The Ultimate 4Cs Diamond Buying Guide
When buying diamonds, it is very important to focus on the 4Cs. A diamond’s quality is determined by its cut quality, carat weight, color, and clarity grade. Having a thorough understanding of the diamond 4Cs can not only get you a good quality diamond but also get you a great deal.
Not having enough knowledge about diamond 4C can make the process of diamond buying intimidating.
Don’t worry, we are here to help.
Here is everything you need to know about the 4Cs of a diamond and what you need to know about them.
What are the 4Cs of a Diamond?
As mentioned earlier, the 4Cs of a diamond refers to its cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. These four aspects help determine the value of a diamond. The value of diamonds is set based on the grading of The Gemological Institute of America. To start you off, we recommend you keep these few aspects in mind, which we will elaborate on later in the article
- A diamond’s cut quality is the most important of the 4Cs. A diamond’s brilliance and fire are determined by its cut quality.
- Choosing eye-clean diamonds is better than buying diamonds of a higher clarity grade.
- Similar to a diamond’s clarity grade, you can choose eye-clean diamonds when it comes to diamond color as well.
- Diamond prices are determined by the carat weight. Also, choosing a higher carat weight does not necessarily mean that your diamond will be bigger.
These points raise more questions than answering them, which is a good place to start.
Why Should You Never Compromise on Your Diamond’s Cut Quality
The cut of your diamond refers to its many facets, symmetry, dimensions, and reflective qualities. It also showcases fine craftsmanship concerning the particular diamond. The cut of a diamond helps mask inclusions and highlight a diamond’s fire and brilliance.
The Gemological Institute of America or the GIA, grades diamonds from excellent to poor.
|Excellent||Highest levels of fire and brilliance. Almost the entire light is reflected off the table.|
|Very Good||Exceptional fire and brilliance. Most of the light is reflected off the table.|
|Good||Good fire and brilliance. Offers excellent radiance and is very affordable.|
|Fair||Little brilliance and fire. Most of the light entering the diamond escapes it without getting reflected. Fair grade diamonds can be used as flank stones.|
|Poor||Hardly offers any brilliance or fire. Almost all of the light escapes the diamond from the bottom and the sides. Poor cut quality diamonds have a dullness about them.|
When choosing diamonds graded by the AGS, it is recommended to choose ‘Ideal cut’ diamonds.
How is a diamond’s cut quality graded?
Here are the factors that affect the cut quality of your diamond.
A Diamond’s Table
Dividing the width of the top surface area of a diamond by its diameter determines its table percentage. A low table percentage affects a diamond’s ability to reflect the light to our eyes.
A Diamond’s Width
Measuring one end of a diamond’s girdle to the other gives us a diamond’s width. It allows us to determine its length-to-width ratio. The length to width ratio allows us to determine how proportionate your diamond is.
A Diamond’s Depth
The height from the culet to the top of the table helps us determine a diamond’s depth percentage which may be measured in millimeters or percentage. A low depth percentage restricts the ability of a diamond to reflect light properly and gives it a dark appearance
Symmetrical Facets of Your Diamond
Symmetrical facets refer to small mirrors that allow light to reflect onto our eyes. They surround the table of a diamond.
Brilliance of Your Diamond
The ability of a diamond to reflect white light is referred to as its brilliance. The brilliance of a diamond is affected by the cut being too deep or shallow. Ideally, the mark of a good diamond is its ability to reflect plenty of light when its table is facing up.
Fire of Your Diamond
The ability of a diamond to reflect colored light off its table and facets is referred to as a diamond’s fire.
Scintillation is the sparkles that are caused when light reflects off the facets. These are caused by light dispersed through the light and dark areas of your diamond’s surface.
It is what is referred to as the finish of the diamond concerning the final condition and quality of its facet details.
Choosing Eye-Clean Diamonds
The GIA lists clarity grades from FL (flawless) to I2 (Inclusions 2). Here is a list in the order of declining clarity grades.
- 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)
Diamond clarity refers to the ability of a diamond to mask inclusions. The lesser the inclusions in a diamond the higher the clarity grade. It is to be made clear that buying diamonds of higher clarity grades is not always the smarter choice.
