Diamonds 101

At Mark Loren Designs, we love everything diamonds and we love sharing that expertise with you. We’ll give you the highlights without weighing you down with the minutiae, explain the terminology in an interesting way, and will make sure you enjoy the process!

Diamonds are mesmerizing in their beauty and buying one should be exciting and fun.  So, let’s start at the beginning.

You’ve found the love of your life. You’re ready to propose. Now the process begins to find the perfect ring. And since this may be your first diamond purchase, we want to make this as simple as possible. Let’s begin with determining the perfect diamond shape.

Did you know that the shape you choose for your center diamond has an impact on how your ring looks and feels?  Any shape other than round is referred to as a fancy cut.

Round Brilliant — the most popular; cut for maximum brilliance.

Princess Cut — exceptionally brilliant and available in both square and rectangle shapes.

Oval — classic with a modern twist! A modified brilliant-cut with similar fire; elongated shape creates the illusion of greater size.

Cushion — a timeless and pillow-cut diamond; also has impeccable brilliance.

Asscher Cut — an elegant square shape created in the 1920s with clipped corners that make diamonds appear octagonal. Popular with several celebrities!

Emerald — rectangular with parallel facets and clipped corners; produces a hall-of-mirrors effect.

Marquise — an elongated shape with tapering points at both ends. The perfect shape for maximizing carat weight.

Pear — teardrop-shaped, and a combination of the round and marquis cut. Known to give your hand a slimmer appearance.

Radiant Cut — a combination of the emerald cut and the round brilliant. Perfect if you’re looking for unique style.

Heart — a sentimental cut that is sometimes hard to find.

diamond shapes

Understanding the first four Cs is beneficial when selecting a diamond, but it doesn’t make you an expert, and it won’t help you differentiate between two diamonds of similar quality. That takes the formal training you can find at Mark Loren Designs. Many of us are graduates of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in addition to being a Certified Gemologist Appraiser. We are your diamond experts—and the best resource to consider when you’re looking for that important fifth C…Confidence in your purchase.

Ever wonder what gives a diamond its incredible sparkle? Cut, the proportions of a diamond, is the only aspect of a diamond controlled by man.  It expresses the diamond’s natural brilliance and has the biggest impact on your diamond’s appearance and quality.  We’re not saying that carat, clarity and color are unimportant, but ignoring the cut for a larger diamond, or one that has evident flaws, is not recommended.

Despite the importance of cut, there weren’t any standardized criteria for cut grading before the mid 20th century.  When criteria were finally standardized, it included brightness, fire, scintillation, (the sparkle) weight ratio, durability, polish and symmetry.  A cutter who is working with diamond rough is trying to maximize each of these to make the diamond more rare and valuable.  Needless to say, it takes a master level of craftsmanship to achieve maximum brilliance.

So, what’s best?  A diamond cut with the most exacting proportions for its shape. Think of it like this: The bottom of the diamond has facets, and those facets act like mirrors. When the facets are cut at the proper angles, light enters through the top of the diamond, bounces off the mirrors, and returns back to your eye in a full spectrum of color.

And the opposite is true for a poorly cut diamond with incongruous proportions. It will allow light to escape out the bottom and sides, resulting in a dull, dark appearance.

Simply put, the cut angles allow the diamond to capture and reflect light or sparkle.  For a really brilliant diamond, with excellent polish and symmetry, let your diamond professionals at Mark Loren Designs help you choose the best cut for the diamond shape of your choice. And finally, exceptional cut will also increase your diamond’s value, making it truly a cut above the rest.

diamond cuts
colored diamonds

Just because a diamond appears to be white doesn’t mean it’s colorless. In fact, the white diamond spectrum ranges from completely colorless to light yellow.  The amount of color in a diamond is signified with a special lettering system that ranges from D to Z.  The letter D is awarded only to rare, totally colorless diamonds.  In other words, the more colorless a white diamond is, the greater its beauty and value.

* A colorless diamond can be graded D, E or F. Less than ¼ of 1% of all the diamonds in the world fall into this category.

* A near colorless diamond can be graded, G, H, I or J. Most of the diamonds sold in the industry are represented by one of these grades.

Colored diamonds, such as pink, blue, chocolate or bright yellow are also available, but they are rated on a different scale than white diamonds.

Natural diamonds are created by amazing natural forces through incredible heat and pressure deep within the earth. Not surprisingly, these powerful forces can result in internal “inclusions” and external “blemishes.” Simply put, these are the unique characteristics of a diamond. And just like a snowflake or fingerprint, no two are alike.

A diamond’s clarity is determined by the number, size, nature and position of its inclusions and blemishes. Keep in mind a “flawless” diamond is rare, which means the value increases significantly when a diamond comes close to meeting this standard. Inclusions are to be expected with most diamonds. They may not always impact a diamond’s beauty, but they do affect the price.

This one may seem obvious.  But there are a few things you need to consider. Carat weight is a measure of a diamond’s weight, and a reflection of its size. For example, two diamonds of slightly different dimensions may have the same carat weight.  Size also depends on how evenly weight is distributed and the quality of the cut.  Therefore, two diamonds with the same carat weight can vary greatly in value, depending on the color, clarity and most importantly, the cut. It’s really a matter of what is most important to you. Is it size or quality? At that point, you should be looking for the best combination of size, color and clarity for your budget.