Diamond Buyers Guide is the Best Diamond Buying Guide in 2020

Welcome To Diamond Buyers Guide

Welcome to Diamond Buyers Guide.  In this diamond guide you will learn everything there is to know about diamonds. We will cover the 4 C’s of diamonds. How to buy a diamond online or in person and even buying wholesale from a diamond dealer.  But Most importantly, you will learn how to buy a diamond without getting duped.  

In This video, we will learn the fundamentals of diamonds — the 4 C’s, cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. But there are so many other factors that affect the price of a diamond. You may even know some of them like the polish, symmetry, and fluorescence.

But Some factors are not on the certificate, and no-one knows about them. These are areas where jewelers can bury profit margin, so it is in your best interests to find out about them before buying a diamond.

Even if you think you know everything about diamonds, watch this video all the way to the end. I promise you will learn something you didn’t already know, and it will help you get a better deal when buying a diamond.  If you would rather read our diamond guide, just keep scrolling below the video.

Diamond Buying Guide Full Tutorial

If you want more videos like this, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and click the notification bell. diamondbuyersguide.com/youtube  Since you are watching this on our website, feel free to click around this diamond buying guide.  Subscribe to our email list, and we’ll let you know when we produce more content.

Join Our Email List:
About Your Diamond Teacher: Mike Kelly

Diamond Buyers Guide is dedicated to educating consumers about diamonds and engagement rings.  We are pleased to announce Mike Kelly as our spokesman.  He is a wholesale diamond dealer who’s been in the jewelry business for about 35 years.  He’s Currently the President of Chicago Diamonds, Inc., CEO of Diamonds Chicago and founder of Start A Jewelry Business.  Mike hosts training seminars that teach jewelers more about diamonds, how to sell them, and even how to buy diamonds wholesale.  He is here to teach you how to buy a diamond online or in person without getting duped.  Now let’s start learning.

diamond buyers guide instructor mike kelly

Diamond Buyers Guide Full Tutorial in text

The 4 C's Of Diamonds: Cut Clarity Color Carat

Let’s begin with the fundamentals and then fill in the blanks further down the page. The 4C’s of diamonds are Cut Color Clarity Carat. We’ll break them down individually. We’ll start with diamond color.

Diamond Color Scale Chart

diamond color scale chart

Diamond Color Scale Explained

  • D,E,F are considered Colorless. It is very hard for even a trained eye to distinguish between them. Especially D and E and especially if they are already mounted.
  • G, H, I are Near Colorless and will look very similar in the mounting. If you put these colored loose diamonds next to each other on a white background, you may be able to tell a slight difference in the colors.
    J is also considered Near Colorless by Most grading Laboratories.
  • K, L, M are faint yellow. The Differences between these and the near colorless diamonds can be seen even in the mounting.
  • N, O,P are Light yellow and are the lowest acceptable grades for jewelry. You can definitely see the slight yellow coloring even in the mounting.
  • The color scale goes all the way down to Z.  Anything lower than P shows distinct yellow coloring and is no longer considered a white diamond. 
  • The price keeps going down as the color gets yellower, until it reaches the fancy color grades.  Then the price rises drastically.
diamond color scale

Diamond Color Chart

The diamond color scale chart is graded on a diamond color grading flute. It’s called a color flute. And basically, it’s just a white background. You put the diamond in it, and if you don’t see any color at all, then it’s got to be colorless. Which would be like D E or F color. If you put it in here and you do see a slight tinge of color, but yet when you put it in the setting, you don’t see any color, then it’s probably G H or I color, which is near colorless. So it’s perhaps K, L, M or lower if it shows more color, even to the point where when you put it in the setting, it still shows through.

There is a color called J, which is kind of in-between near colorless, and light yellow.  J color is kind of bang for the buck because you can put it in the ring. And you do see a slight tinge of color. It’s not so much that people are gonna walk up and say, “Oh, wow, that’s a yellow diamond you have there.” They’re probably just going to think it’s a typical diamond. They’re not going to notice too much color in it. So that makes it kind of good bang for the buck?

