Key to the Diamond Quality Pyramid
To establish a diamond's quality, jewelers examine each of the 4Cs -- cut, clarity, carat weight
and color. The combination of the 4Cs determines the value of a particular diamond. For example,
a colorless diamond is at the top of the Diamond Quality Pyramid in color ... but if it lacks
clarity, is small, or not well cut; it will be of a lower value. The finest stones possess the
rarest quality in each of the 4Cs, and are the most valuable.
Strive for a stone that offers the best combination of the 4Cs. Knowing a diamond's place in
the Diamond Quality Pyramid will help you to make an informed decision. Ultimately, you'll discover
the unique combination of the 4Cs that makes a particular diamond the right choice for you. Its
beauty and brilliance will capture the true sentiment of the occasion.
The Larger a Diamond, the More Rare
Larger diamonds are found relatively infrequently in nature, which places them at the rarest
level of the Diamond Quality Pyramid. What also makes a bigger diamond so desirable is that
it shows off a stone's fine color and cut, and therefore its brilliance, to its best advantage.
A diamond's size is measured in carat weight, and each carat is equal to 100 points. A
.75 carat diamond is the same as a 75-point diamond or a 3/4 carat stone.
While larger diamonds are highly prized, diamonds of equal size may vary widely in value
and brilliance, depending on their qualities of clarity, cut, and color.
The More Pure the Color in a Diamond, the More Rare
Diamonds are graded by color, starting at D and continuing through the alphabet. Truly
colorless stones, graded D, treasured for their rarity and value, are highest on the Diamond
While many diamonds appear colorless, they may actually have subtle yellow or brown tones
and these color grades include P and Q. Although still beautiful, they will be less rare
and therefore less valuable. To appreciate the simple beauty of each individual stone, you
should compare diamonds side by side with a jeweler.
"Fancy" diamonds -- in well defined colors that include red, pink, blue, green
and canary yellow -- are highly prized and particularly rare.
The Purer a Diamond, the More Brilliant
The greater a diamond's clarity, the more brilliant, valuable and rare it is -- and the
higher it is on the Diamond Quality Pyramid.
Virtually all natural diamonds contain identifying characteristics, yet many are invisible
to the naked eye. Under the scrutiny of a jeweler's 10x-magnifying loupe or microscope,
natural phenomena -- called inclusions -- may be seen. These are nature's birthmarks, and
they may look like tiny crystals, clouds, or feathers.
Diamonds categorized as internally flawless reveal no such inclusions. Flawless stones
are at the peak of the Diamond Quality Pyramid and are treasured for their rarity and beauty.
Diamonds with very, very small inclusions are graded as VVS1 or VVS2. The larger the inclusion,
the lower the grade and the less rare the diamond. Inclusions that can be seen with the
naked eye are graded I1 or I3.
The number, color, type, size and position of surface and internal birthmarks affect a
diamond's value. Major inclusions can interfere with the path of light that travels through
a diamond, diminishing its brilliance and sparkle and therefore its value.
The Better Cut a Diamond, the More Brilliant
A well cut or faceted diamond, regardless of its shape, scintillates with fire and light
-- offering the greatest brilliance and value.
While nature determines a diamond's clarity, carat weight and color, the hand of a master
craftsman is necessary to release its fire, sparkle and beauty. When a diamond is cut to
good proportions, light will reflect from one mirror-like facet to another and disperse
through the top of the stone, resulting in a display of brilliance and fire.
Diamonds that are cut too deep or too shallow lose light that spills through the side or
bottom. As a result, poorly cut stones will be less brilliant and beautiful -- and certainly
less valuable -- than well cut diamonds higher on the Diamond Quality Pyramid.