Close clarity grades are extremely difficult to distinguish. It is impossible to distinguish a VVS2 diamond from an SI1 diamond without putting it under a microscope at 10x magnification.
We always recommend buying eye-clean diamonds. Eye clean diamonds refer to diamonds whose inclusions are not visible unless seen under 10x magnification. You can rest assured that although you cannot see the inclusions in close clarity grades, the price difference between the clarity grades will be very clear and distinguishable.
Inclusions become more pronounced and clear with increasing carat weights. A 2-carat or even a 1.5-carat diamond is more likely to have visible inclusions than a 1-carat diamond. This is something to keep in mind when buying diamonds of higher carat weight.
How to Choose the Color of Your Diamond?
Diamond Color Chart
|D||This signifies that a diamond is colorless to the naked eye and under a microscope. This color grade is the most expensive.|
|E||Even diamond experts have a hard time telling D and E color grades apart under a microscope.|
|F||Very similar to D and E color grades. Very difficult to tell these three grades apart.|
|G||nearly colorless, might have hardly noticeable yellow tints.|
|H||Only exhibit a bit of color under bright light or under a microscope. This is the minimum color grade recommended for a Cushion Cut or the Marquise Cut.|
|I||Exhibit minute quantities of color when placed next to diamonds of higher color grades. Recommend color grade for Princess Cut diamonds.|
|J||Exhibits a faint yellow tint when observed under bright light. This yellow tint is also noticeable in J diamonds with big tables.|
|K||A slight yellow tint is observable with regard to this color grade. K diamonds are known to have a ‘faint tint.’ These diamonds are perfect when you are on a budget.|
|L||Noticeable yellow tint that can be observed under normal light. L diamonds are relatively cheaper than other color grades.|
|M||Jewelers regard this as the lowest grade fit for jewelry. M diamonds are hardly distinguishable from K and L diamonds.|
|N-Z||They have a distinctly yellow tint. Not recommended.|
The key thing to consider is that like clarity grades, close color grades are extremely difficult to distinguish as well. Choosing eye-clear diamonds is recommended when it comes to choosing a diamond’s color grade. There is no point in spending a fortune on high color grades when no one other than an expert will be able to value their worth.
Few things to consider.
- The color grade of a diamond needs to be examined by an expert.
- Color becomes more easily noticeable in diamonds of higher carat weights.
- Diamonds of excellent cut quality can mask color. For example, Round Brilliant Diamonds are amazing at hiding color.
- There are no noticeable differences between close color grades.
- The right ring setting can mask the color of your diamond.
- Colored diamonds are separate from diamond color and are valued, like green or pink diamonds. The color grades of these diamonds are different than the grade for white diamonds. In the case of white diamonds, the color grade is looked upon more as a flaw.
Carat Weight of Your Diamond
A diamond of higher carat weight is not necessarily going to be bigger.
A carat is a unit of weight and has no relation to size. A diamond of a higher carat weight will be a hefty one but heavier does not always mean bigger. For example, a man weighing more than another man will not necessarily be bigger than him.
The same logic applies here. But it is not completely wrong to assume that diamonds of higher carat weights will not be bigger in size, so you can relax.
Diamond prices are calculated per carat. However, the price per carat increases exponentially with regard to diamonds of higher carat weights. For example, a 1-ct diamond might be $3000 per carat, but a 2-carat diamond of the same cut, color, and clarity grade will be at least $6000 per carat. The main reason behind this hike is the fact that diamonds of higher carat weights are rarer.
If you are on a budget, a very smart way of increasing the overall carat weight of your engagement without increasing your budget is to go for a 3-stone ring. With regard to a 3-stone setting, your total carat weight might go up to 2.5 carats or even 3 carats, without having to pay the exorbitant price of a 2.5-carat diamond.
Having a basic understanding of the diamond 4Cs can help you pick out the right diamond. It is always recommended to buy GIA or AGS-certified stones.
We have made the process of buying diamonds very easy. All you have to do is log in to our online jewelry store website, answer a few questions about your choice of diamond, and that’s it. We will connect you with authentic jewelers with whom you can consult online. Pick out the desired jeweler and get a step closer to buying the diamond of your dreams.
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