Collecting Diamonds, the April birthstone
Lucky April babies – because their birthstone is that most dazzling of gems, the diamond. Prices remain strong, and are determined by multiple factors – collections generally have to be built slowly over time (it’s lucky that birthdays come but once a year)! There are several factors to nail down before diamond shopping anywhere.
The Four ‘Cs’
Diamonds follow very strict guidelines, standardised across the world, to offer assistance to those buying them. The Four Cs are famous in the world of jewellery – because they the cover the basics of a diamond’s appearance no matter what shape it is fashioned into. Here, a quick overview:
Colour: For clear diamonds, the scale is alphabetical, and starts at D (absolutely colourless) and goes all the way to Z, when stones are visibly yellow or grey. D,E,F are all considered colourless; G,H,I are near colourless; J,K,L are tinted (most often with yellow).
Cut: This refers to the proportions and symmetry of a stone, and is what makes it sparkle – probably the most important factor in any diamond. Official certification terms start at ‘Excellent’ (the best), and down through ‘Very Good’, ‘Good’, ‘Fair’ and ‘Poor’ (the stone will look lifeless, without light return). However, the easiest way to decipher this is to actually have a play with the stone yourself. Tilt the piece back and forward, rock it in the light. What should come back to your eye is a mix of white (known as ‘brilliance’) and colour (known in the industry as ‘fire’).
Clarity: The majority of diamonds have inclusions, some more than others – and no two diamonds look the same on the inside; inclusions are like their fingerprint! Inclusions should not be eye-visible (i.e. able to view without magnification). Terminology begins with Flawless (very rare), and follows through Internally Flawless, Very Very Slightly Included (VVS), Very Slightly Included (VS), Slightly Included (SI) and Included (I).
Carat: This is the size of a diamond. 1 carat is equivalent to .200g in weight – the same no matter the shape of the stone. Dimensions of course differ for varying shapes, but for example, a well-cut 1 carat round brilliant diamond should have a diameter of 6.5mm.
A Timeline of Diamond Shapes
One of the oldest diamond cuts, the rose cut has very few facets and no table (the large flat surface on top of any modern stone), a reflection of an attempt to keep as much weight as possible when cutting. Instead, the stone facets meet in a point. Double rose cuts are very beautiful (the base and top cut in symmetrical fashion), and could most be likened to a modern-day briolette.
Old European Cut
Large culets, small tables and an often-non symmetrical outline characterise old European-cut diamonds, the front runner to the modern brilliant as we know it.
Modern Brilliant Cut
With the advent of Computer Aided Design and lasers, the modern diamond cut as we know it was born. For a round brilliant, this means extremely precise parameters and angles that come together for 58 standard facets for a big flash from the stone.