The 4Cs in diamonds stand for Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat.
The Cut is the most important and the key aspect when it comes to choosing a diamond. It not only refers to the shape but it is what basically determines the proportion, symmetry, and polish of a diamond. The right cut influences the beauty of a diamond and its ability to reflect the light exquisitely. It should not be too deep or too flat, the facets should be in perfect symmetry as this will maximize the sparkle of your diamond and it will look gorgeous!
For instance, if there are two diamonds of the same carat weight; a well cut diamond tends to appear larger and brilliant, whilst a poorly cut diamond can appear smaller and dark regardless of its color or clarity.
When it comes to buying a diamond, it is generally preferable to choose a stone with the least amount of color possible. The color of a diamond is influenced by the natural elements trapped inside like nitrogen. The diamond color is essentially graded on a scale marked with alphabets starting from D to Z; which are further divided into five categories: colorless, near colorless, faint, very light and light.
You may find it amusing, but diamonds come in all the colors of the spectrum! Color grading diamonds is one of the most difficult tasks, as without a controlled environment you cannot distinguish even if the diamonds are kept side by side with the naked eye. When you are comparing two diamonds, both the stones need to be at least two color grades apart so that you can notice the differences between them.
To explain this further we have described the major categories:
- Colorless Diamonds (D-F):
Colorless diamonds display two characteristics, i.e, transparency, and rarity. A colorless diamond is a rare form and is subsequently the most valuable of all the other stones on the color scale. The D and E color diamonds are absolutely colorless, whereas F colored stones tend to display a slight amount of undetected color if it is viewed face down by gemologists.
- Near Colorless Diamonds (G-J):
As the name implies, the near-colorless diamonds appear to be colorless when they are viewed from a face-up position, but they tend to display a slight amount of color when they are viewed face down against a positively white background. This little hint of color is undetectable to the untrained eyes and especially if the stone is already mounted, you cannot see it. Near colorless diamonds are majorly used in the jewelry industry in the present times. They are also affordable in comparison to colorless diamonds.
- Faint Color Diamonds (K):
Diamonds that fall under this color category display a slight hint of color when they are viewed in the face-up position. These diamonds are a great option for those who are into colored stones; some people even love the color scheme displayed by these diamonds.
To better understand the concept of diamond clarity, we must understand the process of how natural diamonds are created. When carbon is exposed to tremendous heat and pressure deep in the earth, they transform into diamonds. This process results in diamonds having a variety of characteristics which are split into internal characteristics or ‘inclusions’ and the external characteristics as ‘blemishes’.
The evaluation of the stone’s clarity is determined by a lot of factors like the number, size, relief, position, and nature of these “characteristics”, as well as how these affect the overall appearance of the diamond.
Always remember that no diamond that is created naturally is perfectly pure. But the lesser it has inclusions the better will be its clarity. The imperfection present in the diamonds cannot be recognized by an unaided or naked eye. The higher the clarity, the more valuable the diamond will be.
A diamond’s clarity is divided into 6 major categories which are further split into 11 specific grades, namely:
- Flawless or FL: This means that there are no inclusions and no blemishes which are visible under 10x magnification.
- Internally Flawless or IF: This means that the stone has no inclusions which are visible under 10x magnification.
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2): The diamonds of this category possess inclusions that are very difficult to see for even a skilled grader under the 10x magnification.
- Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2): The inclusions present in the diamonds that come in this category can be observed with a slight effort under 10x magnification, but these inclusions are characterized as minor.
- Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2): The inclusions which are noticeable under 10x magnification come in this category.
- Included (I1, I2, and I3): The inclusions which are very obvious under 10x magnification and these may affect the transparency and the brilliance of the diamond fall under this section.
The correct term that is used to refer to the weight of a diamond is Carat. It is at times confused with the size of the diamond, although the size of a diamond is proportional to its carat weight, it is not the same.
The price of a diamond increase if the carat weight is increased, however, you should know that if two diamonds are of equal carat weight they can have very different price points, as this depends on the other three factors like the color, clarity, and cut as well.
