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The 4Cs: A Diamond Buying Guide

If you are thinking about engagement rings then you are probably wondering how to buy a diamond. Maybe you’ve heard of ‘The 4Cs’, but do you know what it means?  Diamond buying can seem confusing and complicated to those uninitiated in the world of jewelry.  But don’t worry!  We’ve created this diamond buying guide to help you better understand the process.  We’ve broken down The 4 C’s for you and added some tips on diamond shopping to help you get the best stone for your money!

What are ‘The 4Cs’ ?

  • Four factors that make up the value of a diamond: Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat.
  • Each of these four factors plays a part in the pricing of a diamond.
  • You can prioritize certain factors over others.
    • For example, you can decide size is more important than color, or clarity is less important than color, etc..

Now Let’s Break it Down!

 

Color

  • Diamond color generally ranges from D (clear) to Z (toned)
  • Around S the diamonds become known as “Fancy” yellow diamonds.
  • The finest colors, around D, E, and F, are very clear.

*Diamond Buying Tip: G and H are classified as ‘near colorless’ and may appear very clear to the eye, especially in a setting.  Choosing a diamond with G or H color grading can save you quite a bit of money over a colorless (D,E,F) diamond while still looking amazing in a setting! Lower graded colors can be quite beautiful too.  Plus, really great cutting will produce more brilliance and help mask the tone of the diamond making it appear whiter.  Diamonds also come in a range of beautiful colors.


Clarity

  • Diamond clarity ranges from flawless/perfect to I (included).
  • Flawless: no visible inclusions or blemishes under 10x magnification.
  • Internally Flawless: no visible inclusions under 10x magnification, but may have very slight surface blemishes.
  • VVS1 (very, very slightly imperfect): minute inclusions that are extremely difficult to see. Inclusions are only visible through a loop with 10x magnification.
  • VVS2 (very, very slightly imperfect): minute inclusions that are difficult to see.
    • for both VVS1 and VVS2, the inclusions can only been spotted by someone who has had a lot of experience looking at diamonds, and the viewer must be using a loop magnified 10 times.
  • VS1,VS2(very slightly imperfect): have some very small inclusions. VS1 inclusions are more difficult to see than VS2.
  • SI1, SI2 (slightly imperfect): all have small inclusions that can be seen in a loop. The inclusions may be eye-visible to someone with very good eyesight.
  • I1, I2, I3(visibly included): all have visible inclusions that may be seen by the naked eye.

*Diamond Buying Tip:  Examine the diamond in person with a jewelers loupe before you buy. A flaw may lower the grade of a diamond and therefor the price, but depending on where it is located it may be impossible to see the flaw with your eye, especially when the diamond is set in a ring. A diamond with a clarity grade of VS1 – SI1 may be a good option for those who want a beautiful looking diamond and aren’t hung up on getting the highest grade, but still want an eye-clean gem. Remember, all diamonds have flaws if you magnify them enough – flaws are the fingerprint of a diamond!


Carat

  • There are 100 points in a carat.
  • Diamonds will cost more per carat as the weight increases.
  • The value of a diamond is determined by all 4Cs. When purchasing a diamond, bigger does not necessarily mean better.  However, bigger is rarer.

*Diamond Buying Tip:  There are tricks to make a smaller stone appear larger in a setting. For example, a bezel setting of white metal will create a larger reflective surface around the stone. A halo setting with smaller stones encircling the center diamond will add more sparkle. A diamond that is .90cts (just under 1ct) will look basically like a 1ct stone but costs less per carat.


Cut

  • Cut is what unleashes the brilliance and lets the diamond truly shine.
  • Diamond cutting requires knowledge and skill.
  • Precise cutting will optimize the diamond’s optical properties and allow light going in to be refracted and reflected back out, and the color to be dispersed.
  • Because of the complexity in cutting a diamond, Cut is the most critical of the “4C’s”.
  • Cut is only graded for round brilliant stones – the most common diamond shape. For all other diamond shapes your jeweler must evalute the cutting.

*Diamond Buying Tip: Diamonds that are graded as Ideal cut will reflect the most light and produce the most fire, disguising minor blemishes and inclusions.  The diamond will also appear brighter when it is dirty than a diamond that  is not cut as well. We always suggest getting the best possible cutting you can when purchasing a diamond.


 

Thanks for reading! We hope you understand a little more about how to buy a diamond! If you are considering a diamond purchase make sure you use a reliable and trustworthy source.  You should look for a diamond that is GIA or AGS certified.  A reputable jeweler may be helpful in guiding you through the buying process as he or she will have the knowledge and experience to help you prioritize what factors are most important for your diamond purchase.
Free Engagement Ring Consultation

Still have questions on diamond shopping? We are here to answer them and others you haven’t even thought of yet! Click the link above for a free engagement ring consultation where we will meet with you one-on-one and walk you through the process of choosing the perfect diamond. Our job (really our main job) is to vet each diamond. We make sure the diamond is as good as the certificate indicates, and that you are getting what you are paying for.

2017-04-16T17:15:01+00:00 June 15th, 2016|Categories: Articles|

About the Author:

Skylight Jewelers
Our shop is also our studio, where we design and create exquisite jewelry. Skylight Jewelers has been creating custom made jewelry for over 35 years. We take great pride in our work and sign each piece. Our specialty is engagement rings, wedding bands, and our enchanting collection of fine jewelry which includes colored gemstones, pearls and moonstones. All of our Pieces are created in gold or platinum using a mélange of modern, traditional, and ancient techniques. We'd love for you to come by and view our latest creations as well as watch us create in our studio!

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