DIAMONDS - THE '4 Cs'

A round brilliant cut diamondColour, Clarity, Cut and Carat weight are often cited as the four key elements to consider when buying a stone.

The beauty of the way we work is that you can determine what is most important to you, and balance all the other elements to fit your priorities. You can always find a diamond for your budget, or fit your budget to the diamond, it is up to you.

You may have a clear budget and decide that diamond size is the most important element within that. So, to get the right size you may be prepared to compromise on the colour, clarity or cut, or a combination of all three. We offer you choice, so you can find the best stone possible for your budget. Let’s look at each element in turn.

COLOUR

Diamond colour is graded from D, the whitest of diamonds, down through the letters of the alphabet to fancy yellows and brown diamonds, all the way to black! For most practical purposes, diamonds are still considered ‘white’ in the range D to I, with J,K,L etc being slightly tinted.

Ice white is not everyone’s cup of tea, and there is a subtle beauty in the very faintly yellower tints. It is all down to personal preference, and often, unless you can compare 2 stones directly, it is pretty difficult for the lay person to tell whether they are looking at a colour D or G anyway.

If your diamond is to be set in yellow gold, it is worth thinking about a colour K to M as these warmer tints sit well in yellow gold and are much less costly than whiter stones. In fact a K diamond is often half the price of an otherwise similar G diamond.

Colour can also be influenced by Fluorescence. In brief, this is natural in about 25pc of diamonds under ultra-violet light. If a diamond fluoresces blue, it can make diamonds with a slightly yellow tint look whiter in ultra-violet light. This of course, includes daylight. Light to medium fluorescence in a stone is nothing to be concerned about, and can often make it look a better colour than it’s grading might suggest.

CLARITY

Clarity grading of diamondsFor me, this is more important than colour. Together with a good cut, Clarity determines how ‘sparkly’ any cut of diamond can be, as the higher the clarity, the fewer the inclusions there are to get in the way.

As with all things diamond-related, it all depends what sort of inclusion, how big it is, whether it is faint and white, or a black speck of carbon, and where it appears on the stone. Does the way the stone is cut help to reduce the appearance of the inclusion? etc …

Clarity is graded as follows:
IF – Internally Flawless, which speaks for itself
VVS 1 & 2 – Very very slightly included. Inclusions can’t be seen with the naked eye and are very difficult to see even under 10x magnification
VS1 & 2 – Very slightly included. Again, inclusions are not visible to the naked eye, but may visible under 10x magnification.
SI1 & 2 - Slightly included. Inclusions visible under 10x magnification and, rarely, to the unaided eye.
I1 & 2 – Included. You can see these inclusions with the naked eye, but the smaller the diamond and the more facets it has (see below), the less important that might be.

CUT

Depth of cut of a round diamondThere are two aspects to Cut - the Type of cut and the Quality.

Type describes the shape and style of cut, including Round Brilliant, Princess (square), Emerald & Asscher (octagonal), Cushion, Step-cut, Radiant, Marquise … to name some.

The quality of cut for a round Brilliant is generally graded from Excellent, through Good to Poor. Cut is a key factor in the 'sparkliness' of any stone.

The proportions of the cut may also be ideal, shallow or deep. This describes the ratio of surface to depth. A shallow cut will give you more surface area (ie appear bigger) for a given carat weight, and a deep cut the reverse. As you can see from the image left, the depth of the cut will also affect the apparent brilliance of the stone as light is reflected at a different angle. A 'Poor' cut can spoil a stone, and an 'Excellent' one can elevate it. However, the Type of cut (shape) really does make a difference, as this will also determine the number of facets you can expect in a stone.

Modern cuts are designed to create the maximum sparkle for the stone. New designs for cuts do come to the market from time to time, and these are usually trademarked.

When we remodel stones from older pieces of jewellery, the diamonds sometimes have antique styles of cut. These don’t always have the same brilliance as modern stones, so if we need to find a match, to add to the design, this does require some care.

CARAT

Diamond sizes for 0.3ct to 2.0ctThis is where size matters. One carat is equal to approximately 0.2g and carats are divided into points, so a 0.5ct diamond may be described as '50 points'.

Larger diamonds are rarer and therefore more costly than smaller stones. This means that a 1.0ct diamond will cost significantly more than two 0.5ct stones.

There are standard ranges for diamond weights so, for example, the 'standard size' for a 1.0ct Princess cut stone is 5.5mm square with a depth of about 65pc. But in reality, individual stones will be cut from the rough to maximize the carat weight and create as beautiful a gem as possible.

So it is possible for, say, a 0.9ct round brilliant to have a larger diameter than a 1.0ct stone, if the former has a shallower cut. This naturally has some impact on the ‘sparkliness’ of the stone, but may be a compromise worth making to achieve the look of the size of diamond you have in mind.


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