Geological classification

Which diamonds are considered the best?

It would seem that the larger the gem, the more expensive it is. But it’s not that simple, gentlemen! A huge diamond of ten carats or more can cost much less than its two-carat counterpart. It turns out that other characteristics of the stone, including color and clarity, are fundamental in pricing. Let’s get acquainted with these concepts, get a general idea of ​​the most popular certification systems and decipher the mysterious numbers and letters that appear on the tags of diamond jewelry.

About certification systems

Until the middle of the last century, no diamond certification system existed: each stone was assessed individually, and only an approximate color scale was used. This was, to say the least, inconvenient for both sellers and buyers. The first sign that flew in the direction of unifying the evaluation of diamonds was the system introduced by the Gemological Institute of America. The GIA certification system is still considered the most authoritative in the world. The classification of diamonds is based on the assessment of the stone according to four parameters contained in the corresponding fields:

  • color (color),
  • clarity (purity),
  • carat weight (weight in carats),
  • cut (cut).
  • note (optional additions and comments).

The GIA’s main scale grades only white diamonds, with yellow and brown tints considered flaws. Diamonds of fancy colors are rated on a separate scale (yellow, pink) or even individually, outside the system.

GIA certifications are recognized throughout the world. The Institute’s appraisers are absolutely not interested in the results of the examination, and therefore are impartial. They evaluate stones without a setting, without knowing the name of the owner or the origin of the diamond. The cost of the examination is standard and does not depend on the results.

There are other diamond grading systems (American, European, Asian) of varying degrees of authority. Private jewelers can also evaluate stones, but to do this you must have an appropriate certificate issued by a reputable gemological institution or professional association. The most dubious certificates in the jewelry community are those issued in Southeast Asia.

Russia has its own diamond grading system, somewhat different from the GIA. It is determined by GOST of the Russian Federation and is the legal successor of the analogue that existed during the Soviet Union. The corresponding regulatory document is called GOST R 52913-2008. Each evaluated stone receives a personal passport with a description of its characteristics and even a “portrait”.

  • Diamonds with quality certificates in the Sunlight catalog

    What is meant by the term “purity”

    One of the fundamental characteristics of diamonds is clarity. It determines the number and color of foreign inclusions in a cut diamond, fracturing, and degree of transparency. An ideal sample has no inclusions and is considered a reference sample. However, there are no such diamonds: even the cleanest stones have some inclusions and cloudy areas.

    Inclusions can be different: graphite, ilmenite, magnetite, garnet, malacolite and others like them – they determine the color of the defect (white opaque inclusions are most acceptable). A large number of dark large inclusions, visible to the naked eye, transfers the stone to the “pique” or “edge” category and brings down its price.

    Parallel to purity there is the term “clarity”. It determines not only the presence of obvious inclusions, but also the transparency of the stone. Essentially, “purity” and “clarity” are the same thing.

    External inclusions are called spots. Most of them are eliminated during cutting. But you have to put up with internal defects (inclusions): it is not always possible to eliminate them without significant losses in the mass of the precious mineral. So what? In a good stone they are practically invisible to the naked eye, but without words they prove its natural origin.

    The GIA system adopts a letter-numeric designation of diamond purity (the decoding of abbreviations determines the quality of stones, quantity, color and size of defects), while GOST operates exclusively with numbers. When assessing using any system, a magnifying glass with tenfold magnification is used.

    According to the Russian standard, it is customary to take into account the mass and number of facets in a diamond. Depending on these parameters, the number of purity categories is allocated:

    • small diamonds with 17 facets – 6;
    • small with 57 facets, up to 0,29 carats – 9;
    • medium and large with 57 facets, from 0,30 carats – 12.

    The higher the number, the lower the purity level of the specimen being evaluated.

    You can see the comparative characteristics of diamonds by clarity in the table according to GIA and GOST (TU) below:

    What is the best diamond clarity?

    The clarity of a diamond is considered good if it falls within the range of 1 to 6-7 according to the Russian classification (or up to SI3 according to GIA). Diamonds with clarity 1 and 2 are almost perfect, so their cost is prohibitive – such stones are available only to very wealthy people.

    A diamond with a clarity rating of 3 means that you are dealing with a beautiful stone that has no more than three light inclusions that are indistinguishable to the naked eye. On the GIA diamond clarity scale, these grades are VVS 1 and VVS 2 (Very Very Small Inclusions).

    Diamonds of groups 3 and 4 are very good from all points of view: they are excellent as inserts in exclusive jewelry (they are practically never found in standard jewelry – they are quite expensive). Stones with a clarity of 5-6 are also not bad: they represent the optimal combination of price and quality, therefore they are used in the production of jewelry in the mass sector (if this concept is generally applicable to jewelry with diamonds).

