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Diamond Guide: The 4 C's of Diamonds

May 31, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 144

Diamonds can vary massively in value depending on their quality. The quality of diamonds can be graded on four main factors, collectively known as the 4 C's. Thus, when buying diamonds it is very important to know the various characteristics of this precious stone in which they are graded by the diamond industry. Diamonds over 0.5 ct in weight are often independently graded by a diamond grading laboratory and these precious stones will be sold with a diamond grading certificate. Diamond grading encompasses various aspects of every diamond's quality, but there are 4 C's which are vital to understand:

1. Cut2. Clarity3. Color4. Carat weight


The way a diamond is polished and cut affects the brilliance and sparkle that comes from the stone. A properly cut diamond allows light to pass through the stone and reflect and refract internally, then come back out through the top of the diamond to produce a dazzling effect of brilliance, sparkle and fire (fire is the play of colour within a diamond, which is caused by refraction of light, the brilliance and sparkle is produced by total internal reflection of the light). If a diamond is badly cut, the light can escape through the bottom or sides of the precious stone which will create less fire and sparkle and therefore a duller looking diamond. Therefore a well cut diamond will be significantly more valuable than a poorly cut diamond. On a GIA diamond grading certificate the quality of the cut will be expressed as a rating on a scale of excellent, very good, good, fair and poor.


The clarity of the diamond is determined by the nature, number, size, position as well as color of the internal features of the diamond referred to as "inclusions" along with the external characteristics referred to as "blemishes". Diamond clarity can be assessed over a scale starting from internally flawless to very small inclusions (1-2) to very small inclusions (1-2) to slight inclusions (1-2) to greatly included (I-3). Diamonds are graded by eye through the use of ten times magnification under standard light conditions by a proficient grader. The internally flawless (IF) also known as Loupe Clean (LC) grading means the grader cannot see any inclusions when looking at the precious stone through a 10x magnification loupe. Although inclusions can be seen under magnification from gradings VVS1 to SI2 these would not be visible to the naked eye without magnification. However, the gradings I1 to I3 (heavily included) usually mean the inclusions are large enough to be seen even without magnification or that there are many inclusions.

The number and size of inclusions have a large effect on the beauty, brilliance and fire of a diamond as these inclusions will interfere with the total internal reflection and refraction of the light through a well cut precious stone.


Diamond colour really refers to the lack of colour in a diamond. When it comes to diamond color the less colour which is visible, the higher the grade. Ideally, diamonds must not have any color at all. The degree of this precious stone colors are tested over a certain level which range from colorless (D) to significantly colored (Z). Diamonds which have a low rating on this scale tend to have a mucky yellowish or brownish colour. Diamonds from D to H on the scale will appear white though higher ratings are whiter, but from grade I some yellow will be visible in the colour.Natural fancy coloured diamonds and synthetically coloured precious stone are also available which can have a variety of rich and vivid colors and are referred to as "fancy colors", these diamonds are generally more expensive particularly if naturally coloured and would not be graded on the same colour scale. Purely colorless diamonds are indeed rare. Hence, the whiter the diamond, the greater it's worth.

Carat Weight

Carat weight is the unit of measurement utilized to weigh diamonds. A 1 carat diamond is equal in weight to 200 milligrams or 1/5 of a gram. One carat is subdivided into 100 "points". Consequently, a diamond measuring 50 points is 1/2 carat weight or.50ct. The term "carat" is taken from the carob tree pod that can be located in tropical areas. These seeds have been used over centuries for weighing gemstones.

Choosing your diamond does not have to be a daunting task but can be an exciting one. Just keep the 4 C's in mind!

Learn more about Diamonds. For more advice and information visit Ogham Jewellery.

Source: EzineArticles
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