The 4C's of Diamonds
There are different factors that go into grading the quality of a diamond, which are commonly known as the 4C's- color, clarity, cut, and carat weight.
The shape, symmetry, and proportions determine how a diamond interacts with light, making it "sparkle". A beautifully finished (cut) diamond is dazzling; every facet displays the craftsman’s skill and care. When it interacts with light, each facet and angle affects the amount of light returned to the eye. This is what gives a diamond its face-up appearance and what makes it appealing – or not.”
How well a stone is cut makes a huge difference in the "wow" factor, but diamonds can also be cut into different styles. Commonly known styles are:
Each of these styles can be cut well, or poorly, which will impact their appearance. Most of the time, a rough diamond is in a octahedron shape, meaning it has eight faces, twelve edges and six vertices. In plain English: It’s the perfect shape for a brilliant cut because it won’t lose too much carat weight in the process — and it’ll shine brightly in the light.
To understand diamond clarity, we must first understand how diamonds are created. Natural diamonds are the result of carbon exposed to tremendous heat and pressure deep in the earth. This process can result in a variety of internal characteristics called ‘inclusions’ and external characteristics called ‘blemishes.’
Evaluating diamond clarity involves determining the number, size, relief, nature, and position of these characteristics, as well as how these affect the overall appearance of the stone. If you are trying to determine what is the best clarity for a diamond, remember that no diamond is perfectly pure. But the closer it comes to purity, the better its clarity.
Understanding what diamond color means helps in choosing the right diamond. Interestingly, the diamond color evaluation of most gem-quality diamonds is based on the absence of color.
A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond has no hue, like a drop of pure water, and consequently, a higher value. The D-to-Z diamond color-grading system measures the degree of colorlessness by comparing a stone under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions to masterstones of established color value.
Many of these diamond color distinctions are so subtle that they are invisible to the untrained eye; however, these distinctions make a very big difference in diamond quality and price.
To put it simply, diamond carat weight measures how much a diamond weighs.
A metric “carat” is defined as 200 milligrams. Each carat is subdivided into 100 ‘points.’ This allows very precise measurements to the hundredth decimal place. A jeweler may describe the weight of a diamond below one carat by its ‘points’ alone. For instance, the jeweler may refer to a diamond that weighs 0.25 carats as a ‘twenty-five pointer.’ Diamond weights greater than one carat are expressed in carats and decimals. A 1.08 carat stone would be described as ‘one point oh eight carats.’
All else being equal, diamond price increases with diamond carat weight because larger diamonds are rarer and more desirable. However, two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different values (and prices) depending on three other factors of the diamond.
While now you know what carat means, it’s also important to remember that a diamond’s value is determined using all of the 4Cs, and not just carat weight.