Clarity: it tells you how clear or clean the diamond is. Usually most diamonds will contain some sort of blemishes (imperfections outside of a diamond), and inclusions (imperfections inside a diamond). The clarity grades established by Gemological Institute of America (GIA) are FL, IF, VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2, SI1, SI2,I1, I2, and I3, where the best is Flawless (FL) and the worst is I3. In general, it is recommended people buy diamonds with at least SI1 clarity. If you shop around, you can buy SI1 for the same price that most I2 stones are sold for.
Color: Diamonds come in all colors of the rainbow, from violet to shades of blue, brown, gray, and orange. The colored diamonds are rare and very expensive. The chances are that the diamonds you will see in your shopping will be white or yellow, the whiter the diamond the better it is. The yellow color comes from nitrogen, and as a rule the more yellow the stone, the less value it has. The color grading scale changes from D to X for white and yellow diamonds and Z is the grading for color diamonds. D is the whitest and the most valuable, X is dark yellow and least expensive. Z grade and beyond is for the colored diamonds, which are rare and most expensive. It is recommended to go for color grades H or I. Once mounted they will look as good to the average person as the higher grades, without costing a bundle. The average diamond purchased in the US is color grade M or N, but the customer is usually told it is higher.
Cut: This refers to not only the shape of the stone, but proportions, factors which determine the sparkle of the diamond. The GIA grading system for cut is Ideal, Very Good, Good, and Fair. It is recommended going for Very Good cut, which is pretty good and does not have the hefty price tag on it as an Ideal cut will have.
Carat Weight: This is actually the weight of the stone, not its dimensions.
Diamond Certificates: There are many agencies that certify the diamond qualities. The best one being GIA followed closely by AGS. EGL comes third, and then there are many more. It is recommend to buy jewelry with GIA or AGS certificates. EGL is acceptable. The certificates are doubly valuable in online shopping for the diamonds.
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