When purchasing a diamond, ask to see its certificate, which rates a stone based on the four C’s. A certificate should be issued by a respected lab.
Where to get a certificate or appraisal
The most recognized labs are the Gemological Institute of America, the European Gemological Laboratory, the American Gem Society and the International Gemological Institute. Jewelry experts warn that you should not base your decision solely on a certificate. You are strongly encouraged to see the diamond in person.
A certificate is not the same as an appraisal. An appraisal rates the market value of the stone for insurance purposes. This value is based on the anticipated cost to replace the stone, but is not a guarantee of its value. Most jewelers can issue an appraisal in addition to providing the certification. If you aren’t completely confident in your jeweler or retailer, have the stone independently appraised after your purchase. Always buy your stone from a jeweler with a clear return policy.
The Clarity Scale
The GIA, considered the accepted authority on gems in the United States, created the accepted standard definitions for levels of clarity. The GIA Clarity Scale goes like this:
|Internally Flawless (IF)
|Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2)
|No inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification.
|No inclusions and only minor blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10× magnification.
|Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10× magnification.
|Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2)
|Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2)
|Imperfect (I1, I2, and I3)
|Inclusions are clearly visible under 10× magnification but can be characterized as minor.
|Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader using 10× magnification.
|Inclusions are obvious under 10× magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance.