4'Cs and More
Buying a diamond shouldn’t be an overwhelming task; it should be a pleasant experience to be shared with loved ones. There is so much conflicting information out there on the Internet, but understanding a diamond’s true quality just takes a little personal attention from the right information source.
It’s important to know that there is actually a weekly price list for diamonds. The price list is mainly used by wholesalers and behind the scenes of the diamond trade industry. If you know the carat weight of a diamond along with its color and clarity, you can literally pin point a price of a diamond. This price range should be the same all over the world. This of course is the price without taking into consideration margins and high-end retail mark-ups.
You may have heard of the 4 C’s (Cut, Color, Clarity, & Carat), the most important characteristics of a diamond. Other elements that should be taken into consideration as well are Shape and Certification. Below, you will find relevant information when looking for that “perfect diamond”. Don’t be at the mercy of the retailers! Educate yourself before buying a stone.
Cut is often considered to be a diamond’s most important factor. It determines what we generally think of as a “sparkle.” Cut grade is an objective measure of a diamond’s light performance. When a diamond is cut with the proper proportions, light is returned out of the top of the diamond, also referred to as the table. If it is cut too shallow, light leaks out of the bottom; too deep and it escapes out of the side.
Ideal Cut: Reflects nearly all light that enters the diamond
Very Good Cut: Reflects nearly as much light as the ideal cut
Good Cut: Reflects most light that enters
Fair Cut: Still a quality diamond, but less brilliant than a good cut
Poor Cut: Diamonds with a poor grading generally are cut too deep and narrow/shallow and wide that they lose most of the light out the sides and bottom
Other properties related to a diamond’s cut include light performance, brilliance, fire, polish, and symmetry.
After cut, color is generally considered to be the second most important characteristic of a diamond — mainly because the human eye tends to detect a diamond’s sparkle or light performance first and color second. Color manifests itself in a diamond as pale yellow, so a diamond’s true color grade is based on its lack of color. The less color a diamond has, the higher its color grade. A color grade of D is the highest possible, while Z is the lowest grade possible.
J-I: Near colorless; slightly detectable warmth or tone
H-G: Near colorless; color is difficult to detect unless compared side-by-side against diamonds of better grades
F-E: Colorless; minute traces of color can be detected by an expert gemologist
D: Absolutely colorless; the highest color grade possible.
Clarity is a measure of the number and size of the tiny imperfections that occur in almost all diamonds. Many of these imperfections are microscopic and do not affect a diamond’s beauty in any distinct way.
FL,IF: Flawless, Internally Flawless; no internal or external imperfections
VVS1, VVS2: Very, Very Slightly Included; very difficult to see imperfections under 10x magnification
VS1, VS2: Very Slightly Included; imperfections are not typically visible to the unaided eye
SI1, SI2: Slightly Included; imperfections are visible under 10x magnification and may be visible to the unaided eye
I1: Included; minor inclusions that may be visible to the unaided eye
Carat weight specifically refers to a diamond’s weight; however, by itself it may not accurately reflect size. It is also important to consider a diamond’s cut grade because when a diamond is cut with the proper proportions, the maximum amount of light or sparkleis returned out of the top of the diamond. If a diamond is cut well, the light reflected out of the top makes it appear larger. In addition, much of the weight of a poorly cut diamond, for example, may be hidden in the base of the diamond, making the diamond appear smaller than its carat weight would imply.
For example, a diamond of a lower carat weight and higher cut grade can actually appear larger than a diamond with a larger carat weight but poor cut.
All diamond shapes are very different; their unique characteristics determine the quality for each shape.
The round brilliant-cut diamond is by far the most popular and most researched diamond shapec available today. For almost 100 years, diamond cutters have been using advanced theories of light behavior and precise mathematical calculations to optimize the brilliance in a round diamond. Also, a round diamond will typically give more flexibility in terms of balancing cut, color, and clarity grades while still delivering the fire and brilliance a consumer would want.
The princess diamond has pointed corners and is traditionally square in shape. When choosing a color grade, keep in mind that color may be slightly visible in its corners.
What makes this diamond so distinctive is its pavilion (bottom half), which is cut with rectangular facets to create a unique optical appearance. Due to its larger, open table, this shape highlights the clarity of a diamond. Emerald-cut diamonds can vary greatly in how rectangular they are. If you’d prefer an emerald shape with a squared outline, look for an Asscher-cut diamond.
This beautifully unique shape is nearly identical to the emerald-cut, except that it is square. Also, this shape has a pavilion that is cut with rectangular facets in the same style as the emerald-cut.
The shape of a marquise diamond can maximize carat weight, producing a much larger looking diamond. This brilliant-cut diamond looks beautiful set with round or pear-shaped side stones, and the length of the marquise makes fingers appear long and slender.
An oval diamond has beautiful brilliance that is similar to a round diamond. Oval diamonds are also very popular as their length can accentuate long, slender fingers.
Trimmed corners are the signature aspect of this diamond, and they help make the radiant-cut a popular and versatile choice for jewelry. A radiant-cut looks equally beautiful set with either baguette or round-side diamonds. Radiant-cut diamonds can vary in their degree of rectangularity.
This brilliant-cut diamond is also called a teardrop due to its single point and rounded end. The unique look of the pear shape helps make it a popular choice for many different types of diamond jewelry pieces.
The heart is the ultimate symbol of love. The unique look of the heart-shaped diamond helps make it a distinctive choice for a variety of diamond jewelry.
This unique shape has been popular for more than a century. Cushion-cut diamonds (also known as “pillow-cut” diamonds) have rounded corners and larger facets to increase their brilliance. Cushion-cut diamonds are available in shapes ranging from square to rectangular.
A diamond certificate is a report created by a team of gemologists. The diamond is evaluated, measured, and scrutinized using trained eyes, a jeweler’s loupe, a microscope, and other industry tools. A completed certificate includes an analysis of the diamond’s dimensions, clarity, color, polish, symmetry, and other characteristics. Many round diamonds will also include a cut grade on the report.
There are different types of certifications.
Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
American Gemological Society (AGS)
European Gemological Laboratory (EGL)
International Gemological Institute (IGI)
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