Behind the Blue Awning – The 4 C’s

So, you are thinking about popping the question. Before you rush in to buy a ring, we’d like to share some basics about diamonds that you will want to know before you come to see us.  These basics are universally referred to as The 4 C’s. Everyone seems to know they are important, but many don’t know what The 4 C’s represent – Color, Cut, Clarity, and Carat weight.  Who determines the grades for The 4 C’s? The benchmark of grading was established by The Gemological Institute of America (GIA). It is by their standards that diamonds are graded and certified.

Diamond Color

Color – is graded D to Z, with D being the highest color grade and Z the lowest. Diamonds are graded by their lack of color, rather than more color. Therefore, if a diamond is rated “G” in color, it is showing more color than a “D”. The difference between two consecutive color grades are slight, but when comparing a “D” to a “J” color, one can determine the difference more easily. Color grade of diamonds becomes even more important when the mounting color is white vs. yellow gold. If you are considering a white gold mounting, it is best to stay at “J” color or better. A yellow gold mounting won’t contrast the color as much, so you can get away with a color grade lower than “J” without compromising on the look of the jewelry.

Diamond Cut

Cut – of a diamond is expressed on a scale from Excellent to Poor. The cut grade is determined by the interaction of the diamond’s facets with light. Cut is the most complex and technically difficult of The 4 C’s to explain to customers. A diamond grader calculates the proportions of the facets that influence the diamond’s appearance and how well the diamond interacts with light to provide the desired effects of brilliance, fire, and scintillation. Brilliance is the internal and external white light reflections from the diamond. Fire is the scattering of the white light into rainbow colors. Scintillation is the amount of sparkle a diamond produces. The cut of your diamond determines the sparkle and light reflections you see in and out of the diamond.

Diamond Clarity

Clarity – grade is determined by the size, number, and position of inclusions in a diamond. Inclusions are not necessarily a negative characteristic of a diamond; they occur when a diamond is formed in the earth. All diamonds have inclusions or characteristics as they are also known, and are unique identifiers of each diamond. The clarity grades are: Flawless (FL), Internally Flawless (IF), Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2), Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2), Slightly Included (S1 and S2), and Included (I1 and I2). Diamond clarity is graded under 10x magnifications. VS1 and above means the inclusions will not be noticeable without magnification; SI1 and SI2 graded diamonds’ inclusions may be seen by the naked eye.

Diamond Carat

Carat – is the standard unit of weight of a diamond.  A carat is divided into 100 points and is displayed as a decimal; a 25-point diamond weighs 0.25 carats. Diamonds are weighted to the thousandth of a carat, then rounded up to the hundredth.  A fraction of a carat can influence the cost considerably which is why the carat weight is so important. A carat is equal to 0.2 grams exactly. Carat weight is often confused with the visual size of the diamond; not all diamonds of equal carat weight will appear the same due to differing measurements. Larger carat weight diamonds are more expensive because they are scarcer than lesser carat weight stones.

At The Jewelry Shop we take pride in educating customers about diamonds so they can make informed decisions.  We have a microscope so that you can see the unique identifiers in any diamond you are considering. We can show you color differences in diamonds, and help you see why diamond cut is so important. We will help you find the carat stone that is the perfect choice for you. We encourage you to shop around; with a little knowledge under your belt, you will feel more confident in having conversations about the diamonds you see. Are you ready to get started?  We hope to see you soon!

To view an informative video: How to Choose a Diamond by GIA