The 4C’s of Diamonds, Cut, Color, Clarity & Carat Weight
They say that a diamonds are a girls best friend and just like any best friend, a diamond has its own unique qualities. Every diamond is different, special. When you purchase a diamond, it becomes distinctly yours. No one else has one quite like it. The reasons are in the four C’s, making them important to know when buying a diamond.
Diamond Cut does not refer to a diamond’s shape, but to the proportion and arrangement of its facets and the quality of workmanship. Of all the 4Cs, cut has the greatest effect on a diamond’s beauty. In determining the quality of the cut, the grader evaluates the cutter’s skill in the fashioning of the diamond, the diamond’s proportions (measurements and facet angles), along with polish and symmetry descriptions, are used to determine its cut grade. A diamond’s brightness, fire, scintillation (sparkle and pattern), weight ratio, and durability, as well as polish and symmetry, are all considered within this final assessment of cut quality. The more precise the cut, the more captivating the diamond is to the eye
There are five grades of Cut quality recognized by GIA, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair & Poor.
Diamond Clarity Refers to the Absence of Inclusions and Blemishes
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. While no diamond is perfectly pure, the closer it comes, the higher its value.
The GIA Diamond Clarity Scale has 6 categories, some of which are divided, for a total of 11 specific grades.
- Flawless (FL)
- No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10x magnification
- Internally Flawless (IF)
- No inclusions visible under 10x magnification
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2)
- Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
- Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2)
- Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor
- Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2)
- Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification
- Included (I1, I2, and I3)
- Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance
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. GIA’s diamond D-to-Z color-grading scale is the industry’s most widely accepted grading system. The scale begins with the letter D, representing colorless, and continues, with increasing presence of color, to the letter Z.
While the vast majority of diamonds fall in the D-to-Z color range, nature occasionally produces diamonds with a naturally occurring blue, brown, pink, deep yellow or even green hue. The geological conditions required to yield these colors are rare, making diamonds with distinct and naturally occurring shades scarce and highly prized.
Unlike colorless and near-colorless diamonds, fancy-color diamonds are evaluated less for brilliance or fire and more for color intensity. Shades that are deep and distinct are rated higher than weak or pale shades.
GIA grades fancy colored diamonds describing their color in terms of hue, tone and saturation. A fancy color grader selects one of 27 hues, then describes tone and saturation with terms such as “Fancy Light,” “Fancy Intense,” and “Fancy Vivid.” The color system GIA developed is used worldwide.
The carat is the diamond’s physical weight measured in metric carats. One carat equals 1/5 gram and is subdivided into 100 points. Carat weight is the most objective of the 4Cs. It involves no estimates, comparisons or judgments.
For more information please visit www.4cs.gia.edu
The Round Brilliant Cut is the quintessential diamond. A traditional diamond shape. It has 58 facets consisting of a crown, girdle and pavilion. The crown has a table, 8 kite-shaped bezel facets, 8 star facets and 16 triangular upper-girdle facets. The girdle circumscribes the diameter and may be either faceted or bruted. The pavilion contains 8 kite-shaped main facets and 16 triangular lower-girdle facets. It may or may not have a culet on the pavilion. The Round Brilliant Cut is the most versatile of all of the diamond shapes and works well as an accent or of course as the main featured diamond.
A Princess-Cut diamond has a square outline and a brilliant facet arrangement. It is sometimes referred to as a Square Modified Brilliant. The Princess Cut makes a beautiful center to any piece of jewelry and also works very well when set in the mountings of rings and pendants.
A brilliant-cut diamond with an elliptically shaped outline having two curved sides and two rounded ends. Typically an oval diamond will have 58 facets like a round diamond but in an oval outline shape. The oval can make a fine center piece to rings and pendants and can also be used as side diamonds.
A brilliant-cut diamond rounded at one end and pointed at the other. The pear shape has been used on some of the worlds most important diamonds. The Cullinan I or Great Star of Africa with a weight of 530.4 carats it is the second largest cut diamond in the world. Currently located in the head of the Sceptre of the British Crown Jewels.
The unique look of the emerald cut diamond is due to the step cuts of its pavilion and its large, open table. Instead of the sparkle of a brilliant-cut, emerald cut diamonds produce a hall-of-mirrors effect, with the interplay of light and dark planes. Often, inclusions or body color are easier to see in an emerald cut diamond.
An elongated brilliant-cut diamond with pointed ends, This long style of cutting produces a large surface area and Marquise cut diamonds can appear larger than other cuts of the same weight.
The cushion cut diamond combines a rectangular or square cut outline with rounded corners, much like a pillow (hence the name). This classic cut has been around for almost 200 years, and for the first century of its existence was the most popular diamond shape (similar to round cut today). Refinements in cut have led to a recent resurgence in popularity. The cushion cut was the chosen cut for the the famous Cullinan II or Lesser/Second Star of Africa, weighing 317.40 carats it is set in the Imperial State Crown of the British Crown Jewels.
There are numerous diamond shapes available and we are happy to discuss any other option with you.