No gemstone is as rare, beautiful and precious as a diamond. It's little wonder then that, over the centuries, the diamond has become known as the ultimate symbol of love and is at the heart of every celebration.
At Fraser Hart we're passionate about diamonds, and every piece of diamond jewellery we offer has been selected with love and care. We understand that diamond jewellery is a significant purchase - emotionally and financially. Buying a diamond should be a magical, truly special experience and that's exactly what we want you to have.
We've put together a diamond buying guide so you can learn as much as you can about diamonds, how they are valued and the characteristics which determine their beauty – affectionately known as the 4 Cs. (Cut, colour, clarity and carat). It is the interaction of these characteristics which determines the value, rarity and beauty of each and every diamond.
Top Tips for Buying a Diamond Ring
- Familiarise yourself with the 4 Cs - the characteristics that determine a diamond's value and beauty. This will help you choose the right diamond for you.
- Learn about the different diamond shapes. There's a diamond shape to suit every style.
- Buy with confidence. Only buy your diamond ring from a reputable, trusted jeweller.
- Love at first sight. In our experience, if you fall in love with a diamond ring, that's the one you have to own.
- Cherish your diamond ring. With the right love and care, your diamond ring will last forever. It's important to have it cleaned and checked regularly by an expert jeweller.
Carat refers to the weight of a diamond and not its actual size. The larger the carat weight, the greater the diamond's value. Note, however, that two diamonds of the same carat weight can vastly differ in price due to the quality of their cut, colour and clarity.
What is a carat?
One carat is equal to a fifth of a gram. A carat is divided into 100 points so a 50 point diamond is the same as a 0.50 carat diamond, which is the same as a half carat diamond.
Does size matter?
Don't confuse carat weight with visual size. A deep stone can have a smaller spread but still weigh 0.50 carat. The shallow, wide diamond will appear larger to the eye than the deeper stone. Similarly, some diamond shapes maximise carat weight: elongated diamond shapes, such as the emerald cut, tend to appear larger than round diamonds of the equivalent carat weight and quality of cut. And some jewellery settings enhance the diamond giving it the illusion of being larger than it is.
What does total carat weight mean?
The carat weight stated for a piece of diamond jewellery with multiple stones is the total weight of all the diamonds in it. For example, in a pair of 0.25 carat diamond solitaire earrings, the two stones have a combined weight of 0.25 carat. If a diamond engagement ring has one central diamond surrounded by smaller stones, the carat weight quoted takes into account the entire collection of diamonds.What carat weights are available?
Diamonds are often cut to popular standard diamond weights. In the UK, these are typically 0.25 carat (quarter carat), 0.33 carat (third carat), 0.50 carat (half carat), and 1.00 carat (one carat). Diamonds can be cut to just under these weights, such as 0.23 carat or 0.49 carat, if the cutter feels that this will maximise the rough stone's beauty. At Fraser Hart we state the minimum carat weight of a diamond ring or a piece of jewellery so that you know you'll be buying a diamond of at least this weight.
Some people consider carat the most important of the 4 Cs, particularly when they're choosing a diamond engagement ring or a piece of diamond solitaire jewellery. However, there's no right or wrong way to choose a diamond. Just remember that all the 4 Cs come together to give a diamond its fire so you'll always be able to find one you love and that suits you.
Colour actually refers to the degree to which a diamond is colourless. The closer a diamond is to having no colour, the rarer and more valuable it is.
Diamonds with less colour allow more light to play through the gem, releasing more of its brilliance, fire and beauty, the ‘sparkle’ that we all associate with this truly beautiful stone.
How is colour graded?
One of the most internationally used scales is the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) scale which grades colour from D to Z.
D is the highest grade attributed to a diamond and refers to a colourless diamond. As we move down the scale towards Z, the diamond colour is progressively more yellow.
CIBJO (Confédération Internationale de la Bijouterie, Joaillerie et Orfèvrerie, also known as the World Jewellery Federation) provides another commonly used colour grading scale.
|D||Exceptional White +
|Face up colourless
Face down colourless
|Face up colourless
Face down colourless
|F||Rare White +
|Face up colourless
Face down colourless
|G||Rare White +
|Face up colourless
Face down colourless
|H||White (W)||Face up colourless
Face down colourless
|Slightly Tinted White
|Face up slightly tinted
Face down obviously tinted
|Face up obviously tinted
Face down obviously tinted
|M to Z||Tinted Colour
|Face up obviously tinted
Face down obviously tinted
At Fraser Hart we only state diamond colour grade on our certificated diamonds.
