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The Four C’s – Explanations and Common Misconceptions

brace-yourselvesHappy October, everyone! This month is all about embracing the changing leaves and consuming pumpkin-flavored goodies. October is also a short hop and a skip away from the holiday season, AKA the perfect time of year to get engaged. If you’re thinking about proposing to your honey, now is the time to start planning, and I’m here to help. When choosing a ring, there are several factors to consider, but today we’re going to talk about the star of the show – the diamond. I’m sure you’ve heard of the 4C’s before, but now it’s time to get a better understanding of what they really mean before you start looking at stones.

Cut

The cut refers to the craftsmanship applied in cutting, placing, and polishing the facets of the diamond. A diamond is cut with the sole purpose of releasing the diamond’s light in the best way possible. The quality of a cut is determined by how close the cut gets to achieving optimal symmetry, thus releasing the diamond’s maximum brilliance. Even the clearest diamond can be ruined by a poor cut.

Common misconception about cut: A diamond’s cut refers to the shape of the diamond.

The truth: There are many different diamond shapes (Round, Pear, Princess, Emerald, etc.), but the shapes are a PRODUCT of the cut, they are not the cut itself. As I mentioned earlier, the cut is meant to produce as much light as possible. Sometimes a stone’s light is best released with a cut that shapes the diamond into a Round stone. However, the quality of a cut is determined by how the diamond interacts with light, not how the diamond is shaped.

 

Carat

leo-carat A diamond’s carat is determined by the diamond’s weight. One carat is divided into 100 points, meaning that a diamond that weighs 100 points is 1 carat. Often times carats are associated with the size of the diamond. The larger the carat weight, the larger the diamond looks. While this is true, it is important to keep in mind that a .97 carat diamond, if cut well, will be basically indistinguishable from a (much more expensive) 1 carat diamond.

Common misconception about carat: It’s all about the carat – the bigger the better.

The truth: It’s a lot more nuanced than that. A huge, 3-carat diamond may be impressive in size but be very lack luster in clarity and color – flaws that will be even more obvious on a large stone. Prices also tend to jump way up when the diamond hits a “magic size” (half carat, three-quarter carat, one carat). If you’re only focused on carat size, you may pass up on a few thousand saved dollars when refusing to go just shy of a magic size.

 

Color

leo-colorThis one is easy because it’s just what it sounds like. A diamond’s color is the color visible in a diamond. Diamonds act as a prism, dividing light into a spectrum and reflecting it back to your eye in flashes of fire. Color can act as a filter, reducing the fire that gives a diamond its beauty and brilliance. White diamond color is scaled in a range from D to Z. Diamonds graded at D, E, and F are considered colorless and are very rare.

Common misconceptions about color: All white diamonds look the same. They’re called “white diamonds” for a reason!

The truth: Logically that makes total sense! However, as with anything that occurs in nature, there is a lot of variance in how much color a diamond contains. If you place a D diamond next to an I diamond, you will see just how much difference a little bit of color can make. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, the more color your diamond contains, the less brilliance it projects.

 

Clarity

leo-clarityClarity describes the diamond’s purity. Being a naturally occurring precious stone, diamonds almost always have some type of internal flaws (or “inclusions”) in the form of minerals, clouds, or even tiny breaks in the diamond. Very rarely, diamonds are flawless, meaning that no inclusions can be seen under 10x magnification. Typically, however, diamonds have some type of inclusion that can be spotted by a diamond grader under magnification. Some diamonds may even be categorized as “Included” (I1,I2,I3). That means that these diamonds’ flaws are obvious under 10x magnification and may even be visible to the naked eye. Diamond clarity is important, as inclusions can sometimes affect a diamond’s brilliance.

Common misconception about clarity: Included diamonds are untouchable – never buy one.

The truth: Although a clearer diamond will allow for a better release of light, it doesn’t mean that you have to pass up on every I1 diamond out there. Some diamonds in the included category have flaws that could affect the structural integrity of the stone. You should absolutely avoid those. Others have flaws that are very obvious to the naked eye, like specks of black carbon. Others, however, have subtle flaws that you may never notice in your everyday life. Plus, every diamond is unique. Every person sees the beauty of a diamond differently, and some inclusions could be perceived as beauty marks.

I hope this quick guide has helped! Remember, consider all of the 4C’s when purchasing your diamond. A big diamond may not be beautiful if it’s filled with inclusions, and a nearly colorless stone may have a bad cut. Although it may seem overwhelming at first, you will soon realize that easy to find the perfect diamond for your girl and your budget.

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