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Carat, Color, Cut, Clarity – the 4 C’s

How do we place a value on something as beautiful and enduring as a diamond? The problem is, that there is no one single factor which makes one diamond more desirable than another. What’s more, if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, how can we classify the value of a diamond?

Over the centuries, a scale of measurement has been developed, now refined to an exact science that allows us to accurately classify, define and value a diamond. This scale is commonly known as the “Four C’s” – or Carat, Color, Cut and Clarity.

So what are the “Four C’s” – we hope that this short article will help clarify it for you, but without dazzling and confusing you with scientific and technical jargon.

Carat

Carat is perhaps the most widely used term when referring to diamonds. For many, carat is a measurement of a diamonds value. Carat is, in fact, a measurement of weight that comes down to us from pre-biblical times when the seed of the carob was thought to be uniform in weight and was used as a standard measurement of weight for gold.

Towards the end of the 15th century, the term carat also began to be used to measure the weight of a diamond. Though the two terms sound the same, they are unrelated, with the term carat (or karat) when used in reference to gold, referring to the purity of the metal gold alloy.

Different definitions of how much a carat weighs were used across the world and it was only in 1913 that an internationally accepted standard weight of 0.2 grand (200 milligrams) was adopted. This standard, used to measure the weight if rough and cut diamonds, is the one we use today.

Color

Many of us, when we think of a diamond, see the traditional clear or white diamond. But, in fact, diamonds can be found in a wide range of colors and hues ranging from clear and all the way through to black. As with carat weight, there is an internationally accepted standard for grading diamonds by color. This scale is divided into two sections. The first is the “Normal Color Range” used to color grade clear to yellow/brown diamonds (D to Z). The second is known as the “Colored Diamond Grading System” and is used to grade diamonds, generally referred to as “fancy color” diamonds that fall outside of the “normal color range”. Your diamond’s Gemology Laboratory Certificate contains exact details of your diamond’s coloring and hue.

Color does play a role in determining the value of a diamond. Generally speaking, in the normal color range, the closer the diamond is to the D category, the more valuable it is. In the fancy colored diamond range, the rarer the color and the more intense it is tend to increase its value.

Cut

A rough diamond looks nothing like the wondrous, glittering diamonds that we use in our JRD creations. The transformation from a lump of dull rock is made possible by the skill and experience of expert diamond cutters. For many this is considered not just a technical process but a work of art. Some diamond cutters have said that, much as sculptors, the rough diamond “speaks” to them and gives them the insight as to how to cut and polish it to perfection. Ultimately, it is the skill of the cutter which brings out the full beauty of the diamond and can influence its final value.

Clarity

A perfect, or flawless, diamond is a very rare thing. To be flawless, the diamond must be both structurally and chemically perfect, with no imperfections. As a result it would be totally transparent and colorless. One famous example of a flawless diamond is the 10th largest white diamond in the world, the Paragon, for which no sale price is available.

Most stones have some imperfections, known as inclusions. These are usually minute traces of gas or minerals or tiny fractures forming inside the rough diamond during the millions of years of its creation. These flaws are unique to each diamond, just like a fingerprint, and a complete description of them appears in each diamond’s Gemological Laboratory certificate.

Inclusions can be seen as tiny crystals, feathery shapes or cloud like formations within the diamond and are a contributing factor to the cut diamonds final value. A skilled diamond cutter will use these tiny imperfections to enhance the final beauty of the cut stone. As with cut, color and carat, strict, internationally approved scales are used to define a diamonds clarity.