Looking for the perfect diamond is certainly no easy task. There are many specific terms and complicated grading systems to understand and interpret. Even if you are just starting your search for the perfect diamond, you have probably heard to look for “the four C’s:” color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. These characteristics are certainly important to consider in the search for a diamond, but the most important thing to remember about the 4 C’s is that they are not the full story. Two diamonds with the same color, clarity, cut, and carat weight are not necessarily equal in value or even beauty. That said, let’s examine each of the four C’s in further detail, along with some additional important factors, to gain more insight into the GIA diamond grading system and how to best select a diamond.
We’ll start by discussing the importance of the carat weight of a diamond. If you compare two diamonds with identical characteristics, a diamond with a larger weight will be more expensive than a diamond with a smaller weight. However, a larger weight alone does not give a diamond a higher value. Smaller diamonds with higher grading can be more expensive than larger but lower-graded ones.
While nothing can change the carat weight of an individual diamond, it’s important to remember that a diamond’s setting can change how big the diamond looks. For example, a setting with a halo – small diamonds going around the center diamond – will make the center diamond look bigger.
One of the most important characteristics of a diamond is cut. The cut of a diamond is vital because it influences how much light goes into and reflects off the diamond. This absorption and reflection of light is what makes a diamond appear to “sparkle” so, naturally, the quality of the cut of a diamond has a significant influence on its beauty and price.
Some diamond grading laboratories – specifically, GIA and AGS – grade cut quality of round, brilliant cut diamonds, along with color, clarity, and carat weight. The AGS laboratory also offers cut grade for different shapes of diamonds (i.e. cushion, pear shape, princess cut, and others). These reports are very helpful when determining the quality of the cut of a diamond.
“Color” in a diamond actually refers to absence of color—the ideal white diamond will be of “no color” or “very little color.” Diamond color significantly impacts the appearance of a diamond. Because of this, it is a factor that greatly impacts a diamond’s price.
It is important to note that the way a certain color diamond reflects light changes based on its shape. As such, when looking for a diamond, the choice of diamond color should be made in consideration of the diamond’s shape.
“Clarity” of a diamond has to do with the position, size, and nature of a diamond’s inclusions.
A diamond’s beauty is created by the way a diamond reflects the light going into it. The more light a diamond reflects, the more beautiful and radiant it is.
Inclusions can block light from going into and reflecting off a diamond, making it look less “sparkly”. So, clarity plays an important role in determining the beauty and, subsequently, value of a diamond.
Fluorescence, polish, and symmetry also play an important role in a diamond’s appearance and can affect a diamond’s value.
Diamond Laboratories Consideration
We recommend that you choose diamonds evaluated by either GIA or AGS diamond laboratories. These two laboratories have a more stringent evaluation criteria than other laboratories and, therefore, are more reliable. Diamonds assessed by GIA and AGS will be more expensive, but the dependability of their reports is worth the higher price.
Diamonds evaluated by IGI, EGL, and HRD may be less expensive, but these laboratories do not adhere to the same strict evaluation requirements as GIA and AGS do. These companies produce reports that are inconsistent, and should not be relied on.
For further detail on the 4C diamond grading system, please visit the webpage of its creator: GIA.