The 4 C's
Diamonds are an amazing natural phenomenon that can be enjoyed in your favorite piece (pieces hopefully!) of fine diamond jewellery.
There is basic information about the 4 C’s all over the web and if you come by the store we will happily go over the basics with you and we will touch on them here. The purpose of this article is to show you how we leverage our experience and knowledge in diamonds to ensure you leave our store with an incredible diamond and ultimately a piece of diamond jewellery that will be cherished now and for generations to come.
A diamond is truly unlike anything on earth in it’s beauty and rarity. There are standardized parameters that jewellery professionals and consumers alike use to evaluate a diamond. The basic diamond evaluation parameters are broken down in to what jewellers call the “4 C’s”. For the consumer, the 4 C’s are intended to be a tool to assist in educating ones self on each diamonds’ unique characteristics. Moreover it is used by consumers to evaluate an individual diamond so as to compare it objectively to other diamonds using their certifications based on the 4 C’s … this is unfortunately a dangerous exercise based on a false sense of security. There are many reasons why comparing diamonds just using their certifications should be avoided. Certifications were never really designed for this purpose, they were made to help diamond professionals in assessing a diamond. There are many subtleties in evaluating diamonds that are not described or explained in any diamond report. Moreover, there really is no standardization of diamond grading reports. Their grading parameters vary lab to lab as well as within each lab … This is a very important point, you can’t buy a diamond by looking at ‘paper’ or it’s certification alone.
In our opinion it just doesn’t work, each diamond needs to be inspected by a trained diamond professional. It’s not an easy thing to explain but basically a diamond can look great on paper (thus, it certifies well) but may not look great once physically inspected by the trained eyes of a diamond professional. This is where Oshawa Jewellery truly goes further than your normal jewellery store. This information is not intended to scare you into our showroom … but that wouldn’t be a bad thing as you would leave with a great diamond! We don’t have a head office randomly sending us diamonds to sell. We carefully inspect every loose diamond that comes in to our store and only keep the great ones. That way when you come in to see a diamond at Oshawa Jewellery, you are truly getting the best value out there. Now back to the 4 C’s …
First lets break down what a `Carat`really is! It`s a unit of measure equal to 1/5th of a gram or 0.2 grams. Often diamonds that weigh less than a carat are described using points. One carat is = to 100 ‘points’ . For example, a diamond that weighs half of a carat, 0.50ct, is often described as being 50 points usually written 50pts. The same for 3/4 of a carat or 0.75ct or 75pts … I’m sure you get the idea here.
In terms of how carat weight affects value, the larger a stone is, the more rare it is thus more expensive. The scale is somewhat exponential in nature. For example a one carat diamond that is well cut, certified from a top lab and of SI1 clarity and G colour, hand picked by our buying team, at the time of writing sells for roughly $9000. If we compare this to 100 small diamonds totaling the same 1ct weight they would sell for about $1700. You can see that as the diamond size goes up they command a higher price point because of their rarity.
At Oshawa Jewellery we carry a wide range of diamond sizes from perfectly matching small diamonds that we use for custom jewellery designs and repairs, to single diamonds of different shapes up to a weight of 4cts and over. We have access to any sizes with a turn around time of a few short days for any special requests.
Cut refers to both the physical shape of a diamond and how well proportioned it is.
As for diamond shapes/cuts there are many popular ones including: Round, Princess (square), Cushion, Oval, Marquise, Pear, Trillion, Emerald, and Asscher among others.
A diamonds proportions or cut quality is one of the most important parameters affecting it’s overall beauty. Diamond cutting is also the only parameter that we can have an affect on since it is humans that cut the diamond. Whereas, the colour, clarity and size of the diamond is conceived by mother nature alone. At Oshawa jewellery we analyze each diamond’s cut to ensure it enhances it’s overall beauty. This does not just mean it meets ‘ideal’ standards. Though, it is very important that a diamond be well proportioned to maximize it’s refractive properties and ensure that the light traveling in through the top of the diamond is refracted internally back through the table (top) of the diamond giving it the properties we all want. A mesmerizing sparkle and beauty that only a well cut diamond can possess!
Sometimes we buy diamonds that have slightly less than ideal proportions for a good reason … Here’s an example. A one carat ideal cut diamond usually has about a 6.3mm to 6.5mm diameter but this can vary greatly! The diameter can be from below 6mm to near 7mm. If diameter is the only parameter considered, then obviously we would all choose the larger looking stone if they both weighed the same … let’s use 1ct in our example here. This would be a mistake because a 1ct diamond with a 7mm diameter is too shallow and it would have limited brilliance or ‘life’ due to the fact that the rules of refraction are compromised. If we tighten up those parameters a bit and look at 1ct. diamonds that are 6.2mm, a common size, or a one that is 6.6mm which is also common, all other parameters being equal, I would take the larger looking stone every time! It`s a better value and looks bigger.