We suggest looking at different color diamonds and find your comfort level. That doesn’t mean you can shop for that color. Like, “ok, I think I’m good with H color. So anything that says an H is going to be good” because there’s a variance in grading. Not every grader is the same. We’re going to get more into that later. But as far as strict grades go, it will be your ballpark diamond color range. Click here for more about diamond color.

diamond clarity scale table

Diamond Clarity Scale Chart

As far as the diamond clarity scale chart goes IF or internally flawless, is generally considered the best, although Flawless is actually the best diamond clarity. You probably already realize you don’t need either one of those. Most jewelers don’t even carry them. But they would love to sell IF internally flawless because they’re going to make more money on it. Consider something a bit more practical if you want a bigger diamond for the money.

On the exact opposite end of the diamond clarity scale, we have the I grades. I stands for inclusion. They are what you’re looking for in the diamond with the loop. Anything with an I clarity grade is going to have an eye visible inclusion. That means you can see the inclusion with the naked eye. These grades include I1, I2, and I3.

Those I clarity grades are just for jewelry quality. But the classes keep going down. I4, I5, I6, I7, all the way to I8 but those are industrial quality, and not what’s used typically for jewelry. Although you do find some on online and on eBay that are definitely well below I3 clarity.

I1 and I2 grade diamonds are used in many chain stores for their cheaper goods. They don’t make good diamonds for an engagement ring because someone may see the inclusion.

diamond clarity scale

Anything that is SI2 or better should be eye clean. That means that you don’t see anything with the naked eye. If you put an IF right next to an SI2, you should not see a difference without using magnification.  The diamond clarity chart below shows what diamonds look like to the naked eye.  

diamond clarity chart naked eye

There is a grade in between I1 and SI2. It is called SI3, and not all laboratories use that grade. The leading laboratory in the world is GIA. They don’t use the SI3 diamond clarity grade. So automatically, if it’s not good enough to be SI2, they’re just going to give it an I1 clarity grade. Most dealers are not going to send it to GIA and get that I1 grade since they can send it to any other laboratory and get an SI3 grade.

SI3 is kind of like the J color. It’s a bang for buck clarity grade. With a typical SI3, you probably aren’t going to see any obvious inclusions with the naked eye. It will pass the five-second test. That’s when she shows all her friends her new engagement ring and says: “Oh look, He finally did it.” They’re going to look at it for a few seconds, and they’re probably not going to see any inclusions.

If you were to look carefully at the diamond and find the inclusions with a loupe, then look again, you may see something inside the diamond. It’s a strange phenomenon where you don’t see it until you find it and then you cannot unsee it. So you will have to be sure you’re comfortable with this diamond clarity grade before you buy it.

If you are ok with SI3, it’s a great way to get a bigger diamond for the same money. You can get a 2ct for the price of a 1.5ct. Most people prioritize size over any of the other 4 Cs. When considering an SI3 grade, you have to see the diamond in person because some are good and some are not so good. Really with any grade, Some are good, and some are not so good because diamond grading is subjective. So just keep that in mind.

These grades on the diamond clarity chart are very simple. SI stands for small inclusion. VS stands for very small, and VVS stands for very, very small. It’s so simple, it’s like a kid wrote it. So that’s diamond clarity. I would suggest, like color, just look at some different examples and find your preference. Most people really don’t care what’s going on inside the diamond as long as they don’t see it with the naked eye. Just keep in mind that just because you like one SI1, that doesn’t mean you’ll love all SI1’s. Click here to learn more about diamond clarity.

What Makes A Diamond Sparkle?

what makes a diamond sparkle

What makes a diamond sparkle?  Many people think the cut is what makes a diamond sparkle. There are actually two factors that make a diamond sparkle. The diamonds cut grade and the diamonds transparency. We will explain both here.

ideal cut diamond vs deep vs shallow

Diamond Cut Chart

When we are talking about diamond cut, we are not talking about the shape of a diamond. We are talking about the proportions of the diamond. This chart shows the ideal, premium, and acceptable dimensions.

