Welcome to our diamond guide. Rare, precious, and everlasting, diamonds are fascinating gemological curiosities with a rich history.
Here, you will find information about the celebrated stone and its 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 result in a diamond’s atoms linking 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 made of a single element, that being carbon. Diamond is 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. Currently, cutters split the octahedron in half, resulting in two round brilliant cut diamonds.
The two most important elements of selecting your diamond are choosing the quality of the stone and the shape it's cut in so that the result truly feels like you. Below, to help guide your process, you can learn about diamond grading and certification, the 4 C's, diamond shapes, and more.
GIA DIAMOND CERTIFICATION
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is a nonprofit institute dedicated to research and education in the fields of gemology and jewelry design. Their laboratory carefully examines diamonds 0.15 carats and up, issuing each one a unique number, which is inscribed on the part of a diamond known as the girdle. These identification numbers are listed on diamonds’ certificates as well, including the most important information about the specific stone, such as its characteristics, otherwise known as the 4 C’s, which includes carat weight, color, clarity, and cut.
Throughout history, diamond merchants considered the 4 C’s, but used broad, inconsistent terms. GIA standardized the grading of diamonds for these factors in the early 1940s. Since then, it has become a well-known system the diamond industry uses on a global scale. Each factor strongly affects a diamond’s price, therefore familiarity with them is beneficial while considering different options.
All diamonds set in SHW wedding rings are certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Our GIA certified gemologist is available to answer any questions you might have about the certificate accompanying your ring. Every diamond used in our SHW wedding collection is sourced from Ekati and Diavik mines in Canada, which are well respected for their strict environmental and socio-economic policies. They also provide their own certificate known as Canadamark. Additionally, we also offer antique diamonds from the 1870s to 1940s to be considered for our settings.
If you’re interested in customizing a ring from our SHW wedding collection, our GIA certified gemologist will gladly prepare a list of diamonds for you to choose from following your specifications and requests.
Our settings can be customized for heirloom or pre-owned diamonds. Depending on the cut of your gemstone, some setting styles might work better than others. 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 which 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. Larger diamond crystals over 1 carat are harder to find, that’s why diamond prices increase exponentially as the weight increases.
Diamond cutters today use advanced technology, which ensures each diamond is cut following similar ratios for the best proportions. This allows them to estimate the diamond's diameter based on its carat weight. Though this is still an approximation, it does help figure out what carat weight might be the best size for you.
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 commonly found diamond crystal, which makes them less valuable.
To grade white diamond color, gemological institutes use letters starting from D (colorless) going down the alphabet all the way to Z (light yellow). Truly colorless diamonds are quite rare, therefore are the most expensive. But 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, which leaves an individual mark on each stone. The diamond’s internal markings are called inclusions and surface irregularities are called blemishes. Together, they’re called clarity characteristics. When examining diamond’s clarity, gemologists grade them on the absence of inclusions and blemishes and 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. In contrast, diamond’s clarity characteristics are like a natural diamond’s ‘birth marks’ and are curious gemological manifestations of how they form.
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 ones and 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, an additional facet at the bottom of the pavilion. Today, diamonds are cut with a precision up to 1/100th of a millimeter, which allows 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 enjoy forever, it’s realistic to admit that sometimes unpleasant surprises happen. With this in mind, it’s best to be prepared and insured. We recommend Jewelers Mutual for jewelry insurance, as many of our customers in the past have had great experiences working with them.
Though our SHW wedding jewelry designs are made to enjoy forever, it’s realistic to admit that 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 customers in the past 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 to get it entirely appraised.
Many companies offer jewelry insurance. 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 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!