Diamond quality varies so much between diamonds, primarily due to each individual diamond varying so much. This variation between diamonds makes any diamond buyer want to seek out the best possible diamond that falls within their given budget range. The main factors in determining the quality of diamond are known as the 4Cs in the diamond world.
The 4Cs are a global standard for grading diamond quality, they stand for Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat Weight. In this article we will explore diamond quality be diving into the 4Cs and how they play into your next diamond purchase!
Diamond Quality Cheat-Sheet with the Famous 4Cs
The 4Cs of Diamonds
When a diamond has been cut, all its surfaces become shiny and dazzling. When it has been exposed to some light, each and every angle reflects some amount of light. The amount of light reflected by a diamond may also determine its quality.
A perfectly cut diamond reflects much light when exposed to a light source compared to a poorly cut diamond. The diamond’s cut is thought to be the most important grading element of the 4Cs when it comes to diamond quality.
GIA spent 15 years to come up with it’s scale for diamond cut. It is a highly technical practice of analyzing how light reflects in and out of the diamond, from poor to excellent. The influence over the brightness, fire and scintillation of the diamond.
From the GIA website –
“Achieving the best cut for a diamond reflects in the stone’s final beauty and value. And of all the diamond 4Cs, it is the most complex and technically difficult to analyze. To determine the cut grade of the standard round brilliant diamond – the shape that dominates the majority of diamond jewelry – GIA calculates the proportions of those facets that influence the diamond’s face-up appearance.
These proportions allow GIA to evaluate what the best cut for a diamond is, by studying how successfully a diamond interacts with light to create desirable visual effects, such as:
- Brightness: Internal and external white light reflected from a diamond
- Fire: The scattering of white light into all the colors of the rainbow
- Scintillation: The amount of sparkle a diamond produces, and the pattern of light and dark areas caused by reflections within the diamond”
Color is one of the most considerable determinants of the quality of a diamond. A grading scale has been built to determine the color of each and every diamond.
The diamonds with any tint of color on them are considered to be quality while those that are colorless are considered to be high quality. Colorless diamonds are considered to be the most expensive because they are very rare stones.
With diamond color, you will see a range from D through Z, with a D grade color being nearly colorless and a Z grade being saturated almost completely with a yellowish tint.
As you move down the alphabet, the differences from the first to the next are very subtle. An E graded diamond color might not look all that different to you when compared to an F grade diamond however the two might vary highly in price.
Clarity is another factor that determines the quality of a diamond. Diamond clarity refers to the absence of blemishes and inclusions.
If you did not know, a blemish on a diamond is an external defect (such as a small scratch), while an inclusion is an internal defect. Clarity is one of the features that you may use to separate real diamonds from imitations.
Diamond clarity also has it’s own grading scale like color. This scale ranges from the highest quality FL which stands for flawless, down to IF which stands for Included.
FL – Flawless, no internal imperfections/inclusions or external imperfections/blemishes – a very rate diamond, highest priced.
IF – Internally Flawless, with no internal imperfections/inclusions, also very rare.
VVS1, VVS2 – Very Very Slightly Included, has internal imperfections/inclusions that are very hard to see under 10x magnification. Still relatively rare and a high quality diamond.
VS1, VS2 – Very Slightly Included, has internal imperfections/inclusions, but ones that can’t be seen with the naked eye, A high quality diamond still but less quality than VVS1 and VVS2 respectively.
SI1 and SI2 – Slightly Included, has internal imperfections/inclusions that are easily seen under magnifications and may also be seen with the naked eye. SI’s can be good mix of diamond value but not great quality.
I1, I2, I3 – Included, the internal imperfections/inclusions are visible to the naked eye. This is the lowest quality diamond and some jewelers do not carry Included quality diamonds at all.
The Diamond Carat is the metric unit commonly used to measure the weight of the diamond. Diamonds do vary greatly in weight depending on their physical size. The more the carat weighs then the more the value of that diamond. A diamond that has more carat weight obviously will look bigger and is also easier to show off to your friends!
To be more specific a ‘carat’ is equal to 200 milligrams, and has a 100 point system so that jewelers can get very granular with specific weights. It is important to note that any two diamonds can weigh nearly exactly the same but actually have dramatically different prices because of the other factors including cut, clarity, and color.
So how does this all play into your next diamond purchase? Let’s say for example your next purchase is a diamond engagement ring.
Diamond Quality When Selecting an Engagement Ring
When selecting an engagement ring diamond quality becomes paramount! There are several factors that should be considered in order to ensure everything becomes perfect for the bride and the bridegroom. Some of the things to consider include:
- Look through her current or recent jewelry to determine her preferences.
- Get ideas from family and friends to know her tastes.
- Try talking to her about alternative jewels if you might think that she has some interest in diamonds.
- Plan to go buying the real ring together.
Selecting the Best Engagement Ring on a Budget
All diamonds do vary when it comes to pricing. This usually depends on how the diamond has been cut, polished and styled. When selecting a diamond engagement ring, consider the following:
- Have your budget planned in advance.
- Go to a good jeweler.
- After the trade, remember to ask for the certificate of authenticity and warranty to accommodate the ring. This helps in ensuring that the ring is of high value and is not a perfect imitation.
As you can see here, you’ll have a preference, as well as your loved one. You should seek to secretly find out what he or she likes!