NDR Diamond Grading Chart
Investment Grade consists of those diamonds typically purchased for long term investment. Diamonds within this category are typically colorless (DEF color) and Flawless or near flawless (IF to VVS). As with most things in life, the “BEST” and “RAREST” of anything is thought to be of “investment grade” because of their future potential for appreciation. Diamonds that fall within the DEF/IF-VVS parameters are very rare are are sought after for this reason. And, yes, a diamond that falls with these parameters will usually be exceptionally beautiful – (assuming it has a good cut! – See Blog posts dealing with Cut)
Fine Grade consists of diamonds that are exceptionally beautiful. Typically diamonds that are within the color range of DEFGH and clarity range of VS2 and better are considered fine. I often use Tiffany & Company as a standard when speaking of Fine Grade diamonds as Tiffany adheres to a quality level that deserves respect throughout the diamond industry. Tiffany & Co. sells engagement diamonds that are of color grades ranging from “D” to “I” and clarity grades ranging from “VVS” to “SI1” clarity. A “top” SI1 clarity will often be a “Fine” grade diamond. There are also some SI2 clarity diamonds that may be considered fine, depending on the size, type and location of the inclusion.
Nice Grade is characterized as a diamond that will appear to be white and brilliant and lively when used in a diamond engagement ring. Though considerably less expensive than diamonds in either the “Investment” or “Fine” grades, to the normal human observer in “real life” conditions (as opposed to laboratory environments) there is often very little difference in the overall appearance of a “Nice” diamond when compared to one of the top categories.
Unlike the top two grade levels, this grade level may be a sliding scale within itself. For instance, an “I/SI1” diamond is still in many cases an exceptionally beautiful diamond. On the other hand, a “K/SI2”, which is positioned near the end on the linear chart within this grade, is going to be somewhat less beautiful – but, in many cases, may still be a “Nice” diamond.
Furthermore, with respect to all categories, it should be noted that any combination of a “higher” color grade or clarity grade is more desirable and more valuable – (Read: Nicer and More Expensive!). For instance, an “E” color and “SI1” clarity is often exceptionally beautiful and is considered a “Fine” diamond!
Commercial Grade diamonds are primarily sold in chain stores and Mall jewelry stores. These are usually diamonds that are sold to “unknowing” mass-market consumers who know or care little about the beauty of the diamond they are buying. Often times it is the “store credit” or other financing terms that motivates this buyer instead of the diamond.
It should be noted that a lower color/high clarity diamond such as a M/VS2 or a high color/lower clarity such as a F/I1 may be nice and pretty diamonds. However, for the most part, diamonds within the color and clarity ranges noted within the Commercial grade section of the chart above will, in most cases, be significantly less beautiful than those in the top three categories.
Ironically, these diamonds are often not “cheap” with regard to pricing and represent “bad value” to the consumer. Although sold at an “attractive retail price point” by mall retailers and chain jewelry stores, these diamonds are usually not cheap for what they are. More importantly, regardless of price, diamonds within the Commercial grade are usually not beautiful diamonds!
Garbage Grade – The name says it all! There is no reason to purchase on of these diamonds except a “Price Point”. And even then, the price may be low but you are getting nothing in return for the price. A diamond is supposed to be something that is beautiful and something that will be worn and enjoyed. This is not that!