Diamonds, by nature of their unique characteristics, can be evaluated much more precisely than other gems. Their extreme hardness allows for meticulousness in cutting and polishing not possible with any other gem material. A diamond’s cut is one of the four C’s, along with color, clarity, and carat weight, that are examined to determine its beauty and worth. Analyzed scientifically this combination of the four major elements that describe the quality of a diamond are used to place a market price on an individual stone. Looked at from an emotional standpoint, these same elements are the ones that “speak to you” compelling you to fall in love with the diamond of your dreams. Exploration of the four Cs (or should I say: 4Cs and a “B”) is paramount in determining priorities with regard to purchasing a diamond; what cutting style or shape, how many carats, what color, clarity and, of course, what will the budget withstand.
Emerald-Cut Diamond Platinum Engagement Ring.
Art Deco Hexagonal Diamond Engagement Ring.
Old Mine-Cut Diamond.
European Cut Diamond.
Round Brilliant-Cut Diamond.
- D-F Colorless
- G-J Near Colorless
- K-M Faint Color
- N-R Very Light Color
- S-Z Light Color
Emerald-Cut Diamond Engagement Ring – GIA D VVS1
European-Cut Diamond Ring – GIA O/P SI1
Fancy Intense Purplish Pink Natural Color Diamond. Photo Courtesy of Christie’s.
- Hue – Color Name (with an intensity modifier)
- Fancy Light
- Fancy Intense
- Fancy Deep
- Fancy Vivid
- Fancy Dark
- Tone – Light to Dark
- Saturation – Intensity of Color
Bulgari Fancy Deep Blue Diamond Ring.
Diamond clarity is the element that is not usually casually observable. Diamond grading laboratories and gemologists use a 10x loupe to grade the clarity of a diamond. Imperfections such as inclusions and surface blemishes that can be observed at 10 power are rated on a scale from “flawless” to “imperfect.” This category can really help your budget if you can find a stone with a few inclusions placed where they don’t necessarily impact the overall look of the diamond. Clarity is reported as follows:
- FL (Flawless) – no inclusions (internal) or blemishes (surface)
- IF (Internally Flawless) – no inclusions – minor surface blemishes
- VVS1 VVS2 (Very Very Slightly Included) – very, very small inclusions
- VS1 VS2 (Very Slightly Included) – very small inclusions
- SI1 SI2 (Slightly Included) – small easier to view inclusions
- I1 I2 I3 (Imperfect) – larger inclusions viewable without magnification
The unit of measurement for diamonds is the “carat,” which refers to a diamond’s weight, not its size. An easy reference point is that one carat equals 0.200 grams (200 milligrams.) It is not uncommon for a diamond to appear larger or smaller to the wearer than its actual carat weight, depending on many other factors including the shape and the way in which it is set. So, while carat weight is important to both the value and appearance of the stone, it should not be the sole determining factor when choosing a diamond, especially in an engagement ring. You may find that a stone of technically smaller carat weight has a greater presence on the finger than expected, and vice versa.
The carat is expressed as a decimal (0.75 cts.) or a fraction (3/4 ct.) and small diamonds (melee) are referred to as “points” (1/100 of a carat 0.01 ct.)