Diamond Basics: The 4 C's
Diamond Basics: The 4 C's
If you think of a breathtaking piece of jewelry or the symbol of love, the engagement ring, the search often focuses on the design. But in addition to an incomparable design, the quality of the stones plays a prominent role when buying and value diamond jewelry. The 4Cs: cut, color, clarity and carat, have always stood for the value of a diamond.
Importantly, the lab grown diamonds we create, as well as mine-raised diamonds, each have a unique structure and quality characteristics that are graded according to the 4 Cs.
The 4C's at a glance:
But what is behind these terms and evaluation categories?
The weight of a diamond: Carat
Size or weight?
Carat is the unit in which the weight of a diamond is measured. This probably most well-known property of a diamond is nevertheless very often confused with the size. As stated at the beginning, not every diamond grown in the lab is the same, just like in nature. In terms of size, however, it is sometimes very difficult to tell them apart. For this reason, the value of a diamond is measured, among other things, by its weight, which corresponds to:
1 carat (ct.) = 0.2 grams
This equivalent value was established in 1875 to avoid misunderstandings. But even before that, the weight of a diamond was determined with the help of the baobab tree. From the Greek "Kerátion" (= squirrel), describing the shape of the seed of the baobab tree, at that time one seed corresponded to one carat, i.e. 0.2 grams. Each carat is also divided into 100 points, so a half carat is also a 50 pointer.
In addition to the sheer carat number, it should also be noted that the shape of a diamond has a significant influence on the perception of its size. Because the size, which is measured in mm, does not correspond to the carat number, as already mentioned. This is how diamonds of the same carat come in different sizes depending on their shape and cut.
Special cuts such as the oval, pear, or emerald cut appear larger than round brilliant diamonds due to their longer top surface (the table of the diamond), as the weight is more evenly distributed on the top and bottom of the diamond distributed. Especially when looking for the right engagement ring, the appearance of the ring can be maximized with a special cut.
Weight is therefore an important factor in determining the value of a diamond. But no matter how heavy the diamond, if it is the wrong colour, has a bad cut or is not of good clarity, its value will be lower.
The color of a diamond
No tint please!
In addition to the carat number, the color of a diamond is decisive for the quality - because diamonds have different colors, not everyone is just transparent. The color here does not mean pink, yellow or blue, but the tint of the diamonds. In other words, whether a diamond is absolutely colorless or has a yellowish tint. Accordingly, a diamond is more valuable and rarer the more colorless it is. The most common method for determining the color was coined internationally by the institutes GIA & IGI, 2 of the world's leading testing laboratories, and is carried out using a letter scale, starting with D to Z. D means that the color of the diamond is very fine white, i.e. for the bare eye is absolutely colorless, and Z that the color of the diamond is very yellow. Of course, the diamond at "Z" does not shimmer in a beautiful sunny yellow - after all, it is not a fancy diamond - but in a kind of yellowish white. At VEYNOU we only use colorless to almost colorless diamonds, according to the D-F scale.
In practice, the interplay of color and carat is very important, since the larger the diamond, the easier the color catches the eye. Therefore, before deciding to buy a diamond larger than 1 carat, we recommend considering the color as a key factor in the diamond's radiance and investing in a colorless grade if necessary.
Finally, it should be mentioned that the choice of the precious metal in which the diamond is set also has an influence on the perception of the color of a diamond. Especially with white gold and platinum, a yellowish tint and inferior color of the color scale may even be emphasized due to the contrast of the colorless white gold and a yellowish tinted diamond. Yellow and rose gold, on the other hand, can conceal a slight tint.
The cut of a diamond
A particularly important criterion is the brilliance of a diamond, also called "fire". It describes how strongly the incoming light is caught and refracted by the diamond. This fire depends on the cut, i.e. the arrangement of the cut facets of a diamond, and is largely determined by the craftsmanship and detailed work of the cutter.
The word "brilliance" comes from one of the most well-known and oldest types of cut, the brilliant cut. However, the type of cut is not important in the “Cut” category, it is much more about the quality of the cut. A well-cut diamond reflects the light back to the viewer through the perfect ratio of height and width. A poorly cut diamond, on the other hand, scatters the light and thus loses fire, i.e. brilliance.
On the other hand, the symmetry of the diamond counts when it comes to the quality of the cut. If the facets are cut in a symmetrical relationship to each other, the viewer sees a calm picture, the diamond appears "cleaner" - the pursuit of perfect symmetry.
An excellent cut is therefore the mixture of symmetry and the right ratio of height and width for impeccable proportions and a diamond's unique fire. The cut can be the decisive factor in whether a flawless diamond appears dull or a diamond with a bleached tint appears of higher quality. The better the cut, the larger a diamond appears.
An overview of the cut structure of a diamond:
Table: The top flat surface of the diamond
Crown: The upper part of the diamond between the girdle and the table
Girdle: Circumferential edge between the top and bottom of the diamond
culet: the point of the diamond
How are the cuts evaluated?
According to the cut scale standardized by GIA, cuts are classified from “Excellent”, through “Very Good”, “Good” to “Poor”. A diamond with an excellent has perfect symmetry and brilliance - a result of master craftsmanship and very rare.
What cuts are there?
It is important that the cut is often colloquially equated with the shape of a diamond. However, the cut refers to the arrangement of the individual facets, while the shape refers to the general appearance of the diamond. Nevertheless, it makes sense to assign the shapes to the cut for better understanding.
The most classic form is the brilliant cut. The oval, pear and emerald cuts are also trendy.
The clarity of a diamond
Probably the most well-known criterion
Clarity refers to "inclusions" or imperfections in a diamond. Finally, these inclusions, which occur naturally in the diamond's creation process (both lab-grown and mined diamonds), are particularly distinctive because they make each diamond unique - a distinctive birthmark, so to speak.
However, since these inclusions logically disturb the brilliance (after all, the light can no longer be directed back to the viewer unhindered from every observer's position), the fewer inclusions a diamond has, the more valuable it is. In most cases, however, they are not visible to the naked eye and can only be seen under a magnifying glass.
When is a diamond "flawless"?
The clarity of a diamond is determined using the clarity scale. Diamonds that do not have any inclusions are referred to as "flawless" or as recognizable on the scale as "FL = flawless". We only process diamonds with a clarity grade of VS2 or better (VS = Very Small Inclusions), i.e. with minimal inclusions that are not visible to the eye and are only visible to experts under a microscope at 10x magnification for an incomparable fire and brilliance .
Every diamond has unique properties - even if two diamonds appear exactly the same at first glance. But at second glance, even the untrained eye will notice that the diamonds differ in weight, color, cut and clarity depending on their quality. The 4C's are therefore perfect for determining the value and, in addition to the design, are of great importance when looking for the perfect piece of jewelry.