Diamond Buyers Guide

The Best Diamonds in Pennsylvania, Guaranteed

People come from all over Lancaster to buy their diamonds from Ream Jewelers, here’s why. You can’t buy a better quality diamond at a lower price anywhere in the Pennsylvania area; that’s the Ream Jewelers Money Back Guarantee.

Diamond Buyer’s Guide

Ream Jewelers never chooses a diamond without seeing it. So why would you?

Thousands of diamonds that fail Ream Jewelers standards for beauty and value may end up as internet diamonds that have statistics that make seem comparable on paper to our diamonds, but they are not! Most internet sellers never actually even see the diamonds they offer – they wouldn’t know a diamond from any other stone. They’re simply websites that act as a clearinghouse for many less desirable diamonds.

Being in business for the past 80 years one of the favorite parts of our job is helping customers find their perfect diamond. Your investment in fine jewelry can be substantial and Ream Jewelers wants to be there to help you make a decision on a diamond that you will treasure for years to come.

We have created this section to educate you in selecting the perfect diamond. Choosing the perfect diamond will mean the world to your girlfriend, and it is something that she will have for her lifetime. Ream Jewelers makes it easy to understand by breaking it down into just a few simple explanations of characteristics, ensuring that your diamond is amongst the most brilliant in the world. Ream Jewelers will teach you what you need to know about your diamond’s shape, size, purity, color, sparkle, brilliance, fire, fluorescence, finish, symmetry, and how each of these characteristics influence to its’ price.


Raw diamonds are cut to different shapes; the shape refers to what the diamond looks like when viewed from the top. Just as expressing your love is very individual; selecting your diamond’s shape is a way to reflect your personality and relationship.

Remember, that “shape” and “cut” are describing completely different characteristics of a diamond. Think of shape as the view from the top while cut are the angles usually viewed from the side. Shapes other than round are referred to as fancy shapes. The round shape is the often the most popular, followed by the square and rectangular shapes.

Round: Rounds are the most popular shape that diamonds are cut into. They are also the most brilliant of all the cuts. There are 58 facets in a round brilliant.

Princess: Princess cut diamonds can be square or rectangle, although it is the square princess is more of the ideal for this shape. When expertly cut it is similar in brightness, sparkle, and fire to a round brilliant cut diamond.

Radiant: The radiant cut was first cut in seventies. It combines the traditional looking “steps” of the emerald cut with the brilliance of the round. It typically has 70 facets and can be either square or rectangle with cut corners.

Emerald: Emerald Cuts have a more traditional look and look like “steps” because of the method of cut. They have 25 facets. Emeralds are usually rectangular but sometimes are square in shape. Inclusions are easier to see due to their large “window” into the stone so higher clarity grades are recommended. Their appearance has more “shimmer” but less brilliant than other square or rectangle shapes. Fine polishing is critical due to the easy-to-see through large top surface.

Asscher: Asscher cut is similar to Emerald cut except their shape is square and looks like a series of small boxes. . This cut was designed in 1902. Original vintage Asscher cuts are now rare. The modern Asscher cuts of today have more facets, a larger table, and smaller cut corners. Recently the Asscher cuts have gotten more popular.

Cushion: Cushion cuts are a cross between a rectangle and a round cut. From the 1830’s to the turn of the century this was the style that most diamonds were cut to. It has been referred to as the “candlelight diamond” cut because it was originally cut before electricity. The cushion cut is very popular today and is a good combination of the two shapes.

Oval: Oval cuts are elongated round brilliant cuts. The oval is gaining in popularity and can often look larger than other fancy shapes of the same carat weight.

Marquise: The marquise shape is often thought of as the diamond shaped diamond. The marquise cut have a point at either end and looks similar to the shape of a football.

Pear: The pear shape is a combination of an oval cut and a marquise cut. It looks like an upside-down teardrop. Excellent symmetry will ensure even sparkle, especially in the point.

Heart: The heart shape embodies romance and felinity. After all, what could be more romantic than a diamond heart? Its’ shape and design is different and more challenging than a pear shape. When looking for a great heart shaped stone, symmetry is very important.


Purity is also called clarity. It describes both the natural markings that are formed within the diamond and its surface imperfections that formed as nature transformed carbon into an amazing crystal. Think of a diamond’s purity as its fingerprint. Every diamond is unique and can be identified by its natural markings even though it may require some magnification. These marks can look like black or white specks, lines, bubbles, cracks, or clouds. At Ream Jewelers we will show you your diamond under a microscope so that you can identify the “fingerprints” of the diamond you are purchasing.

How purity is measured: Gemologists observe the size, location, quantity, type and prominence of the inclusions in accordance with the Gemological Institute of America’s precise set of rules and standards in determining a clarity grade. In addition to internal inclusions, inclusions on the surface, called blemishes, are graded. There are eleven “grades” in the GIA clarity scale.

