Written by: Ask the Expert

A Rare Beauty

Not all diamonds are equal and only 20 percent of those mined will ever qualify to be of gem quality. That means eight out of every ten diamonds discovered won’t make the cut and are used in industrial tools such as drill bits, saw blades and grinding wheels. The remaining two are of gem quality and their rarity can vary quite significantly. This can include a $299 tennis bracelet, $7,500 engagement ring or that $20,000 pair of diamond stud earrings you’ve been dreaming about. So let’s discuss the degree of rarity and how it applies to diamonds.

The rarity and worth of a diamond is determined by four factors: cut, color, clarity and carat weight. Keep in mind that it is the specific combination of the four factors (of which there are thousands upon thousands of possibilities) that will determine the rarity of the diamond and hence its value in the current market place. All things being equal, the quality of a diamond’s cut will vary its value by as much as 60%. This means that you could essentially have two diamonds that have the same style of cut, color, clarity and carat weight, yet the one possessing an excellent cut is worth 60 percent more than the other. When you think of cut, think of performance. This is the diamond’s ability to return light and deliver that sparkle, fire and brilliance. It’s like choosing between two sports cars; one is a Mazda Miata and the other a Ferrari. Both are fun to drive and will get you from point A to point B. However, there’s clearly a difference in their look, feel, and overall performance… not to mention the price tag!

Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow. The rarest of all is the Fancy Red with less than 20 of them having been discovered worldwide. Most of us are seeking to possess diamonds that have little or no color at all. As a general rule, the “whiter” the diamond, the fewer impurities it has and the more valuable it is. These chemical impurities are what give a diamond its color with brown and yellow tints being the most common. Colorless diamonds when compared to near colorless are very difficult to distinguish from one another once placed in a setting. For that reason alone, there is a stronger demand for near colorless diamonds which mostly face-up white and would require less of an investment. Diamonds possessing visible tones of brown or yellow are more common and typically set in either yellow or rose gold. While those in the colorless to near colorless range are placed in white gold or platinum. Do you know what color your diamonds are?

Clarity is the absence of any inclusions within the diamond or blemishes on the exterior. Flawless diamonds have neither and are incredibly rare. Inclusions are like thumbprints; most all diamonds have them and they’re used to identify the gem. In fact, inclusions are one of the factors that allow gemologists to easily determine fake diamonds, such as the cubic zirconia, from the real ones. The visual location, size and quantity of the inclusion(s) will determine its clarity grade. The fewer and less noticeable the inclusions, the rarer the diamond on the clarity grading scale. Most of us want a diamond that faces up “eye-clean,” in other words we don’t see any inclusions with our the naked eye. The more readily apparent the inclusions are, the more common and less valuable the diamond.

Carat is not the size of the diamond but rather its metric weight. How that weight is distributed, is entirely dependent upon the quality of the cut and how the diamond will perform. So, not all one carat round cut diamonds are created equally. You can have short ones, tall ones, and perfect ones. It’s the difference between say Danny Devito, Howard Stern and Brad Pitt. All could weigh 185 pounds and yet most would agree that the distribution of that weight looks best on Mr. Pitt. A diamond is no different: the more precise the weight is distributed the more brilliant the diamond. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and that certainly rings true when selecting the perfect diamond.

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Last modified: August 14, 2015