The 4 Cs are the four characteristics traditionally used to determine the quality and value of a diamond: Carat, Cut, Clarity, and Colour. The characteristics of a diamond are graded and categorized by the diamond industry to establish its retail value.
Quality diamonds are graded by a qualified expert and carry a certificate of authentication.
A 5th C, which stands for “conflict-free,” denotes a rough diamond that has been mined in stable countries with more ethical and enforced business and labour practices, such as Australia or Canada.
Here’s a look at how diamonds, an ever-popular choice for engagement rings, are valued.
Before investing in a diamond, it’s important to learn how to be sure you are getting what you pay for.
A diamond’s cut—its shape and facets—is what makes it sparkle. The more faceted the cut, the greater the sparkle. The most famous shape and cut, according to the Cape Town Diamond Museum, is the round brilliant, with 57 facets.
Clarity measures the purity of the diamond and the presence (or absence) of tiny flaws. The clearer or more flaw free the diamond, the more brilliant and valuable it becomes.
Jewelers and gemologists use a scale from FL (flawless) to VVS (very, very slightly included) to SI (slightly included) to I (included), with number gradations for each category, to rate clarity.
A diamond’s mass, or weight, is measured in carats. A metric carat is 200 milligrams, and each carat can be subdivided into 100 points. Diamonds that are more than one carat are expressed in decimals, as in a 1.25-carat diamond. The price per carat increases according to a diamond’s size since large stones are rarer.
Diamonds come in many colours and are categorized as either white—essentially colourless—or fancy. Because distinctions of colour among stones are subtle, experience and training are required to colour-grade a diamond. These variations make a major difference in diamond quality and price. Depending on the hue and intensity, a stone’s colour can either diminish or enhance its value.
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