The 4C’s of Diamonds:
When picking out your diamonds, you’ll often be told to invest in the highest quality diamond that you can afford. This is some of the most sound advice when it comes to buying diamonds; however, how do you know what makes a diamond high quality? Well, jewelers will reference the Four C’s: color, cut, clarity and carat. Below is a brief summary of the 4 C’s so you can better understand what you should be looking for in a diamond.
Generally speaking, the whiter the diamond, the rarer and more valuable it is. The best quality diamonds are truly colorless or “white”; whereas other diamonds contain traces of yellow or brown in them. The color of a diamond is a result of the composition of elements and the exposure of the diamond received while being created.
The grading scale for diamond color runs from D to Z, with D being a pure, colorless diamond and Z being a yellow diamond. The reason why diamonds that are colorless (D, E, F diamonds being the best) is because diamonds act like prisms; they separate light and display a wide spectrum of colors. Diamonds that display such a wide variety of colors are known to be “fiery” whereas the diamonds that have color in them have impurities that limit the colors that the diamond can show.
Often considered the least important of the 4C’s because the time imperfections are often microscopic.
Diamond clarity is based on the number of small imperfections on the surface and inside the diamond. The surface flaws are called blemishes, and internal defects are known as inclusions. These tiny, natural blemishes and inclusions are microscopic and do not affect a diamond’s beauty in any way. Diamonds with the least and smallest inclusions receive the highest clarity grades.
Clarity is one of the 4Cs of diamond grading and quality. Diamond clarity is the least important factor when choosing to buy a diamond because most diamonds have blemishes and small inclusions that are microscopic, unable to be seen with an untrained or unaided eye.
A Little History…
Diamond Types According To The GIA Clarity Grading Scale
In 1953, Richard T. Liddicoat and colleagues established the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) diamond grading system and clarity scale. The GIA diamond grading scale is divided into six categories and eleven diamond clarity grades. On the diamond clarity scale, also commonly referred to as the diamond grading chart, the complete list of diamond grading categories and clarity grades are as follows:
Flawless (FL) Diamonds
Inclusions and blemishes aren’t visible on flawless diamonds, even under 10x magnification. Less than 1% of all diamonds are FL clarity. A flawless diamond is incredibly rare because it’s nearly impossible to find a diamond 100% free of inclusions. Six percent of customers buy FL diamonds.
Internally Flawless (IF) Diamonds
Inclusions aren’t visible in internally flawless diamonds under 10x magnification. Some small surface blemishes may be visible on IF diamonds. Six percent of customers buy IF diamonds.
VVS1, VVS2 Very Very Slightly Included (VVS) Diamonds
VVS diamonds have minuscule inclusions that are difficult even for trained eyes to see under 10x magnification. VVS2 clarity diamonds have slightly more inclusions than the VVS1 grade. A VVS diamond is an excellent quality diamond and clarity grade. Twenty-one percent of customers buy VVS diamonds.
VS1, VS2 Very Slightly Included (VS) Diamonds
VS diamonds have minor inclusions that cannot be seen without 10x magnification. VS1 is a higher clarity grade than VS2, which may have some visible inclusions. A VS grade diamond is less expensive than a VVS diamond. Forty-three percent of customers buy VS diamonds.
SI2, SI1 Slightly Included (SI) Diamonds
Inclusions are noticeable at 10x magnification with SI diamonds, the best value diamonds. With SI1 diamonds, inclusions are sometimes visible to the keen eye without magnification. SI2 clarity grade diamond inclusions are usually visible from the pavilion, or cone-shaped lower portion, and from the top. Thirty percent of all diamond customers buy SI diamonds.
I1 Included Diamonds
I1 diamonds have minor inclusions that may be visible to the naked eye. Blue Nile offers a limited selection of jewelry preset with I1 diamonds.
I2, I3 Heavily Included Diamonds
I2 and I3 diamonds may have more obvious inclusions at 10x and may be visible to the naked eye. Blue Nile does not carry I2 or I3 diamonds.
Diamond Carat Weight:
Diamond carat is often misunderstood and refers to a diamond’s weight, not necessarily its size. When comparing diamond carat sizes, take a diamond’s cut into consideration as well: a high-carat diamond with a poor cut grade may look smaller, often cut deeper, than a diamond with a smaller carat weight and a better cut. Use our buying tips, diamond carat size chart, and expert tips to help you choose the best diamond carat weight for you.
Carat Weight considers two factors:
A Diamond’s Top Diameter – It is important to measure, in millimeters, the distance across the top (diameter) of the diamond as this is how it is viewed when set into a ring.
A Diamond’s Cut Grade – A diamond’s cut grade should also be considered. When a diamond is well cut (grades Very Good or higher), the light reflected out of the top making it appear larger.
How do these two Carat Weight factors help when purchasing a diamond?
The diamond’s diameter and cut grade reveal that smaller carat weight diamonds will appear larger with higher cut grades (Very Good and Ideal). On the flip side, a larger carat weight diamond could appear smaller with lower cut grades (Good, Fair and Poor).
FIND YOUR DIAMOND
Diamond Carrot Buying Tips
To maximize your budget, “Buy Shy,” which means selecting a carat weight slightly below the whole and half-carat marks. For example, instead of a 2.0-carat diamond, consider buying a 1.9-carat weight. This will save a considerable amount of money and the slight size difference will never be noticed.
Out of the 4 C’s, cut is probably the most important. The cut of a diamond can directly influence the beauty of the diamond. An ideal cut diamond will be more brilliant and can even make the diamond appear larger. A well-cut diamond is the perfect mixture of beauty and value. It is highly recommended that you invest in the best quality cut that you can afford.
On this page, you will find everything you’ll need to know about diamonds, styles of engagement rings, sizes and more! If you still have questions, feel free to contact us at 847-752-7030.