If a diamond is cut too deep or too shallow, some of the light can escape through the bottom. This is called light loss leakage. If you have a really perfect ideal cut diamond, then the majority of the light will go into the diamond and then reflect back out into your eyes. That’s what we want to happen.  The diamond cut chart to the left shows an ideal cut diamond vs a deep cut diamond vs a shallow cut diamond.  Shallower is better than deeper because at least it will look bigger from the top view.

For this reason, preferred proportions for round diamonds are broken up into four categories. Ideal, premium, acceptable, and off make. This diamond cut chart only shows the ideal, premium, and acceptable ranges. Anything outside of those parameters is an off make.  (See the Diamond Cut Chart below for Preferred proportions.)

Ideal Cut Diamond Chart

ideal cut diamond proportions chart

Anything that is outside of the parameters set in this diamond cut chart is considered to be an off-make diamond.  Fancy shapes return light similar to an off-make round diamond.  For this reason, there is no ideal cut diamond chart for fancy shaped diamonds.  Read more on our diamond cut page.

  • Even a perfect cut diamond will have some light loss leakage through the bottom. In the very best case scenario that’s usually about 12%. You get about 88% of the light that went into the diamond that comes back up back out into your eyes. If the diamond is cut too deep or too shallow, some of that light can escape out the bottom.
  • With the premium cut, you could have an extra 1% to 3% extra light loss leakage out the bottom.
  • With an acceptable cut, you could have up to 5% extra light loss leakage at the bottom.
  • With an off make diamond, you could have up to an extra 10% light loss leakage our the bottom.

So we see here that the difference between the best ideal cut diamond and the worst off make diamond is only approximately 10%. Honestly, that’s not so much. The human eye really isn’t sensitive enough to see it. They will both look like they sparkle about the same.

These percentages are not exact but simply a representation so that you understand. It’s not going to be that big of a deal. Now, I’m not trying to talk you out of an ideal cut diamond, by all means, buy a lovely perfect cut diamond. Dealers make more money on them. You are going to get a more sparkly diamond technically. So if you just want to know for your heart’s sake that you were getting the brightest and sparkliest, you would absolutely go with an ideal cut diamond.

60-60 Make Diamond Cut

Most dealers, for ourselves, go with a premium cut. It’s not quite ideal, but it’s way better than an off make. You don’t have to memorize all those numbers on the chart. There’s a straightforward and simple formula that you can remember. It’s just called the 60-60 make. You just look for a 60% table or as close to that as possible. Then a 60% depth or as close to that as possible. So if you had a 59 table and a 61 depth, that would be what we call a 60-60 make just to make it easy to remember. That’s the most bang for the buck. You won’t pay that premium for an ideal cut, yet you’ll still get a really sparkly diamond as it pertains to diamond cut.

Anything that is not in that acceptable range is what we call an off make diamond. You usually don’t find a diamond cut chart for fancy shaped diamonds because anything that is not a round diamond is just considered an off make diamond as far as the light return goes.

So you get the same amount of light returned to your eyes with a fancy shape diamond as you would an off make round diamond. It’s about 78% or somewhere in the 70s versus around 88% from an ideal cut round brilliant diamond. So if you’re really concerned about getting the most sparkle that you can, you’re probably going to be just looking at an ideal cut round brilliant diamond. But fear not if you are looking for any other shape diamond because it will still sparkle if the transparency is good.

What Is A GIA Triple X Diamond?

gia triple x diamond certificate

What is a triple x diamond?  A Triple X diamond is a GIA certified diamond that has an ideal cut grade of excellent as well as Excellent Polish and Excellent Symmetry. It is called XXX diamond because it has three X grades. It’s generally regarded as the best diamond cut grade you can get, especially if it has been certified by GIA. Having No fluorescence is preferred but not necessary for the designation of 3X.

NOTE: Some diamonds that have been certified by GIA (or other labs) as excellent cut grade actually fall outside of the ideal cut parameters in this chart. Conversely, some ideal cut diamonds have only fair or poor cut grades from the laboratory. Whenever there is a conflict like this, just use the preferred proportions from the chart provided. Disregard what some grader in a cubicle thinks.

