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"The Four Cs: A Diamond Primer." Diamond professionals use these four factors to describe and classify diamonds. When taken together, they help in evaluating the finished diamonds you buy. That's why they are often called value factors. When applied to diamonds, people outside the diamond trade often misunderstand color. Many people think of diamonds as colorless. In reality, truly colorless diamonds are quite rare. Most diamonds used in jewelry are nearly colorless with faint yellow or brown tints. These diamonds fall in the normal color range.
Colors
Diamonds in the normal color range are graded by their relative lack of color. A diamond that is said to have “ fine color” has little or no visible coloration. The less color, the higher the value!

With mounted diamonds under half a carat, it’s almost impossible for a person with no gemological training to see any differences in the top five to six color grades. Nevertheless, the differences are there, and they can cause dramatic variations in price. "In the D-Z color range, a D color diamond will always be more valuable than other diamonds… all other factors--clarity, carat weight, and cut--being equal of course."
Fancy--and Desirable!-- Colors
Diamonds outside the normal color range are called fancy-colored and come in about any color you can imagine and are extremely rare and valuable.
Why D-Z?
Why does the GIA color grading system start at D? Before GIA introduced the GIA D-Z Color Grading Scale, a variety of other symbols were loosely applied throughout the industry. Not only were A, B, and C used without clear definition, but some dealers, taking a cue from the poultry business perhaps, started grading their diamonds double A (AA). Other systems used numbers—both Arabic (0, 1, 2, 3) and Roman (I, II, III). Most dubious of all were systems that relied on descriptive terms like "gem blue" or "blue white." Terms like these are notoriously susceptible to misinterpretation. So the creators of the GIA Color Scale wanted to start fresh. They wanted symbols that would not have any association with earlier systems. Thus the GIA scale starts at the letter D. There may be some people still clinging to other grading systems, but no other system has the clarity and universal acceptance of the GIA scale.

Like color, clarity is a key factor in determining a diamond’s value."
Clarity

Few things in nature are absolutely perfect. This is as true of diamonds as anything else. Diamonds have internal features, called inclusions, and surface irregularities, called blemishes. Together, they’re called clarity characteristics. Clarity is the relative absence of clarity characteristics. Blemishes include scratches and nicks on a diamond’s surface. Inclusions are on the inside (some might break the surface of the stone, but they are still considered inclusions). Sometimes, tiny diamond or other mineral crystals are trapped inside a diamond when it forms. Depending on where they’re located, they might still be there after the stone has been cut and polished. Like the color scale, GIA’s clarity grading system developed because jewelers were using terms that could be misinterpreted, such as "loupe clean," or "piqué." Today, even if you buy a diamond somewhere else in the world, the jeweler will most likely use terms like VVS1 or SI2, even if his or her language is French or Japanese instead of English. Like the rest of the Four Cs, clarity’s influence on value is directly related to the concept of rarity. Flawless diamonds are very rare—so rare, in fact, that it’s possible to spend a lifetime in the jewelry industry without ever seeing one. As you might imagine, they command top prices. At the other end of the scale are diamonds with inclusions that can easily be seen by the unaided eye. Between the two extremes are diamonds with inclusions visible only under 10X magnification. Some are difficult to see even then; others relatively easy. Stones in the middle range make up the bulk of the retail market.
GIA Clarity Scale

(FL) Flawless Shows no inclusions or blemishes of any sort using 10x magnification when examined by an experienced diamond grader.

(IF) Internally Flawless Has no inclusions, only minor blemishes when graded under 10x magnification.

(VVS1/VVS2) Very Very Slightly Included Contains minute inclusions that are difficult to see under 10x magnification, even for experienced graders.

(VS1/VS2) Very Slightly Included Contains minute inclusions such as small crystals, clouds or feathers when examined with effort under 10x magnification.

(SI1/SI2) Slightly Included Contains inclusions ( clouds, included crystals, knots, cavities and feathers) that are noticeable under 10x magnification by an experienced grader.

(I1/I2/I3) Included Contains inclusions( possibly large feathers or large included crystals) that are obvious under 10x magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance.
Clarity Characteristics

Some clarity characteristics might have some negative influence on diamond value, but they also have positive effects as well. They help gemologists separate diamond from lab–created diamond simulants. It’s easier to tell the difference with included diamonds than with flawless ones. Because no two diamonds have exactly the same inclusions, they can help identify individual stones. They provide scientists with valuable information about how diamonds form.
Cut

Probably the most complex of the Four Cs to explain."

Round Princess Emerald Asscher Oval Marquise Pear Radiant Cushion Heart

"You may think of cut as the shape and style of a polished diamond. But when we talk about Cut as a value factor, we're also talking about the proportions, symmetry and finish of a diamond, often called "make" in the diamond trade. A diamond with a "good make" will speak to you. It's bright, fiery, symmetrical, and sparkles with light." "What makes Cut so difficult to evaluate is that there's more than one way of cutting a diamond to make the most of its optical properties, "A well-cut diamond, with well-balanced proportions and high polish, can make light behave in breathtaking ways. The result is a magnificent display of brilliance, dispersion, and scintillation." "Pavilion depth is only one way of controlling the way light travels through a diamond.

