The 4 C’s of Diamonds
Buying a diamond is an exciting experience, no matter if it is your first or fiftieth purchase, but it is important to understand what makes a diamond worth the price being asked, and to know what aspects of a diamond give it the attributes you really like to be able to find the perfect diamond for you.
There are 4 basic criteria that make up the appearance and value of a diamond, and these are known as the 4 C’s. Before we discuss which aspect you should focus on when thinking about a diamond purchase, we will outline just what each one is.
Cut – this is the way the diamond is cut from the rough diamond, and this determines shape, brilliance, the sparkle that we all love, and fire, the way light is dispersed into different colors by the diamond.
Color – The color of the diamond is graded on a scale, ranging from D to Z, with D being the best. In reality, a color grade is actually telling you the absence of color, with D being perfectly clear and having no color at all, going down to Z which often have an opaque effect from the depth of color. Diamonds start to display visible color at K grade, usually a yellow tint, and while some at that grade are sometimes acceptable, the very lowest grades are rarely offered for retail sale.
Clarity – Clarity refers to the presence of flaws (called inclusions) in the diamond, including how easily they are seen (in most cases only through a magnified image) and location. This is graded on another scale, going from FL (Flawless) to I3 (Large numbers of visible inclusions).
Carat Weight – While many people think that carat refers to a diamond’s size, it actually refers to the weight of the diamond. In fact, a diamond that is a higher carat weight is not always bigger than those of a lesser weight, it all depends on the cut.
When buying a diamond, most people find the first two factors, cut and color, to be the most important. This is because they have by far the biggest effect on how the diamond appears, and all the things we love about diamonds, including the brilliance, and how clear it is. You may think clarity would be vital too, however most inclusions on diamonds are too small to be seen with the naked eye, and the lowest grades that do have such easily visible flaws are not normally offered for retail sale, so in general you will be dealing with clarity levels that take a magnified image to see. Finally, the weight is a big part of the cost of the diamond, and when buying to a budget, the other factors will probably be more important.