When you’re in the market for a diamond, it’s important to understand you’re purchasing much more than a pretty bauble to wear. A diamond is an investment piece and one that needs to be chosen carefully to ensure you’re receiving the highest quality for your budget. While it may seem a bit confusing at first, educating yourself on the 4 Cs of the diamond world will help you understand what to consider when choosing a diamond.
The 4 Cs of Diamond Buying
If you’ve ever looked into purchasing a diamond, you’ve likely heard the phrase “the 4 Cs” mentioned a time or two. Widely accepted as the gold standard of the diamond classification process, the 4 Cs include:
- Carat – the weight of the diamond
- Color grade – measurement of the degree of color within the diamond
- Clarity grade – measurement of imperfections within the diamond
- Cut grade – measurement of the quality of cut which gives fire and brilliance to the diamond
The first of the 4 Cs, Carat, refers essentially to how much the diamond itself weighs. As a general rule, the larger the diamond’s carat weight, the higher the price tag will be.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that some diamonds may appear larger than they really are. It’s possible for some diamonds to appear larger yet have a smaller carat weight than others of a different cut, so carat does not necessarily equate to the appearance of a larger diamond.
Diamonds come in a wide variety of colors, but when it comes to traditional colorless diamonds, slight variations in color can make an enormous difference in the quality – and price. Some variations may be so slight, in fact, that they can’t be seen with the naked eye. Nevertheless, if color is present, it will detract from the diamond’s overall worth.
Trained professionals will grade a diamond’s color using a standard scale that differs by organization but is generally easy to interpret. Essentially, look for a diamond that has the least amount of color present in order to ensure a high-quality gem.
The clarity of a diamond refers to the amount of imperfections present within (and outside of) the gem itself. These imperfections can include internal impurities that occurred naturally, and even external blemishes from the cutting process.
When looking at clarity grades on a diamond’s certification, you’ll want to find a grading as near to “Flawless” as possible. Clarity imperfections will greatly affect the quality of a diamond because they interfere with the overall brilliance of the stone.
Of all the 4 Cs, the cut is arguably the most important aspect to consider. The cut refers to the series of precision facets that are used to give a diamond its maximum fire and brilliance. The higher the cut grading, the higher the quality of diamond.
While many assume a diamond’s cut is simply the shape of the diamond, it’s actually quite a bit more. It’s true that many of the various cutting techniques are named for the end shape it lends to the diamond, but their purpose is to optimize each gem’s internal scintillation. In other words, how well a diamond is cut will determine how well it sparkles and shines.
The cut can also be used to make a diamond appear larger (or smaller) than its actual carat weight. Certain cuts will offer a larger face table, giving the appearance of a larger diamond without the larger diamond price.
Understanding the basics of diamond grading is the best way to ensure you find the best quality piece for your budget. Overall, having a good grasp of the 4 Cs will best equip you when shopping for a diamond.