The 4C's of Diamonds
Beautiful. Rare. Cherished. Each diamond is unique and is a miracle of time, place and change. Each has specific qualities that establish its value.
Information is one of the most important tools you can have before you make a diamond purchase. The four Cs: color, cut, clarity, carat weight, can help you determine the exact diamond you're looking for. Pair this information with a ball-park figure of what you want to spend and from there, you can feel secure about getting the best value for your money. Most of all, ask questions and don't be intimidated. Your jeweler wants you to be happy with what you choose, and you deserve to get exactly what you want!
Until the middle of the twentieth century, there was no agreed-upon standard by which diamonds could be judged. GIA created the first, and now globally accepted standard for describing diamonds - The 4C's. Today, this is the universal method for assessing the quality of any diamond, anywhere in the world. The creation of the Diamond 4C's meant two very important things: diamond quality could be communicated in a universal language, and diamond customers could now know exactly what they were about to purchase.
Color: (D - Z) Diamonds cover the entire spectrum of colors. The majority range from a perceptible yellow or brownish tint up to those rare diamonds described as colorless. Colorless diamonds allow the most reflection of light and are therefore the most desirable. Off-white diamonds absorb small amounts of light, slightly inhibiting brilliance.
Clarity: (FL - I3) Most diamonds contain minute traces of non-crystallized carbon and internal stress fractures. Called inclusions, most of these are not apparent to the naked eye but can be seen in loose stones under magnification. Flawless clarity means that no inclusions are discernible when the diamond is examined under a 10X lens.
Carat Weight: Diamonds and other gemstones are weighed in metric carats; one carat is equal to 0.2 grams, about the same weight as a paperclip. (Not to be confused with karat, as in “18K gold,” which refers to gold purity.) Just as a dollar is divided into 100 pennies, a carat is divided into 100 points. For example, a 50-point diamond weighs 0.50 carats. But two diamonds of equal weight can have very different values depending on the other members of the Four C’s.
Cut: (Excellent - Poor) Usually confused with shape, cut quality is the factor that fuels a diamond’s fire, sparkle, and brilliance. This factor has the greatest influence on the diamond's brilliance. A round, brilliant-cut diamond has 58 facets. When well-proportioned, this shape best shows the stone's brilliance because it allows the most light to be reflected back to the observer's eye, rather than our the bottom on a poorly cut stone. So, stones that appear lifeless or seem dark in the center are probably poorly cut.