written by Brooklyn
written by Brooklyn

Off The Grade: 3 Things to Watch Out For When Buying a Diamond

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Good to see you. 

I heard you are thinking of buying a diamond and you’re obviously very well aware of the 4C’s.

Bridgerton perhaps giph

“Perhaps” is a great place to be. We should talk about why we treat diamond grading more like an iceberg. For more context, there are some things that are left out of the grade that can influence how much you pay as well as the quality of the actual diamond. 

Go on.

Don’t mind if I do. You know, most of what the 4C’s represent is really on the surface of the details in a stone. Today, we’re going to go into the big factors that we (at Engage Studio) look for that you will not see on a report, but affect the sparkle of a diamond…AND are just as important to getting exactly what you pay for.

Everything that’s off the grade.

For real?

Totally. Let’s dive in.

As a company, we look at well over 200 characteristics when we are curating stones for our clients. Within those characteristics, there are a few big things that we look for that are off the grade.

#1 Transparency

Diamonds are the most reflective substance out there if they’re allowed the chance to properly sparkle. How a diamond sparkles is affected by its transparency. A lot of diamonds out there will actually have a transparency issue. 

Take a look at these five stones.

G color, VS1 clarity, triple excellent cut

All of these five stones are identical in grade—They’re all a G color, VS1 clarity, triple excellent cut but can you spot the diamond dud?

Number five? 

Yep, number five is not sparkling the way that it should even though it is the same grade as the others because of its transparency issue. Do you see how that diamond has a milkiness?

A milky diamond is no bueno. It is the result of a transparency issue and it inhibits its ability to truly sparkle as it should.This is not going to show up on a report. So you might get a diamond that looks amazing in the report, but is a less than amazing diamond. 

You have to see your options side by side.

diamond transparency comparison

Our brain has the capacity to compare and contrast like nothing else on earth. When you have them side by side you are able to see if one looks a bit odd compared to the others. Diamonds with transparency issues don’t seem to have the same type of life as one with no transparency issues. 

But here’s the wrench—take a look at this diamond when it’s alone. 

diamond with transparency issues

Do you see that? 


I know! It doesn’t look like it has a milky finish to it because you’re not comparing it to other diamonds.

At Engage Studio, we make sure our clients compare multiple diamonds side by side to find the perfect one. With that being said, all of the diamonds that we curate and show clients for purchase have no milky finish, no transparency issues.

But unfortunately, if you’re only looking at diamonds that have this transparency issue, you’re overpaying for that diamond because it’s under grade. On the certificate it may look like it’s a good score (G color, VS1 clarity, triple excellent cut) but the problem is that there’s something off the grade that is inhibiting the diamond’s ability to fully sparkle.

The #2 factor is Color

Wait, “Color” from the 4C’s? 

Well, yea, kinda. Color has been oversimplified on the grade. (if you have no clue what we are talking about, watch here and come back). It would be like trying to say that there’s only six colors in the world. When in reality, really color is much more of a spectrum and we have millions upon millions of colors. When it comes to diamonds, you’re gonna get a lot more color variation than people may think. Sometimes it’s referred to as an undertone or a shade — there isn’t really a streamlined language to define this because this color variety concept is off the grade. You can get diamonds that are an I color for example…

show the different undertone colors with diamonds

One might have a greyish undertone and the others might have a brownish or green undertone — it will present itself in different ways. This is not a favorable thing so it’s something we weed out all the time when curating stones for clients. BUT if you don’t know what you’re looking for and you search by yourself, it’s very common that you may end up getting a diamond that has an undertone.

Why would undertone matter? 

Great question. In the industry, having a certain undertone in the diamond can be seen as a devaluing characteristic (usually grey, green, yellow, or brown undertone). 


This can affect pricing. This is why some scams can seem like a good deal.

The diamonds with these issues are going to be priced less at the wholesale level. If it’s selling for less than the other diamonds, buyer beware there is most likely something that is wrong with it. But unfortunately, these details are off the grade, and only a professional would be able to truly walk you through that.

The #3 factor is fluorescence.

Fluorescence is actually stated on some of your reports that you’ll see on a diamond certificate. You’ll see a line where it says it says none, faint, medium, or very strong.

But what does fluorescence mean for a diamond?  

Fluorescence just means that if you put a diamond under a UV light, it’s gonna glow, (typically a purplish blue color).

blue-undertone fluorescent diamond

It’s actually a pretty common thing—about a third of all diamonds that are mined have fluorescence. The only problem with fluorescence is that the main source of UV light is natural sunlight. 

When you take some stones out on a sunny day, you’re going to look at it and see that it is foggy. People kind of freak out and think it’s messy or dirty but when they come inside and see that it is fine. Obviously, you don’t want your diamond to only look clear when you are indoors therefore, fluorescence is a devaluing characteristic. This means having fluorescence brings down the value of the stone. For this reason we like to weed out fluorescent diamonds altogether.

But how do I know if the diamond I’m choosing has these 3 things or not? 

Great question. You definitely should work with someone you trust with a good reputation; where they can show you the stones unset and side by side. That is when you can truly see if there is something wrong that could devalue your diamond. 

Anything else?

For sure. I would suggest seeing the diamonds under different types of light. We at Engage Studio, love to show clients stones under natural light, HD microscopes, fluorescence and more — BUT natural light is truly ideal. 

Ok ok. Good to know. So I can come to you guys to get a diamond?

Of course.

We definitely emphasize that you should work with someone you trust—someone that can help you get exactly what you are envisioning in a ring. At Engage Studio, we’ll show you everything. No smoke and mirrors here, we want you to enjoy your love journey. 

See you at the next ball erhmm blog post. 

Ta ta for now.

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