Shopping for diamond jewelry means thinking about the 4Cs: cut, color, clarity, and carat. But what exactly should you be looking for within these characteristics? Before making your jewelry purchase, be sure you understand what each of these qualities means and the spectrum of value within each one.
The cut of a diamond generally refers to how deep or shallow it is, which determines how much light is reflected out of it. The ideal stone is of medium depth, which reflects maximum light, making the jewel look bigger and brighter. Shallower or deeper diamonds may appear darker or smaller and are less valuable.
The second C to consider when browsing a diamond jewelry collection is color. The color grade is an alphabetic scale from D to Z which ranges from Colorless to Light yellow. Colorless diamonds, or those with a grade of D-F are the most valuable. Mid-range jewels show only faintly noticeable tints of yellow.
Because diamonds are formed under extreme conditions of heat and pressure, all of them contain inclusions, or small imperfections from the formation process. A diamond’s clarity measures amount of inclusions that can be detected by the naked eye and under magnification. The clarity scale ranges from Flawless through varying levels of Slightly Included to Included.
A diamond’s carat refers to its weight. One carat is equal to 1/5 of a gram. Likewise, one hundred points make up a gram, and thus smaller diamonds may weigh in at something like 50 points. Generally, the weight of the stone correlates to its size, but this rule is not absolute. Larger diamonds, however, are much rarer and more valuable.
The quality of diamond jewelry that will most determine the price of the piece, as well as its beauty and radiance is the cut. In order to choose a stunning gem that doesn’t scrape through your entire wallet, first select best quality cut you can afford. After that, you can make decisions on the remaining three C’s based on your personal preferences and your budget.