*Flawless (F)

*Internally Flawless (IF)

*Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1)

*Very Very Slightly Included (VVS2)

*Very Slightly Included (VS1)

*Very Slightly Included (VS2)

*Slightly Included (SI1)

*Slightly Included (SI2)

*Included (I1)

*Included (I2)

*Included (I3)


What is color? Mother Nature creates diamonds in different colors. These differences in color are very subtle. Think of color like the difference between crystal clear spring water and lemonade. Some diamonds lack any tint or body tone and are clear as icy spring water. Other diamonds with varying tinges of yellow or brown look as if a glass of water had drops of lemon squeezed in until it became lemonade. Think of it like two 100 watt light bulbs –one white and one a yellow light. Of course, the white one is brighter and considered more desirable. However, the diamonds with intensely saturated color are scarcer than the icy white ones; and classified as fancy colored. The fancy colored diamonds are very rare and highly desired. At Ream Jewelers we are happy to carry some of the rarest white and fancy colored diamonds in Central Pennsylvania.

How is color graded? The highest grade in the GIA scale is “D color” all the way down to “Z.” Color grades are determined without any high tech machinery. When a diamond is professionally graded, a trained gemologist compares each diamond, placed upside down, to a set of master set of diamonds in a viewing environment with standard lightly.

Grade: D, E, F

D: Completely colorless. Very rare. The highest grade.

E: Colorless. No perceptible difference in body-tone from D once the diamond is set into jewelry. Rare. Very high grade.

F: Completely colorless. Very rare. Very high grade.

Grade: G, H

G: Near colorless. Body-tone is readily detectable to an experienced gemologist. Slightly noticeable difference from colorless diamonds when compared side-by-side in a setting.

H: Near colorless. Body-tone readily detectable to a novice when compared side-by-side with colorless diamonds. Significant difference from colorless diamonds when compared side-by-side in a setting.

Grade: I, J

I: Near colorless. Body-tone easily detectable to a novice when compared side-by-side with colorless diamonds. Significant difference from colorless diamonds when compared side-by-side in a setting.

J: Near colorless. Body-tone is obvious to a novice when looking for it. Near colorless is its official technical term but it is not near colorless in reality. Body-tone is less noticeable if set in yellow gold and may appear one to two color grades higher if medium to strong fluorescence is present.

Grade: K-W

Faint to light color. The body-tone is so obvious. Often diamonds of this grade are used to purchase a larger size on a limited budget.

Grade: X, Y, Z

If the body tone is yellow then it looks somewhere between lemonade and the sun. In certain cases, it can be set into jewelry so that it appears as if it’s “Fancy Yellow.” This is desirable because its price will be much lower than that of a Fancy Yellow.

Grade: Fancy

Some diamonds look as if a glass of spring water had drops of lemonade squeezed into it. Sometimes these diamonds can be intense like the sun. When they’re saturated with yellow (or other colors) they are much scarcer than icy white ones and these diamonds are then classified as fancy-colored. The hue and saturation in these fancy diamonds affect their rarity and price. Ream Jewelers carry some of the finest fancy-colored diamonds.


A diamond cutter makes choices when he or she plans and executes how a raw diamond’s cut will interact with light. There is not a single way he or she can cut a “top-grade” that everyone prefers. You may prefer a diamond with a cut grade of Very Good over one graded Excellent –and that’s ok. But once you know the words that describe what a diamond does when it hits the light then you’ll be able to see each cut characteristic for yourself. How a diamond is cut, or designed, determines its Brightness, Fire, and Sparkle.


Brightness is sometimes called brilliance and it is the level of light that radiates up from within the diamond. When a ray of light passes through the surface of a diamond, it will bend like a light ray passing through a prism. With diamonds, light bends even more because they are so dense. Once inside the diamond, as the light ray continues on its path, it will bend two more times completing a U-turn so that the light ray returns a shower of brightness and fire back toward your eye. Light will bend upon entering the diamond’s surface but some light will escape through the side and bottom of the diamond and fail to complete the U-turn, causing less brightness and less of the rainbow-like fire that results from each bend.


Fire, sometimes called dispersion, describes the colors-of-a-rainbow that appear in a diamond. Diamonds behave like prisms. As a diamond moves the shards of colors change like in a kaleidoscope, so it’s best to see fire in different lighting conditions, from different viewing angles. It is also best to view the diamond from a distance of over three feet because when viewed from up close the chards of color change to shards of white light. At Ream Jewelers we will show you diamonds in both natural light as well as various lighting conditions.



Sparkle, often called scintillation. It describes the sparkling or twinkling effect given off as a diamond is moved about. It looks as if you are seeing bright white flashes like fireworks within the diamond. The sparkle, or flashes-of-light, comes from rays of light reflecting off the diamond’s many surfaces. You will be amazed at the difference in sparkle Ream Jewelers diamonds when compared to other stores.


