DIAMOND KNOWLEDGE- 4C's
Beautiful | Rare | Cherished. Diamonds are made of carbon so they form as carbon atoms under a high temperature and pressure; they bond together to start growing crystals. Each diamond is unique and is a miracle of time, place and change. And each has specific qualities that establish its value. GIA created the first, and now globally accepted standard for describing diamonds: Colour, Clarity, Cut and Carat Weight. Today, the 4Cs of Diamond Quality is the universal method for assessing the quality of any diamond, anywhere in the world.
Among the 4C's for grading and evaluating diamonds is Colour. In White diamonds, a diamond with a higher color grade (Colourless D, E, F ) will carry a bigger price tag than a diamond in lower color grades such as J, K, M. Near colorless diamonds are also considered high quality, especially G and H color diamonds.
The diamond cut is often acknowledged as the most important aspect when buying a diamond and hence should not be confused with the shape of the diamond. The cut refers to the brilliance of the diamond. In simple terms, the way a diamond is cut will determine how light is reflected through the stone.
A good cut will allow the light to travel through the stone and reflect from side to side. The light then reflects out of the stone, and this light/sparkle is what you see with your eye. In diamond terminology, this sparkle is "brilliance."
Here is an outline that will assist you in understanding the GIA’s cut grading system and what differentiates an excellent from a good or fair cut.●Excellent grade: this category has high scintillation, brilliance and an even pattern of dark and light areas.
●Very good: while this grade has high scintillation and brilliance, they are darker n the edges or the centre. Sometimes, a diamond can have a higher scintillation and brilliance, but the grade lowered by its pattern.
●Good grade: this category is a bit dark and has lower scintillation. A diamond can be downgraded by its weight ratio or pattern.
●Fair grade: a gem in this grade has little scintillation and brilliance.
●Poor grade: gems in this grade have extremely poor proportions and display little scintillation or brilliance.
Carat is the weighing scale or unit of weight of a diamond. The word carat has its roots in Greek. Back then, c arob seeds were considered to have consistency in their mass. Hence it became a comparative measure easing out the trade of diamonds. Carat has remained a comparative or a relative measure for diamonds for a long time. One carat today is equal to 0.2 grams i.e. size of a paperclip. A carat is divided into one hundred points. When you are shopping for a diamond, carat would be the most common term you’ll hear from jewelers, and that’s how diamonds are presented besides many other features or shapes of diamonds.
The amount of natural flaws in a diamond determines the clarity grade of a diamond. There are two types of clarity factors in a diamond in general – blemishes (external flaws such as chips and scratches etc.) and inclusions (internal flaws such as crystals and feathers etc.).
The Gemological Institute of America’ (GIA) diamond clarity scale is divided into the following categories:
Flawless or FL: a diamond that has no blemishes and inclusions would fall within this category. The best clarity grade.
Internally Flawless or IF : a diamond that has extremely minimal external blemishes, but no internal inclusions would fall within this category. Top clarity grade.
Very Very Slightly Included 1 or VVS1 : VVS diamonds are extremely high clarity grade diamonds. You would need a microscope with a 60-100X magnification to locate the inclusions of the diamond in this clarity grade.
Very Very Slightly Included 2 or VVS2: Right next to VVS1 is VVS2 clarity grade. Again, it is a very high clarity grade and untrained individuals would not be able to find inclusions in this clarity grade with a jeweler’s loupe.
Very Slightly Included 1 or VS1: this is one of the best clarity grades in a diamond. VS1 diamonds are completely eye-clean and considered investment grade just like VVS diamonds. The boundary between VVS2 and VS1 is also very tight. While obviously VVS would have a higher price tag, you can’t go with a VS1 clarity grade diamond.
Very Slightly Included 2 or VS2: if you are on a budget and do not want to compromise on quality either, VS2 is the best clarity grade to consider. Diamonds in the VS2 clarity grade range are eye-clean, especially in less than 2 carat diamonds.
Slightly Included 1 or SI1: What we stated for VS2 is true for SI1 in the 1 carat range diamonds. SI1 diamonds in the 1 carat weight range are generally eye-clean.
Slightly Included 2 or SI2: There are SI2 diamonds in the 1 carat range that are eye-clean and there are some that are not eye-clean. It all depends on the type and location of the inclusion. If they are white feathers and spread out inclusions across the diamond, it would be eye-clean generally. If they are big black crystals, the diamond won’t be eye clean.
Included 1-3 (I1, I2, I3): These are the lowest clarity grade diamonds in GIA scale. Diamonds in this range are not eye clean and would often have bad brilliance and fire because of too many flaws. I1 could still be a decent clarity grade for people with budget constraints, but I2/I3 would be pushing it.