Diamond 101

by Rachel Westbrook January 31, 2020 4 min read

Diamond 101

What to look for when considering a Classic Diamond

Although the wilderdiamonds (inclusions and all) hold a special place in our heart - the classic diamond is also an exceptional stone to consider. 

Diamonds are naturally formed within the earth, therefore each and every stone takes a unique journey over millions of years – and it doesn’t stop there either. After leaving the ground, diamonds are then cut by hand into a variety of forms - thus producing many different stones, in all shapes, colours and sizes imaginable. With so much variety, a diamond grading system is needed, so that we can fully understand the qualities of a chosen stone.



Classic Diamonds & the 4C’s

For classic diamonds (also known as clear, or white diamonds) there is a globally accepted standard of grading. When buying a classic diamond, you should receive a certificate which will reflect the screening process your stone has been through, in order to receive their grading.

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is an independent, non-profit organization that conducts gem research, and sets the standards for determining diamond quality. This system not only identifies a natural stone from a lab-grown one, but also grades diamonds on the 4C scale; colour, cut, clarity and carat.


Although classic diamonds are known for their ‘clear’ appearance, there are in fact many different colours that they are found in. The grading of colour relates to an alphabetical rating system; from D – Z. The clearest diamonds would fall under D, and the more colour in the diamond, the lower their alphabetical grading.

Traditionally, the highest valued stone is one with the least colour possible (a ‘colourless’ stone would be graded in the upper regions of the alphabetic system). The highest quality diamonds are thus based on the absence of colour - the clearer the diamond, the better the colour. When diamonds have colour, including yellow or brown hues, they will be graded in the lower regions of the alphabetic system. These colours are not always possible to spot with an untrained eye - this is why the grading system is so important.

However, fancy diamonds do not adhere to this grading scale - coloured diamonds, such as pink and yellow diamonds, are actually sought after and highly valuable for their unusual colours, and the colour scale does not apply to these.




The way in which a stone is cut is also included in the diamond grading system, as this affects not only the stones overall appearance, but also the way in which light is transmitted through the stone (and ultimately how sparkly it is). The fire, proportion and brilliance of a diamond relies on the way in which it has been cut – too shallow or deep a cut, the stone will not reach its full, brilliant potential.



The clarity of a stone refers to whether a stone is flawless - or whether it contains inclusions. When grading the clarity of a stone, the diamond is also inspected for any man-made treatments (such as fills, or heat treatments).

This scale ranges from a flawless (or internally flawless) stone, stones with inclusions not visible to the naked-eye, to stones with visible inclusions. Your diamond certificate will tell you where your stone falls using an alphabetical scale; F-IF (flawless to internally flawless) through to I1-I3 (Inclusions). The less inclusions in the stone, the higher the value of the diamond.

Having said that, don’t be scared of a diamond with visible inclusions – this often adds to their beauty and makes them so much more unique. The majority of stones, including classic diamonds, contain inclusions – there is only a very small minority of stones today that are considered truly flawless.



The carat of a stone refers to the weight of a diamond; the heavier the weight, the larger the carat. It’s important to remember the difference between weight and size here - appearances can be deceptive, and there are several ways in which a smaller carat diamond can look bigger than a larger one. For example, a good cut can change a diamonds appearance; a shallower, or ‘flatter’ cut stone will look much larger than a deeper-cut one. This means that even if two diamonds are considered the same carat, they may look completely different.

However, a bigger diamond does not necessarily mean a higher price - it will also depend on the other C’s and its overall quality.



After taking the 4C’s of a classic diamond into consideration, we think it’s important to consider a fifth C; the stones overall character. Each diamond’s combination of colour, cut, clarity and carat will be unique, thus producing a variety of very different stones.

There really isn’t a right answer when looking for your perfect diamond – the 4C’s are great guidelines for a good stone, but this doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you. A diamond that’s perfect on paper, may not suit you (or even appeal to you) in person. Choosing a diamond should be a very personal experience, and just because it is the most sparkly, shiny and biggest stone – it does not mean It will be the right one for you. Trust your intuition here and go with what really speaks to you.

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