Whether you’re buying your first diamond or you are a regular diamond purchaser, everyone can always learn more about how to choose the best diamond. The Four C’s are a simple, popular way to start learning about diamonds for purchase and how to choose the one that is best fit for you or your loved one.
The first C to consider is cut. Cut refers to the shape of the diamond itself. This is an important consideration both for personal preference for a certain style as well as to consider how the cut of diamond will fit into the piece of jewelry that you are looking to mount it in.
Many people believe that cut refers to the shape of the diamond, i.e. princess cut versus oval, but that is not the case. Rather, cut refers to the length and proportions of the diamond itself. The length of the point extending from the diamond affects how light will reflect through the diamond, therefore affecting the overall appearance through brilliance (brightness), fire (flashes of color as light is refracted through the stone), and scintillation (flashes of light and dark, the sparkle).
The second C is color. Color is graded by letters, with the top rating being the colorless stones at D, E, and F and lower rated stones with yellow or brown hues at S-Z ratings.
Of note, some diamonds feature rare color features, such as blue or pink, and are excluded from this rating scale as they are extremely valuable. The rating scale applies only to white or colorless diamonds that feature tints of yellow or brown, which lower the value of the stone.
The third C is clarity, which refers to the presence of imperfections. These imperfections on diamonds are referred to as “inclusions.” All diamonds feature imperfections, but experts rate clarity based on how noticeable these imperfections are on a particular stone when using 10x magnification. Ratings in this category range from the top, “Flawless,” category to the bottom, “Included,” category where blemishes are obvious and may affect both the transparency and brilliance of the stone.
The final C is carat and refers to the weight of the stone. Carat is typically the first thing most people notice about a stone as it is what affects how big a stone looks.
Of note, the most accurate representation of size is not the carat weight alone but carat combined with the cut of the diamond. If a diamond has a deeper cut then the diameter of the top of the stone will be smaller than a diamond with a shallower cut of the same carat weight.