Diamonds: Beyond the 4C’s

4Cs, Big, Blog, carat, clarity, color, cut, diamond -

Diamonds: Beyond the 4C’s

    For my first topic,I chose to discuss diamond sizes since I feel it is almost always the first thing on customers mind when shopping for a diamond. The 4Cs: Cut,Color, Clarity, and Carat weight grades seem to be the first thing most diamond buyers learn and inquire about. My aim in this blog is to show how these four specifications affect diamond selection and whether the process should be based on the 4Cs alone. In doing so, I hope to shed some light onto the art of the diamond selection process and how it can empower buyers to make exceptional decisions regarding the diamond choices available to them at their desired budget.

Diamonds today are universally assessed by the 4Cs, so let’s quickly skim through the meaning of each C and how it affects the pricing and quality of the diamond. The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) was the first institution to formalize these terms and grade diamonds using these four specifications.

The first C is the cut grade. This ranks the sparkle intensity of the diamond as determined by how well the cut symmetry and polishing deliver on mirroring incoming light that diamonds are renowned to reflect. All things being equal, a round brilliant cut diamond is the most expensive in the market due to greater demand as well as the high number of facets and precise craftsmanship needed to intensify its sparkle.

Cut description

The second C is the color grade. When it comes to color a diamond that has no hue, like a drop of pure water, commands the highest price. Therefore, the more color is absent in a diamond the more expensive it tends to be. Even if the difference in colors is not clear to the naked eye, the distinction between each color grade that is given by accredited diamond graders can have a significant impact on the quality grading and hence the price of the diamond.

The third C is clarity, a grade given to judge the inclusions and blemishes forming the distinct diamond being graded. As most of us know, diamonds are formed from carbon being compressed in extreme temperature and high-pressure environments. Such environments are the cause for each diamond to have specific characteristics unique to each one; hence it is very difficult to find two diamonds with identical purities. The less internal and external characteristics present, the better the purity, and the higher the clarity grade. Even though these clarity characteristics are what make your diamond different from any other, they are seen as a factor that diminish the ideal of a ‘fully pure diamond’.

Clarity grades

The fourth and final C is carat weight. This simply refers to the actual weight of the diamond as measured in carats where 1 carat = 0.2 grams. Like most commodities, diamonds are priced according to their weight, so again all things being equal, the heavier the diamond the higher the price. In my opinion, this is the most considerable C to most diamond buyers. The reason for this is that larger diamonds are generally more desirable because they are more rare (or perhaps because they attract more attention!), and greater carat weight in a diamond tends to be a good indicator of how big the diamond can be.

Carat Weight

All 4Cs should be considered equally when choosing a diamond. However, one should bear in mind that these grading systems and patterns are not just used by consumers to judge a diamond. They are also utilized by many diamond cutters in the industry to maximize their profits. For example, a cutter will tend to make a diamond thicker in the middle to increase its weight while at the same time polish blemishes on the top surface to increase clarity, therefore cutting it in a way that makes consumers feel like they are buying a bigger diamond, whereas in reality the diamond could be smaller spread-wise. This brings us to a point I feel is key to choosing the perfect diamond (drum roll please)... the importance of the spread of the diamond. The carat weight should not be the first thing considered when trying to measure how big the diamond looks because each diamond has a special carat weight distribution. What I mean by that is how the carats are spread in a specific diamond (is it in the belly and just resulting in an overweight diamond or in depth and buried beneath the surface or in the width and nicely distributed on the surface of the diamond) is different from one to another and that tends to reflect on the appearance of a specific diamond. Consumers here can make use of the certificate to compare (length/width) measurements of each diamond. Measurements and depth are usually given right before carat weight, hence giving the consumer a clue to evaluate such data before making a final decision.

For example, a 0.9 carat diamond with higher than average length/width measurements tends to be less expensive than a 1 carat diamond that has a lower than average measurements. With all other factors equal, these two diamonds will have similar spreads and as a result will look equally big on a set ring. The smart decision would be to buy the lower carat diamond (0.9 carat in our example) and get the same spread as the higher carat diamond (1 carat in our example) for a cheaper price. Of course, there is a catch to this. This decision should be carefully calculated by your trusted jeweler to ensure there is no sacrifice of brilliance in the wider than average diamond. 

1ct diff size

This brings us to the end of this week's post. I hope you all enjoyed it. Please feel free to leave comments or ask me any questions or request further clarifications on this topic!

Your jewellery ruminator,


1 comment

  • Reem Sh

    Very informative, thanks for sharing!

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