the 4 Cs +1

The “4 C’s” are cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. We also like to include shape. These are the main factors in the pricing of a diamond and we are here to help you through this process. Whether you are looking for a vintage style ring or a custom design, we will help you find the center diamond that is perfect for you!

CUT

The cut of a diamond refers to how well it is proportioned and thus how it interacts with light. 

In properly cut diamonds, light enters through the top facets of the stone and then bounces around inside the diamond in a similar fashion to a prism. The light then returns through the top facets as a reflection of all the colors of the rainbow. 

If a diamond is improperly cut, after the light enters through the top facets of the stone, it leaks through the bottom of the stone. Because of this, light does not reflect back through the top of the diamond in an aesthetically pleasing way, hence the importance of having a properly cut diamond. 

 

The cut grades of diamonds range from Ideal down to Poor, depending on which grading laboratory is grading the diamond. Several diamond grading laboratories, including The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), do not recognize Ideal as a cut grade, and that is perfectly fine.  GIA created the first industry accepted cut grading scale back in 1949. According to GIA’s cut grading scale, Excellent is the highest cut grade that they give. Excellent is followed in order from best to worst cut grades by Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor. Other grading laboratories such as The International Gemological Institute (IGI) give a cut grade of Ideal to diamonds that they deem to have the best possible cut grade.

Color

99% of diamonds have some degree of color to them. Diamond color can range from the more common yellow and brown to the very rare red, pink, blue and green.

When it comes to white diamonds, color is graded on an alphabetical scale that begins with D and ends at Z. Diamonds with lower color than Z are considered Fancy color diamonds. Colorless and Fancy color diamonds are very rare, which increases their value significantly.

colorless

Diamonds with color grades of D, E, and F are considered colorless diamonds. These diamonds are the rarest, and most white diamonds in the market. A good visual comparison for the color of colorless diamonds would be a clear glass of water.

Near Colorless

Diamonds with color grades of G, H, I,  and are considered near colorless diamonds. These diamonds have an extremely subtle tint of color that is very hard to detect to the untrained eye. A good visual comparison for the color of near colorless diamonds would be a glass of water with a single drop of tea in it.

Faint Color

Diamonds with color grades of K, L, and are considered to have faint color. Faint color diamonds have a soft candle light color that appeals to many particularly in yellow gold and rose gold mountings.

Very Light Color

Diamonds with color grades of N,O,P, Q, and are considered to have very light color. Diamonds of this color range are more economical in price, but tend to contrast noticeably with white gold or platinum mountings. Typically diamonds of this color are set in yellow gold or rose gold mountings

Near Colorless

Diamonds with color grades of S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, and Z have a noticeable yellow hue, but are not technically considered to be fancy yellow diamonds. Light color diamonds are popular for those who want a similar look to a fancy light yellow diamond without paying the premium associated with diamonds graded as fancy yellow.

Light Color

Diamonds with color grades of G, H, I, and J are considered near colorless diamonds. These diamonds have an extremely subtle tint of color that is very hard to detect to the untrained eye. A good visual comparison for the color of near colorless diamonds would be a glass of water with a single drop of tea in it.

 

clarity

Clarity refers to the relative presence of inclusions (imperfections) within a diamond or the presence of surface abrasions, chips, or any other type of surface imperfections. 

Over 99.99% of diamonds have some sort of clarity characteristics which are used to assign these stones their appropriate clarity grades. Unless a diamond is deemed to be Flawless, it will have some form of clarity characteristic(s).

From the least amount of clarity characteristics to the most, this is the industry accepted clarity scale.

Flawless

As the name would imply, diamonds given the clarity grade of Flawless have  no flaws or clarity characteristics within or on the surface of the diamond that can be seen at 10X magnification

Internally Flawless

Diamonds with a clarity grade of Internally Flawless have no inclusions within the diamond, but do have some form of clarity characteristic(s) on the surface of the diamond that can be seen at 10xX magnification.

VVS1 and VVS2

Diamonds with clarity grades of VVS1 and VVS2 contain inclusions that are so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification.

VS1 and VS2

Diamonds with clarity grades of VS1 and VS2 contain Inclusions that can be observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor.

SI1 and SI2

Diamonds with clarity grades of Si1 and SI2 contain inclusions that are noticeable under 10x magnification

I1, I2, and I3

Diamonds with clarity grades of I1, I2, and I3 contain inclusions that are visible without the aid of magnification. Diamonds of these grades have inclusions that may affect the transparency or brilliance of the diamond

Carat WEIGHT

As the name would imply, carat weight is the actual physical weight of the stone. 

One carat equals exactly 1/5th of one gram. So if you have a five carat diamond you would take 1/5th of a gram and multiply it by 5 (the number of carats) to get the actual weight in grams of the diamond, which in this case would be 1.00 gram. 

An increase in the carat weight of a diamond generally corresponds with an increase in the size of the diamond as you view it from the top, but not always. If a diamond is cut improperly, the diamond may face up smaller or larger than the actual carat weight would indicate. If a diamond is cut too shallow, it may make the diamond appear larger than it is. 

