When you’re ready to shop for a diamond, it is strongly recommended that you consider the 4C’s of diamonds: color, clarity, cut, and carat. Each attribute affects a diamond’s value. It is for that reason that the understanding the 4C’s of diamonds is important for both consumers and professionals.
Finding the perfect balance of the 4C’s of diamonds in any stone will help you pick the diamond of your dreams.
A diamond’s cut is the only one of the 4C’s of diamonds determined by human hands. It takes great craftsmanship to make a quality diamond cut:
· Diamond width & depth:Impacts the brilliance of the diamond and determines the reflection of white light.
· Shallow cut: This type of cut makes the diamond appear lifeless.
· Deep cut: This cut darkens all or portions of the diamond.
· Ideal cut: This cut highlights the brilliance and life of the diamond.
A diamond cut strives to excel in three aspects:
· Symmetry: The alignment of a diamond’s facet.
· Scintillation: When the diamond flashes light causing a brilliant, colorful, explosive affect.
· Polish: Facet being smooth and polished allowing superb passage of light.
The first element in the 4C’s of diamonds is color. A white diamond is ideal because it is colorless. These clear diamonds are valued for their clarity. Although yellow and brown hued diamonds can be beautiful, their diamond color makes them not nearly as rare as those that are white.
The Gemological Institute of America created the D-Z scale to grade all of the 4C’s of diamonds. This scale gives a clear breakdown of the quality of diamond color. Its letter classifications are as follows:
· D-E-F: These diamonds are colorless or pure white.
· G-H-I-J: Nearly colorless.
· K-L-M: Diamond color that is faintly tinted. These diamonds are usually yellow, but not easily detectable to the naked eye.
· N-O-P-Q-R: Diamond color that is lightly tinted. These diamonds are usually yellow, and their color is visible to the naked eye.
· S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z: Tinted, usually yellow and may progress to brown. Tint is visible to the naked eye and can be detected even when mounted.
· FLOURESCENCES – HPTP (high pressure / high temperature), this affects the reflection of light. This treatment is usually permanent but if “coated” is only temporary.
Diamond clarity is the second element of the 4C’s of diamonds. Clarity depends on whether or not a stone has inclusions or blemishes. The GIA has a unique grading system for all of the 4C’s of diamonds. When it comes to diamond clarity, two things matter most:
· Diamond inclusions: Imperfections or flaws, tiny spots, and cracks.
· Diamond blemishes – Flaws on the surface, and flaws caused by cutting and polishing.
GIA (Gemological Institute of America) uses a 10X magnification to determine flaws affecting diamond clarity. These flaws have specific categories:
· FI: Diamond clarity is flawless. No internal or external flaws.
· IF: Internal flaws, slight external blemishes to diamond clarity.
· VVS1 & VVS2: Minute inclusions extremely hard to determine even by expert graders.
· VS1 & VS2: Very slight inclusions, not easily seen by expert graders.
· SI1 & SI2: Slightly included, noticeable by the expert grader.
· I1 & I2 & I3: Inclusions obvious to the naked eye.
Diamond carat is probably the most known of the 4C’s of diamonds. It is the term that most non-professionals ask when viewing a diamond. Carat expresses the weight of a diamond.
The diamond industry uses two abbreviations when referring to how a diamond is weighed in carats:
· CT: Refers to weight of a single diamond.
· ct TW: Diamond carat total weight, weight of multiple diamonds.
A point system is used to weigh diamonds lighter than a carat. 100 points equals a single diamond carat and each point equals 0.01 of a carat (1 one-hundredth of a carat).
As you can see, the 4C’s of diamonds help professionals and consumers assess a stone’s value. The grading process is complex, but a necessary resource in pinpointing quality. Understanding the 4C’s of diamonds will help you find the diamond of your dreams.