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The 4 C's of Diamonds
Carat, Cut, Color & Clarity
To determine the cut grade of the standard round brilliant diamond – the shape that dominates the majority of diamond jewelry, gemologists can calculate the proportions of facets that influence the diamond’s face-up appearance. These proportions allow us to evaluate how successfully a diamond interacts with light to create desirable visual effects such as:
Brightness: Internal and external white light reflected from a diamond.
Fire: The scattering of white light into all the colors of the rainbow.
Scintillation: The amount of sparkle a diamond produces, and the pattern of light and dark areas caused by reflections within the diamond.
The craftsmanship of the diamond, including its weight relative to its diameter, its girdle thickness (which affects its durability), the symmetry of its facet arrangement, and the quality of polish on those facets are also taken into account.
Cut is said to be the most important diamond characteristic. The cuts are what makes diamonds sparkle and the sparkle in a diamond is, unquestionably, what dazzles us the most. If you have a large, colorless, perfectly un-flawed diamond that has a poor cut, it will make the diamond twinkle less brilliantly than one of much lower quality. In fact, two diamonds of equal carat weight could have values that differ by as much as 50% due solely to the quality of the cut.
2) Carat Weight:
A carat can be subdivided into 100 ‘points’ allowing very precise measurements to the hundredth decimal place. Diamond weights greater than one carat are expressed in carats and decimals. A 1.08 carat stone will be described as ‘one point oh eight carats’. Two diamonds of equal carat weights can have very different values (and prices) depending on three other factors of the diamond 4Cs: Carat, Cut, Color and Clarity. It’s important to remember that a diamond’s value is determined using all the 4C’s, not just carat weight.
The scale begins with the letter D, representing colorless, and continues to the letter Z. The scale moved from D with increasing presence of color. Many of these color distinctions are so subtle that they are invisible to the untrained eye; however, these distinctions make a very big difference in diamond quality and price.
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.’ Many inclusions and blemishes are too tiny to be seen by anyone other than a trained diamond grader. To the naked eye, a VS1 and an SI2 diamond may look exactly the same, however, these diamonds are quite different in terms of overall quality.
What is a Certificate?
A diamond certificate, also called a Diamond Grading Report, is a document created by a team of gemologists. The diamond is evaluated, measured, and scrutinized under trained eyes, a jeweler’s loupe, microscope, and other industry tools. A completed certificate includes an analysis of the diamond’s dimensions, clarity, color, polish, symmetry, and other characteristics. Many round diamonds will also include a cut grade on the report.
There are different types of certifications. GIA – Gemological Institute of America. AGS – American Gemological Society. HRD Antwerp – Hoge Raad voor Diamant. EGL – European Gemological Laboratory. IGI – International Gemological Institute
The difference between a Diamond Grading Report and an Appraisal?
Ideally, a diamond’s physical attributes are graded by a reliable independent lab such as: GIA or AGS. These companies issue a Diamond Grading Report or Certificate. This report does not give you the retail replacement value that you need for insurance purposes, however, you may also receive an appraisal or assessment of your stone from a jewelry store or independent appraiser to meet the needs for your insurance. Both are important, but be sure to get your Diamond Grading Report and not just rely upon an appraisal when you purchase your very special one of a kind diamond.