All About Diamonds

Without a doubt, purchasing a diamond involves finding that perfect stone and emotionally connecting to it.  But how do you narrow down your choices? You begin with The Four Cs – Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat Weight – the universal method for assessing the quality of diamonds.

The 4Cs

Cut

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The cut of the stone is the first aspect of its quality. When a diamond is cut with the ideal proportions for its shape, it reflects more light from the top, producing its fire and brilliance. On the other hand, a poorly cut diamond with improper proportions looks dull and dark because it allows light to escape out the bottom and sides. A proper cut always increases a diamond’s value.

The shape of the diamond is determined by its cut. Popular shapes include:

 

BRILLIANT (ROUND)

The brilliant-cut diamond is the most popular diamond shape, representing approximately 75% of all diamonds sold. Its shape maximizes the reflection of light from its facets.

PRINCESS CUT

The princess-cut diamond, first created in 1980, is one of the most popular diamond shapes, especially for engagement rings. Like brilliant-cut diamonds, princess-cut diamonds are a good choice because they can be used in almost any design.

OVAL

Because an oval-cut diamond is essentially a modified brilliant-cut diamond, the two diamond shapes possess  similar fire and brilliance. However, the oval cut’s elongated shape can create the illusion of greater size.

MARQUISE

The marquise-cut diamond is a football-shaped, modified brilliant-cut. Because the marquise diamond is long and narrow, it can also create the illusion of greater size. The marquise diamond has one of the largest surface areas of any diamond shape, making it a good choice when trying to maximize perceived size.

PEAR SHAPE

Another modified brilliant-cut stone, the pear-shaped diamond is a combination of a round and a marquise shape, with a tapered point on one end. Ideally, a pear shaped diamond should possess excellent or very good symmetry.

CUSHION CUT

The cushion cut diamond combines a square cut with rounded corners. This cut has been around for almost 200 years, and for the first century of its existence it was the most popular diamond shape.

EMERALD CUT

The unique look of the emerald cut diamond is due to the step cuts of its edges and its large, open top. Unlike the sparkle of brilliant-cut diamonds, emerald-cut diamonds produce rectangular reflections.

ASSCHER CUT

A forerunner to the emerald-cut diamond, the asscher-cut diamond was first produced in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Holland. The asscher-cut diamond is similar to the emerald cut, but it features a square shape with larger edge facets and a smaller top surface.

RADIANT CUT

The radiant-cut diamond is the first rectangular cut to have a complete brilliant-cut facet pattern on both its crown and its edges. The modified square shape has features of both a cushion- and a princess-cut diamond, and for that reason, it works well when set with several other shapes.

HEART SHAPE

Heart-shaped diamonds are modified brilliant-cut stones and are popular choices for both rings and solitaire pendants. Because of their delicate silhouettes, heart shapes are best when used for diamonds .5 carats or larger.

See the Cut Scale

Color

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You may think of most diamonds as “white.” But white diamonds are not always colorless. They fall on a color spectrum, ranging from light yellow to totally colorless. A lettering system from D to Z is used to identify the amount of color present in each diamond, with D awarded to only totally colorless diamonds. A colorless diamond can be graded D, E or F; near colorless, G, H, I or J. The closer a white diamond is to being colorless, the rarer it is and the higher its value.

Colorless

Colourless
D
E
F

Near Colorless

Near Colourless
G
H
I
J

Faint Yellow

Faint Yellow
K
L
M

Very Light Yellow

Very Light Yellow
N
O
P
Q
R

Light Yellow

Light Yellow
S
T
U
V
W
X
Y
Z
See the Color Scale

Clarity

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Diamonds have unique personalities, just like their wearers. No diamond is perfect. The heat and pressure required to form them create imperfections known as “inclusions” and “blemishes.” Inclusions seldom affect a diamond’s beauty; however, they do affect price.

Internally Flawless

Internally Flawless
FL
IF

Very Very Slight Inclusions

Very Very Slight Inclusions
VVS1
VVS2

Very Slight Inclusions

Very Slight Inclusions
VS1
VS2

Slight Inclusions

Slight Inclusions
SI1
SI2

Imperfect

Imperfect
I1
I2
I3
See the Clarity Scale

Carat Weight

caratImage

The final factor in choosing a diamond is its carat weight.

A diamond’s carat weight – what many people first consider when they shop for diamonds – refers to its size and weight.

Larger diamonds are scarce, and therefore more valuable. But diamonds with the same carat weight can vary greatly in value, depending on color, clarity, and cut.

A half-carat diamond with high color and clarity ratings may cost more than a three-quarter carat diamond with lower color and clarity ratings, even though they may have an identical cut. It’s simply a matter of deciding what matters most to you – size or quality – then finding the best combination of factors to suit your budget.