In its truest meaning, the cut of a diamond refers not to its shape but to the proportion, symmetry and finish created when a rough diamond is transformed into a polished gem.
A diamond’s cut relies on the skills of a master diamond cutter who uses meticulous precision to polish tiny facets into the rough diamond to create the table, crown, pavilion, girdle and culet.Unleashing a diamond's brilliance, scintillation and fire
A diamond's brilliance is a measure of the proportion of light which enters a diamond and is reflected back to the eye through the top of the stone.
Scintillation refers to the play of light you see with movement of the diamond. It is a measure of how well light reflects off the top facets.
Fire, also known as dispersion, refers to the rainbow of colours reflected back to the eye from the diamond. When light enters the top of the diamond, it is refracted, splitting the light into this rainbow of colours, and is reflected back and forth off the mirror-like facets.How is diamond cut graded?
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) grades cut on the reflective properties of the diamond according to carefully calculated measurements.
An ideal or excellent cut reflects most of the light that enters the diamond, offering the optimum combination of brilliance, scintillation and fire.
A very good cut reflects almost as much light as the ideal cut but at a lower cost.
A good cut reflects most of the light and offers good value for money.
A fair cut reflects some of the light that enters the diamond and can still produce a quality diamond.
A poor cut (too deep or shallow) reflects minimal light and produces a dull, lifeless stone.
At Fraser Hart we only state the diamond cut grade on our certificated diamonds.
Clarity refers to the presence of tiny natural imperfections that occur in most diamonds. These imperfections are known as inclusions. The fewer and smaller the inclusions, the greater the clarity.What are inclusions?
Inclusions are most commonly crystals of a foreign material or another diamond, pockets of air or structural cracks that formed within or on the outside of the diamond while it was beneath the earth’s surface. There are various types of inclusions, such as feathers, clouds, knots, needles or crystals.
Inclusions are affectionately known as nature’s fingerprints or birthmarks, as these marks make each diamond unique. While most aren’t visible to the naked eye, inclusions and blemishes can affect the flow of light through a diamond, diminishing its brilliance.How is clarity graded?
Clarity is determined by the size, number, location, orientation, nature and overall visibility of the inclusions. When gemologists inspect diamonds for clarity, they use a single lens 10x magnifying glass (a loupe), and judge the visibility of inclusions from the top of the diamond. At Fraser Hart we use the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) scale of clarity.
|FL, IF||Flawless – no internal or external inclusions. Internally flawless – no internal inclusions but may contain surface graining which is not technically considered a flaw. Extremely rare and valuable. Also known on other grading scales as Loupe Clean.|
|VVS1, VVS2||Very, very slightly included. Very difficult to see inclusions even by a trained eye using 10x magnification. VVS2 diamonds have slightly more inclusions than VVS1. Both an excellent grade diamond.|
|VS1, VS2||Very slightly included. Inclusions are difficult to see under 10x magnification unless pointed out by an expert and are not typically visible to the naked eye. VS2 diamonds have slightly more inclusions than VS2 diamonds. Good value for money as are less expensive than VVS1/2 diamonds but still eye-clean.|
|S1,S2||Slightly included. Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification and may be visible to the naked eye. Depending on the positioning and nature of the inclusions S1 diamonds may appear eye-clean and therefore offer exceptional value.|
|I1-I3||Included. Inclusions are visible to the naked eye and become increasingly visible towards I3 clarity.|
When you're choosing your diamond jewellery, always remember that these unique 'fingerprints' make each stone individual to you.
At Fraser Hart we only state clarity grade on our certificated diamonds.Diamond shapes
Diamond shape is all-important when you're buying a piece of diamond jewellery and even more so when it comes to buying a diamond engagement ring in which the sparkling gem takes centre stage. Every diamond shape has its own story and you should choose the shape that’s right for you and your story.
Shape refers to the outline of the gem when viewed from above.
As the most traditional and popular diamond shape, the round brilliant accounts for almost half of diamonds bought today. The round brilliant diamond is cut to a round at the top and a cone at its bottom. Of all the diamond shapes available, it yields maximum return of light and therefore the most brilliance.
Fancy diamond shapes
All diamond shapes that are not round brilliant are known as fancy shapes. Fancy diamond shapes were developed to make the most of rough diamonds that didn't suit the classic round brilliant diamond. They're becoming increasingly popular and suit those who like something a little different.
