When purchasing diamonds, there are some important elements to consider. Although size is considered by some to be the most important attribute to look at when purchasing a diamond, there are actually four characteristics that define a diamonds worth. They are commonly referred to as the “Four C’s” and each “C” contributes a certain level of value and worth to the diamond. The Four C’s are Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat weight and they are all based upon rarity.
Cut is a diamond’s most important characteristic.
It has the greatest overall influence on a diamond’s beauty.
It determines what we generally think of as sparkle.
Cut is the only “C” of a natural diamond that is affected by man. How well the rough diamond is cut directly relates to its brilliance and value. When a rough diamond is cut to ideal proportions, a significant amount of carat weight is sacrificed, yielding a high premium for the carat weight. A formula must be followed in order to create an ideal cut diamond with specific angles. These angles of the facets capitalize on the light refraction properties of the diamond which makes the diamonds sparkle or “fire” greater. Poorly cut stones will not refract the light as well, taking away the beauty and ultimately the value of the stone.
Color is the grade of the body color of the diamond. Nitrogen is the most common chemical impurity in a diamond which adds a yellow tint to the diamond. Other chemicals, such as boron chromium, etc, are responsible for the formation of rare and highly valued colored diamonds. Color is graded from D (Colorless) through Z.
Clarity is a measure of the number and size of the tiny imperfections that occur in almost all diamonds.
Many of these imperfections are microscopic and do not affect a diamond’s beauty in any discernible way.
Of the Four C’s, Clarity is the easiest to understand and generally has the least impact on a diamond’s appearance. Clarity refers to the tiny natural imperfections and blemishes that occur in all but the finest of diamonds. These internal and external blemishes are visible only under 10x magnifications. Clarity is graded on a scale from FL (flawless) to 13 ( the most included of gem quality diamonds). Diamonds that grade below 13 are known as “bort” and are used for their hardness in various industrial applications.
Carat is specifically a measure of a diamond’s weight, and by itself may not accurately reflect a diamond’s size.
We tend to evaluate diamond size by viewing it from the top because that is how diamonds are presented to us when set into a ring.
To understand diamond size, carat weight should be considered in conjunction with two other criteria: a diamond’s cut grade & distance in millimeters across the top of the diamond.
Carat represents the physical weight of the diamond, as larger diamonds are increasingly rare. (One carat equals .2 grams)