The 4C’s of Diamonds, Cut, Color, Clarity & Carat Weight
They say that diamonds are a girls’ best friend and just like any best friend, a diamond has its own unique qualities. Every diamond is different and special. When you purchase a diamond, it becomes distinctly yours. No one else has one quite like it. The unique reasons are found 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 and 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.

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GIA Certified Diamonds and AGS (American Gem Society) Certified Diamonds are loose diamonds, not set in a ring or other setting, that have been certified by the aforementioned institute. The certificate tells the exact weight and measurements of a diamond, along with the cut and quality. This is like the life of the diamond and proof of it’s identity and value.

A certificate is not the same as an appraisal, it does not place a monetary value on a gem. The GIA and AGS are the most noted institutes that certify diamonds, and the most trusted, but there are many labs that will issue certificates. However, it’s advised to get the credentials of the certifying lab before purchase.

Certification is important because it assures you that you are buying a quality diamond and allows you to make an informed decision.

Asscher Cut:

(Include pictures from the jeweler store, only include ones they carry) Developed in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Holland, this shape is a square cut with cropped corners. This is designed to draw the eye into the diamond and desires the highest quality stone affordable. They make dramatic engagement rings and require four pronged settings. It is best to buy a good quality cut and colorless color with only slight flaws.

Cushion Cut:

This cut use to only be found at estate sales but it’s making a come back in modern jewelry design. It is an antique cut sometimes referred to as the pillow cute. It is not as brilliant as newer cuts but has a nice romantic look. Cushion Cuts do not have a specific shape and size but require a four pronged setting. Emerald Cut: This cut was originally developed to help with the issue of causing inclusions when cutting emeralds. This cut tends to have more dramatic flashes of light with diamonds and are seen as elegant and sophisticated. Quality is very important with when buying this cut. Any flaw, color weakness or poor cut is evident is this style.

Because they aren’t as popular as round or princess cuts, the prices tend to be more economical. This requires a four pronged setting.

Heart Shaped Cut:

Considered to be the most romantic of cuts, the heart can be quite fiery and has excellent sparkle. Quality and skill of the cutter are very important when purchasing a heart-shaped diamond. Make sure you get the length and width. They make for sentimental engagement rings. This cut does require a minimum of a four-pronged setting and most have five to help support the diamond. Marquise Cut: This cut is elongated with pointed ends. It was developed by Louis XV to match the smile of Marquise de Pompadour, his chief royal mistress. This cut makes a unique style for an engagement ring and requires a specialized setting.

Oval Cut:

This is a very popular cut and can accentuate long, slender fingers. It is a variation of the round cut and is relatively new. It reflects brilliantly and is great for someone that wants a diamond that sparkles but prefers a less common shape. It’s best to buy the highest quality within your budget. It require a six-pronged setting.

Pear Cut:

This cut, otherwise known as the teardrop diamond, is a combination of the round and the marquise. The pear has lots of wonderful sparkle and flash. Quality is extremely important with this shape as they, along with the oval cut, are prone to the bow-tie effect: a darkening in the center of the diamond. A six-prong setting is recommended.

Princess Cut:

This is a square cut that maximizes the brilliance of the round cut. It is important that the setting protects the four corners as they are likely to chip. This cut is more forgiving of flaws and weaknesses so it’s easier to stick to your budget.

Radiant Cut:

This cut is designed for maximum brilliance. It is often rectangular like the emerald. However, this cut is faceted for fire and sparkle. This cut is also forgiving of flaws and requires a four-pronged setting. Round Brilliant Cut: By far the most popular and traditional choice for engagement rings, this cut has been studied and perfected to make sure that the brilliance and the fire is maximized with this diamond. This cut is the easiest to find and the best to fit any budget but it is best to buy a higher quality if it is affordable. They require a four-pronged setting.