Need to Know: The 4Cs of Diamond Buying

October 1, 2018

Oftentimes, buying a diamond means you’re marking a momentous occasion. But for many buyers (especially first timers) that joy can get overshadowed by intimidation or confusion while attempting to navigate the purchasing process. Before you even think about making the purchase, a number of factors, from budget to style to quality and rarity, have to be considered.   


Each diamond is unique and is a miracle of time, place and change. ... GIA created the first, and now globally accepted industry standard for describing diamonds: Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat Weight. Today, the 4Cs of Diamond Quality is the universal method for assessing the quality of any diamond, anywhere in the world.  


So, if you're in the market for a white diamond, the 4Cs— Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat—are important to consider before settling on a ring. To differing extents, each plays a role in determining a diamond's overall value, rarity and desirability. 

1. Color


Purity reigns supreme when it comes to color classification, meaning that the absence of color makes a diamond more rare and earns it a higher value. Color is graded on a scale from D to Z, with a D rating being the best. The color of a D-rated diamond is frequently likened to a drop of pure rainwater.


The human eye is naturally more attracted to whiter diamonds, so we tend to select diamonds at the top of the scale to present you with a diamond engagement ring that is sublime and scintillating. 

2. Clarity

Clarity refers to the number, location, size and type of ‘inclusions’ within a diamond. These are tiny little marks or ‘flaws’ present inside the diamond. Like nature’s birthmarks, they are completely natural in diamond formation and also known as clarity characteristics that are as unique as a fingerprint to each diamond.  The scale by which all diamonds are graded ranges from IF (internally flawless) to I3 (heavily included).  If the diamond is cut well, diamonds all the way down into the SI2 range can often be "eye-clean," meaning that you can only see the inclusions under magnification; the naked eye sees it as a clean stone. 

A truly flawless diamond is extremely rare as it’s possible to find these little freckles and birthmarks in almost every diamond in the world. The fewer or smaller the clarity characteristics, the more beautiful, rare and valuable the diamond.

3. Cut (the most important)

It is a painstaking amount of work, all by hand, to make diamonds as beautiful as they are because they start out life as an uneven natural state called a ‘rough.’ Every other aspect of the 4Cs is an act of nature, however, the cut is the only part of diamond creation that requires human input. It’s the most important, yet most misunderstood part of the process. 

The way a diamond is cut can (literally and figuratively) make or break it. The cut of a diamond determines its "brightness and fire,” or ability to disperse light in rainbow like flashes; you'll often hear this referred to as the brilliance of a diamond.  The better cut a diamond, the better the play of light is, and it allows the diamond to give off that coveted sparkle so many people crave. 

4. Carat

Carat is probably the most talked about aspect of a diamond. It refers to its weight and in turn, its overall size. Usually, the bigger the diamond, the higher the carat number. However, when comparing two diamonds, a smaller diamond may be more valuable than a larger diamond if it possesses a far superior cut, whiter colour and flawless clarity.

Remember, the cut of a diamond is above all the most important, so bear that in mind when shopping for the perfect diamond engagement ring. Our father used to always say that there are two other Cs each diamond purchaser should consider, and those are Cost and Compromise.  You have to taken into consideration what your budget is and what is most important to you and your fiancee.  Does she want size?  Does she want rarity in terms of color and clarity?  Or is she just looking at the overall brilliance of it?  Remember, a well cut diamond can offer appear a grade or two white and cleaner than a poorly cut one.  So you might be able to make some trade offs there to get the carat size she really wants. 


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