The Secrets of Getting Your Best Buy in Diamonds - - - the 4 C's
Reputable professional jewelers use the Four C's to determine the value and price of a diamond. In order of importance they are: Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat Weight.
Notice the carat weight is listed last, surprising as it may seem! The most important characteristic is the cut, sometimes called the shape. The color of the diamond ranks second in importance. Even the slightest tinge of color affects the value of the diamond.
Shape describes the diamond's form - for instance Round, Marquise, Princess, Radiant, Pear, Oval, Emerald, and Heart. The cut is actually a grade that refers to the diamond's ability to reflect light -- what we generally think of as sparkle. The sparkle of a well-cut diamond can make it appear larger than you might expect based on carat weight alone.
The human eye tends to detect sparkle before color. This is why color is generally considered the second-most important characteristic. A difference of one grade is not visible to the naked eye. Even highly magnified diamonds that are several grades apart can look similar, although their difference in value could be thousands of dollars. Disreputable jewelry outlets can easily dupe the public and deliver inferior diamonds at the price of a superior gem.
The clarity of the diamond is an important third factor to consider. Many diamonds contain tiny irregularities inside the stone that subtract from the clarity, and they are worth far less than diamonds with high clarity. They lack brilliance and can crack or chip more easily. The little spots often cannot be seen with the naked eye, but they detract from the brilliance of the stone.
Professional jewelers rate each diamond according to the four features. They use a special light box that simulates daylight, and a delicate weighing scale to determine the value as they examine the diamond under a microscope. The standard worldwide system for rating a diamond is the GIA system. GIA stands for Gemological Institute of America. The GIA chart ranges from colorless (D) to increasingly yellow diamonds. The scale begins with D to avoid confusion with earlier inferior grading systems that used grades like "A" and "AA."
If you want perfection regardless of cost -- go for D color, but if you want excellent quality and beauty you can go for E or F colors (still colorless to any eye). If you want a larger stone for your money without sacrificing appearance -- go for a G, H, or an I color. Even the I is nearly colorless, especially in a gold setting. If you like a very faint yellow tint -- go for colors like J, K, L, or M. You can see the slight tint if the stone is placed next to a more colorless diamond, or when set in a white metal like platinum.
Carat weight is the last of the four Cs to consider. Although size will be the single most important factor in the price of a stone, it does not affect the beauty. First, decide on the quality you want (the first 3 Cs above), then decide on the largest size you can afford that meets your guidelines. The most popular sizes are 1/2 carat, 1-carat, and 2-carat diamonds. One diamond weighing 2 carats will always cost much more than two diamonds of the same quality that weigh 1 carat each.
One final hint - no one can tell the difference between a brand new diamond and a previously owned diamond.
Thanks to Gems N' Loans Jewelry Exchange for much of this information. Visit them at http://www.gemsnloans.com