October 23, 2017

The 4 C’s

brilliant cut diamondsWhen talking about diamonds, the “4 C’s” refer to Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat weight – factors used in determining the value of a stone.

Cut

Cut plays an important role in  a diamond’s brilliance.  The popular round brilliant-cut has around 58 facets, 33 of them on top of the diamond body. There are 24 crown or star facets at bottom, which are known as pavilion facets. Many times the line connecting pavilion and crown is faceted too but these are not a part of round brilliant cut.

All the facets of a diamond should be in correct proportions to one other.  When they are not, it can create undesirable visual effects like bow ties and fish eyes.  “Fish eyes” make a diamond look  larger and spread out and somewhat dull.  A “bow tie” is  a black region in the shape of a bow tie which you can see in the stone.  This also detracts from the stone’s brilliance.  You can see these under a magnifier such as a loupe – ask your jeweler for more information.

Color

Color is also an important factor in determining the diamond’s worth.  Most  diamonds seem colorless to naked eye but majority of these diamonds have tint of brown and yellow when viewed under a bright light.  Colorless diamonds are of the highest value whereas traces of color depreciate its value.

An exception would be Fancy Colored Diamonds.  Color in these diamonds is obvious, in fact deeper and more saturated colors are preferred.  Diamonds naturally occur in yellow, brown and pink, less commonly in blue, green, red, violet and grey or black.  Yellow and pink are common alternatives for engagement rings. High quality natural colored diamonds are highly prized  and can be worth more than a near-colorless diamond of similar size and clarity.

Clarity

The clarity of a diamonds is judged by the  location, number, type, and size of its inclusions. Inclusions are imperfections or traces of other minerals in the stone. In the higher grades, they are visible only under magnification.  Inclusions are what make a diamond unique.

Certain types of inclusions can make a stone prone to breaking, and highly-included diamonds lack the brilliance and clarity of stones with less.  In general, the fewer / more minor the inclusions, the higher the price.

Carat Weight

Carat is another determinant for finding out diamond’s value. Weight of the diamonds is measured in carats. Every carat is further divided in the 100 points.   One carat is 0.2 grams, or about 0.007 ounces.

Carat weight alone does not determine the value of a diamond, you also need to take into account the clarity, color, and cut of the stone.  A large diamond is not worth as much if it is highly included and badly cut with poor color!  However since larger diamonds rarer in general than smaller ones, greater carat weight increases the value of a diamond exponentially.

Choosing the Right Diamond

Diemond engagement ringIf you are shopping for a diamond, there are certain things that you should consider to make your decision easier.   All you have to do is follow a correct approach to finding the sparkling diamond that’s right for you – finding the right diamond without exceeding your budget is easier than you might think if you shop smartly!

There are 4 things you need to take into account:

 

1)  Your Budget

2) Diamond Shape

3) The “4 C’s”

4) Other Diamond Characteristics

 Setting a Budget

You’d be surprised how many people shop for a diamond without having a budget in mind! Diamonds come in a mind-boggling array of  sizes, shapes and colors – having at least a ballpark figure in mind makes it easier to rule-in or rule-out certain stones.  And, it makes it easier for your jeweler to help you make a choice!  (More on that in a minute.)

Diamonds are priced based on their carat weight and color grades.  It’s difficult for the average person to see  the difference between different color grades.  If you invest in the lowest color grade that looks good to you, the lower prices per carat will allow you to buy a bigger diamond with the same budget.  The highest color grades (considered “colorless”) are  D, E and F.  They’re not always readily availab e and  are very expensive when they are. Just below this are the “near colorless” diamonds (grades are G, H, I and J) which account for the majority of engagement ring sales.

Smaller diamonds are less expensive to purchase as compared to single diamonds even with same carat weight. Buying three diamonds of around 0.50 carat will cost just a  fraction of what you would have to pay for one diamond weighing 1.50 carats.

Every diamond has inclusions but not all of these can be seen by the naked eye. If the diamonds that are you are investing in looks clean to you, then you need not pay extra for high clarity grades as they only add to the expense.

