Thursday, November 3, 2011

How to Choose a Diamond: The 4 C's

Whether you're a jewelry enthusiast investing in timeless treasures, picking out the perfect engagement ring, or hoping to start a "chain reaction" with some show-stopping neck wear, you have to start by knowing a little bit about diamonds. 
When buying diamonds, education is paramount. Far too often, people are blinded by so-called bling without knowing what they are purchasing. Even when making smaller purchases, you should know what you are paying for. 
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has broken down the science of diamond selection with the famous "4 C's". And with a bit of research (and the help of an honest jeweler) you can walk away with a beautiful piece of jewelry that is just right for you, and more importantly, peace of mind.
Check out the video after the jump for a quick and easy guide to how diamonds a graded based on the 4 C's.

Diamonds are valued by how closely they approach colourlessness – the less colour, the higher their value. (The exception to this is fancy-colour diamonds, such as pinks and blues, which lie outside this colour range.)
GIA’s colour grading scale for diamonds is the industry standard. The scale begins with the letter D, representing colourless, and continues with increasing presence of colour to the letter Z, or near-colourless.
Diamond clarity refers to the absence of these inclusions and blemishes. Diamonds without these birthmarks are rare, and rarity affects a diamond’s value. Using the GIA International Diamond Grading System™ diamonds are assigned a clarity grade based on a scale that contains 11 grades.
Most diamonds fall into the VS (very slightly included) or SI (slightly included) categories. In determining a clarity grade, the GIA system considers the size, nature, position, colour or relief and quantity of clarity characteristics visible under 10× magnification.
The traditional 58 facets of a round brilliant diamond, each precisely cut and defined, are as small as two millimeters in diameter. But without this precision, a diamond wouldn’t be nearly as beautiful.

In early 2005, GIA unveiled its diamond cut grading system for standard round brilliants in the D-to-Z colour range. This system, the product of more than 15 years of intensive research and testing, assigns an overall diamond cut grade ranging from Excellent to Poor.
Although extremely difficult to analyse or quantify, the cut of any diamond has three attributes:brilliance (the total light reflected from a diamond), fire (the dispersion of light into the colours of the spectrum), and scintillation (the flashes of light or sparkle, when a diamond is moved).

A carat is divided into 100 points. For example, a 50-point diamond weighs 0.50 carats. Because even a fraction of a carat can make a considerable difference in cost, precision is crucial. In the diamond industry, weight is often measured to the hundred thousandths of a carat, and rounded to a hundredth of a carat.

Happy Hunting! ~vK

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