The Four Cs
To give diamond jewelry consumers a good understanding about diamonds, it is useful to understand the so-called "4Cs".
The 4Cs stand for: Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat (or weight of the diamond).
The majority of consumers want a large diamond rather than a small one. The carat weight impacts the cost of a diamond as the cost increases considerably per carat. However a 1 carat diamond doesn't cost half the price of a 2.00 carat stone.
Looking for a diamond to buy, buyers should try to find one that is as close as possible to the next carat weight. The cost of a 1.94-carat stone will be less than one of 2.00 carats even though there is only a difference of six points between them.
The word carat comes from the seeds of the Carob tree which were used on precision scales as units of weight for small quantities of precious stones.
A very important factor in grading and valuing diamonds is their color. The body color of a stone impacts the appearance of a diamond and its price. A diamond's color is part of its natural composition and does not change with time. Color is caused by varying quantities of nitrogen and other trace elements present in all diamonds, displacing the carbon atoms within the crystal's structure.
How does the diamond industry decide the color of a diamond? Tthere is an almost universally agreed way of grading – by using the Gemological Institute of America's color scale.
The way a diamond is cut is determines the brilliance of the diamond.
As you can see from the diagram below, it is vital to have a perfect cut because it enables light to enter the stone through the table (the top flat part of the diamond) and go on to the pavilion (the lower angled part) where it is completely reflected back through the table. With a bad cut, light is not reflected entirely, and the result is that the stone does not have as much fire, brilliance and sparkle.
The clarity of a diamond relates to whether or not it has inclusions, or flaws, inside it. Naturally, most diamonds have flaws which were formed when the stones were created deep underground billions of years ago. If the diamond has inclusions, it will have a lower price simply because its clarity is lower. In addition, scratches on the surface of a diamond also impact the clarity.
The diamond industry generally uses the six levels of clarity indicated below.
A Flawless No scratches on the surface or inclusions in the stone when examined by a skilled grader under 10X magnification.
IF is Internally Flawless. This means the diamond does not have any flaws inside it, but might have surface scratches. These diamonds are rare and so are the most expensive.
VVS is Very Very Slightly Included and there are two grades. The diamond has tiny inclusions which are very difficult to detect without a 10x magnification by a trained gemologist.
VS1-VS2 are two grades of Very Slightly Included. These inclusions are so tiny that they can only be identified with difficulty using 10x magnification.
This means Slightly Included. The inclusions can usually be easily viewed using 10x magnification.
Included: I1-3 are inclusions which are big enough to be seen using 10x magnification and in some cases the inclusions can be spotted with the naked eye depending on the size of the inclusion.