Tag Archives: The 4 C’s

4Cs Diamond Chart – Cut, Clarity, Carat, and Color

Posted on Aug 25,2014

Buying a diamond might seem like a daunting task especially for the first-time buyer but using established standards to determine what sets a quality stone apart from the rest should make the process a whole lot easier. Anyone who is interested in buying a diamond or learning more about diamonds should start with the 4Cs (Cut, Clarity, Carat, and Color). Established by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America), the 4Cs is the global standard used for grading and describing diamonds.

The 4Cs in Detail

The 4Cs make it easy for jewelers to set prices for diamonds and consumers to determine whether a particular diamond suits their personal preferences. A diamond’s characteristics based on standards of cut, color, clarity, and carat heavily determines its value.

Cut

Some people mistake a diamond’s cut for a diamond’s shape. Cut is different from shape. A diamond’s cut refers to how it is proportioned, its symmetry, and as well as its polish.  A diamond’s cut is determined not only by the quality of the rough stone but by the craftsmanship and preciseness of the diamond cutter. Cut is very important in a diamond, as it can greatly affect its external appearance. Even the most flawless of diamonds can look dull if not cut to exacting proportions.

The GIA uses the following grading system to describe a diamond’s cut:

Excellent

A diamond with an excellent cut grade offers maximum fire (amount of light that is reflected by the diamond as result of the optimum dispersion of light as it enters the diamond) and brilliance (brightness of the diamond). It is neither cut too deep nor too shallow. It also has excellent symmetry (refers to how each facet of a diamond is angled to allow for maximum brilliance) and has excellent polish  (refers to how smooth each facet is).

A diamond that has an excellent cut grade is able to reflect most of the light that enters the diamond.

Very Good

Diamonds that are graded “Very Good” are cheaper than excellent cuts but are almost very similar in terms of fire and brilliance when viewed with normal lighting. While there are differences in cut quality compared to excellent cut diamonds, it is unnoticeable to the untrained eye.

Good

Diamonds that are graded “Good” in terms of cut quality offer the best value for money. They are not nearly as expensive as diamonds with very good or excellent cut grades but they offer superior fire and brilliance. Such diamonds are able to reflect most of the light that enters the diamond.

Fair

A diamond with a fair cut grade allows most of the light that enters the stone to escape either from the bottom or the sides of the diamond. As such, fire and brilliance is significantly reduced resulting in a dull and lifeless appearance especially for bigger stones. It is recommended not to get a diamond with a fair cut grade for stones that are bigger than .75 carats, as the effects of the cut quality are quite apparent.

Poor

Diamonds of poor cut grading cannot reflect majority of the light that enters it. Instead, most of the light is allowed to escape from the bottom and sides. As a result, diamonds of this caliber are very dull and lifeless. Most jewelers don’t offer diamonds of poor cut grades because of the low demand.

Since Cut is the most important quality when it comes to a diamond’s appearance, it is important to pay close attention to a diamond’s cut grade. Cut is extremely important in brilliant cuts like the round brilliant and princess cut, as these diamond shapes are valued for their excellent fire and brilliance.

Clarity

Most diamonds contain inclusions (imperfections within the diamond). Inclusions that are concealed or hidden from plain sight are ideal because they don’t affect the way a diamond reflects light. Inclusions that are very visible can affect the way light bounces on individual facets of a diamond and can therefore greatly affect a diamond’s fire, brilliance, and scintillation.

A diamond’s clarity is graded based on the quantity of inclusions and their location in the diamond.  The GIA uses the following parameters to describe a diamond’s clarity grade:

FL (Flawless)

Do not contain any visible inclusions (internal flaws) and blemishes (flaws located on the surface) even under 10x magnification. These diamonds are virtually flawless and are extremely rare and expensive.

IF (Internally Flawless)

IF diamonds have no visible inclusions or blemishes unless viewed under 10x magnification by a trained expert.

VVS1 VVS2 (Very Very Slightly Included)

VVS1 and VVS2 diamonds contain some inclusions and blemishes but they are not visible to the untrained eye. Even under 10x magnification, only a skilled grader is able to spot the inclusions on a diamond of VVS1 or VVS2 Clarity.

 

VS1 VS2 (Very Slightly Included)

Diamonds of VS1 or VS2 clarity grades contain minor inclusions that are not visible to the naked eye. The inclusions can only be seen under 10x magnification.

SI1 SI2 (Slightly Included)

Diamonds with SI1 clarity contain inclusions that are still invisible to the naked eye and can usually only be observed under 10x magnification. SI2 diamonds, on the other hand, contain inclusions that can be seen by the naked eye upon close inspection.