Symmetry describes the alignment of the many surfaces on a diamond, called facets. If you could slice a diamond in half, the halves would have duplicate shaped facets that are mirror images. Diamonds that are perfectly aligned appear more beautiful to us and have perfect symmetry. Symmetry also describes how perfect the shape of diamond is. The workmanship involved in creating excellent symmetry takes time, care, planning and attention to detail. The GIA symmetry grades are Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. Trust your eye and your judgment. Don’t get too hung up on a grade of Good or Very Good because there can be symmetry “deductions” that are visible under a microscope that do not affect the visual beauty of the diamond.


Finish is often called polish. The finish describes the quality of a diamond’s surface. Imagine a typical diamond’s many polished surfaces, called facets. Due to a diamond’s extreme hardness, creating a mirror-like finish on each surface can only be achieved after long and painstaking grinding then polishing. Why is this important? Because even if it takes a microscope to see the lines that result from an improperly polished diamond, if not eliminated, they will interfere with the luster that comes from light reflecting off its surfaces. Finish is important but a grade of Very Good may result from deductions that are visible under a microscope which do not affect the visual beauty of the diamond.


Diamond is the hardest material in the world but that doesn’t mean you can’t break or chip it. The definition of hardness is the resistance to scratching. In fact, when a diamond cutter splits a raw diamond crystal into two pieces often times all it takes is a tap in the right spot. It is important to cut a diamond so that its outer edge, called its girdle, is not too thin. Otherwise, over time, the girdle may be exposed and susceptible to getting chips. The corners of some of the fancy shaped diamonds have points as well, which can be damaged when being set.

Diamond Laboratories & Evaluation

Are all laboratories created equal? The answer is no. A diamond laboratory is a business that issues its opinion of the diamond’s grade for a fee. The grading results are generated on a form called a Diamond Grading Report. Diamond laboratories differ from appraisers in that they do not buy or sell diamonds, nor should they provide an opinion about the value of the diamond. This insures impartiality — so beware of ‘certificates’ that do indeed include an appraised value.

The originator of the diamond grading being used today is the Gemological Institute of America, which is considered one of the strictest of the diamond grading laboratories. Laboratories compete for customers, whether they are a “for-profit” or “not-for-profit.” “Not-for-profits” such as GIA or AGS are usually part of larger educational institutions. Ream Jewelers is proud to have associates that have been GIA trained and to also be members of the American Gem Society since 1973.

The U.S. has no Diamond Laboratory Regulatory Authority so anyone could set their individual grading system. So, for example, GIA’s color grade “G” could be different from that of a less reputable lab. After all, the GIA has no vested interest in improving the profitability of lesser laboratories by sharing its grading standards.

You shouldn’t choose your diamond based on its diamond grading report but the report can help verify what you see in your diamond. Ream Jewelers is here to help you through this process and insure that you are completely confident in the diamond you are choosing.

Diamond Terms to Know

AGS: American Gem Society; The American Gem Society was established in 1934 by a select group of independent jewelers and Robert M. Shipley, founder of the prestigious school of gemology, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

Brightness: Sometimes called brilliance, is the level of light that radiates up from within the diamond.

Carat weight: Weight of measure for a diamond. One carat is equal to approximately one-fifth of a gram.

Certification: Document that is provided with a loose diamond containing the diamonds attributes.

Clarity: The natural birthmarks that are formed within the diamond as nature transforms it from carbon into a magnificent crystal

Color: The absence of body tone. Graded on a scale of D-Z, the best color is “D” which is colorless.

Cut: The level of design and craftsmanship of transforming a diamond from a raw crystal to a polished gem.

Durability: The diamond’s likelihood of resisting chipping or breaking.

Fancy-shape: Diamond shape other than round.

Fire: Sometimes called dispersion, describes the colors-of-a-rainbow that appear in a diamond

Fluorescence: The blue “glow-in-the-dark” effect that some diamonds have when exposed to ultraviolet light.

GIA: Gemological Institute of America; Established in 1931, GIA is the world’s largest and most respected nonprofit institute of gemological research and learning.

Hue: The GIA specifies 31 gemstone hues. They include terms such as blue, slightly greenish blue, very slightly greenish blue, bluish green, etc.

Polish: Polish describes the quality of a diamond’s surface. Individual surfaces must join invisibly, with seamless edges.

Saturation: This is the degree to which a color departs from a neutral (gray) sensation. Saturation can be thought of as the relative purity of a hue. The GIA specifies 9 terms, such as brownish, grayish, moderately strong, and vivid.

Scintillation: Describes the sparkling or twinkling effect given off as a diamond is moved. It looks as if you are seeing bright white flashes of mini-fireworks within the diamond.

Shape: Pattern of a cut diamond when viewed from the top.

Symmetry: The alignment of the diamond surface (facets).

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