Princess cut diamonds
The princess cut is a relatively new diamond shape developed in the 1970s. It is a modified version of the round brilliant diamond with squared off corners and 57 or 76 facets. The princess cut has an overall pyramid shape and four bevelled sides which accentuate the diamond’s fire and brilliance, making it the most brilliant of all square and rectangular-shaped diamonds. The most popular fancy diamond shape, especially in diamond engagement rings, the princess cut combines the timelessness of the round brilliant diamond with a more contemporary edge.
Emerald cut diamonds
As the name suggests, the emerald cut was originally designed for the cutting of emeralds but was found to work perfectly for diamonds, enhancing their lustre. The term "emerald cut" was first used in the Art Deco era of the early 20th century, although the cut has been used for hundreds of years. Favoured by style icons such as Grace Kelly, emerald cut diamonds have a rectangular shape with cropped corners, and what is known as a step cut where rectangular facets are arranged parallel to the girdle, resembling a stair case when viewed from the top. While it tends to have less brilliance and fire than brilliant cuts, the flat broad pane of the emerald cut highlights a diamond’s clarity. As we are seeing a revival in all things Art Deco, the emerald cut diamond has also become incredibly popular in engagement rings.
The oval diamond was developed in the 1960s by celebrated Russian cutter, Lazare Kaplan, the cousin of mathematician Marcel Tolkwolsky who was instrumental in evolving the modern round brilliant diamond. Like the round brilliant cut, the oval diamond usually has 58 facets in a symmetrical cut that maximises the stone's brilliance. An oval diamond is therefore a fabulous choice if you want all the sparkle of the round brilliant diamond in a more unusual style.
Pear Diamond The pear-shaped diamond was developed in the 1400s by Flemish cutter Lodewyk van Berquem who invented the diamond polishing wheel. Also known as teardrop, the pear diamond has a brilliant cut which optimises light reflection, and combines the shape of an oval and marquise diamond. Made famous by Elizabeth Taylor who was presented with a pear shaped diamond (among many others!) by Richard Burton, the pear is a popular shape for diamond pendants and diamond earrings.
We love the origins of this diamond shape. The marquise diamond was inspired by the Marchioness Madame de Pompadour when her lover, King Louis XV, commissioned a stone to match her striking smile in the 18th century. The resulting shape was an elongated diamond with pointed ends. Over the years, the shape has been developed into a brilliant cut optimising carat weight. It makes a stunning centrepiece for diamond engagement rings – either alone or accented by smaller diamonds on each side. The marquise is sometimes referred to as Navette, meaning little boat, as its shape is similar to the hull of a small boat.
The heart shaped diamond is pear shaped with a cleft cut into its top. Relatively unusual, it is a complex cut with 56 to 58 facets and demands a great amount of skill to ensure maximum brilliance. Believed to date back to the 16th century, the heart shaped diamond is naturally considered the ultimate in sparkling romance.
Named after the French for breadstick, baguette diamonds are slim and rectangular with a step cut. They are often used as accent side stone to showcase a larger diamond or other gemstone, or are set close together in an eternity ring or wedding band to create a stunning look.
Radiant diamonds can be square or rectangular, and are distinguishable by cropped corners and 70 facets. They combine the brilliance of the round brilliant diamond and the depth of the emerald cut and princess cut diamond. Developed in the 1970s by World War II veteran Henry Grossbard who invented a hybrid cutting style that created a more brilliant step-cut diamond.
A rare cut which is also known as the pillow cut diamond, the cushion cut has a square or rectangular shape with rounded corners Developed in the 19th century, the cushion cut diamond has large facets, enabling good light dispersion and a highly scintillating gem.
Also known as trillion, trilliant diamonds have three equal sides and displays great fire and brilliance if cut correctly. The trilliant cut was pioneered in Amsterdam and the exact cut varies depending on the rough stone. Triliant diamonds are most commonly used as side stones, for which a concave cut is used. Where they are used for a solitaire centrepiece, trilliant diamonds have a convex cut.
At Fraser Hart we choose the settings for our diamonds to maximise each stone's beauty while ensuring it stays securely in place. With an array of diamond settings available, here's a quick guide to some of our favourites.Claw setting
A classic setting for diamonds, also known as a prong setting, claw settings allow light to enter the stone, showcasing it to its breathtaking best. Four claw settings offer a contemporary look, while six and eight claw settings are more traditional. Larger diamonds, however, may require a six or eight claw setting in order to be held securely. Suitable for most diamond shapes, claw settings are particularly popular for round brilliant solitaires, creating diamond engagement ring and jewellery with timeless appeal.
