When it comes to buying diamonds, Boston jewelers want customers to always remember the 4 C’s: Cut, Color, Carat and Clarity. The importance you place on each of these factors in selecting a diamond can often be a matter of personal taste, but it’s important to understand each of these since this is how a value is determined.
A diamond coming out of the earth can look like a piece of beach glass. To turn it into a beautiful gemstone it needs to be precisely cut with facets and polished surfaces that allow light to enter and reflect back out, creating brilliance and what is often referred to as “fire”. This is why diamonds are often set high with openings around the base to allow light in from all angles. This process also allows a skilled diamond cutter to remove imperfections, increasing the value of the stone.
The ideal diamond is actually colorless. While most appear colorless or white, they may actually have subtle yellow or brown tones that can be detected when comparing diamonds side by side. Truly colorless stones are very rare and very valuable. The different color tones can be caused by temperature, pressure and other factors. Sometimes these variations are “man-made”, such as irradiating diamonds by applying heat to change the color of the stone. These stones are often referred to as Champagne, Chocolate or Canary Diamonds. For the purposes of our conversation here, we’ll focus more on the traditional, more desirable, colorless stones. The Gemological Institute of America (http://www.gia.edu/) or GIA, is the foremost authority for diamonds. They offer a color chart used by Boston jewelers that grades diamonds on an alphabetical scale that starts at D-E-F (Colorless) , G-H-I-J (Near Colorless) K-L-M (Faint Yellow) N-Z (Light Yellow) to Z+ (Fancy or Remarkable color, usually blue, pink and yellow). In many cases the true way to judge a diamond’s color is by comparison with other graded stones.
This identifies imperfections in the stone, however slight. These range from “F” or “Flawless” (a clear stone, free of all flaws, even under magnification) to VVS#1, VVS#2 (Very Very Slight Inclusion) which indicates tiny inclusions or imperfections that are very difficult to find, even under magnification. The scale goes to VS#1 or #2 (Very Slight) minor inclusions that are difficult to find and SI#1 or #2 (Slight Inclusions)inclusions that can be seen under magnification. I#1, #2 and #3 indicates diamonds that have inclusions and/or blemishes that are obvious and easy to see even without magnification. Inclusions can be any sort of blemish or imperfection in the stone and come in all shapes and sizes. These are all factors used in determining the value of a diamond.
Most people believe, erroneously, that carat weight (CT) describes the size of the stone. Carat actually indicates the weight, of the stone, not the size. The heavier the diamond, the greater the carat weight, But when it comes to diamonds, size matters, too. The bigger the stone, the higher the value of the diamond. It does not go up proportionately but rather exponentially. For example, a one carat diamond can cost significantly more than a one half carat stone. Any diamond that is less than one carat in size may also be described in “Points”. Using this system, 100 “Points” equals one carat and 50 “Points” would be one-half carat.
The 4 C’s are the way you can make an informed decision about what kind of diamond is right for you. Any reputable Boston jeweler can help you use the 4 C’s. Whatever cut, color, clarity or carat weight you choose, one thing is always true: Diamonds are forever.