A: Every diamond shopper would love to own a huge perfect one but since most of us have a budget unfortunately some compromises must be made, and this is when deciding which quality factors are most important comes into play. The diamond you decide upon has much to do with personal preference however our professional opinion and educated common consensus does suggest a range whereby all the ‘naked eye’ perceivable quality factors are equally present.
Clarity of VS2 or SI1 is a good choice because your diamond should be free of eye visible inclusions and durability issues. SI2 (and very occasionally I1) clarity stones can also be acceptable provided a gemologist cherry picks you a really good one. Clarity grades from VS1 to FL will cost far more and don’t add any beauty to the diamond that will be perceivable to the naked eye. Clarity grades lower than I1 will usually have very noticeable imperfections and/or structural problems.
Most people will start to notice a tint of body color at letter grade H (especially the larger the diamond), therefore color grades of G up to D (colorless) will have increasingly more of the desired ‘white’ pure ice like appearance. If you want the first impression of your diamond to be that it doesn’t have any color then a G is a good choice, F is even better and makes the stone a bit more special due to it being rarer. D or E are really ‘WOW’ white but obviously get quite a bit more expensive.
Cut proportions that are within ‘Ideal Cut’ parameters will yield the most light return and beauty. Polish, symmetry, and cut grades should be lab graded at least ‘good’ (grades lower than this will affect beauty); though we tend to suggest ‘very-good’ since the difference in appearance is noticeable enough to make the extra expense worthwhile. However with cutting technology as it is today most newly cut stones should be very good to excellent anyway.
UV fluorescence should be no stronger than medium or it can adversely affect the appearance of a white diamond despite what some jewelers may say… because strongly fluorescent stones are less rare and less expensive so there is more profit to be made in selling one to a customer that is not aware of it.
In summary the best ‘beauty to value’ quality combinations are generally within VS2 to SI2, F to G, ‘Ideal Cut’ proportions or close to them, very-good polish, symmetry and cut grade, none to faint fluorescence (preferably blue in color if it has any). All this considered we still advise our customers to only spend money on what is appreciable to their eye… for that is the most important factor!
Aspects of diamond quality and how they relate to each other and cost can be a bit confusing and overwhelming but we will be happy to sit down and take as much time as you would like to explain them correctly and show you the differences.