Welcome to our diamond guide. Rare, precious, and everlasting, diamonds are fascinating gemological curiosities with a rich history.
At SHW, we offer earth-created and lab-grown diamonds. Both types are the same gemstone with identical physical, chemical, and optical properties, differing only in origin. On this page, you will find information about how both form and their four key characteristics—carat weight, color, clarity, and cut—that all signify value. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to select the diamond that suits you best with confidence and ease.
Diamonds are crystalline carbon atoms that formed under the earth’s surface over 3 billion years ago. To be more exact, they formed in the earth’s mantle about 90 miles below the surface under temperatures as high as 2000° F and a pressure of 45-60 kilobars. These extreme conditions link the diamond's atoms together in a special way, creating the hardest substance on earth.
After their formations, diamonds reach the earth’s surface during extremely rare and not yet observed deep-source volcanic eruptions. Diamond is the only gemstone composed of a single element, as they are typically about 99.95% carbon. The other 0.05% can include one or more trace elements, which are atoms that aren’t part of a diamond’s essential chemistry. Some of them influence color.
The diamond’s most common shape found in nature is the octahedron, composed of eight equilateral triangles, four of which meet at each vertex. Cutters split the octahedron in half, resulting in two round brilliant cut diamonds.
Lab-grown diamonds are real diamonds grown in man-made environments. Current technology can recreate conditions necessary for a diamond crystal to form, replicating the earth's natural process of diamond formation.
There are two common methods for growing diamonds in a lab: High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD).An HPHT diamond starts as a small diamond seed that is placed into carbon. Exposed to about 1500 degrees Celsius and pressurized to approximately 1.5 million pounds per square inch, the pure carbon melts and begins to form around the starter seed. It is then carefully cooled to form a pure carbon diamond.
In the CVD method, a diamond seed is placed in carbon rich gasses that are ionized into plasma using technology similar to that of microwaves and lasers. The ionization breaks the molecular bonds in the gasses allowing the pure carbon to adhere to the diamond seed and slowly crystallize. This process occurs at around 800 degrees Celsius.
Our lab-grown diamonds are CVD Type IIA. Type IIa diamonds are pure carbon diamonds and have exceptional optical transparency. Around 95% of earth-created diamonds contain trace elements that are acquired naturally during the course of their formation, such as nitrogen or boron.This affects their color, with nitrogen producing a slightly yellow appearance, while traces of boron will produce a blue hue. Only 2% of naturally occurring diamonds are Type IIa.
Once the lab-grown or earth-created diamond is selected, the next step is to choose the quality of the diamond and the shape of its cut. Both types of diamonds are graded by gemological institutes following exactly the same process and are cut using exactly the same standards. To help guide your process, you can learn about diamond grading and certification, the 4 C’s, diamond shapes, and more, below.
Our diamonds that weigh 0.4ct and up come with a certification from either GIA (The Gemological Institute of America) or IGI (The International Gemological Institute). Both institutes are dedicated to research and education in the fields of gemology and jewelry design. They carefully examine each diamond, issuing each one a unique number, which is inscribed on the part of the diamond known as the girdle. The diamonds' certificates include important information about each specific stone, such as its identification number and characteristics. These characteristics, known as the 4 C's, are carat weight, color, clarity, and cut.
Throughout history, diamond merchants considered the 4 C’s, but used broad, inconsistent terms. The diamonds' certificates include important information about each specific stone, such as its identification number and characteristics. These characteristics, known as the 4 C's, are carat weight, color, clarity, and cut. Each factor strongly affects a diamond’s price, so familiarity is essential when considering different options.
All diamonds set in our wedding rings are certified and carefully vetted by our in-house gemologist to meet the highest standards. Our lab-grown diamonds come with an IGI(The International Gemological Institute) certification. They are sourced from a women founded and operated diamond grower and cutter based in Surat, India. Our earth-grown diamonds come with a GIA (The Gemological Institute of America) and Canadamark certifications. They are sourced from Ekati and Diavik mines in Canada, which are well respected for their strict environmental and socio-economic policies.
If you are interested in customizing a ring from our SHW wedding collection, our GIA certified gemologist will carefully craft a list of diamonds for your selection or follow your specifications and requests.
