The Four C’s
If there is one thing we all know to be true, it’s that diamond shopping is not that easy. They are all different sizes, different shapes, different colors, and somehow, we are supposed to choose the perfect one. As if deciding between white or yellow or black or champagne diamonds isn’t hard enough, you have to think about the clarity and brilliance among many other things that are totally incomprehensible. You’d think something so little yet so special would come with a process that is a little more painless, but it isn’t easy.
Understanding four little words could change your diamond experience completely. Whether you are shopping for an engagement ring, an anniversary band, or something to show someone special you love them, knowing how to navigate “jewelry talk” can make it much more bearable.
The cut of a diamond refers to the quality of the proportions and how symmetrical it is. The cut plays a big role in the overall brightness of the diamond and how it shines. For example, a diamond that is too shallow takes in light from the top and refracts it through the bottom of the diamond, making it seem far less shiny. A diamond that is too deep takes in light and refracts it through the sides. An “ideal” cut diamond allows the maximum amount of light to return through the top of the diamond. The depth of the diamond, its table size, crown height and angle, and girdle thickness are all factors in determining the overall cut. The term “cut” is often times mistaken for “shape’ of the stone.
Diamond color ranges from D-Z before it is considered a true “fancy yellow diamond”. Other fancy diamonds include blue, red, champagne, and black diamonds, but for now, this refers to the white diamonds. The less color, the rarer the diamond. After “Z” on the color scale, diamonds become more expensive because of their rarity.
D – F – Colorless
G – J – Near Colorless
K – M – Faint Yellow
N – R – Very Light Yellow
S – Z – Light Yellow
When elements become trapped during the heating process, diamonds get their own unique characteristics. These characteristics, or “inclusions”, help classify the clarity of the diamond. The more inclusions, the lower the clarity.
F – No inclusions are visible, even to a skilled grader under 10x magnification.
IF – Only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader.
VVS1-VVS2 – Inclusions are very difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification.
VS1-VS2 – Inclusions are clearly visible under 10x magnification but can be minor.
SI1-SI2 – Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader.
I1-I3 – Inclusions are obvious to the naked eye without a microscope and may affect transparency and brilliance.
Measuring a diamond in carats shows its overall weight, but not its table measurements. The table, or top surface of the diamond, can vary in size depending on the depth of the diamond and its overall ratio. The greater the carat weight, the rarer the stone, and the more valuable it becomes.
Understanding the Four C’s of diamonds can change your experience completely and make it a little bit easier. It’s important to understand what you are shopping for and the quality of the stone you purchase. Remember to always ask questions when you have them and never be afraid to speak up. A diamond can mean so many different things, so take your time, look at a few, pick your favorite, and create a memory with a tiny, little masterpiece that is so much more complicated than most people think.
Clear as mud, right?