When it comes to selecting or valuing stones, people often refer to the 4 Cs of diamonds. These are ‘carat’, ‘cut’, ‘color’ and ‘clarity’. But what do each of these actually mean and what should you look for when shopping for unset diamonds? Here, we look at each of those Cs in turn to help you understand how to choose a diamond.
Carat is a measure of the weight of a diamond. The term derives from the ancient method of weighing precious metals against the seeds of the carob tree which were considered to be even in weight. At the Fourth General Conference of Weights and Measurements in 1907, it was agreed that one diamond carat would equal 200mg of diamond. Diamonds are usually measured in points with 100 points equalling one carat or 200 mg. A one carat diamond will be expressed as 1.0ct and a half carat displayed as 0.5ct.
Carat weight is a key factor in determining the value of a diamond, but it is not necessarily the fact that the heavier a diamond is the greater its value. Two diamonds of equal carat weight may vary in value based on the other 3 Cs.
Imagine a diamond, and you no doubt think ‘sparkle’. Well, that sparkle comes from the way the diamond is cut. Cut is often confused with the shape of the diamond but in fact they are two different aspects of the stone. Shape refers to the overall outline of a diamond when viewed from above. Examples include princess, emerald, marquise, oval, pear, heart and cushion which are referred to as fancy shapes.
Cut, on the other hand refers to the way the stone interacts with light. It is an indication of the quality of the facets, symmetry and dimensions which have been cut into the rough diamond and polished to give sparkle and maximize brilliance.
Most diamonds, though, are round and the facets are cut and polished to show off the brilliance of the stone. A round brilliant diamond displays 58 facets, 33 on the crown and 25 on the pavilion, for maximum sparkle.
A well-cut diamond will display three aesthetic properties; brilliance, dispersion and scintillation. Light which hits the diamond and reflects off it is known as brilliance. As light enters the diamond, some of the rays are ‘dispersed’ leading to flecks of colored light known as ‘fire’. When a diamond is moved, these colors move too. This phenomenon is known as scintillation. So, aesthetically, it could be argued that cut is more important than carat.
When it comes to diamond color, less is more. The least amount of color equates to the highest color grade.
Diamond color is graded using letters with D the highest grade and Z the lowest. Grades D, E and F are colorless while those ranging from K-Z will display an obvious yellow tinge which becomes deeper the further down the color chart you cast your eye. Diamonds graded, G, H, I or J are known as near-colorless diamonds. These show no color to the naked eye when seen in isolation but will display ‘yellowing’ when seen next to a colorless diamond.
Clarity refers to the visibility of natural microscopic imperfections, known as inclusions, in the stone which are a result of the organic nature of their production. Most diamonds contain inclusions and those with the fewest are generally valued the highest.
The size, number, type and location of inclusions in a diamond, all factor into its final clarity grade.
The universal system for grading diamonds is the F (flawless) – I3 (inclusions III) system as noted below:
F AND IF
F indicates a diamond which is internally and externally flawless.
1F indicates a diamond which is internally flawless but may have a scratch on its surface. F and 1F diamonds are rare and very expensive.
VVS1 AND VVS2
VVS color diamonds are very slightly included. This means it is very difficult to see the impurities, even using a 10-power loupe.
The numbers after ‘VVS’ represent levels within the grade - VVS1s are cleaner than VVS2s.
VS1 AND VS2
These diamonds are very slightly included with impurities that are not visible to unaided eye. VVS and VS diamonds are known as "Eye-Clean" which means either a microscope or a 10-power loupe is necessary to see them.
SI1 AND SI2
These include slight inclusions, visible under 10-power magnification and possibly, but not necessarily, to the naked eye too. A diamond might be graded SI1 even though it contains more inclusions than a VS2 but they occur in the center of the stone and are more obvious. Some inclusions can be hidden by a mounting, thus having little effect on the beauty of a diamond.
I1, I2 AND I3
These diamonds contain visible inclusions.
There is, of course, one more C when it comes to buying diamonds – confidence. When you buy diamonds they are both a statement and an investment. Whether you are buying for an engagement, anniversary or any other occasion, you need to be confident in what you’re purchasing. And that means being confident in who you are purchasing from.
Wherever they are sourced from, diamonds are graded by independent laboratories such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the European Gemological Laboratories (EGL). If you are specifically looking for a traceable loose diamond and track it back to where it comes from and how big the rough diamond was, you can buy from our Canadian Diamond Collection. Certification should be readily available and demonstrate the grading of each of the 4 Cs. It also includes information on proportions, inclusions, polish and symmetry. We also sell uncertified diamonds which are not
certified by the independent laboratories, but have been graded by our local in-house gemologist.
For years, diamond mines were associated with Asia and Africa. But these days, Canadian diamonds are getting in on the act too. Once buried beneath 3000 meter thick ice, Canadian ice diamonds are now some of the most sought after on the planet. Indeed, Canada is now the world’s third largest supplier of quality diamonds.
What’s more Canadian diamond mines have some of the world's highest environmental standards. The certification process ensures legitimacy and prevents proceeds going to criminal gangs or unscrupulous companies. All stones are traceable from the mine to the moment of sale.
Conflict Free Diamonds
At Fame Diamonds, we support governmental and regulatory requirements for ethical diamond markets. We follow the Kimberley Process to ensure our customers have peace of mind in knowing they are purchasing a conflict-free diamond.
The Kimberley Process (KP) is a joint government, industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds - rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments.
The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipments of traceable diamonds as 'conflict-free'. As of 2 August 2013, the KP has 54 participants, representing 81 countries, with the European Union and its 27 Member States counting as a single participant, represented by the European Commission. KP members account for approximately 99.8% of the global production of rough diamonds.
Certificate and Confidence
Although many diamonds might look the same at first glance, each stone is unique and displays its own characteristics in terms of clarity, colour, carat and cut. Certification is a record of a diamond’s characteristics and is essential in determining its value.
We guarantee our diamonds according to the world’s highest standards such as GIA, AGS and Canadian Rocks.
And we follow the same high standards when providing independent appraisal of gemstones.