Though men may have mastered a number of things in this world, many still react with fear, doubt and confusion when it comes to buying their girlfriends or wives that special diamond ring. Whether you’re about to get on bended knee to ask for the hand of your hope-to-be-fiancee, or you’re giving your wife an anniversary or birthday gift, there’s nothing quite like the spark of a real diamond to bring joy and awe to your loved one’s face. But if you’re like the millions of men who don’t know a carat from a cut, you’ll end up visiting a diamond store without the proper tools needed to make an informed decision. With that in mind, there are four words that all begin with the letter “C” that can provide you with specific knowledge so that you can buy the perfect ring. To start, why do jewelers talk so much about the “Four C’s”?
Four C’s: Color
When you think of color, you often conjure up images of specific hues such as black, green, blue or red. But in the diamond world, color has a very different meaning that may seem confusing, but is actually easy to understand once you’ve gotten the hang of it. In simple terms, a diamond’s color is measured by the amount of light that can pass through the stone without being obstructed by impurities or defects. A colorless diamond, also known as a white diamond is at the high end of the color scale, because light can pass through brilliantly since there are very few if any imperfections marring the stone. Colorless diamonds are very expensive. Professional diamond certification associations have developed a color scale that begins at D, which is colorless, all the way to Z. Diamonds with a D, E or F designation are colorless (and the most valuable). Diamonds with a G through J designation are near colorless, diamonds from K to M are faint yellow, and diamonds from N to Z are considered very light to light yellow. The higher the color grade, the less expensive the diamond. However, if the diamond is pure or bright yellow, it’s known as a fancy colored diamond, which is very valuable. Other colored diamonds include red and black diamonds. Remember that in most instances, the yellow in a diamond can’t be seen without a magnifier, known as a loupe.
Four C’s: Cut
The cut of a diamond is the manner in which the stone has been shaped and cut by a professional cutter. Diamond cutting is a precise craft, because it affects how the stone reflects light and how it sparkles from top to bottom. A well-cut diamond should reflect light throughout all the stone’s facets. When thinking about a diamond’s cut, here are some basic facts: the widest part of a diamond is called the girdle. A girdle can run from thin to thick with gradations in between. Most diamond experts recommend that you look for a medium thick girdle and avoid thin girdles, which may not be as durable. The top of a diamond which is flat, is known as the table. The table should not measure more than 60 percent of the girdle’s diameter. Depth is measured from the table to the bottom of the diamond. Ideal depth measurements should fall at about 60 percent of the girdle.
Four C’s: Carat
“Carat” is probably a term you’ve heard a lot when it comes to a diamond. A carat simply measures the weight of the diamond. Carats are weighted at increments of a fifth of a gram. If you’re buying a one-carat diamond, it will have a hundred points on the stone. Therefore, a diamond with 40 points is called a quarter-carat diamond. So it’s easy to see that as the carat weight increases, the price will also increase.
Four C’s: Clarity
The clarity of a diamond is calculated by how many inclusions and blemishes are present in the stone. An inclusion is some flaw in the inherent creation of the diamond that makes it less than perfect. The less inclusions and blemishes in a diamond, the higher the clarity score. Even a microscopic crack or chip that can’t be seen by the naked eye, is picked up by a powerful magnifier. Many inclusions or blemishes are not visible to you or anyone else, but the ones that can be seen without the aid of a magnifier, typically rank low on the clarity scale. For certification purposes, a diamond’s clarity is measured with a 10X magnifier. Most diamonds are graded on a scale from flawless to very, very slightly included, to very slightly included to slightly included to included. Flawless are top of the line diamonds with no inclusions or blemishes. They are rare and very expensive. Very slightly included are fine diamonds with just a few inclusions captured through a magnifier. Included diamonds have blemishes that are apparent to the naked eye. The bulk of diamonds you’ll buy will fall in the slightly included category, unless your budget is expansive, in which case, very slightly included, and very, very slightly included or even flawless may fit your needs.
A Possible Fifth C: Certification
A possible fifth C that could be added to the diamond buying process is certification, and while it doesn’t directly apply to the diamond you buy, it’s still a vital piece to consider. You should avoid buying any diamond that hasn’t undergone certification through some kind of gemological association or institution. If you do so, you risk buying a diamond that may not even be a real diamond, or a diamond whose listed qualities are not accurate. There are several of these certification organizations in existence, including the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the European Gemological Laboratory (EGL), the International Gemological Institute (IGI) and the International Confederation of Jewelry, Silverware, Diamonds, Pearls and Stones (CIBJO). While there are some slight differences in the terminology these companies use when grading the four Cs, most of the wording is similar. Remember that a certification only confirms the cut, color, clarity and carat of a diamond, and does not assign a price value to the stone. To get that valuation, you would have to visit a professional appraiser, which is often a requirement if you want to insure the diamond you buy for replacement value with an insurance company.
Now that you’re armed with the four C’s of diamond buying, you’re better equipped to visit any jewelery store, knowing that when your loved one opens that distinct little box, she’s getting exactly what you paid for at the store.
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