We hear the terms all the time on the jeweler ads – grade, cut, color, carat, GIA certification – but do you know what they all mean? Apparently if you are in the market for a diamond or diamond piece of jewelry it is worthwhile to understand these terms to ensure you are getting what you pay for. There are a few institutions that are national and international that regulate and grade these precious stones. The first one is the Gemological Institute of American, or, GIA. This is the entity that operates on a non profit basis to maintain the standards that regulate diamonds to protect both buyers and sellers. With one independently affiliated institution deciding how to grade diamonds there can be no shady business in setting prices based on standards. GIA also does research and provides education on the subject of diamond grading. They set the standard for the four C’s of diamond grading – cut, color, carat, clarity.
When a diamond is GIA certified it has been inspected using the GIA standards and graded based on those international standards. In other words, when you see that certification you can rest assured that the seller of the diamond has not altered the grade in their favor. Because GIA is nonprofit and independent, they exist without the potential bias that a seller might when it comes to determining how pure, and therefore how expensive, a stone is. Their grading system is pretty simple as it rates a stone between 0 and 10, with zero being the highest grade and 10 being the lowest. This system is easy to remember and makes figuring out which diamond you want a bit easier as well. This grading system was put in place by the American Gem Society. Before each stone or gem is placed out for sale, it is rated by an individual who was trained by the society to grade them professionally. So, if you see two stones that look pretty similar, but one is graded as a 5 and another is graded as a 2, it means that the stone graded as a 2 has less color. Diamonds with less color are considered to be more rare and are therefore more valued and more expensive. There is more that goes along with the grade than just the color. Professionals also look at cut, clarity, and carat weight. Cut is the shape and smoothness of the lines that were cut. Clarity refers to blemishes and inclusions, and the weight is the size and/or weight in carats. Buying a new diamond really isn’t as simple as it seemed a few minutes ago, is it?
There is certainly a lot to consider when purchasing either loose diamonds or a new engagement ring, or anything in between. There is the grading with the four C’s – cut, clarity, color, and carat. And there is also the GIA certification to ensure that the worth of the stone has been determined ethically and fairly from an outside third party. Now that you understand the terms associated with a diamond, you are ready to get out there to purchase one.