This is one of the many aspects of a diamond we assess here at Oshawa Jewellery before it becomes a part of our inventory. Diamond proportions are very important, they are generally cut to maximize the diamonds refractive properties, though, often a diamond cutter will be motivated by the nature of his job to cut diamonds with weight retention as his main goal, not beauty. For example, if a diamond comes out of the ground at 2cts as a rough stone, the diamond cutter can cut it for maximum refraction and beauty and have it weigh 0.95cts or compromise on cut by allowing the stone to be deeper than ideal to attain a weight of 1.05cts. Economics says the cutter always cut the 1.05ct stone even though it may not look as good. Why? It commands a higher value due to it’s weight being over the magic 1ct number and thus maximizes the diamond cutters’ (or his bosses more likely …) profits! He would probably be fired or bankrupt the company if he only cut perfect diamonds every time! This is also an example of why you pay a premium for exceptionally cut and finished diamonds. At Oshawa Jewellery we really try to purchase only stones that are cut to a high standard and have properties that enhance their beauty or value.
Diamond colour, or lack there of actually, is another diamond characteristic that greatly affects it’s beauty and price. White or near white diamonds are graded on an alphabetical scale that starts at the letter ‘D’ and ends at ‘Z’. After a grade of Z a diamond can have more intense colour but it is then considered a fancy coloured diamond and is graded accordingly. Diamonds do come in unique fancy colours, these are quite rare but if you are interested in one, we can definitely source you one but for this article we will concentrate on white or near white diamonds.
At Oshawa Jewellery we want your diamond to look beautiful and feel that a stones’ colour grade drastically affects its beauty. From a distance of even 1 foot away from a diamond it is nearly impossible to tell what kind of clarity characteristics are within the diamond or what clarity grade that diamond is (that’s of course as long as it is not an extremely included or flawed diamond … we’ll get to clarity next but just know that we don’t sell very included diamonds here! Jewellery is supposed to be beautiful, heavily included diamonds in jewellery, or ‘coal’ as I like to call it , is not beautiful!). What you can see from a foot away is how white the diamond is and of course, how well finished and cut the diamond is. Those two parameters, we feel, have the greatest bearing on diamonds overall beauty. This is why we try to find the best cut diamond possible and, in terms of colour grade, suggest diamonds in the colourless (D,E and F colour grades) and near colourless (G, H, I and J) range. Actually we even try and stay G to H colour or above if the budget allows it, to really maximize the beauty of your diamond, and ultimately the finished jewellery piece that you will wear and cherish for the rest of your life.
Clarity refers to how ‘clear’ a diamond looks. Diamonds are made of squished up carbon that is formed under rare and extreme conditions. For diamonds to form they need a combination of extremely high temperature and pressure. When the diamond is ‘growing’ under these extreme conditions there can be variations which cause ‘inclusions’ (not flaws!). Each diamond is totally unique in nature and have their own unique clarity characteristics. These clarity characteristics are what we use to evaluate each diamonds’ clarity and give it a clarity grade.
The clarity grading scale starts with Flawless diamonds and goes down to Included diamonds. Here is the scale:
Let’s take a practical look at the scale and what each designation means in terms of diamond beauty and more importantly, value. At the top of the scale, any diamond that falls in the Flawless to VS1 range is going to be a stunning diamond that you will never see any clarity characteristics in with the naked eye. These are great stones and fairly easy to buy. What I mean by that is you don’t have to worry about where the inclusion is, it’s colour (black, white, grey), the inclusions relief (where the ‘flaw’ is positioned within the diamond), etc because it is either non-existent or so small that it just doesn’t matter. Where it get’s harder to buy a diamond is below this level of clarity.
Diamond that are of SI2 clarity and below are some of the hardest diamonds to buy well. Why? They are diamonds that have clarity characteristics that can be seen with the naked eye. Let’s not even discuss diamonds that are I2 and below, we don’t carry them, don’t want to sell them and you don’t want to buy them. So our range we are talking about here is really SI2 to I1. A well picked diamond in this range can be quite beautiful and the prices are very accessible. At Oshawa Jewellery we truly hand pick each of our diamonds in this range to ensure we have the best around. There is a large variance or margin here that these grades of diamonds can have and we filter out the bad ones and stock the exceptional rare stones that look good in this clarity range. You can be confident in purchasing diamonds in this Range from Oshawa Jewellery as we have done all the hard work for you!
Lastly we have the VS2 to SI1 range of diamond clarity. The diamonds that fall in this category are our favorite! They are a great balance of beauty and value. Generally, you cannot see anything with the naked eye in a well selected diamond of this clarity level. These are hard stones for us to buy as well, there is so much variation in the market, we’ve seen diamonds graded from ‘top’ labs that attain SI1 that should really be I1 clarity. I know I sound like a broken record here, but since we evaluate every stone in our inventory, we ensure that we pick great stones in this range that you will be proud to purchase and feel good about giving to that special someone!
At Oshawa Jewellery we want to make the diamond buying experience fun and informative. We are happy to walk you through the 4 C’s using diamonds from our inventory as examples so you can come to your own conclusion what diamond parameters and ultimately what diamond is right for you. Come see us and lets explore these unique treasures together!
Oshawa Jewellery Diamond Specialist