A Guide to The 4 C's
White diamonds are one of the world’s greatest natural wonders – their beauty and value has captured the minds and imaginations of humans for thousands of years. Taking millions of years to grow and being one of the most stable and hardest materials on this planet, it’s no wonder they’ve become a symbol for eternity, strength and love.
Choosing a diamond is such an exciting process however it can be overwhelming delving into the world of the 4 C's, so here is a simple guide to help you with the basics!
Introduced by GIA, the most well respected and renowned diamond grading entity, the 4 C’s refer to the universal grading system used to distinguish a white diamond's quality. A diamond’s grade indicates both its optical effects and its value. Stones that have been graded by gemological laboratories are issued with a report specifying its COLOUR, CLARITY, CUT and CARAT.
The 4 C's applies to White Diamonds only, and not to other diamonds such as fancy colours, champagne or salt and pepper. The Round Brilliant Diamond is the only shape that is graded on all of the 4 C's. All other shapes (such as Oval, Emerald, Pear, etc) do not receive a CUT grade, so we judge the quality of these shapes by looking at their SYMMETRY and POLISH.
The colour grading of a diamond refers to how colourless the diamond is. To illustrate this, diamonds are graded on a alphabetical scale ranging from D to Z. D being the whitest, and Z being those with distinct yellow hues and tones.
As diamonds are formed within the earth's crust they endure huge amounts of heat and pressure meaning they often contain unique small blemishes or inclusions. Diamond clarity refers to the absence of these inclusions. Diamonds are graded on their clarity using 11 grades, ranging from internally Flawless to Included. Internally Flawless (IF) diamonds are incredibly rare. Most diamonds fall into the VS (very slightly included) or SI (slightly included) categories. These inclusions are only visible under 10x magnification, and are flawless to the naked eye.
An often underestimated member of the 4 C’s, cut is of utmost importance in generating a stone's total internal reflection (TIR). It is this that determines a diamond's fire, sparkle and brilliance. Cut does not refer to the obvious shape of the diamond (Round Brilliant, Pear, Oval, Marquise, Emerald etc.) in fact, it’s about identifying the craftsmanship and quality of the cutting. The Cut is the most complex and is the most complex of the 4 C's. Remember, cut grade only applies to Round Brilliant cut white diamonds only.
All diamonds are weighed using metric carats. A metric “carat” is defined as 200 milligrams. The size of your diamond depends on preference and budget. Generally speaking, the larger the diamond, the more valuable it is.