4Cs. FOUR CHARACTERISTICS THAT DETERMINE THE QUALITY OF A DIAMOND.
All diamonds are rare, but some are more rare than others - and therefore more valuable.
The 4Cs relate to a diamond's:
CUT, COLOR, CLARITY, CARAT WEIGHT
The Better these four characteristics, the more valuable the diamond will be.
The way a diamond is cut and
polished is vital. It is the precision and delicacy of the cut
that dictates the maximum amount of light the diamond will
refract and reflect. The better it has been cut, the
greater will be its brialliance, sparkle and fire.
When a diamond is cut to good proportions, light is internally reflected from one facet to another and then dispersed through the crown, or top, of the diamond. (1) If the cut is too deep, then some light will escape through the opposite side of the pavilion, or bottom, of the diamond. (2)
Most diamonds look colorless, but there are many subtle shade differences and the closer a diamond is to having no color the more valuable it becomes. Why does the color vary? Well, in the chaos of extreme temperature and pressure that first created diamonds, traces of elements such as nitrogen and boron could have been incorporated into the diamond's atomic structure.
It is these traces that give a diamond its color - or lack of it. Diamonds with no hint of color at all are very rare. But also rare are diamonds with strong color. These are called 'Fancies'. Red, pink and blu are the most prized, but virtually all colors are possible. Most gem quality diamonds, seen on their own, may well appear to be colorless. But usually they do have at least a hint of color - this is normally yellow or brown due to traces of nitrogen.
Thanks to nature, every diamond is
unique. Each one possesses its own individuality. This could be
due to minute traces of other minerals trapped during the
These natural characteristics, called 'inclusions' are better described as nature's fingerprints and help gemologists determine the age of a diamond.
The number, color, nature, size and
position of any inclusions determine the clarity of a diamond.
The fewer the inclusions, the rarer it will be graded, and the more light it will reflect, making it more valuable. Since it is very rare to find a diamond that has no inclusions, the closer to flawless it is the greater the value.
The last of the 4Cs is carat weight. A diamond's weight is the simplest of its characteristics to measure, and from the earliest times has been used to calculate one aspect of the value of a diamond. The carat is a unit of weight which derives from the carob seed. The pods of the carob, or locust tree, contain tiny seeds which are remarkably consistent in weight. These seeds were used by early gem traders to weigh their diamonds.
A 1carat diamond used to equal the weight of a carab seed, but in today's terms the carat is a standard metric weight of 0.2 grams or 1/142 of a standard ounce. Each carat is divided into a 100 points. So, for example, a quarterof a carat is 25 points, written as 0.25; a half a carat is 50 points, written as 0.50 and so on.
It is easy to weigh an unmounted diamond, but once it is in a setting, it is only possible to estimate its weight by using special gauges and formulae. Remember, Carat Weight has no bearing on a diamond's cut, color or clarity.