The 4cs made simple

Diamond qualities are broken into four categories, i.e The Four C’s. Clarity, Cut, Carat & Colour. These four qualities together determine a diamonds beauty and assist in valuing.

Due to the years of experience and expertise required and the large range of diamond qualities available today, it is extremely difficult for the untrained eye to competently compare qualities in diamonds. As a result, great variations in price may seem apparent.

The key here is, to use a cliché, “to compare apples with apples”. Be careful, sometimes the truth can be stretched a long way just to secure a sale. Once again, it is important to deal with someone that has experience, someone you can trust, and someone who will stand by their product.

Cut

Cut simply means the diamonds effect on light.

Diamonds can be assessed for cut or finish ranging from poor through to excellent. Put simply, the best cut stone will throw the most light that is entering it back at the viewer’s eye.

The cut represents how well the inner beauty of the diamond has been revealed by man. Some stones can be well cut, others average cut and another may be poorly cut. This, once again, can mean large variations in price for otherwise similar quality stones. Remember – Cut should not be confused with the shape of the gem.

Cut is the diamond quality most influenced by man. Today computers can assist in reaching the optimum cut to take advantage of the gems inner beauty. The angles of the facets cut on the gem will either enhance or reduce the stones ability to reflect light. Look at the angle of the back facets in the following diagrams and their effect on stone diameter and light refraction…………in theory all three stones could weigh the same eg 1ct

Important note – cut is not to be confused with SHAPE as demonstrated in the charts below…………..

Colour

This internationally recognised scale states the rarest and most valuable colour of a diamond is ‘D’ or colourless. Most diamonds we sell fall between D and H colour range while most rough diamond material mined has a very slight yellow, brown or grey colour. Apart from fancy coloured diamonds (pink etc), absolute white (D colourless) is the best and rarest colour nature offers. As we look down the scale, the colour drops to a slight straw colour of yellow and onto an obvious yellow. Most customers are seeking to achieve the best value for money and this is why the most popular colours chosen are from E through to H ( the straw colour begins at colour I ). The range EFG tends to offer very nice white material and suits most people. Those prepared to spend more may venture into the top D colour. Once again, this quality plays an important part in the valuing of a diamond. The more yellow the stone the more available and less valuable. Most diamonds viewed in jewellery windows today would fall somewhere between ‘F’ to ‘I’ colour.

Clarity

Diamonds may, as they are forming deep within the Earth, include other foreign materials which become trapped within the pure crystallised carbon. Also, some carbon atoms may not be converted into diamond crystal, unlike their surrounds. These may appear as tiny almost invisible flecks, feathers or marks or in the case of heavily ‘included’ stone may be obvious to the naked eye. These marks, large or small, can be described as ‘birth marks’ or fingerprints and make a diamond wonderfully unique. Unless specifically requested by a client, Bakker Diamonds will not sell a stone that has visible inclusions…….our preferred clarity grades are from VVS through to SI.

At the top of the clarity scale is ‘F’ or flawless, and this simply put, means no internal inclusions or external blemishes are visible under a jeweller’s hand-lens magnification. The fewer the inclusions, the clearer and more brilliant the diamond. At the bottom end of the scale is Pique grade 3, Pique a French word meaning ‘marked’ or in this case “included” (I3).
Slight inclusions within a diamond do not reduce its durability or affect its beauty.

Carat (weight)

Carat is simply the international weight measurement used when weighing gemstones. This is not to be confused with ‘gold karatage’ describing gold purity eg 9 carat, 14 carat, 18 carat etc.

A one carat gemstone is equivalent to 200 milligrams. One carat is divided into 100 points therefore a 1/2 carat diamond is described as .5 of a carat, or 50 points, or a ½ carater.

The heavier the diamond, the rarer it will be within the marketplace, however the other qualities must also be considered for it to be compared and than valued. For example a 2 carat diamond with very, very slight inclusions (VVS) is rarer and more expensive than a 2 carat slightly included (SI ) stone.
in addition………..FLUORESCENCE.

Fluorescence is a characteristic that makes some diamonds appear to change colour when they are exposed to ultraviolet light.

http://www.gia.edu/lab-reports-services/diamonds/GIA%202009%20FluorDia.pdf

Fluorescence is not necessarily a negative characteristic and in normal light conditions can sometimes give a diamond a brighter more ‘electric’ appearance, however some fluorescent stones can produce a silvery greyish sheen in normal light and these are to be avoided.