Jewelry Care Guides

Diamond Guide

Diamonds signify special occasions in life: we use them to mark birthdays, engagements, wedding vows, or anniversaries. While it's exciting to buy a diamond, it can also be overwhelming. Our guide will help demystify your diamond-buying experience, so you can be confident you are getting the best in the 4 C's of diamonds: Color, Cut, Clarity and Carat Weight.

When you buy your diamond from Fortunoff, you can rest assured that you have purchased exceptional quality at an honest price. Some stores falsely advertise 50% savings when what they really do is inflate prices to claim a huge sale. Fortunoff offers fair prices every day, so you can shop with confidence. Our standards of quality, selection, value pricing and service are legendary. Generations of families have shopped confidently at Fortunoff, The Source. We invite you to do the same.


  • Color preference in diamonds is a very personal thing. Some people covet a colorless diamond; others desire a "warmer" color.
  • Most gem-quality diamonds appear to be white to the untrained eye, but there are subtle differences that can greatly affect value. Diamonds with no traces of body color are extremely rare.
  • To accurately determine a diamond's color grade using Gemological Institute of America (GIA) standards, the diamond is viewed unset, table down, and compared to a "Master Set" whose colors have been predetermined by the GIA (see the chart on the facing page). Your Fortunoff diamond engagement ring has been carefully color graded by professional graders using these standards.
  • Colored diamonds occur in nature in shades ranging from the palest yellows and pinks to vivid blues and reds. The vivid hues are rarest of all. All yellow and brown diamonds more strongly colored than Z color are termed fancy colors, as are all reds, pinks, greens and blues. Fancy color diamonds are graded according to a separate set of standards.


  • Most diamonds develop natural "inclusions" or imperfections During their formation deep within the earth. The fewer the imperfections, the rarer and more valuable the diamond.
  • Diamond clarity is graded based on the position, color, number, nature and size of these features. It takes an experienced, trained grader to correctly evaluate the clarity of a diamond.
  • Flawless and internally flawless diamonds are exceedingly rare. The term "flawless" is a highly restricted one. Under Federal Trade Commission rules a diamond can only be Deemed flawless when no internal or external imperfections are visible to a professional eye under 10 power magnification using a binocular microscope in good light. While most inclusions may not affect the beauty of a diamond, they do affect its value and price.
  • At Fortunoff, diamonds accompanied by laboratory reports are re-checked to be sure they pass our more rigorous standards. Many types of imperfections that are acceptable to other retailers will be rejected by our experts.
  • Open imperfections, which break the surface of the diamond, are often not shown on laboratory reports, but may threaten the integrity or beauty of the diamond. Many diamonds have "opens". To protect you, Fortunoff rejects such diamonds. Other retailers sell those we've rejected.
  • Some stores use vague or deceptive phrases and don't fully disclose the nature or quality of their diamonds. At Fortunoff, you will receive a diamond grading report that clearly shows the clarity grade and identifying features which make your diamond unique.

GIA Clarity Scale

An accurate clarity grade can only be assigned by an experienced, professionally trained grader using 10x magnification.

Flawless- no inclusions or blemishes IF-Internally flawless- no inclusions and only minor surface blemishes
Flawless and Internally flawless diamonds are extremely rare

Very, very slightly included- minute inclusions, while viewing diamonds under a 10x microscope.

VVS1: Extremely difficult to see.
VVS2: Very difficult to see.

VS1 & VS2
Very slightly included- minor inclusions.

VS1- Difficult to see.
VS2- Fairly difficult to see.

SI1 & SI2
Slightly included- noticeable inclusions to a skilled grader.

SI1: Easy to see.
SI2: Very easy to see.

I, I2, & I3
Inclusions are obvious under magnification and may effect
transparency and brilliance.

I1: Imperfect 1-Inclusions affect a diamond's appearance and transparency and are often seen with the naked eye.
I2: Imperfect 2-Inclusions seriously affect the diamond's appearance and are often seen with the naked eye.
I3: Imperfect 3-Inclusions seriously affect a diamond's appearance when viewed with the naked eye and may affect durability.