I1, I2, I3 (Included)

I1 to I3 Diamonds contain very visible inclusions that can be observed by the naked eye. I2 and I3 diamonds usually contain inclusions that can affect a diamond’s overall quality and appearance.

Color

The color of diamonds, except for fancy color diamonds, are graded based on the absence of color in the diamond. Colorless diamonds are very clear and contain no traces of color (e.g. yellow or brown).

Diamond color is graded on a scale of D to Z. D, E, and F diamonds are considered the rarest, as they are virtually colorless whereas diamonds in the G and H color range are near colorless except for a slight tinge which can be eliminated with the proper setting (e.g. white gold or platinum). Diamonds in the I to J color range offer the best value for money, as they are about 10% cheaper than diamonds in the G to H range but still appear colorless to the naked eye.

The chart below illustrates the color range of diamonds from A to Z.

Diamond Color Chart

Carat Weight

While many people think of carat weight in relation to a diamond’s size, it actually refers to how heavy a diamond is. The size of a diamond is determined by its diameter and crown size (measured in mm and mm2, respectively).

A diamond’s value increases the heavier it is, although two diamonds of the same carat size can have different prices depending on their cut, color, and clarity. In addition, two diamonds of the same carat weight can have different sizes depending on how they are cut.

Most diamonds of equal quality are sold on a price-per-carat basis. So if a diamond is priced at $3000 per carat, you can expect to pay double that amount for a 2-carat diamond of the same quality. This system makes it easier to compare prices and determine budgets for diamonds of the same quality.

The chart below illustrates different diamonds of varying carat weights in relation to their size in mm.

Diamond Carat Weight

Posted in  Diamond Cuts, Types of Diamonds |   Tagged 

 

Diamond Color Chart & Guide – What Different Colors Do Diamonds Come In?

Posted on Jul 23,2014

Diamonds come in a wide-range of colors (e.g. pink, blue, black, yellow) but in white diamonds color actually refers to the absence of color in the diamond. White diamonds are valued higher; the more colorless they appear to the naked eye.

Color is a very important characteristic in a white diamond. Part of the 4Cs of diamond grading, it is one of the most important factors that consumers consider when purchasing a stone. The GIA uses a scale of D to Z when grading diamond color, with D being the most colorless and Z showing the most color. While diamonds on the lower end of the scale can show some color, they are still categorized as white diamonds. Fancy yellow diamonds are graded differently and are valued higher the more color they show.

Diamond Color Guide for White Diamonds

Diamond Color Chart

Colorless Diamonds

D, E, F

D to F diamonds are all graded as colorless diamonds. Despite belonging to the same colorless grade, there are slight differences in color among the three but it’s difficult to spot with an untrained eye. Only gemologists and trained valuation experts are able to notice these differences in color.

Near Colorless Diamonds

G, H

G and H Diamonds are near colorless. While they show some color, it is barely visible to the naked eye. As such, diamonds in the G to H range are still considered very valuable and are priced very high.

Near Colorless – Slightly Tinted

I, J

Still categorized as near colorless, I to J diamonds are abundant in jewelry stores and other retail establishments. Such diamonds offer great value to consumers, as they sell for much lower than diamonds in the D to F range and diamonds in the G to H range white still maintaining a near colorless appearance especially when set in a platinum or white gold band. Diamonds in these color grades typically retail for 50% less than those in the D to F range.

Faint Yellow

K, L, M

Diamonds in this color range often carry some noticeable color that can be seen by the naked, untrained eye. They usually sell for half the price of diamonds in the G to H range. Setting a diamond in this color range on a platinum or white gold setting may lessen the visible yellow tinge but color is still visible when viewed up-close.

Very Light Yellow

N to R

N to R diamonds show more color than those in the K to M range and are usually avoided by many, as the yellow color may sometimes appear brown and murky. Due to the presence of color, there isn’t a very high demand for diamonds in this color range. As such, most jewelers don’t carry diamonds in the N to R color range.

Light Yellow

S to Z

Diamonds in the S to Z range show a lot of color. Like diamonds in the N to R range, there is a low demand for diamonds in this color range, which is why few jewelers stock such diamonds.

Yellow and Brown Diamonds

Diamonds that show an intense yellow or brown color are graded as fancy color diamonds. The color in these diamonds are much more intense than Z-color diamonds and are valued not for the absence of color but rather for the presence of color. The Tiffany Diamond is one of the most valuable fancy yellow diamonds discovered. It is also one of the largest, weighing 287.42 carats. Fancy yellow diamonds have gained popularity in recent years due to jewelry chains like Tiffany and Co. and some celebrity engagements.

Other Fancy Color Diamonds

Unlike colorless diamonds, which are graded for the absence of color on the stone, fancy color diamonds like blue, pink, and black are graded for the presence of color in the stone. The more intense and saturated the color in fancy color diamonds, the higher the value.

