Jewelry 101 the 4C’s- Carat, Cut, Clarity, Color
Let designer and owner of DiaParis, Jean-Pierre Rebuffet educate us a little about the 4C’s.
Diamonds and all precious stones are weighed and this unit is called carats. It is measured in increments which we call points. 100 points is equal to one carat. Out of the 4C’s, carat weight is the easiest to determine due to the fact that it is measured on a diamond scale. You can have two diamonds with the same weight that have a different value, depending on the cut, color and clarity.
To the naked eye the difference between a 1 1/10 carat and 1 1/5 carat diamond will be almost impossible to discern but the cost difference might be significant, due to the cut, clarity or color.
The cut has the most influence on its sparkle and brilliance making the cut one of the most important C. The cut of the diamond is determined by the one who formulates the best way to shape, facet and polish the diamond to reach its maximum beauty.
Diamonds are essentially a prism of light, the diamond cutters work to let the most light shine through each stone and if done well, a diamond’s cut can be the most important C.
For grading the cut of a diamond, the lab evaluates the diamond for the following.
It is the intensity of the light that is reflected from both the surface of the diamond as from the inside.
Also known as dissension, it’s how the light scatters through the diamond to create a rainbow of light just like a prism.
These are known as the flashes of white light that are visible when you move you diamond. They are also known as “sparkle”. When a diamond is “Ideal-Cut” , it means the angles and proportions of the diamond have been cut to produce the ultimate sparkle, fire and brilliance.
Clarity is the degree to which a diamond is free from flaws, which can hinder light as it passes through your diamond . Diamonds have marks that vary in size, shape, position, quantity and color. These marks are known as inclusions (internal) and blemishes (external). Inclusions are formed deep in the earth during the diamond’s growth. Blemishes can result when the diamond is being cut.
The clarity grade is determined based on the size, number, position of, nature and color of the diamond’s blemishes.
Though nearly all diamonds have inclusions and blemishes, the most prized diamonds are flawless.
The clarity scale, developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) , has 11 grades:
IF: (internally flawless, which means there are blemishes on the surface but not inside the diamond)
VVS1 and VVS2: ( very, very slightly included- two levels)
VS1 and VS2: (very slightly included -two levels)
SI1 and SI2: (slightly included- two levels)
I1, I2 and I3: (included- three levels)
It may be difficult to see inclusions with the naked eye it is all depending on where they are located within the diamond. Every diamond is unique, so you need to look closely. If you view and SI2 diamond and and can not see the inclusions without a jeweler’s loupe, you can probably accept a lower grade and save in cost without compromising beauty.
Color refers to the body color of the diamond. Fancy color diamonds aside, the best , most beautiful color for a diamond is no color at all. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has created a scale to measure diamond color, ranging form D (Colorless) to Z (yellow). Fancy color diamonds are graded Z and higher. D color diamonds are very rare and are priced accordingly. Moving down the color scale toward H or I lets you buy a diamond that still appears white, but is more common and thus, are affordable.
One thing to note : Color diamonds have become more valuable as they’e become more fashionable, and “fancy” colors, when they occur naturally, are rare and expensive. (diamond color treatments can help you get these coveted colors for less.)