Gemstones and Diamonds Evaluated by GIA Standards

We love our jewelry for its beauty, but its value extends far beyond simple aesthetics. That's why it's so important to choose jewelry made with stones that have been properly, and thoroughly, evaluated by the most exacting standards.

Topazery grades diamonds and gemstones according to the guidelines of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Founded in 1931, the GIA has become the world's foremost authority on diamonds, colored gemstones, and pearls.

You can learn more about any specific topic by clicking on it.

Diamond Color

All of Topazery's diamonds are graded according to the diamond color grading system developed by the GIA in the 1950's. Known as the "D to Z Scale", this evaluation methodology is the most widely used diamond color grading system in the world.

D E F Colorless
G H I J Near colorless
K L M Faint color
N O P Q R Very Light color
S T U V W X Y Z Light color

From Colorless to Light Color, all grades of diamonds share timeless beauty in addition to the unique appeal they each possess.

Colorless diamonds are quite rare, and cherished for their beauty. Near Colorless diamonds are an extremely popular choice for diamond engagement rings. And Faint Color, Very Light Color and Light Color diamonds possess a romantic glow like the flickering flames of candlelight.

Remember: Diamond color is absolutely a choice, and a very personal one. What's right for someone else might not be right for you, and that's okay.

Top of page

Diamond Clarity Grades

Diamond professionals around the world rely on clarity grades when evaluating diamonds. The relative clarity of each diamond is unique, creating a kind of "fingerprint" that sets it apart from all its fellow stones.

These grades are also quite helpful to you as a consumer, since you'll be making the decision to buy based (at least in part) on your stone's clarity.

As with its color scale, the GIA's clarity grading system is second to none across the globe. The clarity of each and every Topazery diamond is graded using the GIA system.

Flawless A Flawless diamond shows no inclusions or blemishes under 10x magnification.
Internally Flawless
An Internally Flawless (IF) diamond shows no inclusions when examined by an experienced grader using 10x magnification.
Very Very Slightly Included
(VVS1 and VVS2)
Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS) diamonds contain minute inclusions that are difficult even for experienced graders to see under 10x magnification.
Very Slightly Included
(VS1 and VS2)
Very Slightly Included (VS) diamonds contain small or minor inclusions which an experienced grader may observe with effort under 10x magnification.
Slightly Included
(SI1 and SI2)
Slightly Included (SI) diamonds contain inclusions that are noticeable to an experienced grader under 10x magnification.
(I1, I2, and I3)
Included (I1, I2, I3) diamonds that fall in the I range contain inclusions that are obvious to an experienced grader under 10x magnification.

It's important to remember that stones from all of these classes can still be beautiful and appealing, although of course the higher the grade, the finer the stone.

Top of page

Grading Gemstones-An Introduction

In this section, we'll take a look at how Topazery's gemstones are graded by the GIA's standards and practices.

As with diamonds, Topazery gemstones are graded by color, cut, clarity and carat weight. When grading a gemstone, gemologists measure a gemstone's weight in carats, and the gemstone's length, width, and depth in millimeters. The gemologist will also evaluate the gem's clarity and color.

Note: In gemstones, color is evaluated based on three distinct qualities: hue, tone, and saturation.

Top of page

Gemstone Clarity

In gemstones, clarity is a measure of how many (if any) inclusions a stone possesses, and how they affect both beauty and durability.

Some gemstones have more inclusions than others. For this reason, clarity ranges for gemstones are broken into three classes: Type I, Type II, and Type III.

Type I stones are usually "eye-clean", which is to say they have no inclusions that are visible to the naked eye. Type II stones generally have a few inclusions that, while visible to the naked eye, don't necessarily detract from the gem's overall beauty and appeal. Type III stones almost always have significant, visible inclusions.

