EXPERT DIAMOND JEWELLERY BUYING GUIDE
Exclusively From We Love Diamonds
Choosing a diamond can be a minefield with many variables to consider, not least your budget and vision. We Love Diamonds systematically select and assess countless diamonds every month and, are experts who understand precisely what diamonds need to be used on any given piece of diamond jewellery. On many of our luxury diamond jewellery items we offer a wide range of different options so that you can choose the best piece at the best price.
You will often hear the term "the four c's" which are carat, cut, colour and clarity but we consider several other elements of any diamond that we buy/use/sell too. Here's a quick guide to help you navigate the options and select the best diamond for your budget and vision - you may be surprised by some of the areas that you can flex to get your dream diamond.
The diamond shape is the geometric appearance of a diamond. Cut diamond shapes fall into two classes which are (i) Round Diamonds/Round Brilliant Cuts and then (ii) Fancy Shape Diamonds. Round Diamonds are the quintessentially classic diamond shape. Next you have Fancy Shape Diamonds which essentially encompass every other shape outside of round brilliant cut diamonds.
It's widely accepted there are 12 classic diamond shapes in line with the image above which are Asscher Diamond, Baguette Diamond, Cushion Diamond, Emerald Diamond, Heart Diamond, Marquise Diamond, Oval Diamond, Pear Diamond, Princess Diamond, Radiant Diamond, Round Diamond and Trillion Diamond.
Additionally, there are other rare types of diamond cut/shape which are usually called 'branded diamond cuts' as they are frequently unique and patented to a brand like Tiffany & Co. These rare cuts are often just variations to the 12 classic cuts above and include Asprey Cut, Eighty-Eight Cut, Ashoka Cut, Jubilee Cut, Crisscut, Lily Cut and Bead Cut. Many of these rare diamond cuts require a particular stone in terms of its carat weight, colour and clarity.
Diamond shapes can dictate the required setting. For example, a trillion cut diamond is asymmetrical and requires a special, secure setting. Along with colour and clarity, the diamond shape also significantly affects how much sparkle (light return) any stone emits since the amount of sparkle directly correlates to the number of facets it has and how light is collected to then pass through the diamond. Facets are like precision mirrors and are flat, polished surfaces. Round brilliant cut diamonds emit the most sparkle as they have the most optimal facet pattern. Step cuts like Asscher and Emerald don't sparkle as much but have a very unique style and romantic allure. Some shapes are illusory too i.e. a 1.0 carat marquise cut diamond will present larger to the eye than a 1.0 carat round brilliant cut diamond because it is longer and the optical effect is such that it will appear larger (especially on long, slim fingers).
The shape of diamond describes its geometric appearance. The cut of a diamond correlates to how well the diamonds facets interact with light to produce brightness, fire and scintillation. Scintillation is the sparkle (sparkle being the optical effect of the white and coloured flashes of light observed when a diamond is in motion). The more ideal the diamonds then the more light and sparkle the diamond will be able to emit which, in turn, affects its price.
The GIA grades diamond cuts on the scale of Excellent, Very Good, Fair and Poor. A poor cut diamond won't have the same sparkle, fire and brilliance as a superior cut diamond and will appear duller in comparison, at least under magnification anyway. The ideal cut of a diamond is the highest possible grading which will, by design and simple physics, reflect almost all of the light which enters it.
The total height of a diamond is measured from the surface of the table to the culet as shown in the image above. Get the combination of depth and diameter right and the diamond will capture, reflect and emit more light making its sparkle more powerful and beautiful. Some diamond jewellery designs (i.e. where the stone needs to be set in a particular mounting) requires a 'deep cut'. This is where the extra depth of the diamond is hidden inside the mounting and the only fully visible part of the diamond is usually the diamonds top which will be smaller than the top of an ideal cut diamond of the same carat weight. Diametrically, a 'shallow cut' diamond will have a depth which is too low relative to the diameter of the girdle. This is done to sacrifice some of the sparkle and brilliance in return for the illusion of a bigger sized diamond (since it will indeed be wider than an ideal cut diamond of the same carat size).
Essentially, while there are some other niche variations, there are three primary styles of diamond facet cutting:
Brilliant Cuts. These cuts consist of triangular facets which expand outwards from a diamonds centre. They give off the most scintillation of any diamond cut.
