Choosing a Perfect Diamond

The four C's: the carat, clarity, color, and cut are the elements that determine rarity and value of a diamond. Each element plays a significant role in the excellence of a diamond stone. There are no two identical diamonds; every one is unique. The uniqueness of a diamond is characterized by the interrelationship of the 4 C's. Discovering the best diamond for you is very important, therefore we welcome you to learn and find the diamond ideally for you.

Why are diamonds forever? Diamond is a mineral of great hardness and refractive power, consisting of carbon crystallized in the isometric system under great pressure and temperature. Diamonds are crystals made up almost entirely of carbon; combination of chemical composition and crystal structure is what makes diamonds what they are. It produces the optical and physical properties that make diamonds so precious, beautiful, and valuable.

The first diamonds were found thousands of years ago in the sand and gravel deposits of streambeds. Part of the mystique deals with the hardness of diamonds, still the hardest known substance, natural or artificial. People believe that diamonds include spiritual and physical qualities such as power, strength, and love, which people hoped to obtain by wearing diamonds. Every culture that knew the diamond added it's own legends and lore. People buy diamonds to mark important events in their lives engagements, marriages, births, and achievements or to show how much they love someone. When you look at a diamond, you are looking at the wonder of nature. The people, places, and events -- in a sense the heart of our collective life -- seem to emanate from within this special gem. The Diamond Quality Chart is a framework to help you compare diamonds. That's why diamonds are forever.

In buying a diamond, the buyer should have the advice of a reliable Grading reports. While the acquisition of a diamond is the ultimate symbol of love, it also represents a major investment in time, energy and money. For example, would you buy a computer without warranty or documents? You need and deserve to feel confident in your decision and in the integrity of your stone. The blue-chip standard of diamond grading reports is issued by the Gemological Institute of America or GIA, a non-profit organization. At May Diamonds, we only carry GIA certified diamond stones, which are internationally respected by the diamond business community. That's why having a GIA Gem Trade Laboratory Diamond Grading Report with your diamond means peace of mind. Ensure that the pioneers of the most widely accepted and internationally recognized Diamond Grading System have graded your diamond, with the utmost impartiality and integrity. It's no wonder people pay more for a diamond backed by a GIA Gem Trade laboratory Diamond Grading Report. Which just may be the most valuable setting of all standards.

The Larger a Diamond, the More Rare - Larger diamonds are found relatively infrequently in nature, which places them at the highest level of the Diamond Chart. What also makes a bigger diamond so desirable is that it shows off a stones fine color and cut, and therefore its brilliance, to its best advantage. A diamond's size is measured in carat weight, and each carat is equal to 100 points. A 0.50-carat diamond is the same as a 50-point diamond or a 1/2-carat stone. While larger diamonds are highly prized, diamonds of equal size may vary widely in value and brilliance, depending on their qualities of clarity, cut, and color.

The Purer a Diamond, the More Brilliant - The greater a diamond's clarity, brilliance, value and rarity, the higher it is on the Diamond Quality Chart. The clarity of a diamond can be lessened by various kinds of flaws. Most diamonds contain natural birthmarks known as inclusions. Almost all diamonds contain identifying characteristics, yet many are invisible to the naked eye. Under the scrutiny of a jeweler's 10x-magnifying loupe or microscope, natural phenomena -- called inclusions -- may be seen. These are nature's birthmarks, and they may look like pinpoints, tiny crystals, clouds, or feathers.

Diamonds categorized as internally flawless reveal no such inclusions. Flawless stones have no inclusions or blemishes on surface are at the peak of the Diamond Quality Chart and are treasured for their rarity and beauty. Diamonds with very, very small inclusions are graded as VVS1 or VVS2. The larger the inclusion, the lower the grade and the less rare the diamond. Inclusions that can be seen with the naked eye are graded I1 to I3.

The number, color, type, size and position of surface and internal birthmarks affect a diamond's value. Major inclusions can interfere with the path of light that travels through a diamond, diminishing its brilliance and sparkle and therefore its value.

A diamond's color is graded on an alphabetical scale from D-Z to describe how much or how little color a diamond possesses. The best quality diamonds and the most valuable ones are completely colorless. Very few diamonds reach this standard.

 D-F Colorless: perfect or almost perfect color.
 G-J  Near colorless: good to very good color, and this diamond may "face up" colorless when mounted.
 K-M Light but noticeable yellow or brown tint. May "face up" colorless when mounted, especially when mounted in yellow gold.

