The diamond is king of all gemstones. Its brilliant sparkle has been captivating both men and women since the stone was first discovered. But what is it that makes diamonds so appealing?
Diamonds are evaluated according to the 4 C’s: carat, cut, clarity, and color. These criteria help us assign each stone a monetary value and compare them to one another. The interplay between these four traits makes every diamond unique. Keep reading to learn more about the 4 C’s of diamonds!
Table Of Contents
The cut is perhaps the most important of the 4 criteria. It’s not determined by nature, but rather by the skill of the craftsman. Only the right cut can reveal the true beauty of a raw diamond and lend it its unmistakable sparkle and shine.
The Perfect Cut
A perfectly cut diamond has the optimal balance of brilliance, fire, and scintillation. Brilliance refers to how light reflects off the diamond, fire to how it disperses that light, and scintillation to how the jewel sparkles when moved.
These three traits are determined by the quality of the cut. There are five cut grades, ranging from “poor” to “excellent” based on the diamond’s symmetry, proportions, and shine.
Another deciding factor is the arrangement of the facets and their proportions, as they complete the appearance of these rare gemstones. The relationship between the depth and table, as well as the thickness of the girdle and width of the culet, are also extremely important.
A Diamond’s Fire
An excellent cut should enhance a diamond’s ability to play with color: Light should reflect off the different facets before hitting your eye. This phenomenon is referred to as “fire” and is what makes diamonds so highly coveted.
Diamonds and Their Cuts
Diamonds come in all shapes and sizes. The shape of the cut depends on personal taste and has nothing to do with the grinding technique itself. The classic, round brilliant cut is especially popular and appears on many rings. However, the elegant princess cut and unique emerald cut also make a fine impression on any finger.
The second C stands for carat. While many people think this refers to a diamond’s size, it actually represents a gemstone’s weight.
One carat (ct) equals 200 milligrams (0.2 grams) or 100 points. A stone with this weight will be 6.5 mm in diameter. That means a 0.5-carat jewel weights 100 milligrams (0.1 grams) and is worth 50 points.
Did you know that the carat traces its origins back to the carob seed? According to ancient tradition, the average carob seed weighs about 200 milligrams with very little variance. This is why jewelers throughout history have used them as a reliable weight.
An overview of the various size differences per carat weight is offered by this interactive GIA slider:
In addition to the cut and carat weight, clarity plays a major role in determining a diamond’s quality: the fewer inclusions and blemishes, the higher the value. Large inclusions negatively affects a stone’s beauty.
A gemstone is only considered flawless if there are no visible impurities when magnified by 10 times. However, such diamonds are extremely rare in nature.
There’s a 10-level grading scale for classifying diamond clarity. The highest level is “internally flawless”, meaning the diamond shows no inclusions. The lowest quality is graded as “included 3.” All stones in grades I1, I2, and I3 have inclusions that are visible to the naked eye.
- IF = Internally flawless
- VVS1-VVS2 = Very very slightly included 1 & 2
- VS1-VS2 = Very slightly included 1 & 2
- SI1-SI2 = Slightly included 1 & 2
- I1 = Included 1
- I2-3 = Included 2 & 3
You can use the GIA slider to get an idea of how the different clarity levels compare to each other:
Using the GIA slider, you will get an idea of how the different levels of clarity differ. As a general rule: The higher the clarity, the more expensive the gemstone!
The last of the 4 C’s is color. When it comes to diamonds, you usually want as little color as possible. Diamond shades span from absolutely colorless to light yellow. Colorless diamonds with a faint yellow hue commonly occur in nature and are the most well-known diamond color.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has created the international standard for grading diamond color. GIA’s scale sorts diamonds into one of 23 color categories running in alphabetical order from D to Z.
A clear white diamond (grade D-F) is completely colorless. These diamonds are as rare as they are beautiful. While still considered colorless, grade G-J diamonds do have a slight yellow tinge. They are also exceptionally rare. In previous grading systems, diamonds in this second tier were labeled as “Top Wesselton.” Shaded white (K & L) and colored (M-Z) diamonds are much more common.
This GIA slider will give you a general idea of the different color grades:
Not many people know that diamonds come in almost every shade and color of the rainbow, including red, blue, and green. These are categorized as “fancy colors” since they don’t fit on the D-Z scale.
Impurities and defects in the diamond’s crystal lattice cause these colorful variants. Pink and yellow diamonds are especially popular among women. However, these stunning jewels are extremely rare and, therefore, expensive.
An Overview of the 4 C’s of Diamonds
Here you’ll find the most important information about the 4 C’s at a glance:
|Carat||A unit of weight (one carat equals 200 milligrams or 0.2 grams)|
|Cut||The shape of the diamond (e.g., brilliant, princess, heart). Graded on a 5-point scale from poor to excellent.|
|Clarity||Ranges from IF (flawless) to I3 (inclusions visible to the naked eye).|
|Color||23 color grades for colorless diamonds (absolutely colorless to light color) and fancy colors|
The Magic of Diamonds
No one is immune to the spell cast by a high-quality diamond. Ready to dive into a world of shining and sparkling jewels? Take a look at our diverse selection of jewelry, including everything from engagement rings to necklaces. Discover our diamond jewelry now!