A channel setting allows for multiple diamonds to be set closely together within a "channel" of precious metal, creating a seemingly continuous glistening row. Suitable mainly for round brilliant, emerald cut, princess cut and baguette diamonds, a channel setting is a popular way of setting diamonds into a ring's shoulders and also makes for beautifully scintillating diamond eternity rings and wedding ringsRubover setting
Also known as a bezel setting, the rubover setting uses a collar of precious metal which wraps over the edge of the diamond. An extremely secure setting that also protects the diamond, a bezel setting can create a bold, modern look in diamond jewellery.Pavé setting
Named for the French for paved, in pavé settings multiple small diamonds are set closely together and close to the surface of jewellery to create an unbroken expanse of shine and brilliance. The jewellery uses small metal beads to set the diamonds with the aim of showing as little of the metal as possible for a true diamond-encrusted look. Most suitable for round brilliant diamonds and particularly popular in diamond dress rings and pendants, a pavé setting often results in jewellery with a vintage feel.Tension setting
In tension settings, the diamond is held in pplace by the pressure of the metal so that the stone appears to gracefully float. Requiring a thicker band than for other diamond settings, the metal is spring-loaded to exert pressure on the diamond while teeny grooves create a shelf on which it rests. Creating a striking look, a tension setting allows the maximum light to pass through the stone and offers a stunning backdrop for diamond rings and jewellery.
Diamond engagement rings
The tradition of a man giving a diamond ring as a promise of marriage dates back to 1477 when the lovestruck Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave his beloved Mary of Burgundy a gold ring set with a diamond. This tradition has grown over the years and, today, around 70% of all brides-to-be receive a diamond engagement ring.
A diamond engagement ring is likely to be the biggest diamond purchase you're ever going to make. It's a huge commitment – emotionally and financially – and you want to get it just right. Here are our hints and tips on making the right choice.
Familiarise yourself with the 4 Cs
Cut, carat weight, colour and clarity – the 4 Cs – are the four characteristics which determine the beauty and value of a diamond. Learning about these will help you understand why one diamond costs more than another and why one is considered more beautiful than another.
Know her style
So you know your IFs from your SIs. You know your Ds from your Gs. But it doesn’t mean a lot unless you know what sort of diamond engagement ring she really wants. After all, every woman has dreamt of her ideal engagement ring from an early age. Surprising her with a ring sounds like the ultimate in romanticism but we’d really recommend that you do a bit of homework first!
Take a cue from the diamond jewellery she already wears. If she wears mainly white metal, she'd probably prefer a white gold or platinum diamond engagement ring. Platinum is currently the most popular metal for an engagement ring – it's durable and keeps its beautiful lustre. However, 18ct white gold is a more affordable alternative.
Traditional or contemporary? The classic diamond engagement ring is the round brilliant diamond solitaire held proud in a claw. You really can’t go wrong with it. But some women prefer something a little different. A modern rubover setting, a vintage style look. And take a look at our guide to diamond shapes, and see which story matches your love story.
Ask her friends (chances are she's shared her engagement ring dreams with them) and take note of the rings she admires on friends and celebs, in jewellers' windows and in magazines. And if you don't get it quite right, a reputable jeweller such as Fraser Hart will allow you to return or exchange the ring so you get something she really does love.
It's most men's biggest nightmare. You're down on one knee, presenting her with the ring you've taken so much time to choose, and you just can't get it onto her finger. Or it falls off. Firstly, try not to worry about this. If you've bought a diamond engagement ring from us in the wrong size, we'll exchange it. Or we can re-size most rings if they're just a bit out. But we do understand that you want to get it right first time and there are several ways to do this. The most accurate way is to "borrow" a ring from her jewellery box, take it into any Fraser Hart store and we'll measure it for you.
This is the magical moment – the moment you've both been waiting for. Whatever your proposal story, remember that it's your special story and that means it's going to be as romantic and as unique as the diamond in her engagement ring.
- Diamonds are made from pure carbon.
- A diamond is the hardest natural substance on earth, rating 10 on the Moh’s scale of mineral hardness, created by German mineralogist Friedrich Mohs. Talc rates 1 on this scale.
- A diamond can't be scratched by another other mineral than another diamond.
- A diamond is virtually fireproof. In order for a diamond to burn, it must be heated to 1,292 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The word diamond comes from the Greek word meaning unbreakable or invincible.
- Only half the diamonds mined today are of gem quality.
- Only one diamond in a million will weigh one carat or more.