Nuances between color grades are very hard to distinguish. Subtle differences are usually judged through the pavilion side of stone using a set of "master stones" for comparison. While many diamonds appear colorless, or white, they may actually have subtle yellow or brown tones that can be detected when comparing diamonds side by side. Diamonds were formed under intense heat and pressure, and traces of other elements may have been incorporated into their atomic structure accounting for the variances in color. A single change in color grade can significantly affect a diamond's value. Although the presence of color makes a diamond less rare and valuable, some diamonds come out of the ground in vivid 'fancy" colors -- well-defined reds, blues, pinks, greens, and bright yellows. These are highly prized and extremely rare.

FLUORESCENCE: A diamond's fluorescence is a tricky thing. To put it simply, a diamond's fluorescence is its glow under the influence of ultraviolet (UV) light. With the unaided eye, it is very hard to see when not in the proper environment. For example, in simple sunlight, UV light is abundantly present, but then again, so is every other spectrum of light, thus drowning out the glow. Technically, it is visible, but only the trained eye could see it after a short while of looking. Under halogen and fluorescent lights, there simply aren't any (or very little) UV rays emitted, making the stone look as wonderful as can be, just without any fluorescence. However, under a special light source designated to send out only UV light, a diamond will show its "true colors." A UV light, aimed at a diamond, will bounce back only if the stone has fluorescence. The stronger the fluorescence, the brighter the UV light bounces back. Almost every case of fluorescence results in a blue tone, but there is always the exception to the rule, resulting in different tones. Fluorescence is a thoroughly debated topic in the diamond industry.

There are people who like it and there are those who don't. Some enjoy it as a little extra surprise held deep within the stone, and others claim that it takes away from the diamond's natural brilliance. A diamond's fluorescence is a natural phenomenon, just not always appreciated. Fluorescence indicates if the stone reacts to UV light. It is graded as faint, moderate, strong or very strong, and may be followed by a color such as blue or yellow. A diamond with fluorescence strong yellow is less valuable because it may appear yellowish in daylight or fluorescent lighting. The presence of blue fluorescence will not detract from a diamond, and will in some cases add value because the stone will appear whiter in daylight or fluorescent lighting. However, an ideal-colored diamond will exhibit none to very faint fluorescence. Strong or intense fluorescence will decrease the value of a diamond.

The Better Cut a Diamond, the More Brilliant - The way a diamond is cut may affect its value because a stone that is not properly proportioned lacks the brilliance of a well cut stone. A well cut or faceted diamond, regardless of its shape, scintillates with fire and light -- offering the greatest brilliance and value. While nature determines a diamond's clarity, carat weight and color, the hand of a master craftsman is necessary to release its fire, sparkle and beauty. If the diamond is cut with just the right proportions and at certain precise angles, the stone’s ability to reflect and refract light will be maximized; the diamond will sparkle at greatest capacity. When a round diamond is cut to Ideal proportions, light will bounce freely within the diamond and reflect back out of the crown without escaping through the opposite side or the bottom of the stone. Diamonds that are cut too deep or too shallow lose light that spills through the side or bottom. As a result, poorly cut stones will be less brilliant and beautiful -- and certainly less valuable -- than well cut diamonds higher on the Diamond Quality Chart. The diamond cutter will determine the stone’s brilliance and scintillation. Fancies are more subjective than rounds when it comes to proportions. Whereas there are sets of rules for round proportions, the same does not apply to fancies. The important factor is that the facets should be well aligned.




Ideal Cut A diamond cut to optimal proportions, with optimal polish and symmetry, with the most weight loss to produce maximum luster, brilliance, dispersion, and scintillation. Diamonds cut to this standard are the most valuable, with only 5% of the round brilliant diamonds on the market cut to this standard. Considered investment Diamond Stones.
Well-Cut or Very Good Diamonds that have very good optical beauty that falls just outside of the parameters of Ideal Cut diamond. These diamonds are priced less than Ideal cuts, but are still considered investment Diamond Stones, with only 10% of the round brilliant diamonds on the market cut to this standard.
Deep Cut or Good This diamond will appear smaller than it weighs because its weight is retained in the depth. It is cut with a deep pavilion (bottom of the diamond) that does not reflect light back through the crown (top of the diamond). Light leaks out the pavilion producing a dark appearing diamond that lacks sparkles.
Shallow Cut or Fair Diamonds that are cut with shallow pavilions that do not reflect light back through their crown. The light leaks out from the pavilion, producing a watery spot appearance that is not beautiful. This will cause unsightly reflections in the crown area.
Bow-Tic or Poor Effect dark area in the center of some diamonds. A large dark shaded area in the center of a diamond detracts from beauty and lowers the value.

