When it comes time for you to get down on your knee, or make it a big surprise for an anniversary or special holiday, you want everything about that moment to be perfect, including the diamond(s) you are gifting (or receiving, for that matter). Buying the perfect diamond is easier than you may think if you are a first time buyer. All you need to know about are the 4C’s: Carats, Cut, Color, and Clarity.
The 4 C's: Carat, Color, clarity, cut
Diamond carats is the measurement of how much a diamond weighs and is the most important factor in determining the value.
Each carat can be 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.'
The diamond color evaluation is the measure of the absence of color within the diamond. Diamonds that are colorless are most chemically pure and usually have a higher value. The diamond industry's D through Z system of color grading measures the degree of colorlessness under precise viewing conditions and controlled lighting.
The color scale begins with the letter D, representing absolute colorless, and continues, with increasing presence of color, to the letter Z.
On paper, the difference between D and H colors may seem like a huge leap, but many of these color distinctions are so subtle that they are usually undetectable to the untrained eye. Despite the difficulty in distinctions, these differences have a huge impact on the value of the diamond.
Natural diamonds are a result of extremely high temperatures and pressures deep in the earth, over a very long period of time. This process can result in a variety of internal characteristics called 'inclusions' and external characteristics called 'blemishes.'
Although the clarity grade is arguably just as equally important as color, each grade of clarity has its own range of variance due to the the number, size, relief, nature, and position of the inclusions.
- (FL) Flawless
No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10x magnification
- (IF) Internally Flawless
No inclusions visible under 10x magnification
- (VVS1 and VVS2) Very, Very Slightly Included
Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
- (VS1 and VS2) Very Slightly Included
Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor
- (SI1 and SI2) Slightly Included
Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification
- (I1, I2, and I3) Included
Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance
Sometimes a lowly graded diamond can sound daunting on paper, but it is highly recommended that one evaluates their diamond purchase based on how it looks to the naked eye.
Diamonds are renowned for their ability to transmit light and sparkle so intensely. The cut shows the precise artistic and workmanship skills of the cutter who fashioned the diamond to bring out the brilliance and scintillation of the diamond to make it sparkle from across the room. Technology can be used to assess the diamond’s light performance and hence the quality of its cut. A diamond’s light performance depends on the cutter’s decision of angles and placement of the facets, as well as his or her skill to implement those facets precisely. Getting a diamond to its full luster takes time and extremely careful polishing. Much like small scratches that can dull a glass surface, a poor polish can reduce the brightness and sparkle of a diamond. The quality of the cut also affects a diamond’s value, and can increase it by up to 25% more. When the cut is more precise, the more captivating it is to the eye.