Holiday Jewelry Gift Guide: Diamonds (Part 2)

You’ve learned about the 4 Cs of diamond quality, now get the scoop on how to evaluate each of them. Part 2 of 2.


The biggest factor in the price of a diamond is clarity. Clarity refers to the imperfections on either the surface of a diamond (“blemishes”) or inside the stone (“inclusions”). The greater the clarity, the more a diamond sparkles – and what’s a diamond without the sparkle?

According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the scale of a diamond’s clarity is like this: flawless, internally flawless, VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2, SI1, SI2, I1, I2, I3. Before buying a diamond promise ring, be sure to find out its clarity grade so you can get a better sense of both its quality and the way it will sparkle on a piece of jewelry.

Nevertheless, don’t get too caught up in minor details of clarity. The difference between a S12 and a VVS1 is minor to a non-expert. The important thing is that you and the person who gets your gift think the diamond looks great.

Diamond clarity chart


Diamonds range in colour from colourless (totally clear) to a faint yellow. A rule of thumb is that he more colorless a diamond is, the more it is worth (excepting the expensive coloured diamonds, like the blue diamond in the film Titanic).

The Gemological Institute of America has a scale for diamond colour:

  • DEF=colourless
  • GHIJ=near colourless
  • KLM=faint yellow
  • NOPQR=very light yellow
  • STUVWXYZ=light yellow
  • Fancy light, fancy, fancy internal=yellow

Again, as with clarity, it’s a good idea to use the colour scale as a rough guide only. Only a highly trained eye could tell the difference between a D and a G. Find out the colour grade of the diamond you’ve got your eye on and use it to compare it to the price of other diamonds of that grade for sale. The important thing is that you get an honest price for what you are paying for.


A good rule of thumb for diamonds is that value is determined by 1/3 clarity, 1/3 colour, and 1/3 cut. Cut is a diamond’s shape. A very popular cut for diamonds is the 58-facet round cut, which means that the stone has 58 flat surfaces surrounding the top, creating a round or oval shape when set in a ring. Other popular cuts include the princess cut and the emerald cut. When choosing a diamond for a holiday gift, consider different cuts, as they affect the overall look of the stone, and thus the piece of jewelry.

The cut of a diamond is important in determining how much it sparkles and how much it costs. This is because the angles on a diamond are crucial in the refraction of light – a key factor in how much a diamond sparkles. An imperfect diamond with a good cut and well-proportioned angles can sparkle terrifically and raise the value of the stone.

Diamond cuts

Credit: The Diamond Auction


Carat refers to how much the diamond weighs, which in turn determines how big it is. A carat is a unit of measurement like an ounce or a gram; 1 carat weighs .20 grams. To deal with irregular numbers, like 0.45 carats, jewelers devised a “points” system, where 1 carat = 100 points. Therefore, a diamond that weighs 0.45 carats weighs 45 points.

A diamond’s weight is a great factor in price. A rough guide for determining price according to carat (in US dollars):

  • 0.5 carat = $1,500
  • 1.0 carat = $5,000
  • 1.5 carat = $8,700
  • 2.0 carat = $13,000
  • 3.0 carat = $22,000

Another term you might encounter when purchasing a diamond is “grain.” A grain is .25 a carat, or 25 points (think of it as a quarter to the dollar of a carat). So: 1 carat = 100 points = 4 grains.

As with clarity and colour though, it’s important to not get too bogged down in the technical details of a diamond’s weight. Use the information you gather about carats to compare diamonds you are sourcing to get the best price you can. Again, the important thing is that the person who gets your gift will be happy.

Enjoying our holiday gift guide series? Tune in next Monday to learn about how to buy customized jewelry.

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