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Diamonds 101

An Insider’s Guide to Diamond Education.

You’ve found the love of your life.  You’re ready to make the leap. Often this is your first diamond purchase, so purchasing one can be a daunting experience. We’re going to try and make this process as easy as possible. And, it starts with understanding a few facts.

The first step:  Decide on what shape you might love.

SHAPE makes a difference.

The shape you choose for your center diamond will have an impact on how your ring looks and feels. And, let’s face it, the diamond is the most important part! Here’s an interesting fact: Any shape other than round is referred to as a fancy cut. Here are some things to consider when looking at various diamonds:

Round Brilliant

The most popular cut for maximum brilliance.

Princess Cut

The most popular fancy-cut; has a great deal of sparkle.


A modified brilliant-cut with similar fire; elongated shape creates the illusion of greater size.


A square cut with rounded corners, much like a pillow; arguably giving the most sparkle.

Asscher Cut

An elegant square shape with clipped corners that make diamonds appear octagonal.


Rectangular with parallel facets and clipped corners; produces a hall-of-mirrors effect.


An elongated shape with tapering points at both ends; flatters the finger.

pear diamond shape


Teardrop-shaped, with a great deal of sparkle.

Radiant Cut

A combination of the emerald cut and the round brilliant; typically with clipped corners.


A sentimental cut that is sometimes hard to find.

Beyond the Four Cs.

Understanding the first four Cs is helpful when selecting a diamond, but it doesn’t make you an expert, and it won’t help you distinguish the difference between two diamonds of similar quality. That takes formal training. Many of us are graduates of the Gemological Institute of America. What does that mean to you? We are your diamond education experts in the Hudson Valley—and the first place to consider when you’re looking for that important fifth C…Confidence.

CUT – It’s nearly everything.

Ever wonder what gives a diamond its sparkle? Cut, the proportions of a diamond, is the only aspect of a diamond controlled by man.  It expresses the diamond’s natural sparkle and has the biggest impact on your diamond’s appearance and quality.  It’s a big deal.  And that’s why we suggest you invest in exceptional cut first and foremost.  We’re not saying that carat, clarity and color are unimportant, but sacrificing sparkle for a larger diamond, or one that has glaring imperfections is not the best strategy. 

But in spite of the importance of cut, there weren’t any standardized criteria for cut grading before the mid 20th century.  When criteria were finally standardized, it included brightness, fire, scintillation, (the sparkle) weight ratio, durability, polish and symmetry.  A cutter who is working with a piece of diamond rough is trying to maximize each of these to make the diamond more rare and valuable.  Needless to say, it takes a master level of craftsmanship to achieve maximum sparkle.

So what’s best?  A diamond cut with the most exacting proportions for its shape. Think of it like this: The bottom of the diamond has facets, and those facets act like mirrors. When the facets are cut at the proper angles, light enters through the top of the diamond, bounces off the mirrors, and returns back to your eye in a full spectrum of color.

The opposite is true for a poorly cut diamond with incongruous proportions. It will allow light to escape out the bottom and sides, resulting in a dull, dark appearance.

In short, the angles allow the diamond to capture and reflect light or sparkle.  For a really brilliant diamond, with excellent polish and symmetry, let your diamond education professionals at Jaymark Jewelers help you choose the best cut for the diamond shape of your choice. And finally, exceptional cut will also increase your diamond’s value, making it (and pardon the pun) a cut above the rest.

COLOR- Less is more.

Just because a diamond looks white doesn’t mean it’s colorless. In fact, the white diamond spectrum ranges from totally colorless to light yellow.  The amount of color in a diamond is signified with a special lettering system that ranges from D to Z.  The letter D is awarded only to rare, totally colorless diamonds.  In other words, the more colorless a white diamond is, the greater its beauty and value.

* A colorless diamond can be graded D, E or F. Less than ¼ of 1% of all the diamonds in the world fall into this category.

* A near colorless diamond can be graded, G, H, I or J. The majority of diamonds sold in the industry are represented by one of these grades.

Colored diamonds, such as pink, blue, chocolate or bright yellow are also available, but they are rated on a different scale than white diamonds.

CLARITY – Clear differences.

Part of the wonder of diamonds is the fact that they are created by incredible natural forces.  In fact, natural diamonds are formed by tremendous heat and pressure deep within the earth. This powerful process can result in internal “inclusions” and external “blemishes.” These are simply fancy words for a diamond’s characteristics, as we like to call them. They are the diamond’s fingerprints.

A diamond’s clarity is determined by the number, size, nature and position of its inclusions and blemishes. Almost no diamond is perfect, but the closer it comes to perfection, the higher its value. A “flawless” diamond is exceptionally rare. Inclusions usually don’t affect a diamond’s beauty, although they do affect price.

Here’s an interesting diamond education fact: Like a fingerprint or snowflake, no two diamonds are the same.

CARAT WEIGHT – Not just size.

Carat weight is a measure of a diamond’s weight, and a reflection of its size. So, two diamonds of slightly different dimensions may have the same carat weight.  Size also depends on how evenly weight is distributed and the quality of the cut.  So, two diamonds with the same carat weight can vary greatly in value, depending on the color, clarity and most importantly, the cut. It’s really a matter of deciding what matters most to you, size or quality, and then finding the best combination of size, color and clarity for your budget. By the way, there isn’t a right answer. It’s truly what’s right for you.

Discover a rainbow of brilliance.

Colored Diamonds

Natural colored diamonds are in a very different category than white diamonds with varying degrees of color.  With natural colored diamonds, the color is celebrated, valued and highly desired.

Natural colored diamonds range in color from the soft champagnes of brown to vivid orange, from warm sunlit golden yellow to light mint and grass green, from mysterious rare blues to soft pastel and deep raspberry pinks and beyond to red, purple, olive, black and grey.

There is an entire rainbow of color and an almost endless nuance to palette, making colored diamonds an exciting alternative for bridal rings, a perfect gift for anniversaries and a powerful fashion statement on any red carpet anywhere in the world.

Buying a Loose Diamond

If you’re deciding between a ring with a diamond already placed in a setting versus choosing a loose diamond and a setting you desire, here are a few things you should consider

A Flexible Choice.

Selecting a loose diamond gives you the ability to first select the individual stone and then couple it with a complementary setting.  Since the center diamond is usually the largest investment, this option gives you ultimate customization.

Quality Can Make the Difference.

When you select a diamond that has not yet been set, you can thoroughly examine the quality of the diamond from every angle.

Assurance Every Step of the Way.

Loose Diamonds with a recognized grading report have undergone a thorough analysis by a top-tier, third-party gemological laboratory such as GIA (Gemological Institute of America) considered to be the foremost authority. 

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