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Understanding the 4Cs of Diamonds | Peter Michaelson
The 4 C’s

Understanding the 4 C’s of Diamonds

7

Colour

Clarity

Cut

Carat

Welcome to Understanding the 4 C’s of Diamonds

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on Understanding the 4Cs of Diamonds. Whether you’re planning to sell a diamond engagement ring or looking to purchase the perfect diamond for your loved one, understanding the 4Cs is essential for making informed decisions. In this article, we’ll take you through each of these factors, explaining their significance and how they contribute to the overall quality and worth of a diamond. By familiarizing yourself with the 4Cs, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to navigate the diamond market confidently. So, let’s dive in and discover the fascinating world of diamonds together.

understanding the 4Cs of diamonds

Colour.

Color plays a significant role in understanding the 4Cs of diamonds and directly influences a diamond’s value. When evaluating a diamond’s color, it is examined under controlled lighting conditions, typically using white light with an approximate color temperature of 5500 degrees Kelvin. The diamond being graded is compared to a set of diamonds called master diamonds that have known color grades.

Diamonds are graded on a color scale that ranges from D (colorless) to Z, which represents natural fancy colors like blue, green, yellow, brown, orange, and extremely rare red diamonds. For white diamonds, the following color grades to the right are commonly used:

D (exceptional white+): These diamonds are exceptionally colorless and highly sought after.

E (exceptional white): These diamonds are also colorless and exhibit minimal traces of color.

F (rare white+): Diamonds in this category are considered rare and have minimal color visible to the naked eye.

H (white): These diamonds have a white appearance, often indistinguishable from higher-grade diamonds when set.

F (rare white+): Diamonds in this category are considered rare and have minimal color visible to the naked eye.

I and J (slightly tinted white): Diamonds in this range exhibit a slightly perceptible tint of color.

K to Q (tinted): Diamonds in this range show more visible color tint.

  • It’s important to note that the price difference between each color grade is approximately 7-10%. However, when understanding the 4Cs of diamonds, G and H color diamonds can appear very white when viewed through the crown, making them an excellent choice for those seeking value without compromising visual appeal.

 

  • When considering color, it is worth noting that in certain cuts, such as fancy brilliants, it may be easier to differentiate color to the naked eye than clarity. Therefore, we often recommend opting for a higher color grade (e.g., G or H) and a slightly lower clarity grade (e.g., VS2, SI1, or SI2) for enhanced visual impact.

 

  • Understanding the color scale and its impact on a diamond’s appearance will empower you to make informed decisions when selecting the perfect diamond that meets your preferences and budget.

understanding the 4Cs of diamonds

Clarity.

Clarity is an essential factor in diamond grading that assesses the presence of internal characteristics, known as inclusions, and external blemishes. A diamond’s clarity grade indicates the degree to which these imperfections are present. When understanding the 4Cs of diamonds, clarity plays a crucial role in evaluating a diamond’s quality and value. To determine the clarity grade, a diamond is examined under a 10 times stereo binocular microscope after it has been meticulously cleaned and continually wiped during the grading process. The Clarity scale is located to the right:

When considering the clarity grade, it’s important to note that fancy brilliant cuts, like round or princess cuts, tend to disguise larger SI2 type inclusions. These inclusions often become invisible when the diamond is set. However, diamonds with step cuts, such as emerald cuts, may show SI inclusions that are visible to the naked eye. Therefore, when understanding the 4Cs of diamonds, we recommend choosing a clarity grade of VS2 or higher when selecting emerald cut diamonds to ensure a visually appealing stone.

F or FL (Flawless): Flawless diamonds exhibit no inclusions or blemishes when observed under 10X magnification by an experienced grader. Truly flawless diamonds are exceedingly rare and highly valuable.

VVS1/VVS2 (Very Very Slight): Diamonds in this category contain minute inclusions that are extremely challenging to detect, even for experienced graders using 10X magnification.

VS1/VS2 (Very Slight): Very slight inclusions, such as small crystals, clouds, or feathers, are visible under 10X magnification with some effort but are still difficult to detect.

SI1/SI2 (Small or Slight): Slightly included diamonds contain inclusions, such as clouds, included crystals, knots, cavities, or feathers, that are noticeable to an experienced grader under 10X magnification.