Carat Weight

  • Of the 4 C's, carat weight is the simplest factor in determining the value of a diamond. As with other precious gems, the weight of a diamond is expressed in carats. One carat equals one-fifth of a gram or 1/142 of an ounce. A carat is divided into 100 points, so a 3/4 carat diamond weighs 75 points or .75 carats.
  • Tons of rock must be mined to unearth a single one-carat gem-quality diamond. Larger, heavier diamonds are much rarer. Their price per carat increases geometrically, not arithmetically. For example, a two-carat diamond will cost far more than two one-carat diamonds of the same quality.
  • Fortunoff engagement diamonds are accurately weighed on a calibrated scale when they are loose (not mounted). Some stores give vague or estimated weights, or an "approximate total weight that may vary widely." At Fortunoff, we state the exact weight of your center diamond, to one-hundredth of a carat


  • Cut is the single most important factor in determining the diamond’s beauty and value. A poorly cut diamond may sell for up to 50% less than a very well-cut diamond of otherwise identical color and clarity.
  • Diamonds form deep beneath the earth’s surface as irregularly shaped crystals, called rough. Here, the skill of a master cutter, with years of experience, is vital. The crystal’s general shape, size and any imperfections are taken into consideration in planning how to transform the rough crystal into a beautiful cut and polished work of art.
  • When a diamond is properly cut, the facets act as mirrors and prisms, maximizing its brilliance and fire. Each crystal must be crafted by the cutter to fulfill its single most important job: to be beautiful. A stone cut without skill, or carelessly, too deep or too shallow, results in a stone with little sparkle or beauty…and far less value.
  • Cut has long been the least understood of the 4 C’s. Some retailers will tell you that only their diamond is the best cut. Fortunately, recent studies by the scientists at GIA have confirmed that a wide variety of proportions can yield an equally beautiful diamond. The cut grade is shown clearly and simply on the new GIA grading report. The myth that only one type of diamond can be “ideal” has finally been put to rest.

How A Diamond Handles Light

It is the cut that enables a diamond to make the best use of light.

  • Well cut- Light is reflected from one facet to another, then disperses through the top of the diamond.
  • Too deep- Light escapes through the opposite side of the pavilion.
  • Too shallow- Light passes through the pavilion before it can be reflected.


Over the last century, the shape of a finished diamond has taken on increasingly more refined forms. Shape is often confused with the technical term "cut" (discussed earlier in this guide). Some of today's most popular shapes are shown here. The cushion, for example, is an updated version of an older shape revived to complement today's return to the vintage look. The princess cut, on the other hand, is entirely modern in feeling. Preference for any particular shape is very personal. Within each shape, at Fortunoff, you will find well-cut, beautiful diamonds. Let our diamond experts help you choose the one that speaks to you.

The Fifth C: Confidence

  • Fortunoff is an internationally recognized leader in the jewelry industry. We purchase diamonds directly from the world's most important diamond sources. Our GIA-trained diamond buying team selects each diamond for the best combination of cut, color, clarity, beauty and value. We reject more than 90% of the diamonds presented to us, so that each diamond we offer to you is of fine quality at the best possible price.
  • Each solitaire diamond is accompanied by a grading report, so you always know exactly what you are purchasing. Your Fortunoff diamond may also be girdle-inscribed with the grading report number to give you additional security and peace of mind. This is available with two weeks lead time, for an additional cost.
  • We proudly offer the Fortunoff Solitaire Trade-Up policy. Should you at any time wish to trade up your Fortunoff diamond to a larger or finer one, we will apply the full original purchase price of the center diamond toward your new selection. Contact us.

About Appraisals

  • Your Fortunoff diamond engagement ring is accompanied by a diamond grading report.
  • An Estimate of Replacement Value is available for insurance purposes. This is a detailed narrative summary of your diamond, including the current retail price, but it is not an appraisal. This is available, by request, at a cost of $50.
  • Your insurance agent will advise you as to how frequently this information must be updated. This service is done with our compliments, as needed. You should periodically review your policy to be sure your treasured diamond is adequately insured.
  • If you wish to have your diamond appraised, find a qualified independent appraiser, one who is not affiliated with any jewelry seller. You may be surprised to know that there are no laws governing who can appraise jewelry.
  • An honest and accurate appraisal of your diamond should be an independent one. For your convenience, Fortunoff maintains a list of some of the most reputable local, independent appraisers.

Social Responsibility

Your diamond should be a symbol of love and trust. The vast majority of the world's diamonds support democracy and well-being by providing much-needed employment and other benefits to the local population. At Fortunoff, we fully support the Kimberley Process, the international certification scheme regulating worldwide trade in rough diamonds. The Kimberley Process is working to prevent the trade of "conflict diamonds".

Top Reasons to Buy from Fortunoff

  • Committed to quality: we reject more than 90% of the diamonds offered to us.
  • GIA-trained diamond experts guide you over the phone in selecting the diamond that is perfect for you.
  • Every diamond solitaire is accompanied by a full diamond grading report.
  • Lifetime trade-up policy on our solitaires.
  • Insurance estimates and updates.
  • Your satisfaction is guaranteed with our 30-day money-back refund policy.