The Four C's of Diamonds

Choosing the Right One

People have had a love and fascination with diamonds since early history. Diamonds were thought to have magical powers beyond their beauty. They were worn as talismans, providing protection and warding off evil spirits. For 3000 years, the diamond has had many mystical uses.

Today we love diamonds for their pure beauty and brilliance. They are richly luxurious gemstones no engagement can do without. When buying a diamond, there are some very important things to consider and learn. If you want to make an informed decision, consider the four C's of a diamond.


Not all diamonds are used in jewelry. In fact, most diamonds found in the world are used for industrial purposes. These are found in hues of yellow, black and brown and are generally considered flawed or defective for jewelry purposes. The clear white or transparent diamonds make their way to the jewelers work table and these are the diamonds most people see and love. That being said, colored diamonds are slowly being incorporated into jewelry.

As a mineral, diamonds contain three atoms, hydrogen, boron and nitrogen. Nitrogen gives a diamond that yellow hue and occasionally brown or pink hues. Boron gives the gem the gray hues. Hydrogen gives it the reds, greens, violets and blue tones.

Colored diamonds have flaws that cause the coloration, while clear diamonds are pure and colorless.



The cut of a diamond is not the same thing as shape. Shape can be round, pear or oval. The cut speaks of the diamond's qualities – the way it reflects light and sparkles. The quality of the cut or reflection greatly affects the value of the diamond. A well-cut diamond gives it that sparkle and richness diamond lovers look for. Those perfectly formed angles are what gives the diamond that brilliance - like a star in the daylight.

The cuts can be shallow, fine and deep, but the ideal cut is one that is proportioned in such a way that the light will reflect back and forth inside the diamond before reflecting out. This is what gives the viewer that flash of brilliance. The deeper or shallower the cut, the less brilliance. Deeply cut diamonds may be higher in carat weight, but they are not as desirable.

Diamond cuts are graded. The Ideal Cut and the Premium Cut is perfectly-proportioned with the best reflective value. These are suitable for round diamonds. The third grade is Very Good. These diamonds are cut in such a way that may give up some of their brilliance for the sake of size. Good diamonds do reflect most of the light, but these too are bigger diamonds. In most cases, the cutter has chosen to create a large diamond using as much of the crystal as possible, rather than removing most of it to make a Premium stone. Fair and Poor diamond grades generally mean they don't reflect light well and don't have that sparkle and brilliance found in other grades. For the most part, these diamonds are cut for size rather than brilliance.



Diamond clarity concerns the characteristics of the diamond. Clarity characteristics present in the stone at the crystal stage, could show as black spots, hazy areas or crystal growth within the stone. Diamonds often have flaws resulting from stress in the cutting stage. As a result of cutting, many diamonds have scrapes and scratches - flaws that affect clarity. The fewer the flaws, the rarer and more valuable the diamond. However, a diamond can still be a shining, sparkling stone even with flaws.

Experienced jewelers know how to pick out the flaws. It's not easy to judge as a consumer without some training. Gemologists use the term "eye-clean", which means the flaws are not visible to the naked eye. Unless the consumer is carrying a loupe or jeweler's magnifying glass, he or she won't notice the flaws. Diamonds with only minor flaws or none at all are considered the best investments.


Carat Weight

Carat weight is a standardized measure to define a diamond's weight. It does not refer to the actual size of the diamond. However, diamonds weighing one-carat or higher are very rare and only a small percentage of women own a ring of these weights.

As a unit of weight measure, rather than size, two diamonds with the same weight could be quite different in size. It depends largely on the cut of the diamond.

For the consumer, even though the carat weight is high, other factors should be considered before purchasing. Look at the cut for brilliance and clarity, for very few flaws and for the clear color of the stone itself. It isn't necessarily all about the weight. Understanding this will ensure a good investment. Don't let weight alone be the deciding factor.