A Shallow Diamond Cut Is Better Than Deep
deep vs shallow cut diamond

If you found a beautiful shallow diamond, that’d be great. A diamond that’s too deep is going to look smaller than a shallower diamond. Let’s say you have three diamonds that all weigh 1ct. One is ideal cut, and it looks like what a 1ct is supposed to. One is too deep, so it looks much smaller from the top view. It looks like a three-quarter carat. And one is a shallow cut. So it seems like a one and a quarter ct.

Since the cut doesn’t make much eye noticeable difference, you might want to go with a shallow one because it’s going to look much bigger. It’ll look like a one and a quarter, even though it only weighs 1ct. If you put it next to other diamonds and it sparkles just as much, you might as well go with the shallower one. It will look bigger, and you’re going to get more value.

Of course, if you did want the sparkliest, you would just go with an ideal cut diamond or at least a 60-60 make. That would be my preference. In fact, 60% depth would be maybe just outside of ideal. It goes to 60.2%, so it’s right there with ideal, but it goes from 60.2% to 62.7% for the depth percentage for a perfectly cut diamond. If you stayed on the lower end of that, you’d have a diamond, that looks slightly bigger than the higher end of the scale. 60% depth definitely looks bigger than 63%.

Depth makes a bigger difference in size than carat weight
deep vs shallow cut diamond top view

These two diamonds both weigh exactly the same.  This is because 2% in depth percentages does makes a measurable, eye visible difference. You can tell the difference between 2%.  It takes 20% in carat weight to be a considerable eye noticeable difference.

This means you’d have to have a diamond that weighs one and a quarter to look more significant than 1ct. Whereas you could have another 1ct that is maybe 3% or 4% difference in depth percentage and it could look like a one and a quarter.

2% shallower depth will seem like a 1.10ct. Of course, this is a case by case basis because it’s not just the death percentage. The girdle thickness and other factors also make a difference. Tha’s way too complicated for this tutorial. Just err shallow if you find a nice one. Click here for more information on diamond cut.  To learn more about diamond carat weight visit the diamond carat weight page.  

A Diamonds Transparency Determines Its Sparkle.

Diamond Sparkle Scintillation gif

What is a diamonds transparency?  A diamonds transparency is ultimately what determines it’s sparkle!  Previously We told you that two factors determine the brightness and sparkliness of a diamond. That other factor is transparency. So when we’re talking about cut, we’re just assuming the transparency is precisely the same.

If you have two diamonds that are exactly the same transparency, then the cut will make all the difference. If we had a diamond, that had much better transparency and one that had not such good transparency. It wouldn’t matter what the proportions are. The one that has better transparency is going to sparkle more.

What this means is: if you have two diamonds and one diamond is just totally out sparkling, the other one, it’s probably not the cut that’s causing that noticeable of a difference. It’s this other factor that we call transparency.

Let’s say you have one diamond that’s a D color, internally flawless, ideal cut diamond. Then you have another that is like a K color, which is kind of yellowish and I1 with an eye visible inclusion. It’s an off make so the cut grade isn’t good either.

If you put the two diamonds right next to each other that K I1 could totally “out sparkle” that D internally flawless if the transparency is better. That’s really hard for people to understand. It never really sinks in until people see it. So I would suggest if you have the opportunity to go to a dealer or jeweler that could show you, it would be beneficial.

Unfortunately, Most jewelers don’t even know the difference. So if you go to a jeweler and ask them, they’re not going to be prepared to show you. I’ll try to show you an example. It’s hard to show transparency on camera so if you have the opportunity to go somewhere you can see it in person, that’d be the best.

average transparency diamond

So here we have a diamond that is a G color, and it’s an SI2 clarity. Anything SI2 or better really should be eye clean. Not all of them are, but one is. It is an ideal cut, and it’s even a GIA 3X with no fluorescence.

This diamond really has everything that people think they’re looking for in a diamond. You can tell that it does sparkle really well. I don’t know if you can see it, but I will include a close-up image.

excellent transparency diamond

This diamond is two color grades lower. It’s an I color, and it is I1 clarity, which means that it does have an eye visible inclusion. Hopefully you can see it in the close-up. It’s an off make so the cut is not very good on it. It’s actually on the shallow end, so it weighs one 1.17ct. But, it really looks much larger like a 1.35ct.

