The Four C's

This hardest gem of all is made of just one element: carbon. It is valued for its colorless nature and purity. Most diamonds are primeval—over a billion years old— and form under high temperature and pressure conditions that exist about 100 miles beneath the earth’s surface.


The Four C's

COLOR- Diamonds absorb the color of minerals that are next to them during their lengthy formation. For example, an increased presence of nitrogen can make a diamond appear yellow. Boron, a brittle metallic element, often causes diamonds to turn grey. Most diamonds have some level of color in them, making colorless diamonds rarer—and more expensive.

 

CLARITY- During their formation, diamonds get bombarded with the intense temperature and pressure felt under the Earth’s mantle. Often, foreign minerals and elements force themselves inside the forming diamond crystal. Most diamonds mined from the Earth do have some form of inclusion in them, making those without rare—and you guessed it, more expensive.

 

CUT- This is the only one of the C’s that is controlled by humans. After a rough diamond has been mined from the Earth, a skilled diamond cutter examines the stone and plans to cut a faceted gem that both maximizes material loss and a gems quality. Once that process is done, a diamond cutter then lines up all those tiny facets to make the gem sparkle in the most efficient way.

 

CARAT- Perhaps the one factor of a diamond most notice first, carat is a unit of weight measure that is commonly used for gemstones. While we all think bigger is better, a diamond with a large carat weight is not going to sparkle if it is not cut well, is of low color grade, and is heavily included. Navigating the 4 C’s isn’t easy—that’s why we’re here to help!

Carat

Cut

Clarity

Color

Color

Diamonds are valued by how closely they are to being colorless - the less color in the diamond, the higher their value. Diamonds range from “colorless” to “light yellow or brown.” (Exception is fancy color diamonds, such as pinks and blues, which lie outside
this color range.)

 

Diamonds are graded on a scale from D that is colorless to Z that is a “light yellow or brown.” The diamond color grading scale was created by the Gemological Institute of America. Diamonds are compared to a master stone to establish which grading the diamond falls under. To the untrained eye, most people cannot tell the difference between an F color and an I color.

 

Clarity

The truth is, most diamonds have some form of inclusions within them. It’s exceedingly rare to find a diamond without some form of clarity issue. The location and color of these inclusions greatly impact not only the value of a diamond, but also the sparkle and structural integrity. The trained diamond experts at JB Hudson are happy to discuss the specific location and impact of inclusions in any of our diamonds.

 

If the diamond you are interested in does not have certification from a third-party laboratory such as the Gemological Society of America (GIA), be sure to examine the stone and its inclusions under a microscope. Most laboratories will plot the inclusions on a diagram, making examining the stone outside of a microscope more convenient.

Cut

Like mentioned before, a diamonds cut is the only aspect influenced by a human. Not only does a cut dictate the shape of a finished gem but allows the diamond to sparkle! By cutting a diamond correctly, light can enter a stone and return to your eye in an efficient manner—creating that sparkle and fire we all love.

Poor cutting can make an otherwise colorless and inclusion free diamond appear dark and unattractive. If there is one of the 4 C’s that you should not overlook, it is the cut. A well cut stone will look whiter, clearer, and larger than one that has poor cutting.

A beautifully finished diamond is dazzling; every facet displays the craftsman’s skill and care. When it interacts with light, each facet and angle affects the amount of light returned to the eye. This is what gives a diamond its face-up appearance and what makes it appealing – or not. That is why for many people, cut is the most important of the 4Cs. The GIA Cut Grading System applies to the most popular cutting style – the standard round brilliant – and all clarities across the D-to-Z color range. There are five cut grades: Excellent (EX), Very Good (VG), Good (G), Fair (F) and Poor (P).

 

A diamond with an Excellent cut grade is very bright. It shows an even pattern with good contrast between light and dark areas, so the reflections appear crisp and well-balanced. This tells you that the cutter made the best possible use of the rough. The Good cut grade diamond isn’t quite as bright – reflections aren’t as sharp and there’s more darkness or dullness in the diamond. The Poor cut grade diamond has much more prominent dark areas or dullness. Given the choice, most people would pick either of the first two diamonds instead of this stone.

 

Cut is oftentimes confused with the shape of the diamond but cut refers to a stone’s facet arrangement. Shape refers to the outline of the stone. The most common diamond shape used in jewelry is round, as seen in the standard round brilliant cut. All other diamond shapes are known as fancy shapes. Traditional fancy shapes include the marquise, pear, oval and octagonal (as seen in the emerald cut). Square, cushion (square with rounded edges), and a variety of other shapes are also gaining popularity in diamond jewelry. More about this on the next page.

Carat

The Four C's Carat

Bigger is better, right?! While excellent cutting can make a diamond look bigger, it can’t actually make it bigger. Carat is a unit of weight derived from the carob seed—an ancient unit of measure based on a seed commonly found throughout the Mediterranean. Contrary to popular belief, carat is a measure of weight, not size.

 

The Four C's Carat

Be sure to examine how a diamond carries its weight. Some gems may have a higher carat weight but appear smaller due to improper proportions. On the other hand, some are cut ‘spready’ and appear larger than they really weigh. JB Hudson will make sure the diamond you select is right for your style and budget.