Since we have talked about the important factors, the 4Cs that determine the value of diamonds, you should also know that diamonds come in a variety of different shapes.
So let’s get started.
Round Brilliant Cut Diamonds
The Round Brilliant Cut Diamond is considered to be the classic shape! It is also by far the most popular and the most wanted shape of diamond when it comes to engagement rings. The Round Brilliant Cut Diamonds are precisely cut to have 58 facets; 33 on the crown and 25 on the pavilion and comes in a conical shape to maximize the light return or the reflection of light through the top of the diamond.
Cushion Cut Diamonds
The Cushion Cut Diamonds have an antique and the most surreal, romantic appeal. These diamonds are also known to be a cross between the Old Mine Cut, which was highly popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the contemporary Oval Cut Diamond. They are featured with large facets and rounded corners and were specifically designed to catch candlelight. The Cushion-Cut Diamond is featured to have 58 facets.
The Pear Shaped Diamonds are popular for combining the tradition and brilliance of a Round Cut with a more tasteful and elegant shape to create an unusual diamond that still makes the light ‘dance’! The diamonds are usually featured with 58 facets, allowing the same brilliance like that of a round cut diamond, but they make a distinct impression due to their shape.
The Marquise Cut Diamonds are popularly known as the “boat-shaped diamonds” and are also quite popular for engagement rings. The diamond cutters use the same technique to cut the Marquise Shape as that of a Round Brilliant Diamond, but it has an increased carat weight due to its elongated shape. However, due to its shape, the color and clarity imperfections are more obvious as compared to the traditional Round Brilliant Diamonds.
Radiant Cut Diamonds
The Radiant Cut Diamond combines the shape of the rectangular diamond with the brilliance of the traditional Round Cut. It is created with the combination of the two diamond cutting styles; the traditional Round Cut and the stylish Emerald Cut. This unique cut was created by Henry Grossbard in the year 1977, in the hopes of designing something altogether eccentric yet still brilliant!
The Heart-Shaped Diamond has a little split on the top and exudes magnificent brilliance. It is considered to be the most romantic of the diamond shapes. The most important factor in these diamonds is symmetry, so the two halves look completely identical. The split on the top would be obvious and the wings should have a sharp round shape. It is always advisable to not get a heart diamond less than .50 Carats as they tend to appear smaller once they are set; especially in prongs.
The Oval Cut Diamond is considered to be a modified version of The Round Brilliant Cut. The Oval Cut Diamonds are the perfect choice for buyers who want the same characteristics of the traditional Round Cut but are interested in a shape that is less common. These diamonds also create an optical illusion of length and tend to construct an image of elongated fingers.
Princess Cut Diamonds
It is a known fact that the Princess Cut Diamonds make the perfect engagement rings since they have an exquisite brilliance and are very clear. They are designed to get the top sparkle! While choosing a Princess Cut Diamond, always make sure that the sharp-pointed corners of the stone are protected by the setting of your ring.
Asscher Cut Diamonds
The Asscher Cut Diamond is also known as the “Square Emerald-Cut” and is made using a unique step-cut process and has cropped corners. Because of the cropped corners, the stone also appears to be octagonal at the first glance. The Asscher Cut Diamonds are famous for having the clarity of “glacier-water ice”, which allows you to see all the way through the stone; which is why it is advisable to get an Asscher diamond that is flawless or nearly flawless.
The Emerald Cut Diamond has been and is a very popular style. It is also known for its beauty and precisely cut edges. While it certainly lacks brilliance like that of the traditional round cut, it more than makes up for its extreme clarity which is often compared to the glacier pure ice! The name was given to this kind of stone cut because it was originally used for cutting emeralds, also known as the step cut, which is now also used on square or rectangular diamonds.
A diamond certificate is an authentic report which substantiates all the specifications of a diamond including its shape, color grade, carat weight, clarity grade, and cut grade. These certificates are issued by well-known grading laboratories like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the American Gem Society (AGS), and the International Gemological Institute (IGI). A diamond’s value is directly correlated to the characteristics mentioned on the certificate it carries. So, if you are planning to purchase diamond jewelry, always ask for a certificate.