Anytime we put two diamonds right next to each other, all the differences become apparent. So the first thing we notice is that this one is lower in color and we can see that this one is a little bit bigger. However, this one actually sparkles quite a bit more. This is actually the one that is of lower color. It’s lower clarity, and the cut is not as good. It’s an off make diamond. So why does it sparkle more than the other one? It’s because the transparency is better. This is a big area where jewelers can bury more profit margin. That’s why you must learn about it. from here on we will refer to the one on the left as average transparency and the one on the right as high or excellent transparency.  

One thing is that you should notice is that one looks whiter, but it’s falsely whiter. It’s like if you fill up a room with the DJs fog machine. It would look whiter in the room even though the place is painted red. So it’s technically a red room even though it looks white. That’s kind of what’s going on here. It looks falsely white. When I look at the two diamonds, it seems a little Milky or cloudy inside there.

Now if you don’t have the other one, to compare to it. It just looks like it’s an excellent white diamond. It’s not so much that it’s clouding up the diamond and making you think that it’s a really ugly diamond. It looks like a lovely bright, sparkly diamond. But yet when you put another one that has better transparency next to it, then you can tell the difference.

Diamond Transparency Scale

diamond transparency scale

There is no official chart for transparency. It’s not one of the 4 C’s. So most people don’t know about. In fact, you’d be surprised how many jewelers don’t even know about it. But there is a diamond transparency scale that we use as wholesalers, and it goes from zero to 10.

The average one isn’t too bad. That’s why it kinda throws you off and makes it a good example. It’s probably about a five and a half. The scale goes much lower than that. But jewelers don’t like to stock that really low transparency because it’s evident that it’s dull hazy and you’re going to think he carries really low-quality goods.

That stuff does sell really well though online retailers and on eBay. That’s what sells online! It’s not all that is offered online. It’s just that it has a better price, so it sells itself easier. The paper says exactly the same thing, but the price is much lower. Without seeing it, you think that it’s just a better deal.

You almost need just to step back from it and say, “wait a minute now. Why is it so much cheaper?” Then you can think of a couple of reasons why it might be cheaper, but it looks exactly the same on paper. In fact, it looks better. This one has a better grade on paper for color, for clarity and for the cut. Even the polish and symmetry grades are better as well. But you can see when you put them next to each other that it doesn’t look as good. So that’s low transparency. Here is another example of that.

Low Vs High Diamond Transparency Comparison

diamond transparency comparison

Believe it or not, this one on the left is a GIA certified triple X ideal cut diamond. So it has an ideal cut, excellent polish, excellent symmetry, no fluorescence, and excellent cut grade. It is an H VS2.  It has a top light brownish tinge which might have thrown off the grader a bit.

If we put it next to this one that we know to be slightly lower transparency because we just put it next to that better transparency one. Well, now we see that it’s even lower transparency. Here’s a close up of it. 

Note:  It’s worth noting that there are two different kinds of transparency.  Milky transparency actually makes the diamond look whiter.  Smokey Transparency is either brownish or grayish and makes the diamond face up darker.  This can effect the grader and/or the consumer’s perception of the diamond’s color.  The diamond on the left is smokey.  The diamond in the middle is slightly milky and the diamond on the right is just a yellower color.

This is probably about a three and a half on that scale. There are even lower available for sale online. Honestly, those ones sell really fast online because the price is so much lower and people don’t understand why it’s cheaper.

If I hold all three of these up now, you can see that it’s kind of like low quality, medium quality, and high quality. So if the grades were all exactly the same, you’d have a low price, middle of the road price and high price.

Amazingly, the better of the three still isn’t even the best transparency. It’s probably about a seven and a half on that scale. Unfortunately, jewelers don’t like to stock the best transparency either. They usually don’t stock anything over 7. The 8, 9, and 10 transparency is extremely rare and hard to find. Only the biggest wholesale diamond dealers will have it. The reason is that, well, nobody’s going to want to buy it.

low diamond prices
high diamond prices
Diamond Transparency IS The Biggest Factor in The Price of a Diamond!

