Hey there, choosing your diamond can be daunting. There are so many factors to consider, it’s hard to know where to start and even harder to know if you’re getting a good deal. We're going to guide you through the essential info of the Diamond 4 C's and also tell you about our own recommendations.
Introduction to the 4 C's
The quality of a diamond is characterised by the four C's: Cut, Colour, Clarity, and Carat weight. The most important characteristic is the Cut, which determines the sparkle of the diamond, followed by the Colour of which colourless is preferred. It's usually best to start your diamond search by the Cut and Colour. Then, adjust your budget accordingly with the Clarity and Carat.
This is the most important characteristic of a diamond, because it’s the most visible to the naked eye. Not to be confused with the actual shape of the diamond, the cut refers to the amount of sparkle, and is determined by the depth and width ratio of the diamond. The better the cut, the more sparkle.
Cut is rated from Poor to Excellent. A poor cut diamond can appear dull, regardless of how good the clarity and colour is. In contrast, an excellent cut diamond will always appear super sparkly even when the diamond is worn daily. Cut grades are only available on round brilliant cut diamonds.
Our Recommendation - We recommend choosing a Excellent cut diamond.
Colour is the second most important characteristic of a diamond, and determines if it’s purely colourless or has a noticeable yellow tinge.
Graded from D (completely colourless) to Z (very yellow). D - F won’t show much visible difference to the naked eye. You’ll start to see a yellow tinge from grade G onward, but only very slightly, which means it can be a good choice to maximise your budget.
Our Recommendation - We recommend choosing D coloured diamond.
This refers to the absence of imperfections within the diamond, known as ‘inclusions’. Inclusions are tiny crystals formed in the diamond, but luckily most of these are only visible under the microscope. Clarity is the third most important characteristic of a diamond.
Graded from Flawless (no inclusions) to I3 (heavily included), choosing a diamond between VS2 (Very Slightly Included) to SI1 (Slightly Included) is a great choice to maximise your budget, because even at these grades you’ll only be able to see inclusions (possibly with some effort) under a 10x magnification.
When it comes to your budget, you’ll have a visibly higher quality diamond by choosing a better cut and colour rather than better clarity.
Our Recommendation - We recommend choosing VS2 for a Round Brilliant cut diamond
The diamond carat refers to the weight of the diamond, and not necessarily the size (which is a common misconception). The cut proportions, along with the carat weight, will determine how large the diamond appears. Diamonds with a lower carat weight will appear larger if they have an Excellent cut grade. This is because the diamond proportions are maximised, especially from a top-down view of the diamond like in the picture above, and the sparkle is more prominent.
Some carat weights are considered "magic sizes" – half carat (0.50ct), three-quarter carat (0.70ct), and 1 carat (1.00ct). Visually, there's very little difference between a 0.99 carat diamond and one that weighs a full 1.00 carat. But the price differences between the two can be significant.
You should also consider the finger size of the wearer. For smaller finger sizes, a smaller carat can still appear quite large.
Our Recommendation - We recommend choosing the carat weight and size of diamond which best suits your budget once all of the four C's have been considered.
A white diamond (colour D-G) with fluorescence means it may have a milky or hazy appearance. Whilst non-fluorescent diamonds are considered ‘purer’ and, therefore, more expensive, it’s highly debatable whether fluorescence has any noticeable impact to the naked eye, given it is sometimes only visible under UV light.
Prices can vary greatly between fluorescent and non-fluorescent diamond, and in some cases a lower rated colour (H-Z) can be enhanced to appear whiter by fluorescence, making it a potential choice to maximise your budget.
Our Recommendation - We recommend non-fluorescent diamonds; however, when it comes to this characteristic, there is some subjectivity and may ultimately come down to your preference.
Like getting an independent survey when buying a house, you should only buy a diamond that has been certified. The most reliable diamond certifications come from the GIA Laboratory (Gemological Institute of America). They are renowned for their thorough, detailed and highly accurate diamond grading.
The GIA Diamond Grading Report contains scientifically determined information on diamond shape, Clarity, Color, Cut, Carat weight, fluorescence, proportions and finish. It also identifies any known treatments such as colour and clarity enhancements.
Certificates from many other diamond grading labs are available, such as HRG Antwerp (Hoge Raad Voor Diamant), and IGI (International Gemological Institute), but GIA is the most trusted, and recognised within the diamond industry.
Be very cautious about purchasing diamonds that are graded by labs other than GIA (for example, EDR (European Diamond Reports). You may be offered what might seem a great deal on a diamond, but it won't have been assessed in the same strict way as the GIA. You could end up purchasing a diamond which is graded D/VS2 on the EDR certificate, but would actually be an F/SI1 through the GIA, a significant decline in quality.
Our Recommendation - We recommend GIA certified diamonds.
GIA and some of the other grading labs also laser inscribe the diamonds they certify so that you can match the tiny number inscription with the diamond number featured in your certificate. The inscription is usually found on the girdle (diamond edge looking from the side).
The laser inscription is very difficult to see with the naked eye but you can usually view it under 20x magnification. It's a great security feature so that you can always be assured your diamond is the one returned should the ring need to be left with a jeweller for a polish or repair.
Our Recommendation - We recommend diamonds which have a laser inscription.
Both GIA and our preferred diamond merchants adhere to the Kimberley Process. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme imposes extensive requirements on its members to enable them to certify shipments of rough diamonds as ‘conflict-free' and prevent conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate trade. Today, 99% of diamonds in the marketplace are conflict-free.
Choosing your diamond summary
Like any product you're interested in purchasing you can get really caught up in all of the details to consider, and this can make choosing the diamond really tricky. Based on our years of experience we highly recommend GIA certified diamonds, which are; D colour, VS2 clarity, with an excellent cut, polish and symmetry with no fluorescence.
Choosing these qualities means that your diamond will be bright white, extremely sparkly, and you won't be able to see any clarity inclusions to the naked eye - so you can't go wrong!
You'll get exceptional value for money. In fact, that is why we'd recommend the same diamond qualities to our family and friends!
Our Engagement rings all feature our recommended diamond quality so all you need to do is to select the carat weight to suit your budget.
We hope you've found this info helpful, feel free to contact us about any questions you may have.
We’re always happy to help!
All images are supplied by the GIA / 2020