P1 (Pique): Diamonds with a P1 grade have inclusions that are easy to see under 10X magnification but may not be visible to the naked eye. These inclusions should not significantly affect the diamond's brilliance.

P2, P3: These grades indicate diamonds with inclusions, possibly large feathers or included crystals, that are obvious under 10X magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance. They are also easily visible to the naked eye.

Each clarity grade represents a price difference of approximately 7-10%. By understanding the clarity scale and its impact on a diamond’s appearance, you can make an informed choice based on your preferences and budget.

understanding the 4Cs of diamonds

Cut.

Cut refers to two important aspects when evaluating a diamond: the physical shape of the diamond and the proportion of the cut. When understanding the 4Cs of diamonds, cut plays a crucial role in determining a diamond’s quality and value. The shape of a diamond can vary, but the round brilliant cut is considered the most ideal shape for maximizing brilliance and is often the most expensive. Other shapes are referred to as “fancy cuts” and typically have a value approximately 20% less than round brilliant cuts of comparable quality.

The proportion of the cut is equally crucial in determining a diamond’s overall appearance and value. A well-cut diamond reflects and refracts light optimally, showcasing its brilliance and fire. When understanding the 4Cs of diamonds, it’s important to note that the cut grade directly impacts the diamond’s visual appeal and value. On the other hand, a poorly cut diamond can appear dull and lackluster, negatively impacting its visual appeal and worth.

The ideal proportions for a diamond are specified in a diamond certificate, which outlines the total diameter, table size, crown height, girdle thickness, pavilion depth, crown angle, and pavilion angle. Adhering to these scientific ideal proportions ensures that the diamond achieves maximum value within the specified tolerances.

When a diamond falls within the ideal tolerance range, it receives a grade of “very good” for the proportion of cut. A variance of up to 5% still yields a “good” proportion of cut, while a variance of up to 10% results in a “medium” grade. However, a variance of 15% or more leads to a “poor” proportion of cut.

Choosing a diamond with excellent cut proportions is essential to maximize its beauty. When understanding the 4Cs of diamonds, it’s important to consider the cut grade alongside color and clarity grades to ensure the overall quality of the diamond. It’s worth noting that diamonds with a higher cut grade, combined with appropriate color and clarity grades, will generally have a higher value.

Understanding the importance of both the physical shape and proportion of a diamond’s cut, when understanding the 4Cs of diamonds, will empower you to select a diamond that exhibits exceptional sparkle, brilliance, and overall beauty.

understanding the 4Cs of diamonds

Carat.

Carat is a measurement used to express the weight of a diamond. When understanding the 4Cs of diamonds, carat weight plays a significant role in determining a diamond’s value. It is derived from the carob seed, which historically had a consistent weight of one-fifth of a gram. One carat is equal to 0.2 grams, or 200 milligrams.

It’s important to note that carat weight, when understanding the 4Cs of diamonds, does not directly translate to the size of a diamond. Different diamond cuts and proportions can result in variations in size across the top of the diamond. Therefore, carat weight alone should not be the sole determinant of a diamond’s value or appearance.

Diamonds are categorized into weight ranges, which serve as a consistent system for valuing diamonds within specific size brackets. When understanding the 4Cs of diamonds, it’s important to consider the carat weight alongside other quality factors such as cut, color, and clarity. The weight categories commonly used include:

.30-.37

.38-.45

.46-.49

.50-.69

.70-.89

.90-.99

1.00-1.49

1.50-1.99

2.00-2.99

3.00-3.99

4.00-4.99

5.00-5.99

Within each weight category, when understanding the 4Cs of diamonds, the value of a diamond is influenced not only by its weight but also by other factors such as color, clarity, and cut. As these factors improve, the value of the diamond increases accordingly.

When selecting a diamond, it’s essential to strike a balance between carat weight and other quality factors. When understanding the 4Cs of diamonds, it’s important to consider your personal preferences and budget to find the right combination that suits your needs.

It’s important to consult with a reputable diamond expert or jeweler who can guide you in understanding the relationship between carat weight and the overall appearance of a diamond. Contact us now to get expert advice and assistance in selecting the perfect diamond that meets your requirements and preferences.

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