The world of diamond jewelry can be a complex space to navigate, especially for new buyers. When taking this big step and spending your hard-earned money, it's essential to understand the factors that influence each diamond on display. Diamonds are timeless investments that carry their value over time, and making the right investment is important.
What Are the Four C's?
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The four C's of diamonds is a term developed to describe the four main factors influencing rarity, value, and beauty. These factors are cut, clarity, color, and carat and are essential to understand for anyone looking to purchase a diamond.
Of the different factors that influence the appearance of diamonds, typically, the cut has the most impact on the beauty, shine, and sparkle. How a diamond is cut can determine its color to the naked eye and the stone's value. Diamonds must be cut precisely and with exact proportions to reflect light perfectly. This cut is graded in the gemstone community using a scale from excellent to poor. When assigning this grade, many factors are taken into account, including proportions, depth, symmetry, polish, and finish.
The goal of any diamond cut should be to emphasize the three main components that contribute to the appearance. The first is brilliance and refers to the brightness of the stone as it reflects white light. Next is fire, the flashes of color that can be seen when looking at all aspects of the diamond. Finally, scintillation describes the light and dark areas of the diamond reflected when it's moved.
Diamond clarity is another category of rating the perfection of diamonds. It's different from the cut because it focuses on the physical structure of the diamond, a factor out of human control with mined diamonds. During the diamond formation process, stones can develop imperfections inside and out. Blemishes left on the surface or inclusions inside the diamond are examined under a microscope and are important to the diamond quality because they change how light reflects through it.
Diamonds found without imperfections are rare and rightfully graded as flawless (FL). The other five categories on the Diamond Clarity Scale are Internally Flawless (IF), Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1, VVS2), Very Slightly Included (VS1, VS2), Slightly Included (SI1, SI2), and finally Included (I1, I2, I3). The clarity is not a factor that can usually be seen with the naked eye and would be something to discuss with your jeweler before purchasing.
Color is the next factor used to rate the quality and value of a diamond and refers to the stone's lack of color. Color is the factor that gives diamonds a letter commonly heard in advertisements, but what do these letters mean? A diamond is assigned a letter using a scale of which color hues are present. The most common hues in a diamond are light yellow or light brown.
The rarest and most valuable being colorless, indicated with the letters D, E, F. As we move through the alphabet, near colorless diamonds are rated G through J. These stones often appear colorless to the naked eye. Most diamonds may appear colorless until magnified. The last three categories for color are faint, very light, and light. These diamonds are rated K through Z, and as color pigmentation increases, the stone's value generally decreases.
While a common misconception is that carat refers to the size of a diamond, it is an exact unit of measuring a gemstone's weight. Carat weight is typically one of the last factors used to rate a diamond because the value of a stone can change dramatically regardless of the carat. Two stones may have the same carat weight, but the cut, color, and clarity can influence the rarity of one over the other.
When weighing diamonds, one carat is equivalent to 0.20 grams. Each carat is divided into 100 points, allowing for exact measurement and creating a universal scale that anyone can use. Many people shopping for diamonds have heard the term half-carat, which refers to a stone that is 0.50 carats (ct). Other common weights are 0.75 ct, 1.0 ct, and 2.0 ct. Five-carat diamonds can also be found in the marketplace, often with a more significant price tag.
The larger the diamond, the harder it can be to find flawless diamonds, making these some of the rarest and most expensive stones.
Are There Any Other Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Diamond?
If you're considering purchasing a piece of diamond jewelry, there are other factors beyond the Four C's. One of the most important is often non-conflict diamonds or ethical diamonds. Understanding conflict diamonds helps you make informed decisions about your purchase. Conflict diamonds or blood diamonds are stones that have been mined in areas controlled by war. This control often means that the diamonds have not been ethically mined and have been used to fund war efforts and human-rights conflicts in many cases. There are many great resources for understanding the topic in-depth if you're interested in learning more.
Other terms to be aware of are mined versus lab-created diamonds. As mentioned before, the quality of mined diamonds is primarily out of human control, and factors like color and clarity are specific to how the diamond forms. However, some diamonds in today's market are made in labs, where all factors can be controlled. Human control can lead to consistently flawless diamonds that are a beautiful and often affordable option for customers. The value and rarity of these lab diamonds are typically less because they are not naturally occurring in that perfection.
Purchasing diamonds can be a daunting task, often difficult for people to understand the different factors that play a role in the diamond's value. At Martin Busch Jewelers, we understand this challenge and invite you to speak with one of our expert jewelers with any questions or concerns. Whatever jewelry you're looking for, we will work to find you beautiful pieces that will last a lifetime. Trust Martin Busch Jewelers for your next diamond purchase.