Step Cuts. Examples of step cuts include baguette and emerald cuts. They consist of rectangular facets that ascend the crown and descend the pavilion in steps. These cuts really show off a stone’s colour and clarity and deliver a more subtle gleam than a brilliant cut diamond does.
Mixed Cuts. These blend the styles of brilliant cuts and step cuts and will either have step facets on the diamonds pavilion or vice versa.
The GIA colour grading scale starts at D for the highest colour quality. With white diamonds, the less colour in the diamond then the more valuable, radiant and rare it is. This is unless we're talking about fancy colour diamonds such as pink diamonds, yellow diamonds and blue diamonds which use a different scale based on the intensity of their colour. This alternative grading ranges from faint to fancy deep/fancy vivid. Where there is some slight colouring in a white diamond then the less natural light colour will be reflected back to the naked eye. Heavier yellow tints are not as desirable as colourless or near colourless diamonds are.
Most diamond jewellery uses diamonds between the grades of colourless (D to F) to near-colourless (G to J). The greater the presence of colour in a diamond the higher the corresponding letter will be. The colour grading is done by comparing the diamond to stones of a known colour under precise lighting and controlled viewing conditions.
When it comes to something like a diamond ring we can tell you that it pays not to obsess too much about the colour compared to some of the other discriminators like carat size, cut and clarity. Once diamonds are mounted then most of them will look visually identical, vibrant and white in their setting especially when they are contrasted against something darker like yellow gold or rose gold. The diamonds shape can mitigate a diamonds colour as, for example, a round brilliant cut diamond is excellent at hiding colour whereas an emerald cut diamond generally isn't. As long as the diamond looks clear in its setting and has the optimal shape then there usually isn’t much for you to gain by spending more on a higher colour grade unless you really want to spend the extra money.
Most experts agree that a diamond engagement ring for example which features a well cut H colour diamond with a larger carat size and which is perhaps somewhere around the VS1 clarity mark is a far superior purchase compared to a much smaller D, E or F grade diamond, especially if its clarity isn't as good in comparison. Flexing the colour of a diamond will give you a much larger diamond for your budget without you having to make bigger sacrifices elsewhere on size, brilliance or clarity. If you have the budget to tick all the boxes then great - go buy a D graded diamond. Just consider that a G, H, I or J colour diamond with the right cut will look just as good when presented in a high-quality setting.
Firstly, we want to stress how difficult it is to photograph diamonds naturally. Outside of optimising lighting, no We Love Diamonds webshop imagery is ever edited or touched-up in Photoshop to manipulate or misrepresent them. Any imperfections you may think you see in any imagery is most likely dust especially since most imperfections just aren't visble to the naked eye anyway (which is why we examine them under 10x magnification or above). Even if you do spot a minor imperfection, remember that you are looking at a gigantic sized image of the diamond and not how it actually presents in the real world!
Diamond clarity is a qualitative measurement of the purity and rarity of a diamond. Flawless diamonds are of course much rarer than an included diamond. A superfluity of factors (including the size, nature, number, location and noticeability of any imperfections) are taken into account when grading the clarity of a diamond. Diamonds are graded flawless (FL) when there are no inclusions/internal flaws and no blemishes/external imperfections when inspected under heavy magnification. A diamond at the other end of the scale - one with a poor clarity grade - will have multiple inclusions and this will affect its sparkle since these inclusions will limit the diamonds potential to refract and return light. The lower the clarity of a diamond then the more cloudy it will appear.
Different shapes and cuts of diamond impact how readily imperfections appear as can the carat size (the larger the diamond the easier it is to see any inclusions). In selecting our diamonds we take many elements into account not least their cut and shape. Step cut diamonds like baguette cut diamonds, emerald cut diamonds and asscher cut diamonds tend to show imperfections more easily so, depending on the carat size and other factors, we typically look for a diamond clarity of VS2 or above when using them. A diamond with VS2, SI1 or even SI2 clarity is usually more than good enough for a round cut diamond up to about 1.0 carats. Heart shaped diamonds hide inclusions very well so even with a large carat weight, clarity anywhere down to SI1 can often be ideal. Princess cut diamonds, oval cut diamonds, cushion cut diamonds, radiant cut diamonds, pear cut diamonds and marquise cut diamonds hide their inclusions even better than all other diamonds shapes so opting for an SI1 or SI2 clarity diamond really is a great option to maximise your budget when this is balanced against other factors like carat weight, colour etc.
