4 C's of Diamonds
The four "C"s of Diamonds: Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat
Diamond Color: The diamond color scale starts at D and goes to Z. Many of the differences between the colorless and near colorless grades are so subtle that they are barely noticeable to the naked eye, however, color grading can greatly impact diamond pricing. Here are the breakdowns of the GIA color scale:
D,E,F,G - Colorless
H,I,J,K - Near Colorless
LMNO - Faint
P through U - Very Light
V through Z - Light
Sometimes you will hear the word "fancy" diamond which generally refers to actual/true yellow or brown diamonds that are deeper than Z, or a diamond that is another color altogether.
Diamond Clarity: This scale has 6 categories which are divided into subcategories for a total of 11 specific grades.
- Flawless (FL) - No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10x magnification.
- Internally Flawless (IF) - No inclusions visible under 10x magnification.
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) -Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification.
- Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) - Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor.
- Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) - Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification.
- Included (I1, I2, and I3) - Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance.
Many inclusions and blemishes are too tiny to be seen by the naked eye, and so, for example a VS1 and an SI2 diamond may look exactly the same. However, a trained diamond grader would see a difference under magnification and the clarity could greatly impact diamond pricing. Many diamond buyers choose a clarity that at minimum will not affect a stone's transparency and brilliance. Some people may refer to this as "eye clean".
Diamond Cut: A diamond's cut does not just refer to the shape of the diamond. A diamond is evaluated by a trained diamond grader as they look at the many facets of the stone and how they impact the "face up" appearance (looking at the diamond from the top). The qualites that are evaluated are the brightness (the white light reflected), the fire (the scattering of light), and the scintillation (how well it sparkles). They are then rated as follows: excellent, very good, good, fair, and poor.
Diamond Carat: Carat is a diamond's weight. A carat can be divided into 100 points. Sometimes a jeweler will describe a diamond in a percentage of one carat, and sometimes by a number of points. For example, .50 carat diamond could be called a 50 point diamond. This is for diamonds under one carat. Over one carat and the diamond is described in a percentage, for example 1.43 carat. Larger diamonds are rarer and are more desirable, so they have a premium in pricing when comparing two stones with identical other qualities (cut, color, and clarity). However, diamonds are like snowflakes and no two are alike, so pricing cannot be based on size alone. To determine a diamond's value/cost, a jeweler must factor in all four "C"'s.