‘Cut, Colour, Clarity And Carat’

Many people are confused about how diamonds are priced. The best explanation is that asking for the price of a diamond is like asking for the price of a house. A real estate agent can’t quote you a price for a house without knowing its size, condition, location, etc. This process is the same one used when buying a diamond.  A diamond’s beauty, rarity and price usually depend on the interplay of the 4Cs – cut, clarity, carat and colour.

In the past, the 4 most popular factors (used to grade a diamond) were cut, carat, color and clarity. (It should be noted that De Beers introduced this set of criteria in 1939 in order to give retailers and consumers a set of reference criteria when evaluating diamonds).

Nature dictates the characteristics of colour, clarity and carat, while the cut is directly influenced by the cutting and polishing process. It is therefore essential that your diamond is only cut and crafted by a highly trained professional in this field.  The 4Cs are used throughout the world to classify the rarity of diamonds. Diamonds with the combination of the highest 4C ratings are more rare and, consequently, more expensive.

Once you have established those 4C characteristics that are most important to you, a jeweler at Secret Sapphire can then begin to show you various options with quoted prices.

THE CUT     ‘A Diamond In The Rough’

Cut refers to the angles and proportions created in transforming a rough diamond into a polished diamond.

A well-cut diamond will reflect light internally from one mirror-like facet to another, dispersing it through the table of the stone. The cut of a diamond allows it to make the best use of light. When a diamond is cut correctly, light is reflected from one facet to another, and then dispersed through the top of the stone. If the cut of the diamond is too deep, some light escapes through the opposite side of the pavilion. If the cut is too shallow, light escapes through the pavilion before it can be reflected.

Cuts that are too deep or too shallow lose or leak light through the side or bottom (affecting the diamond’s brilliance).  The most popular diamond shapes are round, marquise, pear, emerald, oval and heart.  Whatever the shape, a well-cut diamond is the work of a master diamond cutter. When the cut is right the diamond gives more sparkle.

Diamond cutting requires great skill and training because the diamond polisher-cutter must polish tiny surfaces known as facets (crown, culet, table, girdle, and pavilion) onto the rough diamond in a very precise manner.  The facets, when arranged in precise proportions, will maximize the fire, life, and brilliance of a diamond.  It should be noted that to cut a diamond perfectly, a diamond polisher will often need to cut away more than 50% of the rough diamond thereby seriously affecting the yield of the rough (the consideration being for beauty not for carat weight).

Ideal cuts and hearts’ and arrows’ diamonds are examples of diamonds that have been cut for maximum brilliance and light performance and not for weight retention.  Depending on the facet design, cutting styles are categorized into 3 basic types these are, step-cut, brilliant-cut and mixed-cut. Until some of the new patented branded cuts, brilliant cuts were thought to reflect the most light. Step-cuts have rows of facets. (The emerald is an example of this cutting style). Mixed-cuts have both step and brilliant-cut facets. (One of the most popular is the princess).

Cut may also refer to the shape of a diamond: round, emerald, heart, marquise, princess, lily cut, caressa and crisscut.  Perhaps, the most exciting new feature (as seen in a number of grading reports or with separate certification) is the evaluation of the performance of light in a diamond’s cut. Light performance is a function of facet design, accuracy and symmetry.

THE COLOUR     ‘Light Being Dispersed As The Colour Of The rainbow’

Diamonds range in colour from faint yellow or brown to very rare pinks, blues, greens, and other colors known as ‘fancies’. Natural fancy colors that are found in nature include: pink, blue, green, yellow, brown, orange and very rarely, red.  These are incredibly rare and valuable.  The usually the favoured colour for a diamond is no color at all. A totally colourless diamond allows light to pass through it easier, resulting in the light being dispersed as the colour of the rainbow.

Colours are graded from totally colorless to light yellow. The differences from one grade to the other are very subtle and it takes a trained eye and years of experience to colour grade a diamond.  In the past, colours were classified with more interesting names including commercial, wesselton, top light brown, silver cape, cape, off-white, river and many more.  Today some diamonds are classified with more descriptive names such as vivid yellow, fancy yellow, vivid pink, champagne, coffee, smokey, amber and cognac.

THE CLARITY     ‘All That Glisters Is Not Gold’

Rough diamonds have natural blemishes (inclusions) in their internal structure which are formed by minerals or fractures while the diamond is forming in the earth.  When a diamond is polished, light enters it and is subsequently reflected and refracted out. If there is anything disrupting the flow of light in the diamond, such as an inclusion, a proportion of the light reflected will be lost.  Because most inclusions are not visible to the naked eye unless magnified, to view inclusions, trained gemologists use a magnifying loupe (to see a diamond at 10x its actual size).

A grading method that rates diamonds on the size, nature, and positioning of the inclusion requires an expert eye to assess.  Clarity descriptions range from IF (Internally Flawless – no visible characteristics under magnification) to I (Included – characteristics visible with the naked eye). Further descriptions include VVS (Very, Very Slightly Included) and VS (Very Slightly Included).

Inclusions appear as different shapes, such as crystals, clouds or feathers. (The majority of these natural birthmarks are invisible to the naked eye, yet they affect the way light is reflected and refracted within the stone. Diamonds that have no inclusions under magnification are extremely rare and are rated FL for flawless).  Diamonds have the capability of producing more brilliance than any other gemstone. A diamond that is free of inclusions and surface blemishes is very rare and therefore very valuable.

THE CARAT     ‘Neither To Weigh Thoughts Nor Measure Words, … Keep What Is Worth Keeping, And With A Breath Of Kindness Blow The Rest Away. …’

This is the weight a diamond is measured in. One carat is divided into 100 ‘points’ so that a diamond of 75 points weights .75 ct. The carat-weight of a diamond is the easiest measurement to determine.  Carat weight is one of the factors to take into consideration when choosing a diamond. A carat is sometimes confused with size (diameter/depth) even though it is actually a measure of weight. Carat (with a C) is for diamonds. Its source of reference is the carob seed.  Most importantly, two diamonds can be of equal carat-weight, but their value can differ greatly due to their cut, colour and clarity.

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