The biggest takeaway for you here is that while the clarity of a diamond can have a huge impact on its value and appeal, it's easy (and indeed common) to be pushed by a high street jeweller or a commissioned salesperson into purchasing a diamond with a clarity grade that's just too high to appreciate when important other things like the carat size, setting and shape are all taken into account as part of a blended and considered solution to your needs and budget.
Even with our smallest diamonds, the absolute minimum colour and clarity of the diamonds we use in our diamond jewellery is always at least a grade G colour with SI1 clarity or above and all with excellent eye-cleanliness (meaning they are diamonds where any inclusions can only really be seen when viewed under heavy magnification and not visible to the unaided eye). Naturally, we go right up to flawless, grade D colour diamonds, especially with loose cut investment diamonds and our bespoke diamond jewellery items.
We measure diamonds in carats. The carat indicates the diamonds weight and not its size. The heavier a diamond is the larger the carat is. A 1.0 carat diamond weighs 0.2 grams and will be divided into 100 points. A 0.25 carat diamond will thus have 25 points. Its dimensions will vary based on the actual shape and cut of the diamond. We Love Diamonds only ever pick diamond cuts which optimise the stunning beauty of any given diamond and do not just fixate on their weight.
When it comes to a diamonds carat weight then bigger isn’t always better. The value, beauty and appeal of any diamond is a combination of all the areas we’ve covered above in our diamond guide. While a diamonds carat weight does have a significant impact on its ultimate value - and also its jaw drop factor - its cut, colour, clarity and many other factors also play an important role. We recommend you don’t completely fixate on size as you could risk ignoring a heart-stopping diamond that’s a little smaller. That said, carat weight is often precisely what elevates a diamond to something truly special.
Depending on the particular piece of jewellery and its style, sometimes it’s much better value to opt for a smaller carat weight diamond and instead focus on areas like the diamonds colour and clarity. A high-quality diamond will always look bigger than the same sized diamond with a poor cut for example. There are so many variables involved here which is why two diamonds of the same precise weight will often have dramatically different prices.
In regard to diamond jewellery which is comprised of multiple diamonds; we will typically give the total carat weight of all the diamonds included as it is best practice to do so although where relevant, we will seperately list the carat weight of any feature diamond(s).
DIAMOND JEWELLERY BUDGET & VISION
To achieve your vision of the perfect piece of diamond jewellery for your budget there are other areas to consider.
One is the actual type of jewellery your diamond(s) are going to be set in be it a ring, bracelet, necklace etc. Different diamond shapes and cuts lend themselves better to certain jewellery designs. The setting of a ring can make a real difference to the diamonds colour for example. Square Princess Cut diamonds have stunning edge-to-edge brilliance and are perfect for tennis bracelets and other crisp, contemporary and geometric designs. Asscher Cut diamonds offer a romantic feel and a vintage look and make for wonderful stud earrings. Round, Brilliant Cut diamonds are the classic choice for solitaires, twin and three-stone settings. A Marquise Cut diamond has a distinctive silhouette highlighted by sharper ends and curved sides and offers a very regal look plus its narrow and long shape gives the illusion of a much larger diamond size when the ring is positioned vertically on a finger. They really do effectuate strikingly beautiful engagement rings.
The precious metal used in any design makes a big difference to your diamond jewellery not just in terms of whether it's solid 9, 14 or 18 carat for example but also whether it's white gold, yellow gold, rose gold or another precious metal like platinum. Everyone has their own preferences. Do not ever consider gold or silver plated jewellery. We absolutely do not sell gold plated jewellery because it is never a good value purchase. A gold plated piece of jewellery usually has less than 0.05% of its overall weight comprised of actual gold. That's just 1 piece of gold for every 2,000 parts of other stuff! Conversely, 24 carat gold is pure gold and contains no other metals. That's too soft for most jewellery design so we often use 18 carat gold instead which contains 75% gold (with the rest being comprised of other precious metals like copper or silver). We Love Diamonds also use 14 carat gold or 9 carat gold (or other precious metals like platinum) depending on the piece and what kind of design, strength and durability is needed. Gold plating tarnishes easily, wears off quickly and can't stand up to wear, water or heat over time. It's false economy and has no future return on investment potential.
