Diamonds are unique; they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours. Diamonds possess delicate combinations of characteristics that make up these unique differences. These characteristics also determine a diamond’s quality and therefore its value. It is important to know these characteristics so that you can know what to look for to be able to choose the best diamond.
The best way to begin learning is to look at the four C’s of quality. Colour, clarity, cut, and carat. This is the same grading system used by experts to determine the quality of the diamond. Each ‘C’ is an important component.
Carat weight is the most objective element. A scale is used to measure the weight. Larger diamonds are usually of more value and so higher carat weight is often associated with a better-quality diamond. The carat weight is just one factor determining a diamond’s value. For example, a two-carat diamond with a lesser colour, cut and clarity would be cheaper than a one carat diamond with a better combination of the other characteristics. Diamonds can also be misleading in that two diamonds of the same carat weight may look different in size. Different shapes simply look bigger than others do.
The perfect diamond is supposedly colourless – however, it is a matter of personal preference. Any hint of colour can have a huge impact on the quality of the diamond. Further down the colour scale tinges of yellow or brown appear, and these tints reduce the value and quality of the diamond. If it is a ‘fancy’ colour it doesn’t lower the value, for example red and canary yellow are among the rarest coloured diamonds and therefore the colour increases the price. Colour is by far the most subjective member of the four C’s.
How important is diamond clarity? Clarity is an essential element. A flawless diamond has no inclusions or blemishes, a poor clarity diamond will have inclusions visible to the naked eye. A diamond with a low clarity grade will be less brilliant and have a somewhat cloudy appearance. Poorer clarity diamonds are also more prone to other issues such as chipping, cracking or even shattering. Flawless diamonds are rare and so incredibly expensive. Those with a lower clarity can still appear flawless to the naked eye or ‘eye clean’ – any flaws can only be seen under magnification. These eye clean diamonds are far less expensive.
Finally cut, the cut quality is of aesthetic importance. A well-cut diamond should be more dazzling – it is designed to interact more delicately with the light. A round cut can be judged objectively but the ‘fancier’ shapes are more subjective. The perfect cut should encompass three features – the brightness, fire, and scintillation. The brightness is the white light reflected by the diamond. The fire refers to the flashes of colour displayed as the diamond catches the light. The scintillation is the contrast between the light and dark areas of the diamond.
All of these speak to quality but, it does come down to personal preference and what you prefer.