Being able to read a grading report and understand what the grades mean can be an invaluable tool when choosing the perfect lab-created diamond. When are inclusions visible? Which of the 4 C's is the most important? And how does a diamond's grade translate into the cost of the stone? We've taken the time to break up each category below to help shed some light on what a grading certificate is really telling you.
Cut is the most important grade to check on a report, and usually the most misunderstood. The Cut of a diamond is the greatest influencer on the sparkle and brilliance of the stone, which is the first thing we see when looking at a diamond. A poorly cut diamond will appear dull and lifeless even if it is at the upper end of the color and clarity scales. As a general rule of thumb, stick with cut grades of Very Good or higher; the higher the Cut grade you choose, the lower you can go in the other C's without it significantly affecting the beauty of the stone. The biggest variant in pricing is cut - this grade alone, for a specific color/clarity, can cause as much as 50% variation in price.
Color is widely considered the second most important grade behind cut because to the naked eye, sparkle is detectable first and color second. The price point will be at its highest for colors at the top of the scale (D-F), but it is also hardest to detect color differences in those high grades. To maximize budget, try to find a Lab-Created Diamond in the near-colorless range (G-H) as there will not be any yellow detectable to the naked eye. Keep in mind when shopping for Fancy Shapes, which is any shape that is not a Round, they tend to show more color due to the way they are cut, so we usually recommend going with a higher color grade if you are worried about seeing any traces of yellow.
A Lab-Created Diamond's carat weight refers not to the size of the stone, but the weight of it; two stones may have identical carat weights but have different length x width measurements depending on the cut. If you want to choose a smaller carat weight stone, opt for a higher cut grade, as this will make the stone appear larger. When selecting a stone for a specific budget, try to go slightly under a full or half carat weight, because prices jump at those sizes. For example, a 1.9ct stone will cost less than a 2.0ct, and because carat weight is distributed across the entirety of the diamond, that size difference would be nearly impossible to detect.
Clarity grades on a report refer to the tiny inclusions (blemishes) in a stone, and whether or not they are visible to the naked eye. This is important, because unless an inclusion is visible to the point where it is distracting, most of the time there is no need to look for a flawless or near flawless stone. Eye-clean diamonds, which are those without visible inclusions, will fall into the range of VVS1-SI1. As long as you choose a stone within that range, you will not need to worry about seeing inclusions, especially if you are selecting a stone with a higher cut grade. Each grading report will include an image indicating where inclusions are located which is very helpful if you are purchasing a diamond without seeing it in person.
At the end of the day, all 4 categories work together to tell a Lab-Created Diamond's story; no two diamonds will be exactly alike, despite sharing the same grades and measurements. As a consumer, being able to read a grading report will culminate in more confident and effective diamond buying.