Our Guide to Diamonds: Properties, Cuts, Clarities, and Colors
Diamonds are synonymous with wealth and luxury, known for their brilliant, sparkly appearance. (They’re also a girl’s best friend!) We love diamond jewelry because it’s timeless, long-lasting, and literally goes with everything. Did you know that diamonds are the hardest known natural substance on earth? Diamonds are incredibly durable and unlikely to chip, which is one reason why they’re a popular centerpiece in engagement rings.
Learn about the properties of diamonds, common diamond terms, and popular diamond cuts.
Diamonds are rare, naturally-occurring minerals formed 100 miles below the Earth’s surface. They’re made of carbon and form under high temperatures and pressure. Every diamond has billions of carbon atoms that are locked together forever.
While most diamonds are mined, lab-grown diamonds are recently growing in popularity. They share the same properties and appearance as mined diamonds but they’re eco-friendly and conflict-free.
What is a Diamond Carat?
A diamond “carat” refers to how large the diamond is. So, larger carats = bigger diamonds and higher prices. The most common diamond carat size is somewhere between 1.0 and 1.2 carats.
Large diamonds are rarer to find and tend to be more valuable. Though it’s important to note that a diamond’s carat doesn’t determine its quality.
What is a Diamond Cut?
If you’re shopping for diamond jewelry, you'll definitely come across the term “cut.” The cut refers to the style, proportions, finishes, symmetry, and polish of a diamond. Depending on how a diamond is cut, it can affect the gemstone’s sparkle. Well-cut diamonds are brilliant and sell at higher prices than poorly cut diamonds.
Here’s a list of some of the most common types of diamond cuts:
What Does Diamond Clarity Refer To?
A diamond’s clarity plays a big part in its value. Sometimes, diamonds have natural imperfections, known as inclusions. Inclusions can affect the diamond’s sparkle. Jewelers give a diamond’s clarity one of the following grades:
- FL - Flawless, inclusion- and blemish-free
- IF - Internally flawless, has some very minor surface blemishes
- VVSI and VVS2 - Very, very slightly included, has microscopic inclusions that are difficult for a trained eye to see
- VS1 and VS2 - Very slightly included, minor inclusions that are slightly easy for a trained eye to see
- SI1 and SI2 - Slightly included, if you look closely you can see them with the naked eye
- I1, I2 and I3 - Included, visible inclusions that are easily spotted
What Does Diamond Color Refer To?
Did you know not every diamond is totally colorless? Some diamonds actually have slight yellow or brown tones. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) grades a diamond’s color with the following grades:
- D-F - Colorless
- G-J - Near colorless
- K-M - Slightly tinted
- N-R - Very light yellow
- S-Z - Light yellow or brown
The 3 Most Popular Diamond Cuts
Besides carat, cut is very important to consider when purchasing diamond jewelry because it determines the shape of the diamond. These are some of the most desired diamond cuts.
1. Round Brilliant Cut
This is the most popular diamond shape because it’s timeless, classic, and versatile. Whether set in the center of an engagement ring or repeated in an eternity ring, a round brilliant cut diamond is incredibly sparkly thanks to its 57 facets (the flat parts around the diamond).
We adore round diamonds in our jewelry designs—see for yourself in our stunning, handset Solitaire Diamond Ring featuring a .25ct round diamond or our Diamond Eternity Ring, which features up to 54 diamonds.
2. Cushion Cut
Cushion cut diamonds are square or rectangle-shaped with gently rounded corners. There are two different types of cushion cut diamonds: old mine cut and modern cushion. The old-mine cut features 58 facets and looks chunkier than the modern cushion. A modern cushion cut diamond has 64 facets, which gives it more sparkle.
Psst…did you know that Prince Harry gave Meghan Markle a cushion cut diamond engagement ring?
3. Princess Cut
Behind round diamonds, princess cut diamonds are the second most brilliant. This modern cut is shaped like an inverted pyramid with beveled sides. Of all square- and rectangular-shaped diamonds, princess cuts have the most brilliance.
Now that you’re a diamond pro, shop our entire collection of diamond jewelry to discover timeless rings and earrings featuring our eco-friendly, lab-grown diamonds. Whether you’re shopping for a Diamond Eternity Band or treating yourself to our Anja Luxe Ring, we have pieces for all styles and budgets.