Treasured for centuries, diamonds are still the most popular precious stone for all types of jewelry, such as diamond engagement rings and diamond wedding ring sets. Diamonds come in all different sizes, shapes, prices, and quality. Knowing what to look for when shopping for diamonds can help ensure that you're getting what you're paying for.
There are four characteristics that are used to determine a diamonds appearance and its overall durability. Those four factors include color, clarity, cut and carat weight and are known as the "Four C's". While there aren't any set rules for a perfect diamond, these four characteristics can help you find the best diamond for your money.
The highest quality diamond color is white, or colorless, and very expensive. All white diamonds have slight tints of yellow or color, so the whiter the more expensive. Diamond color is graded from F - Z (colorless to light yellow). Most diamonds tend to fall in the G - J range.
However, diamonds can also naturally come in intense yellow, pink, red, brown, blue, and other colors, which are rarer and ultimately more expensive than white diamonds. Colored diamonds are becoming increasingly popular the past couple of years. Although naturally colored diamonds do exist, some diamonds are color treated or enhanced through a process using irradiation or heat.
Every natural diamond has internal flaws or inclusions. The number, size, and location of inclusions determine the clarity. It also includes any external imperfections on the stone. Diamond clarity is graded as the following:
- FL - flawless
- IF - internally flawless
- VVS1 - Very very slightly included
- VVS2- Very very slightly included
- VS1 - Very slightly included
- VS2 - Very slightly included
- SI1 - Slightly Included
- SI2 - Slightly Included
- I1 - Included
- I2, I3
While a diamond's clarity is very important, a lower clarity grade diamond isn't necessarily a poor quality diamond. Most natural flaws are invisible to the naked eye. The main inclusions to worry about are those that directly affect the diamonds durability, which can lead to cracking or chipping.
The diamond cut generally refers to the style of how the gemstone was cut and includes the following characteristics: depth, width, symmetry, proportions, and polish. Remember, diamonds found in the earth look more like rocks you see on the ground. Diamond cutters shape them into jewelry and in a way that reflects the most light and interesting designs. The cut is probably the most important of the four C's. A perfect diamond can become a low grade stone if cut poorly. For instance, the stone is too shallow, got chipped, poor design, etc. The precision with which a diamond is cut is a direct reflection on the beauty of the stone. The arrangement of the facets determine how light is reflected and creates the brilliance which makes diamonds so fiery. While there are various shapes of diamonds, the cut doesn't actually refer to the shape, such as round, rectangular.
Diamonds come in a variety of cuts with new ones coming up over time from master diamond cutters. Some of them include briliiant, princess, asscher, baguette, and emerald.
Diamond Carat (abbreviated as ct) refers to its size. Generally, as the carat weight increases, the price increases as well, especially if the other diamond characteristics are valuable. The price becomes exponentially higher for 1 ct diamonds and higher. However, diamonds of smaller sizes can be more precious than a larger diamond depending on the four C's but the differences has to be pretty significant.
Shopping for a diamond wedding band, stud earrings, and other jewelry can be less daunting when you know what to look for in quality diamonds. Remember the four C's of diamonds - Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat.
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Refer to this Buying Guide to get more information on the four C's of diamonds.