The Four C's
Diamonds have four traits that determine their value: cut, color, clarity and carat. These are the Four Cís of Diamonds. You can use these traits as a guide to quality when you are shopping for diamond jewelry.
Radiance and Brilliance
The cut of a diamond is what makes the gem sparkle. The facets and internal angles of a well-cut diamond reflect light back through the top of the diamond, which makes the jewel seem to glow. A well-cut diamond is more beautiful and more valuable than a poorly cut diamond of the same color and carat weight.
Symmetry and Polish
Two important aspects of a diamondís cut that also add to the radiance and brilliance of the stone are symmetry and polish.
A diamondís symmetry and polish is usually graded into one of five categories: Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor. Diamonds with higher symmetry and polish grades will look more beautiful that diamonds with lower symmetry and polish grades.
The cut of a diamond is not the same thing as the shape. The shape of a diamond usually refers to the outline of the stone when viewed from above. The cut of a diamond refers to the facets that have been worked into the stone by a jeweler.
Diamonds come in many colors, but the most radiant and valuable diamonds are as clear as the purest water. The color of a diamond depends on its body color, brilliance and dispersion. Body color is the inherent color of the stone, while brilliance and dispersion depend on the size and cut as well as the shape of the gem.
Body color is rated on an alphabetical scale from D to Z. Diamonds with a color grade of D are colorless, while diamonds rated Z are a bright yellow.
The clarity of a diamond is the third of the Four Cís. Clarity is a measure of the diamondís freedom from external marks or internal flaws. Internal flaws, known as inclusions, may present themselves as tiny white points, dark dots or feathery cracks within the body of the gem.
Clarity is determined by the number, placement and size of any inclusions visible from the top face of the diamond. The diamond is viewed with a 10x power microscope and rated by the standard GIA scale.
An F1 diamond is flawless, while IF diamonds have only minor surface blemishes visible under magnification. If a diamond has small, difficult to see inclusions, the stone will merit a VVS1, VVS2, VS1 or VS2 rating. SI1 and SI2 diamonds have inclusions that are easy to spot under magnification, while diamonds rated I1, I2 or I3 have inclusions that are noticeable by the naked eye.
A diamondís flaws are as unique as a fingerprint, and if you register your diamond, the flaws and inclusions are kept on file as well.
Weights and Measures
The fourth C of diamonds is carat weight. Diamonds are priced in part by their weight. Although the other Cís greatly influence the final beauty and price of a particular stone, weight does play a part in setting the price of a diamond.