Nobody goes to the jewelry store and says, “what’s your most expensive H SI1?” They say, “Hey, I’m shopping around, what’s your price on an H SI1?” Well, it really has nothing to do with what the jeweler’s price is on the H SI1. It has to do with what the cost of the diamond was. And if it’s a more expensive H SI1 then his price to you is going to be more expensive.

Since most people don’t understand this, they just think the jeweler is too expensive. Jewelers that used to carry high transparency diamonds have either gone out of business or changed their business model. For this reason, don’t expect any jewelry store to stock it.

Knowing this makes it a little bit hard to price shop, especially if you can’t see the diamond in person. Although I think common sense will help you figure it out from the price. One is more expensive, and the other one is cheaper. If one’s too cheap, it’s probably not too good.

So to get back to the transparency chart, there is a little sweet spot right in the middle between 5 and 7. That’s what most jewelers buy for stock because it sells really well and it looks super bright and sparkly. Unless you had something better to put right next to it, you’d never know the difference.

The price allows them to be very competitive. So if you’re looking for bang for the buck, it’s a great area because nobody’s going to know. Unless they have a better diamond to pull out of their pocket and put next to it. They’re not going to see that it’s not the very most sparkly that could be.

But the price is going to be good, and it’s going to allow you to save money or get a bigger diamond, whichever you prefer. So that’s the middle of the road quality. The middle of the road transparency is what most local brick and mortar stores are going to be selling.

If you’re really into high-quality diamonds that have the most sparkle, then high transparency is the way to get it. Most people don’t care as much about clarity as long as I don’t see it with the naked eye. Or color, as long as it doesn’t look too yellow in the setting, once they know about transparency. That’s where a diamond can really shine, pun intended.

What Is The Quality Of the Rough Of A diamond?

quality of the rough diamond

What is the quality of the rough of a diamond?  The quality of the rough of a diamond is a measurement of a diamonds transparency. It is an older term that is synonymous with transparency.

The rough diamond is the diamond as it comes out of the ground. And then they polish all those facets on it. After that, it’s called a polished diamond. But the material inside and throughout the diamond is still considered the rough. So how good that internal rough is, would of course be, the quality of the rough.

You may hear older, more experienced wholesale diamond dealers talking about it. Especially if they are involved in the polishing and manufacturing process. Click here to learn more about diamond transparency.

how to look at diamonds with a loupe

How To Look At Loose Diamonds?

Let’s take a minute to learn how to look at diamonds. There are actually several ways to look at a diamond. The first way, the way I think is the most essential, is just with the naked eye. You want to see is it bright and sparkly, or is it dull and hazy? And is there a big black spot in the center? So go ahead and take a look at this. I’ll give you a close-up. It has an eye visible inclusion in it.

The next way is to use a diamond grading light. Usually, we use this light when we’re going to look at the color, but it does kill all that sparkle in the diamond. Because it deadens the stone, it allows you to see deep inside the diamond. So it makes things more visible than they typically would be. Sometimes you can see eye visible inclusions inside the diamond all the way up to the VS range where they usually wouldn’t be eye visible. That’s why jewelers don’t like to sell with this light. But they do like to buy with it. So it makes sense that you’d want to also. Next, we put the diamond in the color flute and take a look at it that way. That’s how we determine the color.

How To Use A Loupe?

The third way to look at a diamond is of course, with the loupe.  So here’s how to use a loupePut your finger through the loupe and your thumb on top. Now put the back of your thumb right to the cheek of your dominant eye. I’m right eye dominant, so I’m gonna use my right eye. And also if you wear glasses, just put the lens right up to your glasses. Then just hold it there.

Now take the stone and keep bringing it closer and closer until the stone comes into focus. It will be about an inch away from the loupe, which is about an inch from your eye. When you’re looking at a diamond, hold the loupe with your thumb and index finger. Place your middle finger right on the back of the loupe, like the picture.

That allows you to place the tweezers on my middle finger for stability. For even more security, you can take your ring finger and put it on top of the tweezers. See the images. So you’re kind of holding everything with all four of these fingers, and your pinky sticks out there, like holding a fancy teacup.  You could also move down one finger with the tweezers like the woman in the picture.

