A diamond is a natural gem made by the splendor of nature.
The brilliance, fire and uniqueness of each diamond depends on many factors, the most important of which are the 4 Cs: Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat.
Color is based on the naturally occurring color within a diamond, ranging from colorless to fancy deep yellows. Colorless diamonds allow more light to pass through them than colored stones. Acting as a prism, diamond divides light into a spectrum of colors and reflects this light as colorful flashes called fire. The less color in a diamond, the more colorful the internal fire and brilliance of the stone, and the better the color grade.
D: Absolutely colorless. The highest color grade, which is extremely rare.
E: Colorless. Only minute traces of color can be detected by an expert gemologist. A rare diamond.
F: Colorless. Slight color detected by an expert gemologist, but still considered a "colorless" grade. A high-quality diamond.
G-H: Near-colorless. Color noticeable when compared to diamonds of better grades, but these grades offer excellent value.
I-J: Near-colorless. Color slightly detectable. An excellent value.
K-M: Visible color. Not carried at Soho Gem.
N-Z: Visible color to Intense and Fancy colors.
Since diamonds are made by nature, most have natural internal blemishes that stamp uniqueness unto each stone. These small inclusions were formed by minerals or other earthy materials that became one with the diamond during its formation. Diamonds that are absolutely clear are the most sought-after and therefore the most expensive. GIA (Gemological Institute of America) uses a detailed system of rules and standards to classify the clarity of each stone.
FL, IF Diamonds: Flawless: No internal or external flaws. Internally Flawless: No internal flaws. Very rare and beautiful diamonds.
VVS1, VVS2 Diamonds: Very, Very Slightly Included: Very difficult to see inclusions under 10x magnification. An excellent quality diamond.
VS1, VS2 Diamonds: Very Slightly Included: Inclusions are not typically visible to the unaided eye. Less expensive than the VVS1 or VVS2 grades.
SI1, SI2 Diamonds: Slightly Included: Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification, and may be visible with the unaided eye. A good diamond value.
I1, I2, I3 Diamonds: Included: Soho Gem does not carry diamonds of I-grade clarity.
Diamond cut refers to the angles and proportions of the diamond. Diamonds are mined from the ground rough before skilled craftsmen cut and polish them to specific geometric proportions, which have a significant affect on the beauty and brilliance of the diamond. The skill with which a diamond is cut determines how well it reflects and refracts light. A well cut diamond will internally reflect light from one mirror like facet to another and disperse and deflect the light through the top of the stone. Unfortunately, there is no single measurement that defines its cut, but rather a collection of measurements and observations that determine the relationship between a diamond's light performance, dimensions and finish.
Carat is the unit of weight of the diamond. Carat is often confused with size even though it is actually a measure of weight. On average, 250 tons of earth must be moved to produce a single one-carat diamond. Larger diamonds are far less common than smaller ones, thus making them much more valuable.
Shape of Diamonds
Since all diamond shapes are very different, unique characteristics determine quality of each shape. Diamond cutters have been using advance theories of light behavior and precise mathematical calculations to optimize fire and brilliance in each particular cut.
Round Brilliant Diamond
This classic diamond shape is by far the most popular diamond shape today. There are 58 total facets in a round brilliant, usually with 33 on the crown, 24 on the pavilion, and 1 on the culet. The fire and brilliance of a well-cut round brilliant diamond is unmatched.
Princess Cut Diamond
This shape is typically square, but can also be slightly rectangular. In the grand scheme of diamonds, the princess cut has just recently become popular. The 4 prong mount that a princess cut diamond is set in should protect the corners from chipping. A princess cut can look smaller than other shapes for its weight because comparatively speaking it is "bottom-heavy".
Pear Shaped Diamonds
The pear shape is known as a hybrid cut, sharing characteristics of both the oval and the marquise. Its shape resembles a teardrop, and can make beautiful dangle earrings or pendants, but is also seen as a center stone. Beware of dark areas in the shape of a bowtie due to poor cutting proportions.
A marquise cut diamond can be described as having the shape of a football, and it can make average length fingers look long and slender. This diamond shape can look relatively large for it's carat weight. Marquise cut diamonds are usually good in color, as a poorer color will show near the points of the stone. The name comes from the smile of the French Marquise de Pompadour.
Oval diamonds can have a brilliance similar to that of the round brilliant. They're in high demand, so usually expensive for their carat weight. They can also lengthen the appearance of a woman's fingers, but are susceptible to dark, bowtie shaped areas when they are poorly cut.
Emerald Cut Diamond
The emerald cut was originally developed for just that - cutting emeralds. They resemble a rectangle with angled or beveled corners. They are "step cut", because their facets look like steps. Because the facets are large and few, inclusions are much more easily seen. For this reason, better clarity stones are typically used for an emerald cut. They have far less fire and brilliance than other cuts, but they create bright flashes of light rather than small sparkly reflections.
The radiant cut resembles the emerald cut from above, but the pavilion has a facet pattern that maximizes the stone's brilliance. This is a deeper cut than others, especially for shapes that are more rectangular than square. The angled corners help protect it against chipping. The radiant cut is very popular in 3 stone rings, and it's often seen in fancy-colored diamonds as well. Beware of "bowties".
Heart Shaped Diamonds
The proportions used in the cutting of heart shaped stones are up to the tastes of the cutter, so the heart may be skinny or fat. This style is often used for solitaire necklaces, and for obvious reasons, it's a very popular shape around St. Valentine's Day. A heart shaped diamond is similar to the pear shaped diamond, but it has a cleft at the top. Sometimes cutters use stones that would otherwise be cut to a different shape, but an inclusion is removed where the cleft is. Heart shaped diamonds can have excellent brilliance if well cut.
Trilliant is a term that combines "triangular" and "brilliant". It's also sometimes called a "trillion". They are generally triangular in shape, but a trilliant diamond can have slightly rounded corners rather than sharp points. They usually have 50 facets, and can appear larger than a round diamond of the same carat weight. Trilliants are often used as side stones but can be center stones too.
The baguette is a long, skinny rectangle shape that became popular around the art deco period. The shape can also be tapered. Like the emerald cut, the baguette is a "step cut" diamond, but it does not have angled or beveled facets on the corners. There are usually only 2 rows of facets, and the view of the interior of the stone is very clear so inclusions are more easily seen than in other shapes.
The cushion cut is an antique style of cutting which resembles a pillow shape. It can be elongated, appearing rectangular or oval and also can be more square. The facets tend to be larger to increase their brilliance. The cushion is a romantic cut blending old world charm with modern elegance.
This beautifully unique shape is nearly identical to the emerald-cut, except that it is square. This shape has a pavilion that is cut with rectangular facets in the same style as the emerald-cut and also has cut corners. The Asscher cut was developed in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Holland. GIA does not recognize Asscher as a cut and therefore certifies it as a square emerald.
Every diamond purchased at Soho Gem is analyzed and graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), and a Diamond Grading Report is provided that shows specific characteristics of each diamond. GIA, which is the most respected diamond organization in the world, set the standard for diamond grading and gemological identification. Their grading system serves as the international gem and jewelry industry's benchmark credentials.