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Everyone who thinks of buying diamonds first needs to know about what are commonly known as the Four C's of Diamonds. A diamond is classified, rated and appraised based on these four major criteria, which are its Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat.
A diamond’s brilliance or shine depends a lot upon its cut, which makes this one of the major determining points of a diamond’s value. The cut of a diamond refers to the proportions of its facets with respect to its size. Thus, the cut is an essential factor in determining a diamond’s beauty, and thus, its value. A well cut and well-polished diamond is one that disperses light perfectly and shines brilliantly.
Let us take a look at a diamond’s Cut Grades:
Shallow Cut: A shallow cut diamond is one where light enters the diamond’s pavilion facets at a low angle and then passes through the facet instead of reflecting back. Because light leaks through the bottom of the diamond in this case, the optimal beauty of the diamond is not realized.
Ideal Cut: An ideally cut diamond is one where the light entering the facets of the diamond is properly dispersed around the diamond’s interiors and then optimally reflected back in order to give the stone a perfectly brilliant shine.
Deep Cut: A deep cut diamond is one where the light entering the diamond does not get dispersed inside the stone optimally and instead of reflecting off the interior facets, exits from the sides. This makes the diamond shine less brightly.
While diamonds come in a huge array of colors, the majority of diamonds are white; which is also a favorite amongst diamond buyers. White or colorless diamonds are rated by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in a range from D which is colorless to Z which is light yellow.
Colorless: D – E – F
Absolutely colorless diamonds are graded D, which is the highest grade a colorless diamond can get; also being the rarest and most precious among colorless diamonds. Diamonds classified under color grades E and F are also graded colorless; any inclusions are not visible to the untrained eye and can only be detected by trained professionals using grading tools.
Near Colorless: G-H-I-J
G, H, I & J graded diamonds are labeled nearly colorless because of having a very slight hint of color. Once they have been mounted, they prove to be excellently valuable diamonds with little or no noticeable color to the unaided eye. The price of diamonds in this range increases by almost 10%-20% between each diamond grade.
Faint Yellow or Faint Brown: K-L-M
This is the range where a pale yellow hue in a diamond starts becoming noticeable to the naked eye. Because of this reason, these diamonds can be bought at almost half the price of a similar G graded diamond. The best way of using these diamonds is mounting them in yellow gold, which complements the color of the diamond and turns its drawback of being slightly colored into an advantage. For someone who is not extremely particular about colorlessness, these diamonds can be a good bargain.
Very Light Yellow or Very Light Brown: N – R
Diamonds in the N to R range are noticeably colored to the naked eye and vary from very light yellow to very light brown. These diamonds are much cheaper when compared to comparatively colorless diamonds, but are good bets when mounted in yellow gold.
Light Yellow or Light Brown: S – Z
Falling at the bottom of the diamond color grading spectrum, these diamonds have noticeable yellow and brown tints. Such diamonds are usually not carried by most reputable jewellers, unless they are mounted with other colored stones.
Almost all diamonds contain small, extremely minute marks or flaws known as inclusions. Since these flaws affect how light passes through a diamond, diamonds with fewer inclusion are more dazzling and valuable. A diamond is considered flawless only when it shows no internal flaws like feathers, clouds or pinpoints and no external flaws like nicks, scratches or pits when viewed under 10X (ten times) magnification. Being a creation of nature, it is hard for diamonds to be absolutely flawless, and totally flawless diamonds are the rarest and most expensive of all diamonds.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) gives a clarity rating to gem graded diamonds on a scale that varies from FL (flawless) to I3 (heavily included).
The scale follows:
A diamond that has no internal flaws like feathers, clouds or pinpoints and no external flaws like nicks, scratches or pits are graded flawless.
IF (Internally Flawless):
Diamonds without any internal inclusion but which have minor blemishes on the surface that can be removed through polishing are considered internally flawless.
VVS1/VVS2 (Very, Very Small Inclusions):
These are Diamonds that have inclusions or surface blemishes that are tough to find and locate even when examined under 10X magnification by a qualified gemologist.
VS1/VS2 (Very Small Inclusions):
Diamonds graded VS1/VS2 are those that have inclusions or surface blemishes that are difficult to find and locate even when examined by a qualified gemologist under 10X magnification.
SI1/SI2 (Small Inclusions):
These grades are those that have inclusions or surface blemishes that can easily be located by a qualified gemologist when examined under 10X magnification.
I1/I2/I3 (Eye Visible Inclusions):
I1/I2/I3 are Diamonds with inclusions or surface blemishes that can be easily located by a qualified gemologist even without the magnification.
Carat denotes the size and weight of a diamond. One carat is equal to 0.20 grams or 1/5 grams. 1 carat is further divided into 100 points, so if a diamond’s weight is 1.03 carats, then it will be referred to as weighing “1 carat and 3 points”. Diamonds having the same carat value may differ in shape, size and look because of factors like cut, clarity and color.