    If you are investing in diamonds, it is advisable to choose stones with a clarity of 3-6. They are easy to resell, and diamonds will only become more expensive from year to year. Natural diamond reserves are gradually depleting.

    Diamond color

    Another important characteristic of a diamond is its color. The ideal is stones without a tint or with a slightly bluish tint. The more yellowish or brownish the tint, the worse.

    The characteristics of diamonds by color and clarity are fundamental to pricing. For example, the Gemological Institute of America publishes “Rapoport tables” every two weeks, which are, in fact, universal price lists for the world diamond market.

    GIA has developed two diamond color scales: one is used for white stones, the other is used for the Fancy category (fancy colored diamonds). They exist separately from each other.

    To evaluate the color of white stones according to GIA, an exclusively letter gradation is provided, from D to Z. At the beginning of the table, pure white stones are positioned, at the end – almost yellow ones, but not falling into the fancy category. Each sample is compared with a reference sample.

    Diamonds with fancy colors have different indices, where both letters (color designations) and numbers are used. In these stones, on the contrary, bright and rare colors are most highly valued (of course, while maintaining purity and transparency).

    The rating table for fancy diamonds does not include all the shades with which nature colors these incredible minerals. For example, there are no fantastic green and black diamonds that exist in single copies.

    When assessing the color of a diamond according to Russian standards, samples are not compared with the standard. As with clarity, stones are graded based on weight (0,29 carats or more) and number of facets (17 or 57). Numerical gradation is used, but detailed verbal descriptions are also used.

    Here is a comparative table of diamond color assessment according to GIA and GOST:

    It is worth noting that the Russian system provides for the evaluation of brown and even black stones. According to the GIA, these stones are classified as “board” and are considered technical. However, there is no separate scale for fancy-colored stones in Russia; such diamonds are assessed individually.

    What else to consider when purchasing?

    Of course, everyone would like to own a large diamond that grades 1/1 and 2/2 in clarity and color. However, as mentioned above, such stones cost fortunes and are inaccessible to mere mortals.

    Many potential diamond owners wonder what is more important when choosing, color or clarity. It all depends on what you need the pebble for. If you plan to invest your hard-earned money in diamonds, this ratio is not very important, but it is better that these numbers are either the same or close – such stones are as liquid as possible.

    If you are planning to purchase a stone in order to order a piece of jewelry from a jeweler, where it will be the highlight of the program, it is better to choose a diamond depending on the material of the setting.

    If you intend to use a stone in conjunction with yellow or red gold, purity is more important, because the metal will in any case give the insert a slightly yellowish tint. And in tandem with platinum or white gold, the yellowness of the stone will be striking, so it’s worth focusing on the color.

    It is fundamentally important not only the number, size and color of defects, but also their location. If microcracks and inclusions are located on the side, then they will be invisible in the frame. The most critical place is the stone platform.

    When purchasing diamond jewelry, pay attention to the tag. It must be attached directly to the jewelry with a seal and contain complete information about the product.

    The characteristics of the diamond on the tag coincide with its assessment according to the certification system adopted in the country where the jewelry was made. It will indicate how many stones were used as inserts, as well as information about their characteristics: weight, clarity, color, cutting method and quality.

    Ordinary (if you can say that about diamonds) stones with characteristics of 6/6 on the domestic scale look quite decent. An outside observer is unlikely to see any flaws with the naked eye, but for the right amount of money you can afford a larger and more representative diamond.

    Only synthetic stones are ideal. They are not assessed according to the scales described above and are much cheaper than their natural counterparts. But don’t you want to have a piece of jewelry, albeit with a flawed stone, but created by Nature itself?

    Buyers often ask: “What kind of diamonds do you have? Yakut?

