In my quest to find the perfect proposal ring for my girlfriend, i’ve embarked on a journey to learn more about diamonds. It is something that one rarely pays any attention to, only relevant when you need to get one for your partner. I started on the HWZ forums, where there is an active thread on proposal rings and diamond discussion. It is also the the place where i picked up most useful and relevant information, mostly from users that went through the same thought process when breaking the cherry on getting a proposal ring. For most, it is our first time (and hopefully last), and diamond is a huge monetary investment, so most would like to get the best bang for their buck.
Most are familiar with the 4Cs – Carat, Clarity, Color, Cut.
The social norm focus mainly on carat, which usually is mistaken as the size of the diamond, but is actually the weight(mass). Reason i pointed this out is that you can have two diamonds of the same carat weight but one will appear larger than the other depending on way the diamond was cut.
Diamonds occur naturally in all colours of the rainbow. Generally, the rarest diamonds exhibit no colour at all (apart from fancy colours). Polished diamonds are graded for minute variations in depth of colour, from ‘colourless’ to ‘light colour’. This is universally known as the D (meaning ‘exceptional white’) to Z (‘tinted colour) colour scale. D, E, F are considered colourless. From my personal experience, I would actually go all the way down to a “G” color, as you can’t really see the yellow tint unless placed directly beside a much whiter diamond.
When we speak of a diamond’s clarity, we are referring to the presence of identifying characteristics on (blemishes) and within (inclusions) the stone. It is graded as per below:
F – Flawless: No internal or external flaws. Extremely rare.
IF – Internally Flawless: no internal flaws, but some surface flaws. Very rare.
VVS1-VVS2 – Very Very Slightly Included (two grades). Minute inclusions very difficult to detect under 10x magnification by a trained gemologist. VVS1 means the inclusion is on the bottom half of the diamond, and VVS2 means it is on the top half of the diamond.
VS1-VS2 -Very Slightly Included (two grades). Minute inclusions seen only with difficulty under 10x magnification. VS1 means the inclusion is on the bottom half of the diamond, and VS2 means it is on the top half of the diamond.
SI1-SI2 – Slightly Included (two grades). Minute inclusions more easily detected under 10x magnification. SI1 means the inclusion is on the bottom half of the diamond, and SI2 means it is on the top half of the diamond.
I1-I2-I3 – Included (three grades). Inclusions visible under 10x magnification AS WELL AS to the human eye. Not recommend buying diamonds in any of these grades.
Some common inclusions, as represented on the diamond’s cert, are Cloud, Feather, Pinpoint (the shape of the inclusions and blemishes). My personal recommendation is at least get a VS2 diamond that is eye clean (can’t tell with naked eye looking VERY closely and carefully). Unless you are very concerned about the resale value of your diamond, you will need a 10x loupe to see the inclusions.
NOTE: Do not get blemish or inclusions that are near the girdle (edge of diamond), as it makes the diamond vulnerable to cracking when impact is applied. Diamond are the hardest element, but under these circumstances, can be brittle.
The cut is perhaps the most important factor in a diamond. Cut is expressed in terms of the brilliance, fire and scintillation of a diamond. To maximise sparkle, a diamond must be cut to very specific parameters of angle and dimension with a strict attention to the polished finish of the diamond. General norm is that so long a diamond has a GIA Triple-Excellent or AGS Triple-Ideal (on Cut, Symmetry, Polish) rating, it is guaranteed to be a good diamond.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but a 3EX grading does not surely ensure a well cut diamond. This will only give you an Ideal cut diamond. To get the best diamond, we need to find the Super Ideal cut diamond.
Finding the Super Ideal diamond
If you inspect your GIA cert, you will see a number of values on the diamond. These values can help you filter out the great diamonds from the not-so-good ones. As the fire and scintillation mostly depends on light reflections, there are some values to take note of to ensure a well cut diamond. This will separate a Super Ideal cut from a normal Ideal cut.
1. Firstly, use the Holloway Cut Advisor (HCA tool) to determine it’s potential Light Return, Fire, Scintillation and Spread performance. A score of below 1.5 is recommended. The lower the HCA score, the better the performance.
The Light Return, Fire and Scintillation should all return “Excellent“. Spread can be “Very Good” or “Excellent”.
2. Choose a diamond with values within these ranges for optimal performance
Pavilion Angle: range 40.3° – 41.1° (40.6° – 40.8° is optimum)
Total Depth: 59% To 62%
Crown angle: range 33.4° – 36.4° (34° – 35° is optimum)
Table Size: 53% To 58% (54%-57% is optimum)
Lower Girdle Halve length: 75% To 80% (77% is optimum)
Star Facet Length: 40% To 58% (45%-50% is optimum)
(values adapted from heartsandarrows.com)
To know more about what these values does, you can check out Hearts and Arrows DNA page.
3. Put the diamond under an ASET & IDEAL scope to see the symmetry of the cut. Nothing beats seeing it with your own eyes. Below is a reference comparison on the high performance diamonds compared to the rest of the common diamonds.
High Performance (Rounds)
In high performance rounds RED is dominant, broken by an even BLUE contrast pattern. GREEN is present in small, symmetrical quantities. WHITE leakage should be minimized.
Brightness and Dispersion
Abundant RED indicates abundant light return, which most people find appealing. The balance of dispersion or “fire” seen will depend on the diamond’s configuration or “make” and must be assessed in-person. Large tables and shallow crowns have more whiteness then fire. Small tables and high crowns have more fire than whiteness. Middle combinations are balanced.
BLUE creates the contrast pattern in a round diamond. These areas are obscured by the observer in the face-up position. Tilt the diamond slightly and those areas erupt in light as others go dark. Tilt it more and they swap again. Keep tilting and the on-off sparkle you see is scintillation. In high performance diamonds the character of scintillation is influenced by the table and lower halves. Short lower halves result in fewer, broader flashes. Long lower halves create more numerous, smaller flashes. Middle combinations are balanced.
The Chosen One
After much tinkering, i settled on getting my diamond ring at JannPaul. I was not disappointed. The immense knowledge that they meticulously went through with me was definitely an eye opener. They have batches of Super Ideal diamonds for your selection, depending on your budget constraints and requirements. Below are the ASET and Ideal Scope images of the diamond i purchased.
There are of course more in depth research that you can do, but after reading pages after pages on selecting the holy grail of diamonds, i believe the points pointed out above is more than adequate for you to find a brilliant diamond for your beloved partner. Look out for her taking notice on any particular ring setting that she may like, be it vintage, tiffany-style, with 4 or 6-prongs etc. It will save yourself a lot less headache when it comes to figuring out what is it exactly that she will like.
When all else fails, ask. It is something that will be with her forever. The excitement of not know WHEN you will pop the question will still be special.