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Jun 23

The 4 Cs For Loose Diamonds – Carat Weight, Color, Clarity, and Cut

Color

Completely colorless diamonds are extremely rare. While most diamonds may appear to be colorless (white), if examined closely, most have subtle yellow shades that can be seen when comparing two diamonds next to one another or under a jeweler’s loupe or microscope. Colors in a diamond are not always bad, as pink, blue, and black diamonds have become increasingly popular in recent years. As with all precious stones, different diamond colors are a result of trace elements present within the diamond. The GIA has created a color grading scale for “white” diamonds that can help to identify the shade of the diamond (representing how much of the trace elements exist).

Diamonds are graded according to the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) color chart.

D,E,F – Colorless. Stone looks completely clear. These are the highest priced stones. Approximate price for VS1 Clarity, 1 carat round diamond: $15,000

G,H,I,J – Near Colorless. Some yellow or brown color is visible when the stone is not mounted. When mounted, the stone appears colorless. This range is considered very good value for the money. Approximate price for VS1 Clarity, 1 carat round diamond: $10,000

K,L,M – Light Yellow. Yellow tint shows. When mounted this still appears tinted. Approximate price for VS1 Clarity, 1 carat round diamond: $5,000

N-Y – Yellow. Strong yellow color. These stones are not used in much fine jewelry. Approximate price for VS1 Clarity, 1 carat round diamond: Less than $3,500

Z+ – Fancy. Bright, remarkable color. Usually blue, pink, yellow, etc. Approximate price for VS1 Clarity, 1 carat round diamond: More than $10,000.

Clarity

Diamond Clarity is a way to measure the extent of a diamond’s internal flaws. A diamond that does not have many flaws (known as inclusions in the diamond world) is, as one would expect, of higher quality and price. This is because inclusions interfere with the light’s ability to shine through a diamond, making the diamond appear less brilliant. A diamond that sparkles very brightly is likely to have very few inclusions. Grading labs such as the GIA view diamonds under magnification to determine their clarity. The good news is that very small inclusions will not detract from a diamond’s beauty or cause it to be less durable.

Flawless and internally flawless diamonds make up less than 1% of all diamonds that have been found. Because of their brilliance and shine, they are used in the finest jewelry. Similarly, VVS diamonds are also difficult to find and one will have to pay a premium price to obtain one. As the size of the diamond increases, so does the ability to see inclusions. This makes quality more important as the diamond size increases. The majority of jewelry is made with lower quality diamonds – though these diamonds are great for “fillers” in jewelry, but for the larger stones in rings, earrings, or necklaces, higher quality diamonds should be used. The general diamond clarity scale is shown below:

Flawless – These diamonds are completely flawless and have no internal or external flaws. They are the most rare of all diamonds.

Internally Flawless – These diamonds may have external flaws but have no internal. They are still very rare and extremely beautiful diamonds.

VVS1, VVS2 – Very, Very Slightly Included. These have very small flaws or inclusions that are difficult to see even under a jeweler’s loupe or microscope at 10X magnification.

VS1, VS2 – Very Slightly Included. These diamonds have inclusions that generally cannot be seen by a naked eye. They are less expensive than VVS diamonds and provide excellent value for the money. Care should be taken with larger diamonds or those with fewer cuts, because some inclusions may be visible.

SI1, SI2 – Slightly Included. These diamonds have inclusions that are visible either under magnification or the naked eye. They also represent an excellent value, since in certain cuts the inclusions are not necessarily visible by the naked eye. These inclusions, as described previously, do detract from the brilliance of the diamond, so it will not shine as brightly as a VVS or flawless diamond with all the other same characteristics. These should be evaluated carefully before buying, as they are more variable in quality.

SI3 – Slightly Included to Included. SI3 is only recognized by the EGL and not the GIA or some other labs. An SI3 diamond is often equivalent to a GIA I1 diamond. These diamonds have visible inclusions and are less brilliant than the diamonds above.

I1 – Included. I1 diamonds generally have one major flaw. The diamond should still shine, but the clarity can be extremely variable. You should exercise a lot of caution when buying one of these diamonds. They can appear to be a great deal – you can buy a large diamond for relatively little money, but once you mount the diamond it may reflect very little light and will not appear to be very “clean” or “shiny.”

I2, I3 – Included. Included diamonds are the lowest quality diamonds. They may appear to be cloudy from cracks or large inclusions. They should be avoided if at all possible.

Carat

Because diamonds can be cut to almost any size, diamonds are measured by weight. The standard unit of measurement for diamonds is the carat, which is equal to 0.2 grams. To give an idea of how much a carat is, there are about 2300 carats in a pound. Since carat is still a pretty rough unit of measurement, gemologists have created “points.” There are 100 points in 1 carat. But weight is not the only important factor that determines price. Two diamonds that weigh the same can have very different prices, due to the differences in quality as you learned above.

When diamonds increase in size (especially past 1 carat), the price begins to rise exponentially. This is just because of how rare diamonds are. It’s easy to make small diamonds out of large ones. It’s far less easy to pack together a bunch of small diamonds to make a large one.

Cut

When a diamond is found, it looks more like a piece of crystal or sandblasted glass. To make it look like a diamond, the gem is cut and polished by gemcutters or manufacturers that follow a precise method to cut “facets” or small angled pieces on the outer faces of the diamond. The table is the largest facet of the diamond that you would see when looking straight at the diamond. The crown is just below that, and the girdle is the largest or widest part of the diamond. On a round cut diamond, the pavilion is just below the girdle and leads to the pointy tip of the diamond, called the cutlet.

The diamond’s cut is a large part of why it shines so brightly and looks so beautiful. A perfectly cut diamond reflects the light back up toward the viewer’s eyes, causing the diamond to look bright and shiny. If a diamond is cut “shallow,” or the distance from the table to the cutlet is shorter than it should be, the light will be reflected away and the diamond will be less brilliant. Similarly, if the diamond is cut too deep, the light will shine out of the pavilion and will not make the top (table and crown) appear bright and lovely.

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