    In the mass consciousness they mean quality, but what is a Yakut diamond? Let’s try to figure it out.
    Its history goes back to 1454, it was then that the first diamond was cut and used as decoration. For centuries, until the beginning of the 18th century, the main source of diamonds was India, which gave way to Brazil, which became the world center for the extraction of these stones. But perhaps the most significant event was the discovery in 1866 of the first diamond on the African continent. And a little later, in 1883, the De Beers company was created, the history of which is inextricably linked with the formation of the rough and polished diamond market. By 1902, the company controlled 95% of the world diamond mining market! In 1946, De Beers launched an advertising campaign with the slogan “Diamonds are forever,” which not only increased sales, but also moved gems into the “affordable luxury” category, making them a traditional engagement gift and other significant events. Let’s return to Russia: documented cases of diamond discovery date back to the 1930th century, but full-fledged geological exploration work began only in the late XNUMXs. In 1949, the first diamond was found on the territory of Yakutia and in 1954 the first diamond pipe “Zarnitsa” was opened on the territory of the USSR. Despite the harsh climatic conditions of Siberia, new kimberlite pipes were discovered and developed, including Mir, International, Udachnaya, etc., infrastructure was built, enterprises and entire cities grew. The volume of diamond production in the 50s of the last century did not exceed 30 carats per year, but at least 000% had a weight of more than 30 carats and a quality that allowed them to be used in jewelry. At the same time, the volume of the domestic diamond market was zero. There are no reliable data on the volume of diamond exports from the USSR in the 50s in open sources, but we can say with confidence that almost all of them were exported and bought by companies affiliated with De Beers. On the one hand, the development of mining and the creation of cutting production could bring the USSR as a serious player in the world diamond market, on the other hand, the structure of costs for the creation of industrial infrastructure in the conditions of Siberia ensured negative profitability of the Soviet diamond miracle. The unprofitability of production in Yakutia made it impossible to compete with De Beers on the world market. In 1960, an agreement was signed between the USSR and De Beers, which excluded the possibility of the USSR independently entering the world market and obligated De Beers to buy all diamonds produced in the USSR for export. The enormous costs of the diamond industry could only be offset by intensive production rates, and they grew, but the world market could not absorb such volumes of raw materials. In 1963, cutting production began in Smolensk, which later became part of the developed Crystal cutting system with branches in Gomel, Kyiv, Barnaul, Vinnitsa, Yerevan, Chita, Shakhrisabz. Thanks to the development of cutting production, the USSR begins “multi-channel export”. From the 60s of the last century until the collapse of the USSR, the cutting industry developed steadily. Strict cutting standards were developed, resulting in the resulting gemstones with ideal proportions, which is why the term “Russian cut” arose on the world market. What is the fundamental difference between the “Russian cut” and why such diamonds are “sold at a premium (i.e. more expensive) 10%” On the world market, the quality of cut is determined according to the 4C’s system proposed by GIA (Gemological Institute of America), and for stones with proportions close to “ideal” (i.e. e. with those when the maximum of light entering the diamond comes out back, which ensures its maximum play). This cut is designated Excellent. In fact, it does not matter where, when and by whom the stone is cut. If, as a result of certification, the cut is determined to be Excellent, this does not mean that it was necessarily cut in the USSR or Russia. They cost more, since in order to obtain ideal proportions, the loss of the starting material (diamond) increases, which leads to an increase in cost! And if all over the world cutters are trying to find the ideal balance between cost (losses) and cutting quality (price of the diamond), then in Soviet times the task was somewhat different. Now a few facts 1. Diamond production in the Russian Federation in 2014 by ALROSA amounted to 36 carats, the volume of exports from the Russian Federation in 212 was 000 carats (sources: ALROSA official website, data from the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation), that is, they exported more than they produced (volume of rough and polished diamond reserves on the Ministry of Finance website). Russia’s share in the global diamond market is about 30%.
    2. Diamond cutting in Russia is one of the least profitable manufacturing industries, the profit does not exceed 5%. 3. Russia occupies 4% of the world cutting market, and more than 60% of all diamonds produced in the world are cut in India. 4. Russian cutters specialize in a certain group of precious stones. Unable to compete with India in cutting costs, they shifted towards processing large goods with rising costs. 5. Russia mainly processes high-quality diamonds larger than 0,5 carats. 6. The sales volume of the Smolensk plant “Kristall” on the domestic market is about 3% (source Rough&Polished), and 97% of production is exported. Thus, the following can be stated:

      The quality of the cut is determined by an international laboratory according to the standards proposed by the GIA. Regardless of where the diamond was cut, if the quality of its cut, polishing and symmetry is determined to be Excellent, then it falls within the logic of the definition of “Russian cut”.

    Around the world, the best gemstones are designated Triple Excellent (3EX or EX EX EX).

    That is, if you want to purchase the “perfect” diamond, look for one with a GIA certificate and 3EX cut specifications. This will be a stone with a “Russian cut”;

    That is, from a practical point of view, “Yakut Diamonds” and “Russian Cut” are Russian brands that are wisely used by companies to increase their own sales, which is generally not bad.

    You can read more about the main parameters of a gemstone in the “About Diamonds” section.

    Now you can return to the main page of the site or select jewelry in the “Rings”, “Earrings” or “Pendants” sections.

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