- A single diamond of two carats is worth more than twice as much as 2 one carat diamond.
- More than 250 tons of ore need to be processed to yield just one carat of rough diamond.
- Diamonds are mined in 25 different countries. Only Europe and Antarctica don't have diamond mines.
- All natural diamonds are at least 990,000,000 years old. The oldest known diamond is 3.3 billion years old.
- The first written notation of precious diamonds dates back to around 500 B.C.
- Today, Australia accounts for producing the most diamonds in volume.
- About 70% of brides-to-be are presented with a diamond engagement ring.
- The most popular fancy shape diamond used in diamond jewellery is the princess cut diamond.
- The largest rough gem-quality diamond is the Cullinan diamond, weighing at 3,106.75 carats (621.35 g).
- The largest polished diamond from this stone is the 530.20 Great Star of Africa (also known as Cullinan I), a pear-shaped stone with 74 facets cut by the Asschers of Amsterdam.
- The largest polished diamond in the world s the Golden Jubilee Diamond, a fancy yellow diamond, weighing 545.67 carat.
Caring for your Diamond
Follow our tips and advice, and you can help to keep your diamond jewellery looking as good as new:
- Store diamonds away from other jewellery as they can scratch your favourite items, including other diamonds.
- Avoid wearing diamond rings during heavy duty work, such as housework and DIY. Although a diamond is the most durable gem known to mankind, it – and its setting – can still be damaged.
- Keep your diamond in sparkling condition by cleaning with the soft brush provided with Fraser Hart jewellery cleaner and warm water. Rinse well and dry with a lint-free cloth.
You want to keep your diamond looking at its exquisite sparkling best, and so do we. So, you're welcome to bring your Fraser Hart diamond ring to any Fraser Hart store at any time for complementary cleaning and checking.
Our Diamond Guarantee
There is no gemstone as rare, unique or as breathtakingly beautiful as a diamond. Something as special as a diamond ring deserves the extra special care and assurance that the Fraser Hart Diamond Guarantee offers.
Our Diamond Guarantee is especially designed to protect your precious diamond ring so do keep your guarantee card safe and close to hand in the wallet provided with your purchase, along with your receipt.
- Lifetime guarantee for Fraser Hart diamond rings
- Lifetime cleaning and checking for all diamond rings
- 30 day refund or exchange
Our guarantee covers your diamond ring in the unlikely event that a manufacturing fault should occur.
All you need to do is ensure that your ring is inspected by our expert staff every six months. Bring your diamond ring and your guarantee card to any Fraser Hart store and we will clean your ring free of charge, check it for any faults and advise you on any required repairs. The inspection must be recorded on your diamond guarantee card and recommended repairs must be carried out by Fraser Hart.
30 day refund/exchange
If, for any reason, your diamond purchase is no longer suitable, Fraser Hart offers a full refund or exchange within 30 days of purchase, provided that the item is returned as sold and in an unworn condition with the original packaging and receipt. Please note, this excludes special ordered rings including personalised rings.
Confirmation of sale certificate
We offer a free confirmation of sale certificate available at time of purchase that can be submitted to your insurance company as proof of value. We recommend that you have your jewellery valued every two to three years.
Lifetime cleaning and checking
You want to keep your diamond looking at its exquisite best, so under our Diamond Guarantee, you are welcome to bring your diamond ring to any Fraser Hart store for complimentary cleaning and checking.
Buy with confidence at Fraser Hart
Fraser Hart is a member of the National Association of Goldsmiths (NAG), and all our retail staff have the opportunity to take the NAG Professional Jewellers Diploma. This is just one element of our personal development programme which every Fraser Hart employee is expected to complete. You can therefore be assured of knowledgeable store and excellent customer service in every Fraser Hart store, and that our staff are as passionate about diamonds as you are.
Fraser Hart Assured Cover
Sadly, accidents and theft can happen so you may want to consider our Assured Cover which protects your diamond ring against loss, damage or theft for one or three years. Ask a member of staff at your local Fraser Hart store for full details.
Our Diamond Sourcing Policy
As the UK’s leading independent jewellery retailer, we take our ethical responsibilities seriously.
To this end, we subscribe to the Kimberley Process, a joint initiative between governments, industry and society to restrict the flow of conflict diamonds used to finance wars against legitimate governments, and insist that all our diamond and diamond jewellery suppliers have also signed up to the Kimberley Process.
Glossary of Terms
Become your very own diamond expert. We help you to get to grips with the most commonly used diamond jargon in our handy glossary of terms.