The 4C’s of Diamond Buying
The 4C’s classify the value of diamonds. Every diamond’s price, rarity and beauty are determined by the combination of cut, color, clarity, and carat weight.
Cut describes the proportions and angles of a diamond. Many people confuse cut with the shape of the diamond. Although nature determines the other three characteristics, it takes a master diamond cutter to reveal a diamond’s true beauty. Diamonds are available in various shapes including round, square, marquise, oval, heart, and pear, but cut refers to the angles and proportions of a diamond. A well-cut diamond reflects light from one mirror-like facet to another and projects the light through the top of the stone. The result is a fiery and brilliant display. Diamonds that are cut too deep or too shallow leak light through the side or bottom, resulting in a lackluster appearance and diminished value.
White colorless diamonds remain the most popular, even though diamonds are found in a kaleidoscope of colors. Diamonds are graded on a color scale implemented by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), ranging from D, which is colorless, to Z. Color differences can be so subtle that diamond colors are graded under controlled lighting conditions and are compared to a master set for accuracy. While truly colorless diamonds, graded D, are treasured for their rarity, diamond color is ultimately a very personal taste. Ask to see an array of color grades next to one another to help you determine your color preference.
Nature ensures that each diamond is as individual as the person who wears it. Naturally occurring inclusions such as minerals or fractures are identifying characteristics created while diamonds are formed in the earth. Jewelers use magnification to view diamonds at 10x their actual size so these tiny inclusions are more easily seen. Inclusions are measured on a scale of perfection, known as clarity, which was established by GIA. The greater a diamond’s clarity, the more rare and valuable it is. An inclusion in the middle or top of a diamond could impact the dispersion of light, making it less brilliant.
Carat is a diamond’s measure of weight, not size. One full carat is equal to 100 points. A 3/4 carat diamond is the same as 75 points. Since larger diamonds are found less frequently in nature, a 1 carat diamond will cost more than twice a 1/2 carat diamond (assuming all other characteristics remain constant). The cut and the mounting can make a diamond appear larger than its actual weight. Our experienced staff will help you find the right diamond and mounting to optimize its beauty.