Picking your perfect lab diamond
Suppose you've only just begun shopping for the science-made diamond ring of your dreams. You might feel a little overwhelmed with the world of choices and considerations – ensuring that your diamond is high-quality, the right cut and shape for you, understanding the different colours and clarities, what the different certifications mean, and so on!
In this article, we'll be looking to simplify the most important notes on shopping for a cultivated diamond ring that's right for you – and hopefully have you come out the other side with a better idea of what you're looking for.
What Diamond Shape Is Right For Me?
Ideally, you will be wearing your diamond ring every day – and this means that every element of the diamond should be perfectly catered to you, your hands, your lifestyle, your taste in fashion – every consideration that would make you proud to show your ring off for life!
While many diamond cuts and shapes exist in the jewellery world, we will cover our 5 most popular: Round, Oval, Pear, Emerald, and Marquise.
Round – The Classic
Round brilliant cut diamonds remain the most sought-after out of all the available options on the market, giving a classic, timeless feel to any jewellery piece using them - and are universally flattering to any hand shape.
Round cuts are particularly flattering on longer, slimmer fingers, as their compact shape draws the eye down and inwards – impacting a more "proportional" illusion upon the hands.
Being primarily made up of kite and pyramid-shaped facets, the round brilliant cut allows light to enter and exit the stone at maximum angles, creating a breathtakingly glittery look.
Oval – The Elegant
An elegant, elongated twist on the classic round diamond shape, the oval shape can create the illusion of a larger-sized stone for its carat weight and also adds a slight lengthening effect to the wearer's fingers – drawing the viewer's eye upwards and outwards – ideal for wearers looking to balance out wider or shorter fingers.
Like the round brilliant cut, the oval is primarily comprised of kite and pyramid-shaped facets. However, with the slightly elongated shape of the stone, there is even more visible surface area for the viewer to enjoy its scintillating reflections.
Pear – The Feminine
With their elongated shape and tapered point, pear-cut diamonds provide the same visual advantages as the oval by making the most of the stone's dimensions. The soft curves and tapering effect the pear shape provides may also flatter wider or shorter fingers, depending on the direction in which the ring is worn - with the thin point facing inwards or outwards.
Some spiritual jewellery-lovers believe there is also an energy component to the direction in which your pear-shaped stone is worn – projecting positive energy outwards or preserving one's own energy.
Emerald – The Sophisticated
The most popular option out of the step-cut shapes, the rectangular facets of the emerald cut give off more minimalistic, subtle scintillations than the triangular facets of the emerald cut's counterparts. The larger table allows the clarity of the diamond to be accentuated and makes the most of the stone's carat weighting.
Marquise – The Sovereign
One of the most popular alternatives to the classic rounded diamond shapes, the marquise has a touch of vintage, aristocratic beauty that can usually be difficult to capture in a simple solitaire style.
The double-pointed edges give the marquise cut a uniquely dramatic lengthening effect that is far more obvious than its other lengthening counterparts, drawing the viewer's eye outwards in both directions – perfect for wearers looking to accentuate the length and elegance of their hands.
SHOP LAB DIAMONDS BY SHAPE
The Four Cs Of Diamond Shopping
Ensuring that your lab diamond is certified and graded is another important consideration when shopping for a lab diamond ring, as many insurers require a lab certification along with an overall valuation of the ring before agreeing to provide you with the appropriate coverage.
More importantly, you need to know exactly what you are paying for before committing to a purchase – assurance that can only be provided by a formal certification.
Most AGA-accredited laboratories grade their diamonds by their "4 Cs" cut, colour, clarity, and carat.
The "cut" area of grading pertains to identifying the shape of the cut (e.g., round brilliant cut) and the quality of the individual diamond cut – where the facets, proportions, refractions, and brilliance are evaluated and graded accordingly. This grading scale runs from Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor.
Unlike the colour and clarity, the quality of the cut does not have as much of an influence on the price of the stone – but it is useful information for you to know nevertheless.
The "colour" area of grading pertains to identifying the level of yellowish hues present in the stone. Earth-grown diamonds are usually more vulnerable to impurities that may appear during their formation than lab diamonds (formed under controlled conditions), meaning they are a little more likely to appear yellowish in tone than their lab-grown counterparts.
Most lab diamonds typically fall within the colourless to near colourless grading range.
The range for colour grading is alphabetised, running from DEF (colourless), GHIJ (near colourless), KLM (faint yellow), NOPQR (very light yellow), to STUVWXYZ (light yellow).
The higher up the letter is in the alphabet, the closer the diamond is to the "colourless" end of the scale, with D considered the perfect colourless grade.
While the colour of the diamond is not indicative of the diamond's overall quality and is essentially just indicated for personal preference. Since colourless diamonds are the most desirable on the market, diamonds graded high on this scale are typically valued a little higher than their yellower counterparts. This scale, however, does not apply to coloured diamonds (black, pink, blue, etc.).
The "clarity" area of diamond grading refers to the level of natural imperfections visible in the internal area of the stone. These are referred to as "inclusions".
While some natural inclusions are considered desirable in certain gemstones (the iconic moss-like structures within moss agate are, in fact, natural inclusions!), minimal inclusions are considered more desirable for jewellery-grade diamonds.
Given the highly controlled conditions under which lab diamonds are cultivated (unlike the wild and unpredictable nature of the earth), lab-grown diamonds are far more likely to possess a higher clarity grade than natural diamonds.
These levels of clarity typically fall within the following grades:
F (for Flawless)
The highest possible clarity grade for any diamond, both lab and natural, where no inclusions or imperfections are visible even at 10x magnification.
IF (for Internally Flawless)
The second highest clarity grade, where no inclusions are visible within the stone – but there may be imperfections on the exterior surface.
VVS (for Very, Very Slightly included)
These stones are almost clear but contain some inclusions that are still slightly visible at 10x magnification despite being difficult to see.
SI (for Slightly Included)
These stones contain inclusions visible at 10x magnification but may still be invisible to the naked eye.
I (for Included)
These stones contain inclusions that are extremely clear to see under 10x magnification and are usually visible to the naked eye.
The grades above can be further specified into sub-grades of 1s and 2s (e.g., VVS1 and VVS2), wherein subgrades of 1 are considered higher than subgrades of 2. Southern Cross Jewels' lab diamond solitaire rings are certified with these subgrades for maximum quality, transparency, and accuracy.
This area of diamond grading is self-explanatory – the lab would verify the advertised carat weight of the stone. The most desirable carat weight depends entirely on personal preference and your budget.
While 1ct diamonds are the gold standard, 0.50ct stones are just as stunning and far more affordable than their heavier counterparts.
A major advantage of choosing lab diamonds is the far lower price-per-carat scaling compared to earth-grown diamonds.
While there is not too much of a difference in the price for lab and earth-grown diamond smalls (1-2mm stones used for diamond detailing), the cost-benefit for lab diamonds becomes much more apparent the higher the carat goes – up to 40% more affordable than earth-grown diamonds.
Now that you have a solid understanding of some of the basic considerations for lab diamond shopping, you have learned:
- Different diamond shapes/cuts can provide the illusion of a larger stone, accentuate different aspects of the stone, and flatter different hand shapes.
- Lab diamonds, like natural diamonds, should be purchased along with accompanying certification of their origins and grades.
- The 4 Cs of diamond grading and what they all mean.