The Four C’s of Diamonds – Carat, Color, Clarity and Cut
The value of a diamond is determined using four main factors often referred to as the Four C’s of Diamonds. They are Carat (or size), Color (the tint of the crystal), Clarity (the number of inclusions or flaws) and Cut (the treatment after mining). Defined below, each are considered when determining the price of a raw diamond.
A diamond’s weight is determined in units called carats. Carats are measure in point. One carat is the equivalent of 100 points. The carat is easily determined using a diamond scale. This fixed physical attribute is the easiest of the four C’s to identify. A diamond’s value is a loose algorithm of the four C’s interacting. Thus, two stones of equal carat weight may not have the same final value determination.
As you would deduce, color refers to the overall color the gemstone shows. This is often determined by placing the stone on a white card. The top color for a diamond (specialty colors aside) is no color or colorless.
There is a standard scale for measuring diamond color established by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). This scale used alpha characters to represent colors along a scale from D (colorless) to Z (yellow). Specialty colors are graded Z and higher.
The human eye can detect color starting around the J grade, so jewelry items are set with J grade stones and better. The finest D grade stones are usually held as investment stones.
The crystalline structure of a diamond is unique among gemstones, as diamonds are the only one made completely of a single element – carbon. However, the stone may have that influence the color and shape of the natural crystal. Clarity is a rating of the degree to which light passes through an individual the diamond. It is a determination of the diamonds internal flaws.
Inclusions and natural impressions on the stone are often referred to as “pedigree markers” or “birthmarks.” These are naturally formed and part of the diamond’s character. They are part of the value determination. Some impressions are results from the cutting and also are factored into clarity.
GIA has 11 established grades of clarity, from Included (with visible inclusions and/or impressions) to Flawless (devoid of inclusions or internal blemishes).
The cut of a diamond has one of the biggest influences on the visual appeal. The term “cut” not only refers to the diamonds shape, but refers to the proportion of the table and how the facets affect the light as it passes through the stone. The symmetry and presentation will affect the stones presentation.
It is the cut that has the most influence on a diamonds visual appeal. The sparkle, brilliance and scintillation are all determined by the cut.
A quality cut has to be predetermined by a master. The raw stone is presumable cut into the best shape to maximize the stones natural characteristics. Some older stones are recut to maximize the brilliance for jewelry or other cosmetic uses.
At U.S. Coins and Jewelry we have GIA trained staff members to evaluate items coming into the storefront. Most of the jewelry items we sell come with certification and everything has our unconditional guarantee of authenticity.