This allows you to rock it back and forth like this until the inclusions come into focus. Now I can turn the tweezers around. Even when you’re looking at it from a profile view, you can use your ring finger to stabilize it. Now instead of being real shaky, if you drank a lot of coffee or something, it’s staying real steady and in focus for you.

Note: It is important to use a triplet corrected loupe for proper depth of field. One jeweler trick is to use a cheap non-corrected loupe. No matter how much you rock the diamond back and forth, many of the inclusions do not come into focus. A triplet corrected loupe will usually be stamped so you can tell.

i1 diamond clarity with feather inclusion

Now you can see this big inclusion right in the center. This is a feather inclusion. Feather inclusions are clear, or whitish and look like a Crack or a scratch in the glass. That’s kind of what it is, trapped inside there. It usually doesn’t affect the durability of the diamond. Unless the grade is below I3. So that’s an eye visible inclusion, and it’s a feather inclusion.

There are two other types of inclusions, and those are crystal inclusions, which look like grains of salt and carbon inclusions, which look like black spots. Now, really diamond is made of carbon, so it’s kind of false to call it a carbon inclusion. The whole thing is carbon, but we think of carbon as black. So we just call them carbon inclusions and everybody kind of goes with it. So let’s stick with that.

Since this diamond has an eye visible inclusion, it must be an I grade. You didn’t really need the loop to see it. But if that same inclusion is clear or by the edge or just somehow blended in more, then it would be an SI3. And if you couldn’t even see it at all, then it would be an SI2. One test you can do is find it with the loupe. Then check if you can see it without the loupe. If not, then it’s a real good SI2, or better.

Now that’s just the rule of thumb because some people do have better eyesight than others. So if you’ve had laser surgery on your eyes and you have better vision than somebody else, that doesn’t mean you can’t see it in an SI2. Especially if you’re finding it with the loupe first, but you kind of have to tell yourself, “Hey, most people aren’t gonna see that”. And that’s kind of what an SI2 should be.

If you do see the inclusion in an SI2 with the naked eye and you want it to be 100% eye clean and make sure nobody’s gonna say anything. Maybe go with SI1. But I think most people are comfortable with SI2, or better when it comes to that. And most of your friends will not be able to see it at all. So that’s how you look at a diamond with a loop.

The Diamond Scale Within The Scale

There is one more thing that we have to learn about diamonds. And that’s called the diamond scale within the scale. Now that’s just sort of a term that Mike Kelly coined for it. There really is no official terminology for it. It’s not a formal grade. So there really is nothing official about it. But some larger diamond wholesalers do use it internally, in wholesale environments. It’s not anything that’s on the grading report or any other paperwork. But you must know about it if you want to understand why some diamonds are more expensive than others with the same grades.

It goes from 1 to 10. It exists within color and clarity, and each grade has it. So for color you have I 1 to 10, H 1 to 10, G 1 to 10 and so on. The same goes for clarity: SI2 1 to 10, SI1 1 to 10, VS2 1 to 10, etc. Basically, if it’s an H-10, that’s a really excellent H. That’s borderline G. And if it’s an H-1, well that’s not so good of an H that’s borderline I.

Diamond Clarity Scale Within The Scale

diamond clarity scale within the scale for SI1

This is what the diamond scale within the scale looks like for SI1.  Click here to see the whole diamond clarity scale within the scale.

It’s the same thing with clarity. If it’s an SI1-10 great. It’s almost a VS2. If it’s an SI1-1, then it’s nearly an SI2. So if it’s a perfect solid H that is what it’s supposed to be. That’s a five. That’s like the neutral mark. So think of it as like plus five or minus five, but we’re just going from 1 to 10. So, this works out great for wholesalers. They can describe it to each other over the phone and save on shipping costs. That’s who mostly uses the scale within a scale. Most people, even retail jewelers, don’t know about it.

Obviously, the better H is going to cost more than the lower colored H. The better SI1 is going to cost more than the weaker ones. Only a solid H-5 and a solid SI1-5 will cost what a typical H SI1 should cost.

