The 4C’s of Buying Diamonds
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 a 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, pear, heart, marquise and oval 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-colored 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), which ranges from colorless, to light-color. 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 are treasured fir their rarity, diamond color is ultimately a very personal taste.
Nature ensure 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. Using magnification to view diamonds at 10x their actual size, these tiny inclusions are more easily seen.
Inclusions are measure on a scale of perfection, known as clarity, which was established by GIA. The greater a diamonds 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 ¾ carat diamond is the same as 75 points. Since larger diamonds are found less frequently in nature, a 1 carat diamond will cost more the twice a ½ carat diamond (assuming all other characteristics remain constant). The cut and the mounting can make a diamond appear larger than it’s actual weight.