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This simple diamond buying guide is a starter for ten. Quickly understand the provenance of diamonds, and how diamonds are graded using the Four Cs.
Diamonds are 99.95% pure crystallised carbon and are from one to three billion years old. The world's hardest naturally occurring substance, they are formed beneath the Earth's surface when crystals of diamond occur in volcano feed-pipes. When volcanoes erode, they release diamonds from feed-pipes into layers of gravel which are later mined. Due to the rarity of this natural process, diamond mines are found in just a handful of sites around the world. Rough diamonds are shipped to the world's cutting centres to be shaped and polished before being set. The hardness, brilliance and sparkle that emerge from a diamond can be irresistible.
Grading diamonds - Cut
As the only characteristic of a diamond not influenced by nature, a well cut diamond is of vital importance in giving a diamond its brilliance. Each angle and finish affects its ability to handle light, through each facet, which leads to brilliance. A diamond cut to achieve good symmetry and proportion will sparkle more than one that has been cut too deep or shallow.
Cut also determines shape. The most popular diamond shape is the round. Others shapes include the emerald, the pear, the marquise, the princess, the oval and the heart shape. Many of the diamond rings in our designer engagement ring collections boast unusual cuts.
The most valuable and rare colour of a diamond is white, or colourless. Absolutely colourless diamonds are graded with the letter "D". The Gemmological Institute of America (GIA) diamond colour scale moves up to "Z". Between these two extremes, diamonds display subtle coloured tones. The diamonds used in our designer engagement rings are typically G colour or above.
Element welcome you to look into the diamonds in our diamond jewellery with a loupe. You’ll probably see small "inclusions", or "nature's fingerprints". Usually invisible to the naked eye, you need to know that these inclusions can affect the diamond's fire, but they also make your diamond unique and shouldn't always be seen as a fault. As long as your diamond is graded above SI1, you can be confident that your diamond will sparkle.
- 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.
- VS1-VS2 Very Slightly Included (two grades). Minute inclusions seen only with difficulty under 10x magnification.
- SI1-SI2 Slightly Included (two grades). Minute inclusions more easily detected under 10x magnification.
- I1-I2-I3 Included (three grades). Inclusions visible under 10x magnification, as well as to the naked human eye.
The weight, and thus the size, of a diamond is measured by carat. A carat is equal to 0.2gm, or 200mg. A carat is divided into 100 smaller units called points. So a diamond weighing three-quarters of a carat is 75 points.
For extra reassurance when buying a diamond or diamond ring, you could request a Certificated diamond. Typically, a diamond is certified by an independent gemmological laboratory if it is larger than 0.30ct, and is usually more expensive than a non-certified diamond (prices for certification depend on diamond size). When buying diamonds from Element Jewellery, please ask about certification, as we can source a diamond for you that has been certified by GIA, EGL, or others.