look red.

Feathers

These are cracks in the stone that resemble the design of feathers. Presence of this in a diamond usually does not affect the life of the stone unless and until the feather runs through a major length of the stone or shows major stress points where it can break. If the cracks reach the surface or have deep fissures, the durability of the stone may be reduced with the possibility of the stone breaking with age.

Twinning Wisps

Twinning wisps or intergrowths may also be seen in diamonds. These formations are usually inclusions in diamonds that have twisted together during the time of diamond formation. Thus various inclusions like pinpoints, needles or feathers may form together creating a white strip inside the diamond. Surface graining may also be seen in some cases. Such intergrowths are more commonly seen in fancy shaped diamonds and are extremely rare in ideal cut diamonds.

Cleavage

These are cracks in a diamond that occur in a straight line and are parallel to one of the diamond’s crystallographic planes. Cleavages are usually caused by deep internal strain in a diamond and could also have been caused by a strong blow on the diamond. It usually shows no feathers and has a great chance of causing the stone to split, especially if placed in the high pressure grip of prongs in rings. Stones with cleavage must be chosen carefully and avoided as far as possible.

Bearding

Also known as girdle fencing or ‘dig marks’, this is caused around the diamond’s girdle as the diamond is cut or bruited. These fine lines usually resemble a hair strand and do not present a problem. However extensive bearding can lessen the brightness of the diamond. It is suitable that such diamonds be cut or polished again to improve luster.

Diamond flaws are not always a negative phrase. In fact it is these flaws that often lend a loose diamond its distinctive beauty. It is often these flaws that make a stone look unique and often raise its value much further. It is however necessary that while purchasing individual diamonds, the buyer examines them with a jeweler’s magnifier to check its brilliance and the presence of flaws. Careful considerations will go a long way in helping you buy a stone that remains precious, beautiful and unique for a lifetime.