What are the Diamond 4 C's?

When it comes down to evaluating diamonds you will stumble upon the 4 Cs: Carat weight, Colour, Clarity and Cut. A system that was established in the 1940's by the G.I.A. (Gemological Institute of America) which are now the most widely used four factors to to look for when evaluating and pricing diamonds. However, these factors should only be considered as a guideline of the diamond's characteristic rather than a definite statement of a its beauty and quality. A diamond that is clear and flawless can be depreciated a lot in its own value if the cut doesn’t bring out its full beauty, a quality that is questionably difficult to measure. As beauty is in the eye of the beholder and when a diamond is purchased you should inspect it to judge for yourself if you find it visually appealing or dull and tedious.

Here we present you with a quick overview of what the 4 Cs mean

Carat Weight: As the name suggests, this is the diamonds weight which is measured in Carats. The carat is an old unit, and legend has it that it was derived from the weight of a carob seed from ancient times. The modern day standard sets the weight of 1 carat equal to 1/5 of a gram (=0.2g). The carat is divided by 100 points with every point coming to 2mg (=0.002g). All gemstone weights are expressed in carats. This shouldn’t be confused with the purity measurement of gold, which confusingly is also carats. The more weight a diamond has and all other factors staying equal, the more value it has (exceptions still exist as trends within fashion may result in a higher demand of smaller diamonds and in turn drives prices for the lower weight up).

Colour:The colour of a diamond is a very important factor when it comes to your purchasing. With diamonds that contain a yellow shade being valued lower than diamonds with no or minimal colour. The colours are presented with a letter that ranges from 'D' to 'Z'. Diamonds that are graded D or E are colourless, F-H have a subtle yellow hint, I-K have a faint but noticeable yellow colour to them and anything above this increases the colour of the diamond and with the stronger colour comes a price that is lower. Colourless diamonds with a D or E grading are uncommon and so command the highest prices. The letters A-C are not in use as they have been reserved when the system was first established in case diamonds of even better grades than D are ever to be found. So far, these letters have never been used or probably never will be until one is found.

Clarity: This term deals with how "clean" the diamond is, both internally and on its surface. Ideally, a diamond has no inclusions or blemishes but such diamonds are very rare in nature. The less imperfections a diamond has, the higher its value. Diamonds with serious inclusions not only look poor but has the durability of its life threatened. A clarity rating is given by a qualified grader using a Loupe with 10 x magnification.

Cut: Diamonds come in various cuts, with the most popular one being the Round or Brilliant cut. Other common cuts are Oval, Princess cut, Heart shape or Fancy cut. A round cut brings out most of the Diamonds brilliance but what cut is used depends on the current market conditions & popularity and whether a particular cut can preserve some of the original weight of the rough stone, i.e. making the polished gemstone heavier than for example using the traditional round cut. The cut quality is an important factor to consider when buying diamonds as poor cuts can make an otherwise flawless diamond look quite dull, whereas an Excellent cut and finish can maximise the diamond's beauty & making it a more desirable stone.

What to consider?

The factors you should always consider are the brilliance and life of a diamond (or any other gemstone), even though they are less commonly mentioned. Brilliance can be measured by the quantity of dark areas the crystal shows when viewed under overhead lighting / single light source. The dark areas will be less visible, the better the cut & quality of the stone are. A poorly cut diamond lacks of lustre and portrays a greater amount of darker areas, resulting in a duller look.

How much "life" a diamond has is the factor least scientifically measurable and will depend much on the objective perception. A stone with favourable characteristics and good finish will sparkle and show great amounts of life, whereas a heavily included diamond or one with wrong cutting proportions will look very dull. A few cutters compromise on cut quality in order to increase the diamond's weight, but this in turn lowers the per-carat weight. At most times a smaller and well finished diamond is a better choice, exhibiting a much weight higher per-carat.

The 4 Cs are good starting points for choosing the right diamond for you although they should not have priority over your personal impressions of a stone. If you find a V.S.1. stone that is more appealing to you than a V.V.S.2. one, then you should go with the former. Not only will you be more satisfied with your purchase, but it most likely saves you money too, all other factors stay as equal. When it comes to purchasing diamonds, you should always be willing to compromise on certain aspects and not get carried away with grades etc... You will find moving a grade in colour or clarity up or down will not make an enormous difference & if you are lucky you will walk away with a great stone at a great price.