Star129 Education: the 4 C’s
The 4 Cs of a diamond – cut, color, clarity, and carat - are the most important characteristics to comprehend when buying a diamond. These characteristics allow you to compare and contrast a diamond’s quality and value. These 4 characteristics make up the diamond’s grade. Each “C” also has its own scale of grading to determine quality. The combination of these helps sellers set the ideal price for a diamond.
The Cut refers to the stone’s facet pattern, shape, and polish. Cut is the most important of the 4 Cs because it has the greatest influence on a diamond’s brilliance. Diamonds can be cut to optimize carat weight or possibly to minimize or completely hide the look of inclusions. Three things determine the quality of a cut diamond: proportion, symmetry, and polish.
- Proportion: relative angle and size for each diamond facet
- Symmetry: precision of the design cut
- Polish: luster and smoothness of the surface of the diamond
The cut grade scale most often uses GIA standards to describe the diamond as Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor. A diamond’s cut often speaks for itself when determining quality.
Color is often referred to as the second most important of the 4 Cs. Color actually refers to the lack of color in a diamond; the less color a diamond possesses, the higher the grade. The grading scale for this C is built of 5 groups which totals 23 letters to reflect each color.
- D-F: colorless, rarest, and most expensive
- G-J: near colorless, appears white but more affordable
- K-M: faint yellow, will show a tint of color
- N-R: very light yellow
- S-Z: light yellow
Clarity of a diamond refers to the assessment of imperfections in or blemishes on a stone. Imperfections are normal because a diamond is natural; in fact, only 2% of diamonds in the world are actually flawless. Flawless meaning a diamond with no imperfections at all which is the highest grade of the clarity scale. There are 5 main categories for this scale with 11 grades in all.
- F: Flawless inside and out
- IF: Internally flawless, blemishes on the surface
- VVS1/VVS2: very, very slightly included
- VS1/VS2: very slightly included
- SI1/SI2/SI3: slightly included
- I1/I2/I3: included and detectable to the naked eye
Carat weight is a term used to refer to a diamond’s total weight not its size. The weight is measured in carats, 100 points is equal to 1 carat. This scale allows for precise measurements to the hundredth decimal place. Simply, as a diamond’s carat weight increases so does its price.