Blemish: A clarity characteristic that occurs on the surface of a diamond. Though some blemishes are inherent to the original rough diamond, most are the result of the environment the diamond has encountered since it was unearthed.
Brilliance: The brightness that seems to come from the very heart of a diamond. It is the effect that makes diamonds unique among all other gemstones. While other gemstones also display brilliance, none have the power to equal the extent of diamond’s light-reflecting power. Brilliance is created primarily when light enters through the table, reaches the pavilion facets, and is then reflected back out through the table, where the light is most visible to your eye.
Brilliant Cut: One of three styles of faceting arrangements. In this type of arrangement, all facets appear to radiate out from the center of the diamond toward its outer edges. It is called a brilliant cut because it is designed to maximize brilliance. Round diamonds, ovals, radiants, princesses, hearts, marquises, and pears all fall within this category of cut. Carat: The unit of weight by which a diamond is measured. One carat equals 200 milligrams, or 0.2 grams. The word comes from the carob bean, whose consistent weight was used in times past to measure gemstones.
Carbon Spots: An inaccurate term used by some people in the jewelry industry to describe the appearance of certain inclusions in a diamond. The term refers to included crystals that have a dark appearance, rather than a white or transparent appearance, when viewed under a microscope. In most cases, these dark inclusions are not visible to the naked eye, and do not affect the brilliance of the diamond.
Cleavage: The propensity of crystalline minerals, such as diamond, to split in one or more directions either along or parallel to certain planes, when struck by a blow. Cleavage is one of the two methods used by diamond cutters to split rough diamond crystals in preparation for the cutting process (sawing is the other method).
Clouds: A grouping of a number of extremely tiny inclusions that are too small to be distinguishable from one another, even under magnification. The result is that, under a microscope, this grouping often looks like a soft transparent cloud inside the diamond. Of course, clouds cannot be seen with the naked eye. Usually, this sort of inclusion does not significantly impact a diamond’s clarity grade.
Color Grading: A system of grading diamond colors based on their colorlessness (for white diamonds) or their spectral hue, depth of color and purity of color (for fancy color diamonds). For white diamonds, GIA and AGS use a grading system which runs from D (totally colorless) to Z (light yellow).
Crown: The upper portion of a cut gemstone, which lies above the girdle. The crown consists of a table facet surrounded by either star and bezel facets (on round diamonds and most fancy cuts) or concentric rows of facets reaching from the table to the girdle (on emerald cuts and other step cuts). Crown angle: The angle at which a diamond’s bezel facets (or, on emerald cuts, the row of concentric facets) intersect the girdle plane. This gentle slope of the facets that surround the table is what helps to create the dispersion, or fire, in a diamond. White light entering at the different angles in broken up into its spectral hues, creating a beautiful play of color inside the diamond. The crown angle also helps to enhance the brilliance of a diamond.
Culet: A tiny flat facet that diamond cutters sometimes add at the bottom of a diamond’s pavilion. Its purpose is to protect the tip of the pavilion from being chipped or damaged. Once a diamond is set in jewelry, though, the setting itself generally provides the pavilion with sufficient protection from impact or wear. Large or extremely large culets were common in diamonds cut in the early part of this century, such as the Old European or Old Mine Cut. However, such large culets are rarely seen today. Most modern shapes have either no culet at all, or a small or very small culet.
Cut: This refers both to the proportions and finish of a polished diamond. As one of “the Four Cs” of diamond value, it is the only man-made contribution to a diamond’s beauty and value.
Depth: The height of a diamond from the culet to the table. The depth is measured in millimeters.
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