The 4 C’s of Diamonds – Your Ultimate Guide to the Best Diamond for Your Money
The word “diamond” always manages to produce a bit of anxiety in a buyer’s mind. Dollar signs might flash before their eyes, and they may wonder if buying one is going to be a good idea.
However, it may surprise you to know that you don’t have to have an enormous budget to afford a nice diamond for your ring or other pieces of jewelry. In fact, whatever your budget, you should be able to find the best diamond for your money.
If you are involved in such a search, please feel free to contact us if you want to cut to the chase. In the meantime, this article will deal with various facets that have an impact on the price. They are referred to as “The Four C’s”.
The Four C’s Examined
The four C’s are identified as follows:
- Carat weight
You can look at a diamond and admire its beauty. However, what you cannot see in detail is how the each of the four C’s contributes to the beauty you are seeing in that diamond. The end result that you see is the product of each aspect interacting with each other.
We will examine each of them in some detail, and then show how all four of them work together to help you determine what is important to you in a diamond, so you can make the best choice in line with your budget.
Now let’s examine each of them, one by one.
The cut of a diamond is a combination of several factors, among them the angles, facets, and brilliance, to name a few, and they all contribute to the diamond’s sparkle.
There are five grades of a diamond cut: Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor. In simple terms, the more brilliance and fire (colored sparkle you see in the diamond), the better grade it is.
The way a diamond is cut makes a difference in how much brilliance and fire will have. For example, if a cutter is more focused on getting the most carat weight possible, it limits the amount of light reflected and the color of light as well. A cutter may also improve the clarity but minimize the sparkle.
This being said, the cut of a diamond has the most significant impact on the overall beauty of the diamond, and therefore, a high-quality cut as possible should be one of your first considerations when selecting a diamond.
However, there is one qualifier as to cuts. According to some estimates, just over half of the diamonds that are sold online are excellent. So even if a diamond as an “Excellent” designation, the cut itself may not be
It’s essential to note that a top grade designation, like Excellent, doesn’t necessarily indicate an exceptional diamond cut. This is where an expert’s trained eye can be useful.
Grading in this aspect may sound confusing, but bear with us. The color grades range from D to Z. Grade “D” has the least color or is the most white or clear, while Grade “Z” indicates brown or yellow tinting. So at the risk of sounding contrary, the diamond has a better “color” when it has less color. Sidenote: If the diamond color involves pink or green, they are valued and graded differently, so they are not to be confused with the grading of white diamonds.
If you see a significant difference in the price of two seemingly identical diamonds, then there is a high likelihood that there is a significant difference in color too. If you’re price-conscious, then you may be more inclined to choose a diamond with a lower color grade. This information you will have to get from the jeweler, as you will not be able to see it with the naked eye.
There is something else to point out as to considering color, as summarized in this question: “Does the diamond appear colorless in its setting?” A lower grade color may or may not detract from the diamond’s sparkle.
To ensure that you don’t pay for a higher color grade than a diamond may actually be, ask an expert – ask more than one if you want to be certain. The larger majority of jewelers would not in good conscience try to mislead a customer, but it never hurts to get a second opinion. They can make mistakes.
Clarity grades for diamonds refer to how clean they are, based on two factors:
Inclusions refer to the imperfections a diamond might have inside, that result from the heat and pressure they undergo in their formation. The larger the inclusions, or imperfections, the lower clarity grade it will have.
Blemishes are flaws that can be found on the outside of a diamond, on the surface. Most blemishes result from it being mishandled during cutting and polishing.
Here is the Clarity Scale used to grade diamonds:
- FL (Flawless)
- IF (Internally Flawless)
- VVS1 (Very, Very Slightly Included 1)
- VVS2 (Very, Very Slightly Included 2)
- VS1 (Very Slightly Included 1)
- VS2 (Very Slightly Included 2)
- SI1 (Slightly Included 1)
- SI2 (Slightly Included 2)
- I1 (Inclusions 1)
- I2 (Inclusions 2)
Clarity can have a huge bearing on a diamond’s brilliance. Blemishes and inclusions can interfere with the passing of light through a diamond, which can make it appear dull, and can even detract from a high-quality cut.
To get some help to determine a diamond’s clarity, ask an expert – by the way, don’t just accept the viewing of the certificate. Have them confirm that it is “eye clean”.
To clarify, “carat weight” does not refer to the size of a diamond. As the second word implies, it is how much the diamond weighs.
The thing to remember here is that two diamonds can each be 1 Carat and actually differ in size. How can this be? It depends on the shape of the diamond and how it was cut.
Carat weight should be the last thing to focus on in your choice of a diamond. The appearance and brilliance should be more important. Which would you rather have – a dull 1.5-carat diamond or a spectacular 1.0-carat diamond?
So while it is a factor to consider, carat weight is not the most important one.
HOW THE 4 C’S WORK TOGETHER
We have just examined each of the Four C’s one by one. Now let’s see how they interact with each other.
Cut: This is where you should put your primary focus when choosing a diamond. The Cut will have the most bearing on the diamond’s beauty. The cut can more than make up where clarity and color are deficient. If the diamond has brilliance, then you have a good one to consider.
Color: If you already have seen that the diamond is brilliant, color may not be an issue at all. However, just make sure it appears colorless, or clear when you look at it. Any lack of brilliance may indicate that a lower grade in color is present.
Clarity: You will need some help from the jeweler here, but the idea is to choose a diamond that is free from imperfections on the inside as well as the surface. At the very least, they should not detract from a diamond’s brilliance or fire.
Carat: Unless you absolutely cannot live without an exact carat weight, then it should be your least important consideration. In the big picture, a smaller, more brilliant diamond will be more attractive than a larger, duller one.
First, always consider the Cut as the most important factor, as it will determine the beauty of your diamond more than the other three.
Next, when you look at color, you will not be able to differentiate between a higher grade and a lower grade. However, the difference in color grade can determine how much you pay for the diamond.
Third, a diamond that has blemishes or inclusions can have a bearing on its quality. If they interfere with passing light or detract from the diamond’s brilliance, you may wish to look at something else. Expect that the jeweler will visually confirm the clarity.
Finally, the carat weight can throw you off in your search. Two diamonds of the same carat weight can differ in brilliance, depending on how they are cut. Also, a dull-looking diamond with a larger carat weight doesn’t make it a better diamond than one with a smaller carat weight that is stunning.
We hope you found this article interesting and educational. Knowing about these four factors will give you an advantage over the average consumer. Above all, we hope it helps you to find the best diamond for your money.
With these fundamentals in mind, remember that a diamond is a precious whole, and should be looked at in totality.
If you’re unsure how to evaluate a diamond, and want to purchase an exceptional diamond that’s within your budget, contact one of our experts for assistance.
Gradings of the 4 C’s help determine the value of a diamond and indicate its quality. Diamond sellers often set their prices based on grading reports. Knowing the basics of these gradings is helpful when comparing two similar diamonds, but what remains most important is how the diamond appears to the naked eye—and how attractive the diamond is overall. In this sense, having a foundational understanding of the 4 C’s is imperative as a buyer, so that you can avoid spending your budget on a component that will go unnoticed.