The cost of the diamond jewellery may well be front of mind and you will want to maximise your budget to get the best specification of diamond(s) for your vision. We know diamonds, we love diamonds and we are diamonds so we only ever select the most optimal combination of all the key elements to position the right piece for you and make sure your purchases are packed with added-value and impeccable service. While most high street and other online retailers artificially inflate their jewellery prices by 3 to 5 times their real value (and often a lot, lot more), we offer the exact same luxury diamond jewellery and loose cut investment diamonds direct to you at wholesale prices. Our business model is specifically designed to deliver customer delight and win repeat business so we're only interested in building long-term relationships with our customers. Why spend £10k on a diamond ring from a high street jeweller when you can likely get the same like-for-like item for a fraction of that from We Love Diamonds? We'd rather see you save yourself all that money or, even better, spend that £10k with We Love Diamonds and instead get a piece of diamond jewellery that's five time better and a lot more valuable.
There are many ways to stretch your budget. Firstly, buy from We Love Diamonds and you will flex our exclusive wholesale prices. Next weigh up how to then get the most for your budget. The most popular carat weights for diamond engagement rings for example are between 1.0 and 2.0 carats. If your partner has their heart set on a 1.5 carat diamond then even the most exquisite 1.0 carat diamond may still fall short of their expectations. If the price to avoid any potential disappointment still doesn't fit with your budget then there are many things you can do to balance the variables in your favour. You can consider a slightly smaller carat weight using a marquise diamond as its elongated cut guarantees it will look larger than other diamond shapes of an equal carat weight. A carat weight difference of 10% or less really is remarkably difficult to visually notice anyway. Make pragmatic concessions little-by-little and in the following order until you find the diamond that fits your budget. First lower the clarity. Next lower the diamonds colour grade. Finally, lower the diamonds cut and go as low as very good in round diamonds or good in the fancy diamond shapes. If you're not already at or very close to your budget at this point then you can then shave off maybe 10% of the carat weight to get yourself over the line. If you're still going for a 1.5 carat diamond and still not quite there then further reduce the clarity to as low as SI2 clarity. Selecting a faint yellow colour can still look amazing if it's being set in yellow or rose gold. You can always call us on 0800 987 7100 - we'll help you find the right piece at the right price.
TYPICAL DESIGN ELEMENTS OF A DIAMOND RING
The focal point of most diamond rings, especially engagement rings, is “The Head”. The Head is designed to showcase the rings centre stone (or centre stones if there is more than one diamond). The Head is essentially the entire structure around the centre stone(s) and includes the “Basket”, the “Prongs/Claws” and the “Bridge” as shown in the illustration above. The Head of any diamond ring will come in a wide array of shapes and sizes designed to accommodate and highlight important elements like the diamonds cut, especially in terms of its depth which will be displayed in “The Gallery Rail”. The Bridge is the bottom part of the ring which sits over the top of your finger. Ordinarily, the larger the diamond and/or the greater the depth of the diamonds cut then the bigger the gallery rail will be since this helps create more room between the diamond and the bridge and, in turn, your finger.
Some diamond rings feature “Side Stones” which are set on the sides of the Centre Stone. Diamonds are often also set on the rings “Shank” which is also known as the “Band”. We Love Diamonds ensures that this part of the rings fits you to perfection and we offer a free re-sizing service to ensure that this is always the case for you. On the inside of the rings shank you will find the Hallmark which is obviously what confirms the precious metal used and its grade e.g. 18 carat gold. All our diamond jewellery comes with a full UK Hallmark and we only ever use solid precious metals such as gold and platinum. We do not ever sell ‘plated’ jewellery since this is practically worthless.
“The Prong” (also known as “The Claws”) are the pieces of precious metal which hold your diamond(s) in place securely and which also act as a design feature. Solitaire diamonds will typically have 4 to 6 prongs. The more claws then the more secure your diamond(s) will be.