Your Refresher Course on Diamonds: The Famous 4Cs
Since the dawn of time, diamonds have held an exalted place in history, as they were coveted by goddesses and kings. Today, the average consumer can purchase these scintillating gems in a breathtaking range of shapes, colors and designs. Before you shop for diamonds, it's wise to know the basics: The Famous 4Cs.
Carat - The measurement of a diamond's weight, this word is derived from the carob seeds that were used to balance scales in ancient times. For jewelry purposes, carats are further divided into points, a one-carat stone equaling 100 points. Therefore, a half-carat stone may be referred to as "50 points," a quarter-carat, "25 points," etc.
Clarity - A diamond's clarity is determined by any external irregularities and the number of internal "inclusions." Most diamonds contain some inclusions, but many are microscopic in nature and can be seen only under powerful magnification. Spots, bubbles or lines are marks that make each stone unique, but generally, the fewer the inclusions, the more valuable the stone. Clarity is graded on a scale ranging from "flawless" to "imperfect." To be graded "flawless," a diamond can have no inclusions visible to a trained eye using a 10-power magnification in good light.
Color - Diamonds can be found in every color of the spectrum, but in "white" diamonds, the most valued gemstones are those with the least color, allowing them to reflect and refract light. White diamonds are graded on a scale beginning with "D," indicating a total colorlessness, progressing down the alphabet for lower qualities. The best way to see the true color of a diamond is by looking at it against a white surface.
Cut - This is what gives a diamond its fiery sparkle. Each diamond, regardless of shape, is cut according to an exact mathematical formula. For example, a round, brilliant-cut diamond has 58 "facets," or small, flat, polished planes that are designed to yield the maximum amount of light. This reflection, known as brilliance, is an extremely important factor in evaluating the quality of a diamond.
« Article Library