Many wholesalers simplify this down to a plus or minus grading. They will simply say its an H+ or an SI1-. This makes it easier. The diamond is either a low SI1-, a solid SI1, or a high SI1+. Again, don’t expect any of this to be written on any official paperwork.

Diamond Color Scale Within The Scale

diamond color scale within the scale for H

This is what the diamond scale within the scale looks like for H.  Click here to see the whole diamond color scale within the scale.

Diamond Grading Is Subjective!

So I’m sure you guys understand about the scale within a scale by now. But it gets a bit more complicated. Basically, diamond grading is subjective. Most people trust the grades that the laboratories give on the certificates. After all, they are professional graders.

Everybody likes to think of the laboratory as if it was one big entity that grades the diamond. But that’s not the case. That would be great if it were the case, like a supercomputer every H that came out would be very consistent. Just like every other H. Every SI1 that came out, very consistent, just like every other SI1.

But that’s not the case. It could be a whole room full of like 350 graders. One guy at one end of the room has got a different idea of what an SI1 should look like than the other guy on the other end of the room. So, as a result, we get what’s called generous grades and strict grades. 

What is a Generous Diamond Grade?

A generous grade means it really is a K or L, but it’s been graded as an H, or it really is an I1, but it’s been graded as a VS2. Yes! They can be up to 4 grades off.

You’ve been told that anything SI2 or better should be eye clean and of course it should, but that doesn’t mean that they all are. So you can’t just say, “well I’m ok with SI2” and then shop around and find the cheapest SI2, because you’re not going to like it. But that’s a generous grade. We see it every day with certificates.

So the lesson here is: Never buy a piece of paper. Don’t buy based on the paper grade. You have to look at the diamond and see. If you’re ok with SI2, it doesn’t matter if it’s an SI2 or VS2, but it matters if it’s an I1. So, if you look at it, you can say, “ok, it’s, eye clean, and I’m ok with that.”

But that would be difficult to determine without having the ability to see it. Now, one factor would give it away. The price, of course. If it’s cheaper, it’s probably a little bit lower. That’s called generously graded. When it’s lower than what the paper really says it is.

Don’t forget, “independent laboratory” means nobody’s paying the bill. But, somebody is paying the bill, and it’s not you, it’s the wholesale diamond dealer. If the dealer doesn’t like the grade that he gets, it’s just like if you bought something at Target or Walmart. You’d take it back and exchange it or return it if you didn’t like it.Dealers can do what’s called a “recheck.” If they don’t like the grade on it, they just send it back for a recheck. They usually get what they want the second time around. If they don’t, they just keep sending it again until they do. Or they sent it to another laboratory. So just keep that in mind. A lot of the reports out there are generously graded.

Now some laboratories might be more strict than others or have a reputation for that, whether they are or not. That’s an entirely different discussion. For now, just know that there are strict grades and generous grades. So we already covered the generous grade.

What is a Strict Diamond Grade?

A strict grade means it really is like an F VS1, but it’s been graded as an H SI1. So before you say “that’s the one I want,” you should know that’s going to be a lot more expensive than all the other H SI1’s. So you’re probably gonna say, “yeah, it’s an excellent diamond, but it’s kind of expensive.” And then you’re not going to buy the diamond from that jeweler because you’ll think his prices are too high.

Unless you’ve read this diamond guide, and you’re able to look at it and say: “Oh yeah, the color is better” and “Oh wow, the clarity is better.” Well then you’d appreciate that, and you’d know and understand why. You might buy it because it’s, even though it’s a little more expensive, you’ll know it’s a better diamond.

So that’s really all there is to it. Now you know about transparency. You know about generous and strict grading. And you know, about the scale within a scale. That’s what you need to know to buy a diamond without getting duped. Ironically, those are also the things most people don’t know about since they’re not one of the four C’s of diamonds.

Diamond Buyers Guide Certificate of Completion

diamond certificate of completion

Now, you know all about diamonds. So congratulations! You deserve a certificate!  Now you’ll get a much better deal on a diamond no matter where you buy it. Good luck!

Feel free to click around this awesome diamond buying guide.  

Please subscribe to our email list, and we’ll let you know when we produce more content.

Join Our Email List: