Components of a Quality Diamond (The 4 C's)

BO-K carries only high-quality diamonds.  When looking to purchase a diamond, you will commonly hear of “The 4 C’s.”

Cut
Color
Clarity
Carat (weight)

Understanding the 4 C’s is essential to making the right decision and finding the perfect diamond for you.  BO-K will guide you through the process so you can make the right choice.

 

 

Diamond Cut
The cut of a diamond is especially important because it has the most effect on the brilliance, or the ability to reflect light.

 

Nature dictates the characteristics of color, clarity and carat.  Humans affect the cut.  Cut refers to the angles and proportions created in transforming a rough diamond into a polished diamond.  Tiny surfaces known as facets must be polished on the rough diamond.  That process, in turn, creates the parts of the diamond: The crown, culet, table, girdle and pavilion. 

A well cut diamond will reflect light internally from one mirror-like facet to another, dispersing it through the top of the stone.  This is where the fire, or brilliance, comes from. 
A poorly cut stone, on the other hand, will make the diamond look dull even with the best color and clarity.

Symmetry and Polish - A diamond's brilliance is determined by two key characteristics: symmetry and polish. Symmetry refers to the angles at which the "facets" align -- the stone's smooth, angled surfaces.  Proper symmetry reflects light from one surface to another repeatedly throughout the diamond.  Very little light escapes.   When the facets are arranged in precise proportions, the diamond’s fire and brilliance are maximized.  Polish refers to how smooth those surfaces really are.  Smoother surfaces will create a more acute reflection of light – non-blurred – therefore maximizing the amount and quality of reflection.

Good proportions are essential!   BO-K is happy to explain and define an Ideal diamond, and the following terms in more detail: Diameter, table, crown, girdle, pavilion, culet, and depth.

 

 

 
Diamond Color
The ideal diamond will have as little color as possible.  Most diamonds appear very white – even icy – with subtle hints of color, usually yellow.

The more valuable the stone, the closer to white or “colorless” it will be.  Truly colorless diamonds are rare.  This makes them more valuable.  The absence of color actually allows more light to pass through the stone.  As more light enters the diamond, more light exits the stone and produces a higher level of sparkle and brilliance.  Color characteristics are a result of composition and will not change over time. 
Diamonds were formed under intense heat and pressure.  A colorless diamond is composed of pure carbon. Variances in color are the result of traces of other elements incorporated into the diamond’s atomic structure. A subtle change in color grade can greatly affect a diamond's value.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) developed an alphabet scale used for grading the color of a diamond.  The top end of this scale starts at "D."  This represents the most colorless and highest quality stone available.  The ratings continue all the way through the alphabet to "Z."  Each letter indicates a slight increase in the amount of color detected in the stone (usually light yellow or brown).
Only 3 of the 23 grades are truly colorless.  Gems of this level are rare and comprise 2% of the total number of gem-quality diamonds.
Fluorescence – This is the effect that is seen in some gem-quality diamonds when they are exposed to long wave ultraviolet light.  Under most lighting conditions, this fluorescence is not detectable to the human eye. However, if a diamond is naturally fluorescent, it will emit a soft colored glow when held under an ultraviolet lamp.  The effect is not dangerous to the diamond or to the wearer; it is merely a unique and fascinating quality that occurs naturally in some gems and minerals.
Fancy Colored Diamonds - A very rare and expensive type of diamond that may appear very blue, green, yellow or another color.  These are the only diamonds actually made more valuable because their color exceeds the GIA color scale.
BO-K is happy to explain more details related with the alphabetic scale and which color stones look best with silver, gold, and platinum settings.

 

 

Diamond Clarity
Due to the fact that diamonds are formed deep within the earth - under extreme heat and pressure - they often contain unique birthmarks, either internal (inclusions) or external (blemishes).  Clarity simply refers to the presence or absence of tiny birthmarks: Blemishes, scratches, air bubbles or any other foreign material, either inside the diamond or on its surface.


The GIA system standardizes clarity based on the number, location, size and type of inclusions. Diamonds with few or no inclusions receive a higher rating for clarity and are more valuable than those with noticeable birthmarks.  Likewise, anything disrupting the flow of light in the diamond, such as an inclusion, will reduce the amount of light or sparkle that is reflected.
The GIA Clarity Scale utilizes 11 grades, with most diamonds falling into the VS (very slightly included) or SI (slightly included) categories.  To determine a clarity grade, the GIA system considers the size, nature, position, color or relief, and quantity of clarity characteristics visible under 10× magnification.


F - IF Diamonds (Flawless or Internally Flawless) - Diamonds in this category have no internal inclusions and are extremely rare and highly valued.  They are considered perfect.


Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) - Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to determine under 10× magnification.  The inclusions would be invisible to the naked eye.


Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) -
Inclusions are clearly visible under 10× magnification, but would be unnoticeable to the naked eye.  These inclusions would be characterized as minor.


Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) - Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader using 10× magnification and may also be noticeable to the naked eye.  The 1s will be cleaner - having fewer or smaller inclusions.  This allows for more precise grading.


Included (I1, I2, and I3) - Inclusions are obvious under 10× magnification and to the naked eye.  This may affect transparency and brilliance.  Diamonds in this category may not be optimal choices as engagement rings, where the ring setting focuses on a primary stone.


Inclusions have an upside - When GIA and like organizations certify a diamond, a "plot" of the stone's inclusions are provided.  Like snowflakes, no two diamonds are alike in their patterns of inclusion, so this plot acts as a "fingerprint" to uniquely identify a specific diamond.
BO-K is happy to explain, in greater detail, each category above, and the differences between an ideal diamond, a very good diamond, and a good diamond.  Our intention is to educate and guide you through so you can make your best decision. 

 

 

 

Diamond Carat

Carat is often confused for size, even though it represents weight.  The term carat is derived from the seeds of the carob tree that were used to balance the scales in ancient Oriental bazaars. One carob seed equaled one carat.  Approximately 142 carats weigh one ounce.

 

When diamonds are mined, larger cleaner diamonds are less often discovered than smaller ones. Therefore, as diamonds get larger, the value can increase exponentially due to the rarity of the stone. 

In the diamond industry, weight is often measured to the hundred thousandths of a carat, and rounded to a hundredth of a carat.  Diamonds and other gemstones are weighed in metric carats: one carat is equal to 0.2 grams, about the same weight as a paperclip. (Not to be confused with karat, as in “18K gold,” which refers to gold purity).  So, Precision is vital -- even a fraction of a carat can make a considerable difference in value.

Where a dollar is divided into 100 pennies, a carat is divided into 100 points. For example, a 50-point diamond weighs 0.50 carats. It is important to note that two diamonds of equal weight can have very different values depending on the other factors of the Four C’s: Clarity, color and cut.

When choosing an engagement ring, it is very important to consider the style of jewelry she is comfortable wearing. 

BO-K is happy to help you determine which of the 4C’s you should focus on in making your best decision.

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