Breaking Down The 4 C’s
Embarking on your engagement ring shopping journey can be daunting. There is so much information (and misinformation) that it can make the diamond section process confusing. Here we will break down everything you need to know about buying a diamond that best suits your needs.
The first and most common starting point is the Carat weight of the diamond. Carat is a measurement of how much a diamond weighs. When looking for a diamond, carat should be used as a guideline but not the determining factor in your selection. It is almost important to note that the carat weight is not necessarily the best indication of how large a stone will appear, rather the measurements of the diamond are a more important reflection of “size”. This means that a diamond should have ideal proportions for its carat weight, so the weight of the diamond is evenly distributed throughout the top “face” of the stone, and not hidden in the depth of the diamond.
A diamond’s Clarity grade is based on the number, size, and location of the imperfections that naturally occur in a diamond. Most imperfections tend to be microscopic and generally do not affect the overall beauty of a stone. These inclusions are natural identifying marks that occur during the diamond formation process. Clarity is graded on a scale ranging from Flawless to Included, and the visibility of the inclusions are graded under 10x magnification.
When selecting a diamond, the buyer will determine if he/she is comfortable with the inclusions in a particular stone, since every diamond will have a different occurrence of imperfections. It is best to assess clarity with the naked eye first, before using a diamond loupe to evaluate inclusions under magnification. Once a diamond is purchased and set into a piece of jewelry, it is rarely viewed under magnification, so we encourage our clients to make a purchase based on the “naked eye” view.
Color is generally considered the second most important attribute when selecting a diamond. This is because it’s usually the most noticeable characteristic, after size. A diamond’s color grade refers to the presence or lack of “tint” in the diamond. In a white diamond, this would be a presence or lack of yellow.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) grades diamond color on a scale from D to Z. We typically work with diamonds in the Colorless and Near Colorless ranges (D,E,F and G,H,I,J)
The Cut is the most objective and scientific measurement of a diamond’s proportions, arrangement and alignment of the facets, and quality of the polish. In an ideally cut stone, the light entering the diamond reflects and refracts creating the fire, brilliance, and scintillation (“sparkle”) in the stone. The Cut is a result of the artistry and craftsmanship of the diamond cutter, to maximize the return of light. An important note here is that Fancy Shape diamonds (ie. Emeralds, Cushions, Ovals, Pears, etc.) do not receive one single cut grade, rather they are graded on their Polish and Symmetry. The grading system is the same, so ideally you find a diamond with Excellent or Very Good Polish and Symmetry grades. However, a Round Brilliant diamond will receive three grades - Cut, Polish, and Symmetry. For engagement rings, we always opt for a “Triple Excellent” Round diamond, meaning that all three categories will be graded “Excellent”.
Cut vs Shape
Of the 4 Cs, the "Cut" is the most crucial component to a particular stone’s overall beauty. The Cut should not be confused with the “shape” of a diamond. How well a diamond is cut will greatly impact its overall beauty and brilliance.
When purchasing a diamond it is important to find the best balance of the 4 C’s, prioritizing what the purchaser and/or wearer will value most. Generally there will be some type of compromise made in the purchasing process to stay within a budget, so consider if size or quality would best suit the end result you are wanting to achieve.
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