Every diamond is unique, which means finding the perfect one requires the utmost care. Although the time and financial investment needed to find the perfect diamond can seem overwhelming, understanding the key qualities of diamonds will make the search much easier. Armed with the correct information and advice, you’ll be able to evaluate the quality and cost of a diamond with confidence and be on your way to finding the perfect one.
All mined and lab diamonds undergo a thorough evaluation conducted by a skilled grader that is trained in the diamond quality scale. These characteristics are known as the 4Cs of diamonds: carat, cut, color and clarity. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) developed this scale and it is now the most widely used grading scale. Based on the assessment of a diamond, a certification of value will be produced alongside the diamond. Here is what you need to know about each of the 4Cs of Diamond Quality.
The 4Cs of Quality
Since no two diamonds are alike- whether lab or mined- each one will vary greatly on their 4Cs grading. Their performance in each of the categories will determine the diamond price, and will pinpoint the overall value. Learn each of the 4Cs to become an expert at diamond quality and get you on your way to choosing the perfect diamond.
- Carat heavily influences the price of a diamond. Generally speaking, the price will rise exponentially as its carat increases. This means, for example, that a 1-carat diamond will cost more than two 0.5-carat diamonds of the same quality. In fact, a larger diamond may be priced four times higher than a diamond half its weight. However, since lab diamonds cost, on average, around 30-50% less than their mined counterpart, consumers are able to get a larger diamond for the same amount of money.
- A diamond’s cut grade is one of the most important characteristics to consider when purchasing a diamond as it’s the most influential factor in sparkle. If the cut grade is poor, even the highest quality diamond will appear dull and lifeless. Of all the 4Cs, cut is the most complex and difficult to analyze. The GIA and its graders use a precise calculation to determine a stone’s cut grade, taking into account the design and craftsmanship of how diamonds are cut. Specifically, the diamond cut scale ranges from D to Z and contains six distinct cut grades: ideal, excellent, very good, good, fair and poor.
- The color grade of a diamond is determined by the presence or lack of color within the stone. Colorless diamonds will appear to have a complete lack of color and are valued much higher as they are incredibly rare to find as well as create. The scale begins with the grade D representing a perfectly colorless diamond and continues to grade Z, with each letter of the scale constituting an increasing presence of color or hue.
- Diamond clarity is defined as the assessment of imperfections on both the surface and within a stone. The clarity grade is determined by the number, size, position and nature of the blemishes, which are also known as inclusions. The clarity scale consists of six categories: flawless (FL), internally flawless (IF), very very slightly included (VVS), very slightly included (VS), slightly included (S1), and included (I).
The 4Cs of Price
Not only do the 4Cs of diamonds help to classify the quality of the diamonds, but they also impact the value. Many consumers believe that purchasing a diamond with equally high grades on all four qualities is the way to get the best value. However, compromising on some aspects of quality for the ones that are most important to you may be the better option. For example, choosing a diamond with a G color grade would free up your budget to afford a larger carat weight. Alternatively, if having an Ideal Cut diamond is more important to you, then choosing one with slight inclusions would still allow you this without having to spend a fortune.
One of the biggest differences between lab diamonds and mined diamonds- apart from their origin- is price point. While the price of a mined diamond increases exponentially the higher the carat weight it is, a lab diamond is currently much more affordable. One average, lab diamonds cost 30-50% less than comparable mined diamonds. This makes deciding between the two stones an easy choice. By choosing a lab diamond, you can get a diamond that is in every way identical to a mined diamond, but costs less.
Now that you are aware of the 4Cs of Diamond Quality, you are prepared to begin your search for the perfect diamond. Start by aligning your budget with the qualities you’re looking for in a diamond engagement ring or piece of diamond jewelry. Choosing a lab diamond will allow you to get a better deal for excellent quality.
*Price points and environmental facts expressed in this blog were taken from popular online retailers and may vary. Learn more about the environmental impact of mining by visiting our sister blog.