Since diamonds are priced and valued for their rarity, fancy color diamonds typically sell for much higher than colorless diamonds (sometimes, even higher than colorless diamonds in the D to F color range).

Some of the most expensive diamonds in the world are green diamonds, blue diamonds, and pink diamonds that are high in saturation. Natural black diamonds can also be very expensive especially since most black diamonds in the market are lab treated low-grade colorless diamonds.

Like white diamonds, slight differences in color on fancy color diamonds can significantly affect its value and price.

Since not all diamonds of the same color show the same amount of intensity and saturation, they are graded based on the intensity of the color they show when in the face-up position.  They are classified using the following color grades: Faint, Very Light, Light, Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Intense, Fancy Dark, Fancy Deep, and Fancy Vivid.

Basically, the more intense and saturated the color is in a fancy color diamond, the more valuable and expensive it is.

Available Colors

Fancy Colored Diamonds

Diamond colors come in a very large variety and gem laboratories use 27 different color hues to describe a diamond (e.g. orange, red, green, blue, violet, purple, orangish red, bluish-green, bluish-violet, reddish-purple, etc.)

Diamond colors can come in red, pink, purple, yellow, blue, steel gray, black, milky white, and brown. Of all the fancy color diamonds, brown diamonds are the most common. Despite being the earliest diamonds used in jewelry, they are not very popular with consumers. Consumers usually prefer brown diamonds that are very dark in color compared to lighter varieties.

Aside from rarity, fancy color diamonds typically increase in popularity when they are featured in celebrity engagements and other high-profile engagements.

Posted in  Diamond Colors, Types of Diamonds |   Tagged 

 

What is a Cushion Cut Diamond?

Posted on May 28,2014

Cushion Cut DiamondA cushion cut diamond, also known as pillow-cut, is a square-shaped diamond with rounded corners. Unlike other fancy cuts that are relatively newer, the cushion cut has been around for almost two centuries and before the round brilliant cut rose in popularity; the cushion cut was the cut of choice among many diamond buyers.

Today, due to its popularity especially with celebrity engagements, the cushion cut has become the third most popular diamond cut next to the round brilliant and princess cuts.

The primary appeal of a cushion cut diamond, aside from its unique shape, is its fire and brilliance. Cushion cut diamonds have larger facets, which increase their brilliance and showcases their clarity.  For more information on the 4C’s, you can take a look at our diamond grading page.

Characteristics

Cut

Traditionally, the cushion cut had a bigger culet but this has been decreased over the decades as a result of cut improvements. While cushion cuts are traditionally square, some may prefer more rectangular cuts but the rounded corners remain a key feature.

The ideal length to width ratio of square cushion cuts is 1.00 (a perfect square) but anything within the 1.00 to 1.05 range is still considered an ideal square.

Those who prefer slightly more rectangular cuts should look for a length to width ratio of 1.10 to 1.20. The basic range for table and depth percentages for cushion cuts is 54% to 62% and 59% to 64%, respectively.

However, since cushion cuts have more variety when it comes to its characteristics, some may prefer table and depth percentages within 58% to 67%. It is recommended that the table percentage be smaller than the depth percentage but this is also a matter of personal taste.

Since small to no culets are preferred in modern cuts, a very good cut should have a very small culet and an excellent cut should have no culet.

Loose Cushion Cut DiamondColor

Like other fancy cut diamonds, color is subjective in cushion cut diamonds. If you prefer colorless cushion cuts or as close to colorless as possible, look for diamonds within the D to G color range for stones less than .50 carats. As for stones bigger than half a carat, look for diamonds within the D to F range. Some people may prefer more color in cushion cut diamonds because it adds to its antique charm.

Clarity

Since cushion cuts have larger facets that emphasize its clarity, inclusions are more obvious in cushion cuts than they are in round brilliant cuts. If you’re purchasing a diamond within the SI range clarity, make sure that the inclusions are not in the visible areas. Depending on your setting, you can conceal more obvious inclusions with accent stones such as in a halo setting. As with most cuts, diamonds that are smaller than .50 carats within the SI range are still considered “Very Good” but the bigger the diamond, the more obvious the inclusions. So if you are considering a bigger stone, you have to pay close attention to where these inclusions are located within the stone.

Setting

While solitaire cushion cuts are also relatively popular, the most popular setting for cushion cuts for consumers is the halo setting, as it makes the main stone look bigger. A halo setting also gives it a more elegant, regal charm. Some may also prefer a halo setting along with a pave band to give the ring more sparkle. When placed in a halo setting, some people may prefer the bezel set design over the prong set design, although this is also a matter of personal preference.

Posted in  Diamond Cuts, Diamond Engagement Rings, Types of Diamonds |   Tagged