"The three major parts of a polished diamond, top to bottom, are the crown, the girdle, and the pavilion. Some polished diamonds have a very tiny flat facet at the bottom of the pavilion, called the culet. The large flat facet on the top of a polished diamond is called the table."

The distance from the bottom of the girdle to the culet is the pavilion depth. A pavilion depth that’s too shallow or too deep will allow light to escape from the side of the stone, or leak out of the bottom. A well-cut diamond will direct more light through the crown.

Cutting a diamond to produce the maximum return of light depends on the interrelationship between three critical proportions – table size, crown angle and pavilion depth. These can be combined in many ways to yield equally bright round brilliant cut diamonds.
Brilliant Cut
The round brilliant cut is designed to obtain the maximum brilliance in a diamond. It is the most popular shape (75% of the diamonds sold on the market are Round Brilliant), the one that has set the traditional standard for all diamond shapes. It usually has 58-facets.

Princess Cut
The Princess Cut is relatively new. It is a very attractive cut. Its charm comes from the fact that it is square to rectangular in shape and yet has some of the sparkle of a Round brilliant cut.

Emerald Cut
The Emerald Cut is of rectangular shape with cut corners. The facets alternate with flat planes resembling the steps of a stair. That is why it is referred to as a “step” cut. Unlike the Marquise brilliant, there is no bow-tie effect on an Emerald cut.

Asscher Cut
It is a stepped square cut with cut off corners (often called a “square emerald cut”). The Asscher cut has rapidly gained popularity from celebrities such as Kate Hudson receiving Asscher cuts as engagement rings.

Oval Cut
This cut is similar to the round brilliant except it is elongated. Oval brilliant cuts have between 56 and 57 facets. The symmetrical design and the ellipsis form tend to give the finger an elongated look! A poor cut can result in a “bow-tie effect”.

Marquise Cut
This shape has a boat shaped girdle with 57 facets. The shape and placement of the facets is the same as the brilliant type. The name “Marquise” comes from a legend that says that the Sun King wanted a diamond to be polished into the shape of the mouth of the Marquise of Pompadour. A poor cut can result in a “bow-tie effect”.

Pear Shape
It is a hybrid shape, combining the Round and Marquise cuts, that looks like a sparkling teardrop. Shoulders should have a gentle but distinctly rounded arch. It beautifully compliments the average size finger. A poor cut can result in a “bow-tie effect”.

Radiant Cut
This is a square or rectangular shape. The elegance of the emerald and the brilliance of the round shape are its finest attributes. It usually has 70 facets.

Cushion Cut
The cushion cut was one of the most popular cuts of diamonds ever (was used mostly from 1830 to the turn of the century). The cushion cut (or “pillow cut”) has an open culet and a rectangular to square shape with rounded corners and a facet plan to give the diamond depth. The open culet means the presence of a culet (the bottom of the diamond) as a facet. In modern cuts it is considered a flaw, resulting in the image of a “hole” in the diamond at a closer look. However, for old cuts it's a quality and it's one of the charms of an antique diamond. The cushion cut was designed for candle light. This is quite different from today's diamonds which are cut for brighter electric light. The beauty of a cushion cut lies in the depth of the diamond. Most quality cushion cut diamonds are found only on the antique and estate market.

Heart Shape
The Heart Shaped Brilliant resembles the Pear Shape, except that there is cleavage point in the center of the diamond, at the top. The beauty of this cut is totally dependent on the skill of the cutter. It is beautiful as a solitaire or when matched with complimentary diamonds. The lobes should be even and well defined, the cleavage should be polished to ensure maximum brilliance. The heart shape has the bow-tie effect.

Bow-Tie Effect
The effect of bad polish and cut causes a dark area in the center of some fancy-shaped diamonds, shaped like a bow tie. A bow-tie effect retracts from beauty of the diamond! The ideal cut with correct proportions and angles will give a diamond the maximum amount of light reflection, refraction and sparkle. It maximizes the brilliance, fire and beauty. As diamond angles and proportion deviate from ideal ones, fire is reduced, although the diamond may still be quite brilliant. Even if a diamond has good color and good clarity its value could suffer if it has a poorly proportioned cut. Many jewelers will not discuss cut proportions unless the customer specifically asks; a stone poorly proportioned can be purchased at a lower price giving the buyer a false impression of a great deal!
"The last C has to do with the basic measuring unit of diamonds.
"It’s Carat Weight—how much your diamond weighs."

Carat Weight

Generally, the scarcer something is, the more it is worth. One carat diamonds are rarer than those under a carat, so they’re priced accordingly. The aspect of carat weight that surprises people is the relationship between rarity, weight, and value. People know that a pound of flour costs about twice as much as a half pound of flour. So it’s not always easy to understand, or explain, why a 1ct. diamond might be worth more than twice as much as a 1/2ct. diamond of similar clarity, cut and color.

It’s really a simple concept: Large diamonds are rarer than small diamonds. The scarcer a diamond is, the higher its worth. So a larger stone doesn’t just cost more. It also costs more per carat.

Remember, as big a factor as carat weight may be, like the other three Cs, no one of them is automatically more important than the others. They all have to be factored in together in assessing the true value of a diamond.

Diamond weights are stated in metric carats, abbreviated "ct." One metric carat is just over seven thousandths (0.007) of an ounce. One ounce contains almost 142 carats. The metric carat is divided into 100 points. A point is one hundredth of a carat.