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Diamonds: the 4 C's

Whether natural or lab-grown, each diamond is unique in the world. It has its own history, and its imperfections bear witness to its growth. Diamonds are available in a very wide variety of shapes and colors and their price range is very wide. To classify them and assign them a value, they are evaluated according to the following criteria: color, clarity, cut and carat.


The Color

The subtle undertones in the color of the diamond can greatly affect its value. In fact, what is mostly wanted is the absence of colors. DEF graded diamonds are the most prized and will see their value increase. GHI diamonds do not have a hue easily distinguishable by the naked eye, but remarkable when compared to less saturated diamonds. From KLM, the hue will be easily remarkable, up to Z where we find very saturated diamonds, but not yet enough to be considered as colored diamonds.


Pro tip: The most important thing is to match the color of your diamonds with each other. For example, an H diamond will look fade if it is juxtaposed with a D; but used alone on a yellow gold ring it will look stunning. Avoid shades after K if you don't like diamonds that look a little brownish-beige.

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During its growth, small particles remain trapped in the crystal in formation; they are called inclusions. What affects the clarity of a diamond is not just the presence or absence of inclusions, but where they are placed, their sizes and colors. You could compare them to moles. Imagine for a moment Marilyn Monroe and an old witch. Both have a mole in their face. For the first, who has a very beautiful face and a radiant smile, the small dot on the cheek does not affect her beauty. For the pointy-nosed witch, who does not take care of her appearance, the mole becomes disturbing and amplifies her ugliness. With this picture in mind, you will understand that in order to determine the clarity of a diamond, it is necessary not only to focus on the inclusions, but also to assess whether or not they detract from the beauty of the stone.


I1, I2 and I3: inclusions clearly visible to the naked eye.  


SI1 and SI2: slight inclusions which can be noticed by a trained eye.  


VS1 and VS2: very slight inclusions which are not visible to the naked eye.


VVS1 and VVS2: very very slight inclusions which are very difficult to see with a 10x magnifying glass.


IF: without internal inclusions.


F: without any defect, neither inside nor outside.  


Pro tip: From VS on the way up, don't pay too much attention to the clarity quote: you won't see the difference with the naked eye. Look for a diamond that ranks well with other categories, rather than just the purest clarity possible. Interesting point with IS: inclusions are not easily visible to the naked eye.

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The Cut

The cut corresponds to the way the diamond is facetted. For most of them, these stones are cut in India. From a rough gem, the lapidary must choose the best place to make the first cuts and aspire to recreate the ideal diamond cut. The famous round brilliant cut, developed by Marcel Tolkowsky in 1919, allows the diamond to refract a maximum of light. Because it is an important nuance: diamonds do not only reflect light, they refract it towards us. If the cut is bad, the light is lost and the stone looks dark. All diamonds are compared to Tolkowsky's size to be classified as very good, good, fair, or bad.


Pro tip: Never neglect the cut! Choose a diamond with a cut classified as "good" or better and avoid the sizes called "correct" or "bad".  Favor a diamond with lower clarity over a poor cut. Diamonds with an ideal cut will have a sparkle that will quickly make you forget some inclusions!

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The Carat

Not to be confused with gold carat, which indicates the proportions of gold in an alloy, carats correspond to the weight of the diamond. The carat is simply a unit of measurement that comes from the carob seeds that were once used as a benchmark for weighing stones. The whole carat is divided into 100 points. When we talk about a “50 point” diamond we are actually talking about 50/100 of a carat. We can also say "half carat" but we will always write 0.50ct. Obviously, the higher the carat, the more expensive the diamond. Beyond this statement, prices increase exponentially as soon as we cross certain weights; for example 0.25ct, 0.50ct, 0.75ct or 1ct. So a 0.49ct diamond may be a few hundred dollars less than a 0.50ct stone, while a 0.51ct diamond will be barely a little more expensive.


Pro tip: Prioritize the 3 other classification factors before giving too much importance to the carat. Also, compare with stones that are slightly smaller than what you are looking for. A 0.49ct diamond rather than 0.50ct for example; the difference will not be visible to the eye.

Photo credits: GIA.EDU

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