Shape of your diamond can affect measurable size of it.  Buy the shape that you love but if you are on a tight budget consider buying marquise, ovals,  or pear-shaped stones,  as they that look bigger than other shapes with the same carat weight. Cut also affects the measurable size of a diamond. Comparatively shallow diamonds are wider and longer.  Again, go for a cut which you find attractive and which  suits your budget.

The setting you choose also  impacts  the stone’s perceived size and price. White gold settings for diamonds cost around one third the price of  platinum ones. Diamonds that have a pave around the primary stone or ones in bezel settings appear bigger.

Choosing a Shape

Diamonds can be cut into an almost infinite number of shapes.  The most common are round, oval, marquise (oval with a point at each end), square, rectangular, or heart-shaped.  Dianonds can also be cut into a triangular shape (“trilliant”) – this is more popular for fashion rings, pendants or earrings than it is for an engagement ring.  Shape is not just a matter of outward appearance, it also involves how the stone is cut and now many facets it has. The most important thing is to choose a shape that you find attractive and which looks good on your hand.

Learn more about diamond shapes

The 4 C’s

Carat weight, color, cut and clarity all play a role in determining the price  of a diamond.  Knowing what these terms mean and how they interract with each other in determining the stone’s value can be very useful in helping you make a smart choice!

More on the 4 C’s

Other Characteristics – Fluorescence

Did you know that some diamonds are fluorescent?  These diamonds emit a blue glow when subjected to ultraviolet light – such as a “black light”, or the UV rays produced by  everyday indoor and outdoor lighting.  The degree of fluorescence can vary from one diamond to another – some exhibit this property quite stongly, others not at all.

For stones in the lower color grades such as I and J (which might have a faint yellowish tinge), a little  fluorescence can actually help make the diamond appear whiter!

Consider all the above factors and have a happy diamond shopping experience!

Diamond Shapes

Fancy cut diamonds and their shapes“But square-cut or pear-shaped,
These rocks don’t lose their shape.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”

(Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend – written by Gordon Martin, recorded by Marilyn Monroe)
While diamond shape is largely a matter of preference, its important to understand that the way the diamond is cut contributes to the overall brilliance and fire.  The right cut can enhance features of an individual stone or make its shortcomings less noticeable.

Round and Oval

Round brilliant diamonds are one of the most popular shapes and account for more than 75% of all diamonds purchased!  They are a popular traditional choice for engagement rings, especially solitaires, as well as pendants and earrings.  As the name implies, the brilliant cut brings out the brilliance and fire in a stone.

Oval diamonds have symmetrical design with large surface areas.  They give the illusion of being bigger than they actually are.

Square and Rectangular

Princess cut diamonds have become very popular in recent years, as a solitaire and in earrings. Princess cut diamonds are square when viewed from the top and like an inverted pyramid from the side.  They look smaller than their carat weight would suggest.

Emerald cut (also called step cut) diamonds are rectangular with corner cuts.  The facets are large and open, making it most suitable for displaying the beauty of stones with excellent color and clarity.

Another type of step cut is the Baguette cut.  Baguettes have fewer facets than the emerald cut, and are usually used as side stones, since imperfections are very noticeable in this simple shape.

Radiant diamonds are similar in  shape to the emerald but have around 70 facets, making it more dazzling and brilliant that the simpler step cut emerald.

An Asscher  cut diamond is rectangular with a high crown  and step facets.  They are known for their ability to throw light.

Last but not least are the Cushion cut diamonds, sometimes referred to as pillow diamonds. This shape is elegant with a touch of old world style.

Other Shapes

Marquise diamonds are like an oval diamond which is pointed at both ends.  Like the oval, marquise diamonds tend to appear larger  than they are.  Sometimes the ends are blunted, called a French tip.  If your fingers are short, a marquise diamond will make them look longer.

Pear shaped diamonds are shaped like a teardrop (or a pear!)

Brilliant-cut heart-shaped diamonds are  a popular romantic shape for promise / engagement rings, pendants or stud earrings.

Trilliant diamonds are triangular in shape with equal length sides.  It’s a lovely modern look, popular for earrings, pendants or fashion rings.