How Diamonds are Certified

By: Jonathan Blocker

If you're thinking about purchasing loose diamonds or diamond jewelry, it's a very good idea to make sure that such diamonds are certified diamonds. Such diamonds are accompanied by a document known as a "grading report," which is not the same thing as an appraisal. While an appraisal can give you an idea of the monetary value of your certified diamonds, it is this grading report that is the basis of this valuation.

How Diamonds are Certified

The grading report describes certified diamonds on the basis of four qualities. These are carat, clarity, color and cut, and therefore are sometimes known as the "Four Cs" of certification. The report is for the benefit of those who create and market diamond jewelry, as well as those who purchase it - either as collectors, investors or both.

Those who prepare such reports are known as gemologists. These are technicians who generally have a degree in geology, then go on for specialized training in the study of precious gems and stones; they are to field of geology what cosmetic surgeons are to the field of medicine.

What the Grading Report Contains

Three of the criteria used to analyze and evaluate diamonds are thoroughly objective, meaning they can be readily measured and quantified. Carat of course is a measure of mass and weight; a carat is equal to 2 decigrams, or roughly 1.5 hundredths of an ounce. Obviously, the more a gem weighs, the greater its value.

With industrial diamonds, the process might stop right there. However, certified diamonds are those used in diamond jewelry, and thus must be pleasing to the eye. The SI Clarity Grade is another criterion by which gemologists evaluate diamonds. The ideal, perfect diamond is rated "FL" for "flawless." The stone is virtually clear, with no cloudy or "cottony" areas or visible cracks. Stones that are clouded and/or cracked are labeled "I3" for "imperfect."

Color is an important factor when it comes to diamonds. These gems are clear or white to be sure, but can also be pink, amber, blue, green or purple. The saturation of these colors can range from the palest tinge to the deepest, darkest shades as well. Some colors are more desirable than others; rich pink and blue diamonds may command much higher prices than dark amber or even clear ones.

Evaluating the cut is a little more problematic. While it is true that a badly cut diamond may be almost worthless, even among quality cuts, some are more desirable than others. The value of cuts when it comes to certified diamonds is determined by market conditions that may change over time.

Objectivity is Vital

It is important to make sure that the grading report that accompanies any certified diamonds have been prepared by a lab that is unaffiliated with the company or individual who is selling them, for reasons that should be obvious.

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