Like a house, a car, or a stock, diamonds are an investment. Whenever we invest our dollars into anything, we want to be certain that we are getting the value we paid for. That is why diamonds are graded.
Like a snowflake, no two diamonds are the same. Each rock being its own unique entity makes grading a diamond pretty difficult. To ensure consistency, gemologists developed a series of tests to determine how to go about grading each gem.
These specifications are broken into four categories, better known as the 4 C’s. What the heck are those? Carry on, and we’ll explain!
What is the first thing you notice when you look at your diamond? If you said “sparkle,” then you win the grand prize! Sadly it’s not a diamond but you should be proud nonetheless.
We notice the sparkle because of how the diamond is cut. The better the grade of the cut, the more the diamond sparkles. Simple, right?
Two individual gemologists determine the cut grade by assessing the light performance of the diamond. When a diamond is cut to proper proportions, light will shine out the top of the gem. If the cut is too shallow, then light will begin to leak out of the bottom.
Even if a diamond has a perfect grade for color and clarity, if the cut is poor then the diamond will still appear dull. That is why consensus is important for the gemologists conducting these studies. If they disagree, then two more gemologists will perform their own studies until there is an agreement.
After your eye adjusts to the stunning shine (cut) of the diamond, it will next interpret its color. The more colorless the diamond is, the more it is worth. Once the naked eye begins to interpret color (most notably yellow), the value of the diamond begins to decrease.
Gemologists compare a diamond against other color masters. Like the cut process, two scientists will perform this task independently and then attempt to reach a consensus. From there, the diamond is given a color grade on a on a scale from D (highest) to Z (lowest).
The third C in the grading process is performed under 10x magnification. During the process, polish and symmetry are evaluated.
Gemologists also look for imperfections that may not be visible with the naked eye. To know the true value of your diamond, you need to be aware if it has had any laser drilling or fracture filling. Grading clarity acts like a Car Fax for your diamond, keeping you updated on what work has been done on the gem.
A common word associated with diamonds is “carat.” Everyone assumes it means a diamond’s size, but it is in fact its weight. Electronic micro-balance precisely captures the weight up to the fifth decimal place.
It is important to not be hung up on the carat. It is nowhere as important as the cut and clarity. You can have the biggest diamond in the world, but who cares if it appears foggy?
The 4C’s have been created to protect us from bad investments. They are guidelines that have been strictly followed by gemologists to ensure a consistency across the consumer base. It is wise when making an expensive investment such as a diamond, to heed the advice of professionals.
Now that you know what you are buying and why, happy hunting!