Our settings can be customized for heirloom or pre-owned diamonds. Some setting styles might work better than others, depending on the cut of your gemstone. Please schedule a time to chat with us here or reach out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org with information about your stone and the setting designs you're considering so our jewelry designer can advise you and answer any questions you might have.
Diamond carat (ct) refers to a diamond’s weight. The most common and popular diamonds in the jewelry industry range up to 1 carat. Prices increase exponentially as the diamond's weight increases, as larger diamond crystals over 1 carat are more difficult to find.
Diamond cutters today use advanced technology to achieve the best proportions, ensuring that each diamond is cut following similar ratios. This allows them to estimate the diamond's diameter based on its carat weight. Though this is still an approximation, it can help you identify the best carat weight for your desired size.
Need a millimeter ruler? We’ll send you one.
Gemological institutes grade white diamonds based on the absence of color. Though diamonds are primarily carbon, they often include trace elements that can affect their color. The most common trace element is nitrogen, which gives off a subtle shade of yellow. The richer the yellow hue, the more common the diamond crystal, which decreases their value.
To grade white diamond color, gemological institutes use letters of the alphabet, starting from D (colorless) all the way to Z (light yellow). Truly colorless diamonds are quite rare, therefore are the most expensive. However, you should note that subtle hints of color are difficult to spot outside of a laboratory environment. The most common color ranges are D through F and G through J.
OPQRVery Light Yellow
Grading standards set by The Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
From formation of the crystal to cutting and polishing, diamonds undergo a long journey, leaving an individual mark on each stone. The diamond’s internal markings are called inclusions, while surface irregularities are called blemishes. Together, they’re called clarity characteristics. Gemologists grade diamond clarity based on the absence of inclusions and blemishes. After thorough examination, they prescribe a rating from flawless (no inclusions or blemishes) to included (some clarity characteristics will be visible even with the naked eye).
The fewer inclusions and blemishes the diamond has, the more valuable it is considered to be. Nonetheless, clarity characteristics are like a natural diamond's 'birth marks' and are extraordinary gemological manifestations of its formation.
VVS1, VVS2VS1, VS2Very very slightly includedVery slightly included
SI1SI2, SI3I1, I2I3Slightly includedIncluded
Grading standards set by The Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
Gemological laboratories study a modern diamond’s cut based on how its facets interact with light, prescribing an excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor grade. Excellent and very good sparkle the most. Since this C determines the overall appearance of the modern day brilliant cut diamond, we consider it to be one of the most important. We recommend only selecting diamonds with an 'excellent' grading.
The modern round brilliant cut diamond has 57 facets, or sometimes 58 if the cutter included a culet, which is an additional facet at the bottom of the pavilion. Today, diamonds are cut with a precision up to 1/100th of a millimeter allowing the perfect balance of proportions to reveal a diamond's beauty.
The Crown1.Table 2.Star Facet 3.Bezel Facet 4.Upper Girdle Facet
The Pavillion6.Lower Girdle Facet 7.Pavillion Facet 8.Culet
Though round diamonds are the most popular shape, accounting for more than half sold today, there are quite a few others to consider.
Have any questions or interested in creating a custom piece with one of our settings? Let's talk.
Though our SHW wedding jewelry designs are made to be enjoyed forever, sometimes unpleasant surprises happen. With this in mind, it’s best to be prepared and insured. We recommend Jeweler’s Mutual for jewelry insurance, as many of our past customers have had great experiences working with them.
Though our SHW wedding jewelry designs are made to be enjoyed forever, sometimes unpleasant surprises happen. With this in mind, it’s best to be prepared and insured. We recommend Jeweler’s Mutual for jewelry insurance, as many many of our past customers have had great experiences working with them.
They will ask you for a receipt and possibly request an appraisal. We will gladly appraise your piece for the parts you purchased through us. Please note that if you provided your own diamond, we will only appraise our setting and you will need a separate appraisal for your stone. In this case, consider bringing your piece to an outside appraiser for an entire appraisal.
Many companies offer jewelry insurance, and you might even be able to add it to your renters or homeowners insurance policy. We recommend collecting a few price quotes and carefully examining the insurance policies offered to make sure you select one that works best for you. If there is any additional information we can provide to assist you in completing the insurance application, you can always reach out to us by scheduling a time to chat here or via email at email@example.com. We are happy to assist!