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What is the Best Quality Diamond?

Oct 7, 2021

A diamond ring surrounded by diamonds of varying shapes

Which diamond is the best quality? It's a question that many people ask themselves when they start shopping for diamonds. You may be overwhelmed with all of your options as you search for the perfect diamond. Fortunately, there are some simple things to look at and consider before you go diamond shopping.

How Are Diamonds Graded?

There are two things you should understand when trying to figure out what the best quality diamond is: What it means to be graded and what different grades mean.

Jewelers use an internationally recognized assessment system₁ to evaluate diamond quality. This allows diamonds to be compared regardless of the jeweler or who performed the assessment. The four main elements that are evaluated in this assessment include the diamond’s color, clarity, shape of cut and carat weight. These four things are what many call the 4Cs of a diamond.

How to Select a High-Quality Diamond

The 4Cs are the primary factors in what constitutes a quality diamond.

Color

The industry’s most widely accepted grading system is GIA’s diamond D – Z color-grading scale. This scale begins with the letter D, representing a colorless diamond, through Z, a light yellow or brown diamond. As a diamond’s degree of colorlessness increases, the diamond receives a higher grade on the scale. Though these color distinctions are very subtle, sometimes not even visible to the naked eye, they contribute to the diamond’s quality and price.

Clarity

While diamonds will typically have inclusions and blemishes, the relative absence of those flaws is what a diamond's clarity refers to. A diamond’s clarity involves determining the number, size, relief, nature, and position of its inclusions and blemishes. The GIA diamond grading report measures a diamond’s clarity and assigns each diamond a category. They are: Flawless (FL) means there are no inclusions or blemishes under 10x magnification; internally flawless (IF); very, very slightly included (VVS1 and VVS2); very slightly included (VS1 and VS2); slightly included (SI1 and SI2); and finally, included (I1, I2, I3). It’s important to note that while many flaws cannot be seen by the untrained eye, where a diamond lands on the scale will impact its overall quality and price.

Cut

A diamond’s cut grade refers to how well a diamond’s facets interact with light. The GIA grading system also accounts for the design and craftsmanship of the diamond and can range from Excellent to Poor.

Carat Weight

Carat weight measures how much the diamond weighs. For reference, one carat equals 200 milligrams, and each carat can be subdivided into 100 points. For instance, when a jeweler refers to a diamond as a 50 points, that means the diamond is .50 carats. Typically, diamond carat weight will impact its price, but it’s also important to remember that a diamond’s value depends on the other 3Cs as well. Ultimately, carat weight alone does not determine the diamond’s price. 

Top Tips for Selecting a High-Quality Diamond

Selecting a high-quality diamond is most likely at the top of your priority list, and there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you are selecting a diamond of the highest caliber.

Determining Your Budget

Before you start looking at diamonds, it's important to determine your budget. You should set a limit of how much money you are willing to spend on a diamond and what would qualify as high quality in that price range.

Get an Expert Opinion

Seek out an expert jeweler’s opinion to ensure that what you are getting is right for you and if it will be worth your investment. A jeweler should be able to explain the different qualities of what you are looking for and help guide you in your search.

Ask Family and Friends for Guidance

Most people don’t frequently shop for diamonds, which makes it difficult to remember what things are most important when looking for the perfect diamond. Ask people who have shopped for diamonds what points to consider when they were looking, and what they would recommend in terms of quality, cut, clarity and color.

Shop Smart

It is vital that you know what type of protection you will need for your diamond. Diamonds with lower qualities may require a different level of protection that higher quality diamonds. While some renters or homeowners insurance policies may cover diamonds, it is important to speak to your insurance agent to find what your policy would cover and if any additional coverage is needed.

Common Mistakes When Shopping for a Diamond

When you are getting ready to shop for a diamond, there are some common mistakes that many people make. Be sure to review these prior to choosing so you can avoid these common pitfalls.

Getting stuck on carat size

Many people who are in the market for a diamond focus on the best carat size. It’s a common misconception that a bigger carat size equals a better diamond. As mentioned above, it’s important to evaluate a diamond across all 4Cs: color, clarity, cut and carat. Never choose a diamond based on carat size alone.

Thinking there is a “perfect” diamond

It's easy to get caught up in what you think the perfect diamond should be, or what friends and family may think. The truth is that there are a lot of different types of diamonds, and each one has its own personality. It's best to look at what will work for you and your budget, rather than getting caught up in other people’s opinions. Hint: There is no perfect diamond on the market; just a diamond that’s perfect for you.

Only paying with cash or credit

While paying with cash or credit might be the option you prefer, it is possible to increase your shopping power if you work through an Acima jewelry retailer. Shopping through Acima will allow you to get what you want today and lease it until you own it.

Thinking all certifications are the same

Do not go off the word of a seller or reports by for-profit laboratories, as their grades are often inflated to make you think you are getting a good deal. Only trust not-for-profit institutions like GIA (Gemological Institute of America) and the American Gem Society.

Going over budget

When shopping for a diamond, you should always go into it with a budget in mind. Make sure you are not spending more than your original budget, otherwise your spending might get out of hand and cost you more than you were initially expecting. Remember, no diamond is worth compromising your budget.

Alternatives to Diamonds

While diamonds are the traditional choice for jewelry, there are some alternatives to consider.

If you want a more affordable option, an alternative like moissanite is a popular choice. Some women also prefer the appearance of pearls over diamonds. Work with a jeweler to determine what is best for you and your budget. 

How to Shop for a High-Quality Diamond

When shopping for a diamond without breaking the bank, we recommend shopping through an Acima jewelry retailer. Choose a retail store near you to increase your shopping power.

Common Questions about Diamonds

How do you know if your diamond is real or not?

The best way to tell if a diamond is real or not would be to have a jeweler check for inclusions and blemishes. These imperfections will show up as dark spots on the surface of the stone, and they can tell you what’s going on inside.

How can you take care of your diamonds?

While there are many things you can do to take care of your diamonds, the most important is to make sure you are storing them properly. You should also clean the diamond with a dry brush and cotton cloth, store it separately from other jewelry (especially rings), keep your fingers out of the diamond’s settings and avoid playing with or pressing on your diamonds too hard.

Which diamond clarity is best?

The best diamond clarity is what is considered flawless (F) according to the GIA grading system. The next best clarity would be internally flawless (IF), which is a diamond with minimal external blemishes and no internal inclusions.

The GIA grading goes on to include the following levels of classification that determine a diamond's clarity: very, very slightly included (VVS1 and VVS2); very slightly included (VS1 and VS2); slightly included (SI1 and SI2); and included (I1, I2 and I3).

What is a good quality diamond?

A good quality diamond is what would be considered "eye clean" meaning the inclusions are not visible to the untrained eye.

Is VS1 or VS2 better?

VS stands for Very Slightly Included. VS1 is the better rating compared to VS2 because a diamond graded VS1 has slightly fewer and smaller inclusions.

Sources:

  1. Diamond Quality Factors” — GIA