Diamonds 101: Understanding the 4C's

  • By interactive
  • 28 Nov, 2016

Master Jeweler Tips

Diamonds - Jewelry by Christopher

Diamonds are the most precious and sought-after stones on earth. They have been in demand for centuries and are still seen as the one of the ultimate symbols of wealth and prosperity. Because each diamond is unique, there are specific qualities that a master jeweler looks for to establish the true value of each gem. With so many variations in diamonds, it wasn't until the late 20th century that the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) created the first globally accepted standard for judging and describing the value of diamonds.

The 4C's of diamonds include color, clarity, cut and carat weight. This universal method for assessing the quality of diamonds can be used anywhere in the world and is vital in the custom handmade jewelry design process. With the help of the 4C's, diamond quality can now be communicated in one universal language and let's diamond customers now exactly what they are purchasing and using in their custom jewelry pieces.

Understanding the 4C's of Diamonds

COLOR

Diamonds can range from the truly colorless to yellow, light brown, blue, pink or even red! However, the less color found in the gem, the more rare the diamond.

The Color Scale

  • D - Colorless
  • E-F - Colorless
  • G-J - Near Colorless
  • K-M - Faint Yellow
  • N-R - Very Light Yellow
  • S-Z - Light Yellow
  • After Z, diamonds are seen as a more fancy yellow. This type of gem has much more value because of it's rarity.

CLARITY

Diamonds are composed of several different elements including carbon. When carbon is heated, other elements are trapped inside, which gives each diamond it's very own "fingerprint." These fingerprints are then used to help identify the clarity of each diamond. Every diamond is viewed through a 10x magnification lens by diamond graders to determine its clarity. The better the clarity, the more valuable the diamond.

The Clarity Scale

  • F - No blemishes or inclusions visible to a skilled grader.
  • IF - Slight blemishes and no inclusions visible to a skilled grader.
  • VVS1-VVS2 - Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to identify.
  • VS1-VS2 - Inclusions are clearly visible but characterized as minor.
  • SI1-SI2 - Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader.
  • I1-I3 - Inclusions are obvious and can affect the transparency and brilliance of the gem.


CUT

The cut of your diamond should show the true quality of the proportions and the symmetry of the gem. The ideal cut for a diamond should allow the maximum amount of light to return through the top of the gem and should take into consideration the table size, depth, girdle thickness, crown height and angle and other elements. Once a rough diamond is mined, it is closely evaluated to determine the best possible cut to maintain the maximum carat weight, clarity and color.


CARAT WEIGHT

Carat is derived from the word carob, a Mediterranean seed, which is known for it's extremely consistent weight and used in measuring. With diamonds, the greater the carat weight, the rarer and more valuable the gem. For reference, 5 metric carats are equal to 1 gram. While some people simply want their master jeweler to use the largest diamond possible in their custom jewelry design, it is best to consider proper cut, color and clarity as well.


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