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Understanding the 4C’s of Diamonds

Every diamond is unique unto itself. Like snowflakes, there are no two exactly alike. For centuries people have treasured diamonds, so much so that they have become a metaphor for love.

Decades ago, people fought over what the perfect diamond should look like. Today, the globally accepted standard for distinguishing brilliant diamonds from poor diamonds is known as the 4C’s of diamond quality: Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat Weight. The conception of the 4C’s of diamonds chart meant that diamond customers, whether avid or novice, could know exactly what they were about to purchase. Because diamonds have become increasingly valuable over the years, it is beneficial to know what each of the 4C’s represents before purchasing your next (or first) diamond.

Color – The word color in diamonds refers to the absence of color. A perfect diamond has absolutely no hue. The less color a stone has, the more valuable and desirable it is. Most diamonds are off- white, which drives the high price of rare absolutely colorless stones. While most of these differences are not visible to the untrained eye, knowing the color evaluation for a particular diamond is fundamental to understanding its overall value.

Clarity – Clarity is one of the more important C’s in the 4C’s of diamonds. A diamond’s clarity refers to the presence of inclusions or flaws; how many there are, their size, and where they are positioned in the stone. It is important to remember that diamonds are the result of carbon exposed to tremendous heat and pressure deep within the earth’s core. Such characteristics are commonplace in most diamonds, which is why perfect diamonds are so rare and extremely valuable. It is beneficial to remember that every diamond has its own unique characteristics, most of which are difficult to detect without close examination.

Cut – When most people think of a diamond’s cut they think of its shape (round, emerald, pear), but in truth a diamond’s cut is more about proportions, angles, and symmetry and how well the facets interact with light. Cut, sometimes the forgotten C of the 4C’s, ensures that a given diamond has maximum scintillation and brilliance, which would not happen if the stone were cut for weight alone. A diamond with a deep cut has ideal proportions as it will direct light through the crown, whereas narrow and flat stones will emit light from the side or bottom. A diamond's brilliance depends on superior craftsmanship. A diamond that is well cut will have more scintillation, fire and brightness than one that is inferior.

Carat Weight – The last of the C’s on the 4C’s of diamonds chart is carat weight. Diamonds are weighed by points; a quarter carat diamond has 25 point a half carat diamond has 50 points and so on. The larger the carat weight, the more rare the diamond, the more desirable and expensive it is, regardless of its quality.