Diamond grading is something that is pretty impactful in the world of jewelry - mostly due to the fact that a diamond's value is largely dictated by the grade of the diamond.  This applies to both naturally mined diamonds as well as lab-created or lab grown diamonds. A diamond's grading certificate literally assesses a grade to various attributes of a diamond.  In addition to listing the carat weight of the diamond, a diamond grading certificate provides the shape, cut, color and clarity of the diamond.

The grading certificate will also provide a roadmap of the individual diamond inclusions.  This is helpful in determining how visible the inclusions will be. We find the grading certificate particularly helpful for instances in which our customer's aren't able to see a particular diamond in person before deciding to purchase. There are a few interesting points to note regarding diamond grading.

A carat is a measurement of weight - not dimensions, so 2 diamonds with the same carat weight will not necessarily have the same dimensions.  A good thing to remember is that the underside of the diamond accounts for a lot of the carat weight, and depending on how a diamond is cut, you'll be able to see more or less of the diamond once it's in a setting.

Clarity refers to the number and type of flaws or "inclusions" that a diamond has.  The placement and quality of the inclusions is as important as the number and size of those inclusions, so 2 diamonds that are both graded SI1 for example (slightly included) can vary significantly in terms of the visible flaws that are apparent to the naked eye.

Cut is graded from Ideal or excellent all the way down to poor.  The better the cut, the more sparkle you'll have. Diamond cutting takes great skill and if you've ever seen a diamond in the rough, you know it doesn't sparkle in that state.  The sparkle potential is unlocked by the quality of the cut.

Color refers to the color that is inherently in the diamond itself.  "Colorless" diamonds still reflect color and bounce color back to your eye.  Different light sources will cause different colors to appear in the fire of the diamond.  As you move down the color scale, you'll begin to see hints of color that are apparent in every light versus beginning with white or colorless stones that refract colors based only on the quality of the light source.

Diamonds are graded independently by certified gemologists that are part of reputable organizations who have no vested interest in the sale price of the diamond.  They simply study each diamond and assess it a value for color and clarity as they perceive it and as it compares to other diamonds. The great thing is that these are impartial judges who have nothing to gain with a favorable grading and nothing to lose with an unfavorable grading.

Carat weight is a science, so that is not open to interpretation.  Cut grade is very important to the optical quality of the diamond. Judging the cut grade is technically complex and involves a lot of measuring of specific dimensions on the diamond. Color and clarity are two features that are open to a lot of personal opinion.  A diamond that scores "low" on the color scale with one gemologist, may score differently with another gemologist. A diamond that is graded as Slightly Included by one gemologist, may grade as Very Slightly Included by another.

All in all, a diamond's grade is a guideline only. There are a range of characteristics that will fall into each grading category. What matters most is the optical properties as seen not with special tools or magnification, but with the naked eye.  This is what we typically refer to as "eye clean". We're focusing more on beauty and less on letter grades - after all, the reason we prize diamonds so highly is for their beauty. Understanding the general grading concepts is great, but don't let it stop you from seeing and appreciating the beauty, fire and brilliance of each individual diamond.