At first glance, two diamonds might look very similar, but have very different values. So, which one is worth more? And, how can you tell?
The answer lies in the 4Cs – carat, colour, clarity and cut. Together, the 4Cs form a universal method of describing diamond quality that is understood by everyone in the industry. It’s a transparent way of determining the value of a stone, especially when differences aren’t clear with the naked eye, so you know what you’re buying.
Let’s take a look at the 4Cs to find out more.
Diamond carat refers to a diamond’s weight, not its size, and is often measured in points. 100 points equals 1 carat, which is 0.2 grams. Be careful you don’t get confused by Diamond Carat Weight and Total Carat Weight (CTW). Diamond Carat Weight refers to the weight of a single diamond, while CTW is the sum of the individual carat weights of all the diamonds in a piece of jewellery.
Diamond colour might be called ‘colour’, but it actually refers to the diamond’s lack of colour. The highest grade – D – is considered to be ‘Exc. White +’ (“Exceptionally White +”). The scale goes down, in 23 steps, from D to Z as the diamonds become progressively more yellowish, brownish or greyish.
Most diamonds used in jewellery are ‘rare white’ to ‘slightly tinted white’, rated between G and J on the scale. Beyond grade K, a human eye can detect a yellow tint. Fancy coloured diamonds are valuable due to their rarity. Red, orange and green diamonds are the most expensive, followed by pink, blue and yellow diamonds.
This covers the microscopic flaws that (almost) all natural diamonds have. Even though these flaws, known as internal and external characteristics, are usually only visible under 10x magnification, diamond cutters try to cut and polish a diamond to hide these flaws or work around them.
The scale for diamond clarity is:
- LC – Loupe clean
- VVS1 and VVS2 – Very, very small inclusions
- VS1 and VS2 – Very small inclusions
- SI1 and SI2 – Small inclusions
- P1, P2 and P3 – Piqué
The cut is the largest influence on a diamond’s sparkle. The diamond’s cut is based on three grades – proportions, symmetry and polish – which all have an impact on how your diamond dazzles. Each grade is evaluated separately and given one of four results:
- Very good
Diamonds can be cut in many ways, for example to maximise carat weight or minimise internal characteristics (see clarity). However, if it is not cut properly, it will lack sparkle and have a lower result (and value).
Popular diamond cuts include: brilliant, princess, marquise, oval, heart, pear, emerald and cushion.
The 5th (and unofficial) C, is certification. Diamond certification from a trusted and unbiased expert, like HRD Antwerp, is an easy way to discover exactly what you are buying for peace of mind. And, as it gives an independent summary of your diamond’s quality, the certificate can also be used for your insurance.
If in doubt …
If you have any questions about your diamond’s characteristics, ask an expert like HRD Antwerp.