In theory this sounds great, but in actuality, if a diamond is cut too shallow, it will not reflect the light back to your eye properly, leaving you with a stone that is lacking internal sparkle, also known as brilliance or fire. 

 

If a diamond is cut too deep, not only does the diamond face up smaller than the carat weight would indicate, but just like a stone that is cut too shallow, it will also lack proper brilliance/fire. 

The larger a diamond is in carat weight, the more rare the diamond is. Therefore, the general rule of thumb is the larger the carat weight of the diamond, the more expensive the diamond is providing the rest of the 4C’s +1 are the same.

Shape (The +1)

There is no right or wrong when selecting your favorite shape of diamond, there is a perfect shape for everyone. Like the 4 C’s, the shape of the diamond also plays a role in a diamond’s pricing. Round Brilliant cut diamonds, also simply known as Rounds, are the most popular and best selling diamonds on the market by far. Because of this, and the low margin of error involved in cutting round diamonds, round diamonds demand the highest price premium in the market. The exception to this rule would be on small diamonds used as accent stones, where every other shape of diamond other than rounds (Fancy Shapes) tend to be more expensive than rounds. There are literally thousands of different shapes of diamonds that have been cut over thousands of years, but here we will focus on the shapes most commonly used as the center stones of engagement rings. This is how The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) describes the different shapes:

Round Brilliant

If you’re looking for a round diamond, the round brilliant cut is one of the most popular styles for engagement rings. It’s flattering on the finger, it captivates with its sparkle, and it’s a contemporary classic.

Princess Cut

A relative newcomer to the diamond universe, the princess cut was created in 1981 by Betzalel Ambar and Israel Itskowitz.  GIA grading reports describe princess cut diamonds as square modified brilliants, distinguishing them from the step cut facet arrangements you find on other square diamonds like the Asscher cut.  A princess cut diamond can also be rectangular or tapered. The princess cut is like an upside-down pyramid, with much of its weight in the pavilion, so the face-up appearance of the finished diamond may appear smaller than another diamond of a different shape but of similar carat weight.

Oval

An oval diamond has an elongated round shape that evokes an understated elegance, but with a difference. When it is faceted in the brilliant style, its fire can rival that of a round brilliant. An oval diamond is a fancy shape. You can think of it as a round brilliant diamond stretched on its sides, or a rounded version of a cushion shape or cushion brilliant.

Marquise

The marquise diamond is also called a navette (Old French for “little ship”).  The marquise diamond was popular in the 1970s, especially in bridal jewelry, but fell out of favor to the square-shaped princess-cut diamond by the beginning of the 21st century. Yet the marquise continues to have many advantages. Because of its shape, a marquise diamond will look larger face-up than a round diamond of the same weight. Many brides also appreciate the fact that a marquise will make their fingers appear longer and more slender.

Pear Shape

With its graceful, tapered outline, a pear shaped diamond is an elegant and flattering choice for an engagement ring. Jewelers consider the pear shaped diamond a “fancy shape,” meaning it’s a shape other than round. Reminiscent of a tear drop, a pear shaped diamond blends the best of the round and marquise diamond shapes.

Emerald Cut

Sleek, elegant and beautifully understated, an emerald cut engagement ring is a great choice for someone who’s romantic and sophisticated. With the rising awareness of fancy shaped stones, more and more couples are drawn to the unique look of emerald cut engagement rings. Easily identified by a rectangular shape with beveled corners and concentric rows of facets— on both crown and pavilion— emerald cut diamonds are unconventional stones with timeless charm.

Asscher Cut

For a very different, but surprisingly modern look, the Asscher cut – first introduced in 1902 but since modified for greater brilliance – is similar to a square emerald cut but with larger step facets, a higher crown and a smaller table. Unlike the pointed corners of the princess cut, the corners of an Asscher cut are cropped, giving it the appearance of an octagon.

Radiant Cut

A radiant cut engagement ring is an irresistible combination: It has the fire of a round brilliant diamond and the aristocratic elegance of an emerald cut. Created in 1977, the radiant cut has been charming brides-to-be for decades. A relative newcomer to the ranks of fancy-shaped diamonds, the radiant cut can be square or rectangular; notably, it has cropped corners and brilliant-cut facets.

Cushion Cut

The cushion cut diamond has a long history – it is one of the oldest diamond shapes and cutting styles – and is once again popular. Modern day cushion brilliant cut diamonds are square or squarish-rectangular shapes with curved sides and either rounded or pointed corners.  Typically, this cut will have four or eight mains, which are kite-shaped facets between the girdle and the culet. Sometimes the cut is modified to include extra facets on the crown or pavilion, in which case the cut is called “modified cushion cut brilliant.”

Heart Shape

A heart-shaped engagement ring is unabashedly romantic and the perfect symbol of love. But did you know that heart-shaped diamonds are relatively uncommon in diamond engagement rings? There are many reasons for this. Perhaps top among them the fact that the heart shape works best for larger diamonds – those that are at least one-half carat in size. But although uncommon, heart-shaped diamonds are having their moment in the spotlight.

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