Cut Depth Percentage Table Percentage
Ideal 60-62.7% 53-57%
Very Good 59-62.9% 53-61%
Good 58-63% 53-63%
Fair 64-67% or 56-58% 63-65%
Poor Over 67% or less than 56% over 65%


The girdle and culet is also other important part of the cut. The girdle rating indicates both the thickness of the girdle and whether it is polished or faceted. These two criteria affect the value and durability of a diamond. Girdle thickness ranges from extremely thin to extremely thick -- both extremes tend to lower a diamond's value. A medium rating is desired for the girdle, although diamond shapes with more than one point (i.e. pear or marquise) will often have a thick to very thick girdle in the area of the points. The culet is the tiny facet at the bottom of the diamond that looks like a point. The desired culet is small to very small, so that it is not visible through the top of the stone. A larger culet is often visible through the top and reduces brilliance at the center of the stone.

A top finish is important, because it directly affects the look of the diamond. It is the quality of the finish that unlocks the hidden beauty in the diamond. Two factors, polish and symmetry, indicate the finish of a diamond. These factors show the care and craftsmanship that went into the finishing of the stone.

Polish: The final finish must be perfectly void of any streaks or marks left over by the manufacturing process. A diamond's polish is a good indication of the care taken by the diamond cutter. The better the polish, the brighter and more lustrous the stone. Polishes rated excellent, very good, good, fair or poor.

Symmetry: Symmetry describes several factors of a diamond including how the facet edges align with one another, depending on the diamond facets of either side match, and whether the facets of the top portion of the diamond are aligned with corresponding facets in the bottom portion. A diamond’s facet needs to be of equal size and perfectly opposite its counterpart on the crown and pavilion. Symmetry should be graded as excellent, very good or good; if it is fair or poor, your diamond has been poorly cut and its value and beauty will be less.

Diamonds can be polished into a multitude of shapes other than the traditional round. The shape of a diamond largely determines its setting. At May Diamonds, no matter their shape, all the diamonds are cut to maximize their brilliance. May Diamonds can help you choose a diamond shape that suits your personal taste. The classic Round Brilliant, Oval, Pear, Marquise, Princess, Heart and Emerald shapes are among the most beautiful and popular today.

Choosing the appropriate metal for your diamond jewelry is important. Many consumers do not have a well-rounded understanding of the differences between metals used in jewelry. For example, white gold and platinum are commonly mistaken as the same metal, but they are absolutely different. May Diamonds has created a metal tutorial to provide consumers with a clear insight on the differences in jewelry metals.

Gold (Au) is a unique chemical element, which has unique chemical and physical properties for the production of jewelry. Gold is very malleable, which makes it easy to shape and sculpted into jewelry. Pure gold is very soft making it difficult to withstand daily wear and use. Other metals are mixed with pure gold to increase the strength and durability of gold.
The purity of gold is measured in the karat units. Karat range from 1 to 24, one being the lowest purity and twenty-four being pure gold. The higher the gold karat: the more pure the gold. Goldsmiths often understand karats as fractions of pure gold. For example, 18 Karat (18K) gold is 18 units of gold out of a total of 24 units; the (24 – 18 = 6) remaining 6 units consist of other metals. Gold Karat and diamond carat units are not related.

Gold alloys are produced from other metals, which are added to the pure gold. The alloying of gold can create a variety of colored gold. Different metals have a different affect on the color of the gold. For example, white gold is created using palladium or nickel with gold. Gold alloys are harder than pure gold making it better to hold stones.

Another popular jewelry metal is platinum, which is a fairly new and advanced metal. Jewelers discovered how to work with platinum at the beginning of the twentieth century. Platinum is one of the strongest and most durable metals, which rarely shows any wear or material loss. The strength of platinum allows it to hold stones better than any other metal and platinum is the heaviest of precious metals making it feel more significant. Platinum is a pure metal, which will not tarnish and is hypoallergenic. 14K gold is only 58.3% and 18K is 75.0% pure gold. Jewelry made of platinum is at least 90% pure platinum. Like gold, many jewelry manufacturers alloy pure platinum with other metals, iridium or ruthenium creating a stronger alloy.

If platinum is 100% pure, then it is known as Platinum 1000. If the platinum alloy were 95% pure platinum, then it would be classified as Platinum 950. The purity of platinum is measured out of 1000 units.

For you to be satisfied with your ring pruchase, it is essential that you know your ring size accurately. In case you do not know or are unsure, we will mail you a ring sizer so that you can obtain an accurate measurement. Please contact us with your address information and you will receive a ring sizer within 3-5 business days.