Whether you’ve decided to surprise your loved one with a stunning diamond, or you and your partner are teaming up to find the perfect gem for an engagement ring, understanding the four Cs of diamonds can ensure you get the ideal balance of quality and value. The 4Cs diamond chart covers cut, color, clarity and carat. Each component has a grading system that lets you know what to expect from a diamond. It is incredibly important to walk through the diamond buying process with a trusted and knowledgeable resource, and at J Pratt Designs, we’re here to help.
Our 4Cs diamond buying guide explains the specifics of each component so you can understand that there are no perfect diamonds. Even if one is rated at the top of every scale, it may not be the ideal gem for your ring design or you may find that carat is more important to you than color. When you buy loose diamonds, be sure to consider the four C’s together and examine the gem’s natural appearance to determine which one best suits your jewelry design. At J Pratt Designs, we utilize the grading system and only sell GIA stones.
A diamond’s cut quality, rather than the size or shape, is the factor that produces sparkle and brilliance. It is this brilliance that you will notice the most with the naked eye. It is the one component that is influenced by human hands. The quality of the cut is determined by precision, symmetry and polish, and it affects how the diamond interacts with light and its ability to return light to the eye. Precision refers to how the size and angles relate to different parts of the gem, while symmetry is how precise the diamond facets line up and intersect. Polish is the placement of facet shapes and the exterior finish.
A poor cut diamond will appear dull even if it rates high on the clarity and color scale. However, a well-cut diamond will reflect and refract to maximize sparkle and brightness. Diamond cuts are graded as excellent, very good, good, fair and poor. We recommend aiming for the excellent to very good range as they work best with light.
When jewelers talk about color, they refer to the natural hue of white diamonds. It can range from colorless to yellow or yellow-brown and is measured on a D to Z scale. Other natural-colored diamonds, such as blue, pink and red, are measured with a different grading system. When selecting gems, the standard diamond quality you should look for is between the D-J color grade with D meaning colorless.
The diamond shape can also influence the color ratings. For example, round diamonds can hide color well, so you can go further down the scale without seeing yellowing. Longer and more oval-shaped diamonds will show yellow tones more easily. You should check loose diamonds individually as the stone’s cut, carat weight and shape can also influence how the color appears. While you may not be able to tell the difference between two diamonds, their rating on the color chart is reflected in the price. However, the final choice of diamond color will come down to personal preference.
Inclusions and blemishes, internal and external characteristics, respectively, determine the clarity rating given to diamonds. Most of these characteristics can only be seen with magnification, and a diamond without any inclusions or blemishes is extremely rare. The diamond clarity chart grades these precious stones based on slight differences such as flawless, very slightly included, slightly included, or contains inclusions. As you move further down the chart, the inclusions become more noticeable to the naked eye.
The thing to understand with inclusions and blemishes is that these imperfections can interfere with the light shining through the gem, which impacts the diamond’s brilliance and beauty. So, while you may have a high-quality cut diamond, the clarity can make the stone appear dull. When assessing a diamond’s clarity, check each stone to ensure it is eye clean, which means that any imperfections don’t interfere with the stone’s light refraction. A reputable diamond professional should provide you with a loupe so you can closely examine the gems. Some small black dots on the diamond may be dirt on the surface or they could be inclusions making the diamond look “dirty”.
Often people assume that the size of a diamond determines the carat, yet it’s based on the gem’s physical weight. One carat is equal to 0.2 grams, and it can look different in various shapes such as princess, pear, oval, brilliant, radiant, and heart. Two diamonds can have the same carat weight yet be very different sizes if one is cut deeper than the other. If your personal preference is to select the biggest carat to suit your budget, you may have to compromise on other factors; otherwise, consider how a diamond’s carat compares to the other C’s. For example, a large 1.5-carat diamond rating with poor cut and clarity will not sparkle as well as a 1.0-carat gem with an excellent cut.
Using the 4 Cs to Buy the Perfect Diamond at J Pratt
The four Cs determine these precious stones’ overall quality, value, and beauty, from cheap diamonds to expensive gems. Even with a basic understanding of diamonds, it can still be difficult to differentiate each element with the naked eye. However, our knowledgeable and experienced jewelers can assist you in navigating the diamond buying process. At J Pratt Designs, we carefully take you through every aspect of assessing a diamond so you can select the perfect stone for your setting and budget.