The 4 Cs
Of Diamonds

Cut, Color, Clarity, & Carat Weight

Understanding Cut, Color, Clarity, & Carat

Choosing a diamond, especially for an engagement ring, can be a daunting task. It can be difficult for someone outside the jewelry business to try to comprehend the official terminology, much less the “diamond and jewelry jargon” and pricing information. Factors to consider include the origin of the diamond (mined or lab-grown). “The Four Cs” and other phrases are thrown around. What does it all mean?
What are “The 4Cs” of diamond value? Many factors combine to determine diamond value. The Gemological Institute of America, or GIA, coined the easy-to-remember phrase for the four-diamond factors of cut, color, clarity, and carat weight.

The Cut of A Diamond

When customers hear the term “cut” in relation to a diamond, they often think of a diamond’s shape, such as round, square, or oval. In terms of the value factors, however, “cut” refers to the way in which the facets (or “faces”) of the diamond interact with light. Gemologists study the optics of light and consider such factors as scintillation, or the amount of “sparkle” that comes from a diamond; fire, or the spectral colors of a diamond; and brilliance, or the return of white light from the diamond. Qualitative measures are used as well to evaluate cut quality. For instance, gemologists and appraisers look at many measurements, including those of the table, or the flat facets on the top of the diamond; polish, or the condition of the diamond’s surface; and cut grade (ideal, excellent, very good, poor, etc.).

The Color of A Diamond

The value factor of “color” in a diamond that is not a fancy color diamond is determined by the absence of color. The GIA grading scale for these diamonds ranges from D-E-F (colorless) to G-H-I-J (near colorless — with I and J having a slight tint), K through M (faint yellow), N to R (light yellow), and S to Z (very light yellow). Colors beyond Z are fancy color diamonds. (In contrast to diamonds in the normal color range, in fancy color diamonds, the more color — other factors being equal – is the more valuable than the diamond with less color.)

The Clarity of A Diamond

The diamond value factor of “clarity” considers the presence, absence, or location of clarity characteristics. Surface characteristics are called blemishes and internal characteristics – or characteristics that begin at the surface and continue inside the diamond – are called inclusions. Some people refer to inclusions as flaws or imperfections; however, in an age of lab-created and natural diamonds, a certain type of inclusion can be important in determining how the diamond was formed and sometimes affect value positively in a natural diamond.

The Carat Weight of A Diamond

The fourth C – or “carat weight” (abbreviated ct) –is straightforward. It refers to the weight of the diamond, with one metric carat weighing 0.2g or 1/5g [gram]. Different gemstones have different densities, or specific gravity, which can be thought of as weight-per-carat. A one-carat diamond will not be the same size as a one-carat sapphire, for example. In addition, the word “carat” can mean different things in different countries. “Carat” – with a c – in the US is used only to refer to weight, while “karat” – with a k – is used only to refer to the purity of a metal, such as 14k or 18k gold. Carat as weight is usually spelled with a c universally; however, in some parts of the word, “carat” is also used to refer to the purity of a metal. In some countries, 14kt is called 14ct gold. (Interestingly, in all geographic areas, “karat” refers to the purity of the metal.) When “carat” is used as a measure of weight, if all other value factors are equal, a 2-ct. diamond will cost more than a 1-ct diamond. But a 2-ct diamond will not necessarily be twice the price of a 1-ct diamond.

McAuley Fine Jewelry in Brandon, Florida

At McAuley Fine Jewelry we can help you choose a diamond that provides the quality of the diamond you want at the price you want. Certain carat weights (called “magic sizes”) can dramatically affect the price of a natural diamond. Prices also vary based on the origin of the diamond (whether it is natural or lab-created, for instance). Decisions on how to set a diamond can affect how the color is perceived by the customer; for instance, the color of a diamond with a slight tint will be masked more in a yellow gold mounting than in a white gold mounting. We can help you balance these factors and settings.

The McAuley team has repaired custom pieces for several generations of families in our local area.

Do you have a special piece you would like to have repaired for your loved one? Perhaps you would use some stones from generations past.

The holiday season is a great time to have these custom pieces gifted to your loved ones.

Now is the time to get started on that process! Make an appointment today to sit with Ed and create that special piece for the holidays.

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