What most people don’t know. The 4 main characteristics that define a diamond’s value are not speculative or reliant on so called experts anymore. Today, diamond grading is as accurate as the medical reading of a blood test. Many people have heard about the importance of the 4-Cs — Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat Weight — when defining the quality of a diamond. But, what these all mean and their relevance in the context of value, has often been difficult to discern. Defined Value Diamonds (DVDs) take the hard work out of this.

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The standard by which the world’s best diamonds are judged. Founded as a non-profit organization, the Gemological Institute of America’s mission is to protect buyers and sellers of gemstones by setting and maintaining the standards used to evaluate gemstone quality. In 1953 the GIA developed its International Diamond Grading System and the Four Cs — Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat weight — as a standard to compare and evaluate the quality of diamonds. As a result of technological advances and precise scientific testing, diamonds’ characteristics are well defined, and therefore commoditized, making diamonds easy to invest in.



1. CUT

The most important factor in determining the value of a diamond. In many ways, cut is one of the least understood characteristics that defines each diamond, and the last one to have been defined (2005). Many people may confuse cut with shape. In reality, cut refers to the precision and dimensions to which a diamond is polished. Simply put, how well a diamond is cut and polished in order for it to emit and disperse the most light and brilliance has a direct correlation to its value and investment potential. At Van Zwam, we start only with GIA Triple Excellent cut-graded diamonds and then our own gemologists take over and hand-select every DVD, not only for investment quality, but also to ensure that each diamond meets our own higher cut standard.

A cut made to the DVD specification can only be achieved by a master diamond polisher who chooses to polish the diamond to an exact set of criteria that consistently maximizes the beauty or refraction of light of the diamond. This is in contrast to looser criteria that maximize the diamond’s visual size and carat weight on a scale. In other words, a master polisher is more focused on the inner quality, and therefore, polished value of the finished diamond than its physical mass and scale weight.


When less is more. When a diamond is cut and polished from a rough stone, a large percentage of the rough diamond is turned into dust. How much rough material becomes dust and what remains is called recovery. The more recovery or material that remains, the more the final polished diamond will weigh. Yet, by maximizing recovery, the cut or quality of the finished diamond is invariably compromised. This means a diamond with an inferior cut may on paper have the same color and purity as another diamond of the same weight — but its value due to the compromise in cut and quality — will be diminished and very different. DVD diamonds have only Triple Excellent cut ratings, the best.

The best jewelry retailers in the world buy from a few, select suppliers. These are companies that are able to supply only diamonds of superior cut, known as Triple Excellent, the highest standard in the industry. Lower value diamonds that are readily available at chain stores may only lose 50% of their original weight in the process of cutting. By contrast, a DVD diamond loses 55-57% or more of its original rough weight during the cutting and polishing process to achieve its perfection. The focus is on the standard of the finished product, not manufacturing efficiency and return. The standard for all Defined Value Diamonds (DVDs) is the highest standard of cut, Triple Excellent. That is our priority and every Defined Value Diamond has it. Of course, cut is of crucial importance decades later when it comes time to sell.



Almost every diamond has minute microscopic imperfections called inclusions. Not all inclusions are the same. The size and nature of inclusions — clarity — along with cut, color, and carat weight, determine the price of a diamond. Like cut, the GIA established a standardized system of clarity grades. While many labs use the GIA system, not all labs grade to the same standard. At Van Zwam we begin with diamonds graded and certified by the GIA only. We then double-check the GIA within standardized clarity definitions and hand-select only those diamonds that have clarity characteristics of the nature necessary for investment grade diamonds.


Like other diamond characteristics, the GIA established a standardized color scale. Each diamond graded by GIA is given its color. Color affects value like other factors. The highest color may be the rarest – but from a global demand perspective it is not the most desirable or salable. Within the GIA defined tolerance range for each color Van Zwam does its own assessment and only accepts diamonds in the upper end of the spectrum.


This is an easily determined, objective measure. Just put a diamond on a scale and weigh it. Contrary to popular belief, the weight of a diamond including the other two characteristics of color and clarity, does not determine its value. For example, a ½ carat diamond that is better cut and polished (Triple Excellent) is more valuable than a similar, even heavier diamond that is polished to a less rigorous standard. Consistency of value is why every Defined Value Diamond is polished to a Triple Excellent standard as certified by the GIA and by Van Zwam. Our emphasis is always on quality, and global desirability for consistent value in purchase, growth while keeping, and ease of sale.


This is an old phrase used in the diamond industry to refer to the elements of a diamond that can best be appreciated when discerned by the human eye. The cut grade is an objective standard designed to provide maximum sparkle and pop. It is why cut grade combined with the other characteristics is of such critical importance.


Call it the ultimate quality control. Our internal standard for DVDs is even higher than GIA’s. But that’s just the beginning. Before any diamond can be deemed worthy of the Defined Value Diamond (DVD) name, we check every Triple Excellent grade diamond against its GIA certificate to ensure that no matter what, all specifications match. Every certificate that accompanies a Defined Value Diamond comes only from GIA, the global standard for definition of diamonds. It is also why all those $500K+ diamonds you see at auction come with GIA reports.



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