The 4C’s of Diamonds

The 4C’s of Diamonds

Unlike other gemstones, diamonds have very specific criteria for determining their value. These are generally referred to as the 4C’s of diamonds – Cut, Color, Clarity & Carat. All four work together to make a diamond look stunning.

1st C Is For Cut:

The most important factor one should look for in a diamond is the Cut. The GIA divides diamond cuts into the following descriptions:

  • Excellent
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor

The proportions of a cut diamond directly influence the brilliance & fire shown. When these proportions are all aligned, light striking a diamond will both reflect off the surface of the facets showing brilliant white & will go into the stone, bouncing off internal facets breaking into spectral colors that show up as fire. When a diamond has a low-quality cut, light leaks out & the stone will show extinguished areas without much life at all. This all means that nearly any color & clarity diamond can sparkle magnificently if its cut is correct. The converse is true as well, even the cleanest & colorless diamond will look dead if the cut is incorrect.

2nd C Is For Color:

The next most important factor to look for when purchasing a diamond is the Color. According to the GIA scale of diamond colors, diamonds fall between D & Z.

D is near colorless & Z is brownish yellow. It is important to point out that the perceivable difference in color between one color grade & the next is basically imperceptible to all but the best trained diamond professionals. Also, the type of setting & the metal color of the setting can exaggerate a diamonds color either way.

Although it may seem counter intuitive, a yellow gold setting will generally make a diamond look whiter, while a white gold setting will make the same diamond look more yellow. It is necessary to point out here that this scale holds for diamonds that are white to brown but not fancy colors (yellows, blues, pinks, greens, purples etc.). These fancy color stones have a separate grading scale.

3rd C Is For Clarity:

Moving along in importance Clarity is next. Clarity refers to the size, number, type, position & number of internal characteristics in the diamond when viewed under 10X magnification. GIA divides clarity along a scale in the following way:

  • FL (Flawless)
  • IF (Internally Flawless)
  • VVS1 (Very, Very Slightly Included 1)
  • VVS2 (Very, Very Slightly Included 2)
  • VS1 (Very Slightly Included 1)
  • VS2 (Very Slightly Included 2)
  • SI1 (Slightly Included 1)
  • SI2 (Slightly Included 2)
  • I1 (Inclusions 1)
  • I2 (Inclusions 2)

To put it in layman’s terms, the more inclusions seen in the diamond, the lower its clarity. That said, the location of these inclusions is equally important. For example, a diamond with a very small inclusion directly beneath the table of the diamond will get a lower rating than a diamond with a slightly larger inclusion in a very unobtrusive place in the stone.

It is important to keep in mind that inclusions are a natural part of a diamonds formation & are one of the factors that make each stone unique.

4th C Is For Carat:

We round out the four C´s with Carat. Here we are talking about a weight. One carat weighs 0.2 grams. That is to say that a five carat diamond weighs exactly one gram. In general terms, the weight of the stone is the least important aspect of its overall beauty. A stone weight 2 carats may be poorly cut & thus show extinctions while a stone weighing only ½ carat may have excellent cut, D color & be only very, very slightly included & be a spectacular looking gem.

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