A diamond’s value is graded by the Four C’s: clarity, color, cut, and carat weight. Every diamond is unique and ultimately how it measures up to the four Cs in relation to how rare it is will determine its value.
Diamond professionals are certified in order to have the best understanding of how to look at a diamond, discern its Four Cs, and determine its value.
Clarity in a diamond refers to inclusions and blemishes, the presence of which decreases a diamond’s value. An inclusion refers to an internal crystal or rift while a blemish refers to a scratch or a nick on the diamond’s surface.
Many blemishes on a diamond can be easily removed while inclusions in a diamond are much more difficult to remove if not impossible and it is for this reason that inclusions are more detrimental to a diamond’s value than blemishes.
It is possible to remove blemishes and inclusions close to the surface of the diamond but while removing inclusions will result in a detrimental decrease in value due to the diamond’s decreased size, the carat weight difference resulting from the recutting or repolishing of a diamond’s blemish will often be offset by the increase in value.
Flawless is the top clarity grade in the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) system. Flawless diamonds don’t have visible inclusions or blemishes when examined under 10-power magnification by a skilled and excellent grader. Flawless diamonds are so rare that it’s possible to spend a lifetime in the jewelry industry and never see one.
Color in a diamond is caused by something called a trace element. By definition a diamond must be 99.95% carbon, so that leaves .05% space for a different element, the trace element. Trace elements are what cause color in a diamond. A diamond without a trace element is truly colorless and truly rare. Most diamonds used in jewelry are nearly colorless with yellow or brown tints and most often light yellow. Diamonds come in many colors though, some of the rarest are red, purple, and green. When looking at a colored diamond, the brighter and more distinct the color is, the more it’s worth. The bigger the diamond is, the brighter the color is, so size in colored diamonds is very important when considering its value.
A well-cut diamond is what makes diamonds so sparkly. A diamond’s sparkle actually has three defined attributes called brilliance, fire, and scintillation.
A diamond’s brilliance is created by the combination of all the white light reflections from the surface and the inside of a polished diamond. A diamond’s fire refers to the flashes of color you see in a polished diamond. A diamond’s scintillation refers to the flashes of light you see when the diamond, the light, or the observer moves.
The last of the Four Cs is carat weight. Diamonds are weighed in the extremely precise stated metric carats, abbreviated “cts”. To put it in perspective one ounce contains almost 142 carats. The metric carat is divided into 100 points. A point is one hundreth of a carat. An easy way to remember this is to think of carats as dollars and points as pennies. They’re even written the same way! $1.34 means one dollar and 34 cents and 1.34 cts. means one carat and 34 points.
Fractions of a carat can mean the difference between hundred or even thousands of dollars depending upon the quality of the gem.
An important thing to remember when thinking about carats is to remember that your larger diamonds are rarer than your smaller diamonds and therefore more valuable overall than even a handful of small diamonds.
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