Diamond Quality Essentials
Our goal is for every piece we produce to be a source of pride and worthy of being a family heirloom. We are extremely selective in the materials we work with, as only the best will make such a goal possible.
Diamonds are uniquely suited for this because not only are they the most brilliant gemstone, but they are also the hardest natural surface, allowing their beauty to sustain for decades and generations.
When it comes to diamonds there is almost no limit to how much can be spent to attain total perfection. That doesn't mean every customer can or even should spend excessively for total perfection. Diamonds are graded in labs, with special lighting, and 10x magnification. Past a high threshold, the improvements in the quality of a diamond are lost to natural light and the naked eye. They are further obscured when set in a ring or any other piece of jewelry. Our quality standards start at this threshold, so every diamond we sell is unblemished to the naked eye and stunning when set in any piece of jewelry.
Below we've laid out what each characteristic of a diamond means in a practical sense, and how we drew the line for our specific standard. We believe exceptional diamonds can be found at any price point, and we provide the tools and information necessary to enable this.
It is important to remember that each characteristic of a diamond is tied to every other one. Because of this, balance is key, and it is what we've ensured through our quality curation. Prioritizing color, clarity, cut or even size is up to personal preference, but over-emphasizing any of them can lead to over-paying for an underwhelming stone because the flaws end up detracting from the strengths.
Any natural diamond we sell will have a grading report from the independent diamond grading lab The Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The originators of the 4 C's, they are considered the standard-bearers in the industry, and the grading scales we refer to are based on their grading reports. As such, we have incorporated their visuals and additional explanations below.
Our Standard: 0.30 carats to 3 carats.
The Reason: While Carat size is considered one of the 4 C's, we do not consider size to be a measure of quality. While size isn't a reflection of quality, there are reasons to limit the range:
- Diamonds below 0.30 carats are typically not certified, which is a requirement for our diamond centers.
- Above 3 carats cost can vary widely, and there are fewer stones available, providing less consumer choice.
- We've designed all our ring builder designs to fit any stone within this range, with adaptive proportions adjusting to accentuate the beauty of the specific center. Going beyond this range, above or below, would require design changes that would preclude adaptability.
Practical Advice: Diamond costs are calculated per carat, and the larger a diamond is, the higher its price per carat goes. This means that when quality is equal, a larger stone will cost more than a smaller stone not only because it weighs more, but because you are paying more for that weight. These per carat price jumps tend to happen at common numbers, such as 1 or 1.5 carats. Values can sometimes be found by focusing on intermediary sizes or opting to upgrade quality instead of trying to hit a specific, common size.
Our Standard: H color or better. On a scale of D (highest) to Z (lowest), H and up represent the 5 highest color grades.
The Reason: A diamond's lack of color is part of what makes it such a unique stone, and so well suited for any color metal. The non-center diamonds we use, and those in our wedding bands, are always of G/H color or better, so if a center stone were to be of lower color than the stones around it, the overall look of the ring would be diminished.
Practical Advice: Because of our high standard and the optical effect of contrasting color, if you are planning on a ring in Yellow or Pink Gold, you can de-emphasize Color relative to the other qualities and the diamond will look more colorless than it would in a White Gold or Platinum ring.
Our Standard: VS2 clarity or better. On a scale from FL (Flawless) to I3 (Included), VS2 and up represent the 6 highest clarity grades.
The Reason: VS stands for Very Slightly Included, and it means that even under 10x magnification, it will be hard to see any imperfection in your diamond. For every grade above VS2, the level of imperfection diminishes, all the way up to Flawless. The presence of a noticeable imperfection can stick out and draw the eye whether the diamond is set or loose, and imperfections can also interfere with light refracting in a diamond and reduce its brilliance.
Practical Advice: Where a diamond's imperfections are located can't be imparted by just its clarity grade. Because of this, we review every diamond and remove from consideration any that have an imperfection in a more visible location, such as close to the surface or in the center of the table.
Our Standard: Excellent cut. On a scale from Excellent to Poor, it is the highest cut grade.
The Reason: This is the highest cut grade recognized by the GIA, regardless of what you may read elsewhere. The beauty of a great diamond can be ruined if not expertly cut, and the better a stone is cut, the more it maximizes size, cost efficiency, and brilliance.
- Polish and Symmetry: Polish and symmetry are two subcomponents of a diamond's overall cut grade. A diamond can still be an Excellent cut if one of polish or symmetry is graded as Very Good. We prioritize sourcing diamonds that have both subcomponents graded as Excellent, referred to then as a Triple Excellent diamond. If maximizing budget is a prime consideration and there is a substantive saving we will consider a diamond with a Very Good polish or symmetry grade as long as the overall cut grade remains Excellent. When conveying a diamond's information, we make sure to clarify if it is Excellent or Triple Excellent.
Practical Advice: The better a diamond is cut won't make it cheaper, but it will make it more cost efficient. This is because the ideal proportions for a diamond are meant to maximize the stones brilliance without excess carat weight. The poorer a stone is cut, the more excess it will have, and this excess weight diminishes the diamond's look and brilliance. Diamonds that are especially poorly cut not only look worse, and less brilliant, but can also appear smaller than lower carat weight, well cut, diamonds because they are disproportionately deep or misshapen.
Our Standard: No Fluorescence.
The Reason: Ultraviolet light waves, which are present in sunlight, can cause some diamonds to Fluoresce, which means to emit another color than what is visible when the diamond is not exposed to UV Light. If fluorescence is present the intensity is graded and can range from Faint to Very Strong, typically tinging the diamond with a blue color, though other colors are possible. While this tinging can enhance the appearance of lower color diamonds, at the Near Colorless range it does the opposite, diminishing the appearance and can even lead to a milky look when the intensity is strong. Because of our high color standards, we do not consider any diamonds with fluorescence.
Practical Advice: Wherever you buy your diamond, make sure you know if the stone is fluorescent or not, and if so, how intensely. Because it is not part of the 4 C's, this is a characteristic that can easily be left out or overlooked, but it can have a strong effect on a diamond's cost, value, and appearance.
While these standards are more selective than even the most revered of traditional retailers, because we can source across the industry, we are never short of options and can confidently guarantee that our customers get more from their budget than anywhere else. Learn more about how we source and purchase diamonds here.
A Note on Lab Grown Diamonds
We take every step possible to ensure that the natural diamonds we source are ethically and sustainably mined, but we recognize the economic and ecological appeal of lab grown diamonds.
We view lab grown diamonds as just the same as natural diamonds. Unlike simulants (well-known ones include moissanite and cubic zirconia) that approximate a diamond, lab grown diamonds look and behave like natural diamonds because they are molecularly the same. They are the result of the same conditions that create diamonds, it's just that people have created the circumstances for those conditions instead of them arising naturally.
We apply the same quality standards to lab grown diamonds as we do natural diamonds. Because lab grown diamonds are newer and the diamond and jewelry industry has not uniformly accepted them, we currently accept stones with IGI and GCAL grading reports as well as those from the GIA. Adoption and the practice of lab grown diamond and their grading is new compared to the decades of natural diamond grading. As such there is less uniformity amongst lab grown suppliers on where they receive their reports from.
Some labs differ in terms of grading terminology. The primary difference being a cut grade of Ideal above Excellent. We believe that any stone with an Excellent cut grade on a GIA report compares favorably to any stone with an Ideal cut grade from any other lab. While we specify when a stone has an Ideal Cut grade from a lab that lists it, we consider an Excellent cut grade from a GIA report as the top possible grade for the category.