Quality and value are more important now than it has been than ever been when it comes to the important things we buy. The thought of purchasing a home, a car and even a vacation that is short of the most exciting standards would be unthinkable in these demanding times. The same holds true for diamonds, the hardest and oldest natural substance known to man, and the most beautiful. But there is more to a diamond than meets the eye.

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Two diamonds may, at first glance, look alike but the truth is any two diamonds are very different. Although they may be of equal size, each diamond has characteristics unique to itself, guaranteeing each one a different value. For example, take the two diamonds illustrated below. The differences between them are subtle. To understand these differences is to understand the 4Cs – Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat-weight. It is the combination of these four characteristics that determines the value of a diamond.

When you acquire diamond jewelry you’ll want your diamonds, no matter what their size, to be the best your money can buy. Any difference in quality means a difference in price.

The 4 C’s

Cut

Many people confuse cut with the shape of a diamond. The shape you select is a matter of individual taste. Your choice is only limited by the skill and imagination of the craftsman. It is their efforts during every stage of the finishing process that impacts how much light is reflected back to the eye. Most round, brilliant cut or fancy shaped diamonds possess 58 carefully angled flat surfaces, called facets. It is the precision of each facet’s placement that will affect the amount of fire, brilliance and ultimate beauty of your diamond.

  1. When a diamond is cut to good proportions, light is reflected from one facet to another and then dispersed through the crown or the top of the stone.
  2. If the cut of the diamond is too deep, light escapes through the opposite side of the pavilion or bottom.
  3. If the cut of the diamond is too shallow, light escapes through the pavilion before it can be reflected.
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Color

The most prized diamonds are colorless because their beauty depends entirely upon their remarkable optical properties. In such diamonds, all the colors of the rainbow are reflected back to the eye. While the majority of gem diamonds appear to be colorless, others contain increasing shades of yellow to brown, some of which are referred to as champagne diamonds. Other diamonds of exceptional colors – red, blue, green, pink, and amber – are referred to as “fancies.”

The color grading scale varies from colorless to light color or tinted. The difference between one grade and it’s neighbors is very subtle. Experts never try to remember color; they use master diamonds of known color for comparison.

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Clarity

Because of their unique optical properties, diamonds, more than any other gemstone are capable of producing the maximum amount of brilliance. While minute crystals of minerals are contained in almost all diamonds, a diamond that is virtually free of inclusions and surface markings is judged as flawless. In these diamonds, nothing interferes with the passage of light nor spoils the beauty.

To determine a diamond’s clarity grading, it must be examined under a 10x magnification by a trained eye. What minute inclusions there may be make every diamond unique. These are in fact nature’s fingerprints and do not mar the diamond’s beauty nor endanger its durability. Without high magnification you may never see these inclusions. However, the fewer there are, the rarer your diamond will be.

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Carat-Weight

As with all precious stones, the wight and therefore the size of the diamond is expressed in carats.

One carat is divided into 100 “points” so that a diamond of 25 points is described as a quarter of a carat . Size is the most obvious factor in determining the value of a diamond, but now you know that the two diamonds of equal size can have very different monetary values depending on their quality. However, remember that diamonds of high quality can be found in all size ranges. Included in the example are diamonds that show the approximate size of varying carat weights.

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Confidence in Your Jeweler

When you are ready to choose your diamond, see a reliable jeweler. Jewelers are the experts who will be happy to explain the 4Cs to you in more detail. They will also be able to show you beautiful diamonds in many sizes, showing you the difference between various qualities of diamonds and how these differences affect the price you pay. Established jewelers prize their good reputation and know that you are making one of your most important purchases. They can help you select the very best that money can buy.