Diamonds: Know Your 4 C's

People say that diamonds are a girl's best friend. Every girl dreams of owning a diamond ring. Since the beginning of 1947, the diamond has been largely associated with marriage. In 1947, De Beers Company launched a slogan that spurred the sales of the diamond, "A diamond is forever". The campaign implied that a diamond's long lasting durability is similar to the American psyche that marriage is forever. Till this day, the diamond is a true symbol of eternal love and signifies the celebration of a union. 

Different diamonds differ in their rarity and quality depending on GIA (Gemological Institute of America) scales of the 4 C's. GIA is an independent third-party diamond appraisal and is considered the world's foremost authority on diamonds used by jewelers such as Cartier and Harry Winston. Diamonds are graded based on their cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. With better grades, the diamond will tend to cost more. For additional information about diamond quality from high-end jewelry boutiques, click here.


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CUT

A diamond's beauty, brilliance, and excellence is heavily determined by the cut of the diamond. This criterion is entirely dependent on the talent and expertise of the diamond-cutter as this will determine how well a diamond's facets interact with light. According to the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) scale, the cut of a diamond is rated on a scale of 5 grades ranging from "excellent" to "poor". A diamond's cut grade is determined based on the design and craftsmanship of the diamond as well as the diamond's brightness, fire, and scintillation. 

Brightness - Internal and external white light reflected from a diamond
Fire - The scattering of white light into all the colors of the rainbow
Scintillation - The amount of sparkle a diamond produces, and the pattern of light and dark areas caused by reflections within the diamond

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COLOR

Although diamonds are transparent, most diamonds contain slight hints of color. The closer diamonds are to colorless, the more valuable and rare the diamonds are. GIA grades the color of a diamond based on a scale of 23 grades ranging from "colorless (D)" to "light yellow or brown (Z)" under controlled lighting conditions. Note that natural colored diamonds (red, blue, yellow, pink, etc.) are graded differently than white colorless diamonds. 

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CLARITY

Diamonds are created as a result of carbon that is exposed to tremendous heat and pressure deep in the earth. As a result, almost all diamonds have a variety of internal and external characteristics also known as "inclusions" and "blemishes" respectively. The clarity of a diamond is determined based on the diamond's nature, size, relief, the position and number of inclusions and blemishes, as well as how these characteristics affect the overall look of the stone.

A diamond grader determines a diamond's clarity on an 11 point scale under 10x magnification. Many inclusions and blemishes are too tiny to be seen with the naked eye. A diamond with the highest clarity will have a "flawless (FL)" rating while a diamond with the lowest clarity affecting transparency and brilliance will have an "included (I)" rating. 

What causes inclusions? 
Some crystals can be trapped within the formation of a diamond. As a crystal continues to grow, the crystal may develop irregularities in its atomic structure leading to inclusions in the diamond.  

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CARAT WEIGHT

Every girl dreams to have a huge looking diamond with a large carat weight. But what is a carat? A diamond's size is determined based on a it's weight which is expressed in carat. A "carat" is defined as 200 milligrams. Diamonds with larger carat weights tend to cost more due to its rarity and desirability.

However, two diamonds with equal weight can have drastic price points depending on its cut, clarity, and color. For example, a Harry Winston solitaire diamond ring with a carat weight of 1.01, VVS1 (very very slightly included) clarity, and E (colorless) grading will cost you a hefty price tag of $33,000. On the other hand, a solitaire diamond ring from Blue Nile with a carat weight of 1.01, S12 (slightly included) clarity, and I (near colorless) grading will cost $3,009.

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