The four most important things to consider when purchasing a diamond are Carat, Color, Clarity and Cut. Understanding the 4 C’s can help you choose the best diamond for your occasion and budget.
Carat refers to the unit in which a diamond is weighed, with one carat equaling 0.2 grams or 200 milligrams. Although carat weight is the prime factor that determines the weight of a diamond, you should not forget that high carat weight does not necessarily mean a larger looking diamond. Diamonds of the same weight can differ in appearance based on other factors; the cut of the diamond can have the greatest influence on a smaller carat weight diamond appearing larger. Carat weight also influences a diamond’s price. Because of the rarity of larger stones, they are priced higher.
Color in regards to diamonds actually refers to the absence and presence of the color in the diamond. Color is a result of the diamond’s composition which is established when the diamond is formed and does not change with time. Colorless diamonds allow light to travel through them and also emit more fire and sparkle; the whiter the diamond is the higher value it will have.
GIA’s color scale is used to grade the color of diamonds. The scale starts with the rating D for colorless diamonds and progresses up to Z as the traces of light yellow or brown color are found in the diamond. Diamonds graded from D to F are amongst the most desirable and valuable stones, but diamonds with lower grades can also be a good option while not exactly colorless, they show no color to untrained eye.
When choosing the color grade of a diamond, you will also want to consider the setting of the diamond. If the setting for your diamond is platinum or white gold you will want to go for high color grades (closer to D). However, if you want to get your diamond fitted in yellow gold, slightly lower grade diamonds can also look great when placed next to a yellow gold setting. While you will find a faint yellow hint in the diamonds that are graded from J to M, the color can be camouflaged by choosing the right setting for the stone, and many people prefer the warm glow given by low color diamonds.
Diamond clarity refers to the characteristics, or flaws, of a diamond. Typically, there are two kinds of flaws found in diamonds – inclusions and blemishes. Inclusions are naturally occurring internal flaws that are found in diamonds including cracks, air bubbles, and mineral. Blemishes are flaws that occur during the cutting process. Diamonds that have less blemishes and inclusions are considered more valuable than those with a higher number of flaws.
Diamond clarity is graded on a scale ranging from Flawless (FL) to Included (I3). You may see diamonds graded in a variety of ways, such as: F, IF, VVS1-VVS2, SI1 – SI2 and I1-I2-I3. The chart below illustrates the clarity grading scale.
Since no two diamonds are the same, GIA certificates consist of a diamonds inclusion plot, which ensures the worth of the diamond you are planning to buy. It lets you have the assurance that the diamond you are receiving is the one you have paid for. Flawless is the best and rarest clarity grade, however diamonds that are VS and VVS grades are great in terms of appearance and value. You can also invest in less expensive options that include SI2 and SI1 where there are inclusions, but they cannot be seen by the naked eye.
The cut of a diamond actually refers to the reflective qualities of a diamond, not the shape. The quality of diamond cut is a crucial part of 4 C’s of diamonds. When a diamond has a good cut, light travels through it easily, adding to its sparkle. The light that is passed through the diamond as a result of the cut is responsible for making diamonds shine, thus increasing their desirability. If a diamond is not cut properly, light enters through the table after reaching the facets, and it leaks out from the bottom or side, cutting down on the brilliance.
As with color and clarity, cut also has a grading method and scale. Diamond cuts are graded in the following categories: Ideal, Premium, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor.
- Ideal cut diamonds have maximum brilliance, and the small table size of these diamonds work in the best possible way to create fire or dispersion. However, this category is just for round shaped diamonds.
- Premium cuts, which apply to other diamond shapes, are equivalent to ideal cuts but the price is slightly lower.
- Very Good diamond cuts reflect maximum light entered in, providing fair amount of brilliance to the diamonds.
- Good Cut diamonds reflect most of the light that passes through them. The proportion of these diamonds is outside the preferred range. Diamonds that fall under this category will allow you save money without compromising on beauty and quality of the diamond.
- Fair and Poor quality diamonds reflect very little proportion of light that is entered to them. These diamonds are cut in order to increase carat weight above all the other considerations.
The diagram to the left can help you understand the anatomy of a diamond cut.
- Diameter: The width of the diamond as measured through the girdle.
- Table: The largest polished facet located on the top of the diamond.
- Crown: The top part of a diamond extending from the table to the girdle.
- Girdle: The edge of the diamond where the crown and pavilion meet.
- Pavilion: The bottom part of a diamond that extends from the girdle down to the culet.
- Culet: The small or pointed facet at the very bottom of a diamond.
- Depth: The height of the diamond as measured from the table to the culet.