When cross-referenced with the GIA's diamond clarity ranges, clarity in gemstones can be described thusly:

VVS, Eye-Clean VS, Slightly Included SI1-SI2, Moderately Included I1-I2, Heavily Included I3, Severely Included
Type I The stone appears clean to the unaided eye. Minute inclusions are difficult to see without a 10x loupe. Minor inclusions are somewhat easy to see without a 10x loupe. Inclusions are prominent. Prominent inclusions have a severe impact on appearance, durability, or both.
Type II The stone appears clean to the unaided eye. Minor inclusions are somewhat easy to see with the unaided eye. Noticeable inclusions apparent to the unaided eye. Inclusions are prominent. Prominent inclusions have a severe effect on appearance, durability, or both.
Type III The stone appears clean to the unaided eye. Noticeable inclusions apparent to the unaided eye. Obvious inclusions very apparent to the unaided eye. Inclusions are prominent. Prominent inclusions have a severe impact on appearance, durability, or both.

Top of page

Gemstone Color

The color of a gemstone is likely the first thing you notice about it. Where do gems get their color? It all comes down to light.

The structure of each gemstone allows it to absorb and reflect certain wavelengths of light; the ones it absorbs remain invisible, but the ones it reflects back into our eyes carry the color(s) we associate with it.

Gemologists refer to these colors as body color. In gemstones, color consists of three components: hue, tone and saturation.

Tone is the lightness or darkness of color and ranges from light to medium to dark. Three key standards are 3 (light), 5 (medium), and 7 (dark). Saturation is the intensity of a gemstone's color and is measured from dull to strong to vivid. The GIA uses 6 saturation measurements.

Top of page

Gemstone Hues

Hue is what we call the color you see when you first look at a gem. The GIA uses thirty-one distinct hues to describe color in a gemstone-a bit like an old-fashioned ice cream shop's flavors!

Purple P
reddish Purple rP
Red-Purple or Purple-Red RP/PR
strongly purplish Red stpR
slightly purplish Red slpR
Red R
orangey Red oR
Red-Orange or Orange-Red RO/OR
reddish Orange rO
Orange O
yellowish Orange yO
orangey Yellow oY
Yellow Y
greenish Yellow gY
Yellow-Green or Green-Yellow YG/GY
strongly yellowish Green styG
yellowish Green yG
slightly yellowish Green slyG
Green G
very slightly bluish Green vslbG
bluish Green bG
very strongly bluish Green vstbG
Green-Blue or Blue-Green GB/BG
very strongly greenish Blue vstgB
greenish Blue gB
very slightly greenish Blue vslgB
Blue B
violetish Blue vB
bluish Violet bV
Violet V
violetish Purple vP

Subtleties of hue definitely matter in a gemstone. The brilliant green fire of an emerald may help mitigate minor inclusions or the stone's unusual shape, for example.

Did You Know? Some stones, such as tourmaline, can have hues from across the entire spectrum, while others (such as peridot) are limited to specific ranges. Whatever their hue, each gemstone type has a "Fine Color" range that denotes those shades preferred by the marketplace (e.g., deep, clear blues in sapphires as opposed to mixed shades).

Top of page

Gemstone Tone

The tone of a gemstone refers to the lightness of the apparent color it displays (e.g., "dark green" vs. "light green"). The GIA measures gemstone tones on a numeric scale from 2 to 8, with 2 being "very light" and 8 being "very dark."

2 very light
3 light
4 medium light
5 medium
6 medium dark
7 dark
8 very dark

Depending on the gemstone, some tones may be considered more desirable than others. Ultimately, however, the most appealing stone is the one that fits your desires and needs!

Top of page

Gemstone Saturation

The word "saturation" might make you think of high school chemistry class but in gemstones it refers to the depth of color displayed by a specific stone. Generally speaking, the higher a gemstone's saturation is, the darker its tone will be.

In gemstones from the "warm" end of the spectrum, (e.g., reds, oranges, yellows), high saturation can lead to deep, rich, flame-like colors.

At the other end of the spectrum, "cool" colors such as blues, purples, and greens gain dazzling depth and strength of color from high saturation.

The GIA uses a rising numeric scale to measure saturation in gemstones (as noted above, "brownish" refers to warm colors; "greyish" refers to cool ones):

Warm colors Tone Cool colors
brownish 1 grayish
slightly brownish 2 slightly grayish
very slightly brownish 3 very slightly grayish
moderately strong 4 moderately strong
strong 5 strong
vivid 6 vivid

Now that you know how your gems are being graded at Topazery, read our Gemstone Guide to learn more about some of the beautiful gemstones in our jewelry collection.

Top of page