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The Four C’s
When buying a diamond, understanding the four C’s will help you understand what you are buying and help you choose the right diamond for you. The four C’s refers to four of the characteristics that influence the value and appearance of a diamond: cut, color, clarity, and carat. The combination of the 4 C’s affects the brilliance and fire of a diamond, and therefore a diamond’s value.

Not to be confused with shape, cut is a very important characteristic that determines a diamond’s brilliance. While color, clarity, and carat are largely determined by nature, cut lies in the hands of the diamond cutter. Diamond cutting is an art and a science. Mathematical measurements are used in diamond cutting to determine the cut that will maximize the amount of light reflected from a diamond.

If a diamond is cut too shallow, light will travel through the diamond instead of reflecting back. And if a diamond is cut too deep, light will escape through the sides of the diamond instead of reflecting back, bringing out a dark and dull appearance in the diamond. Keep in mind that a poor cut equals poor brilliance and a less valuable diamond.

There are three cutting styles that diamonds are cut with: the brilliant-cut, the step-cut, or the mixed-cut. The brilliant cut style highlights the brilliance of a diamond, while step-cut diamonds generally highlight the clarity and color of a diamond. Mixed-cut diamonds combine brilliant-cut and step-cut styles.

Shape, often confused with or referred to as cut, is another characteristic to take into consideration when looking for a diamond. The shape of a diamond is the shape of the outline of the diamond from an overhead view. Diamonds are cut into various shapes to accentuate their features of fire and brilliance. Here is a list of shapes: round, princess, emerald, asscher, oval, marquise, pear, radiant, cushion, heart. Shape is a personal preference and popular shapes change with trends and new styles. Choose a shape that appeals to you and that exhibits the qualities of the diamond that you want accentuated.

Two other things to look for when deciding on cut are polish and symmetry. Diamond cuts with high polish and high symmetry grades are more brilliant and more valuable.

The color of a white diamond is graded on a scale from D to Z, where D is colorless and Z has noticeable color. Diamonds reflect light like prisms and the ability of a diamond to divide light into a spectrum of colors refers to the fire that a diamond carries. A diamond with the least color and the highest color grade will produce more desirable fire.

Diamonds graded D-F are considered to be colorless, while diamonds graded G-J are considered to be near-colorless, and diamonds graded K-Z are considered to have noticeable color.

While diamonds that appear light yellow or brown are valued less than colorless or near-colorless diamonds, diamonds with intense hues of color (including blue, green, yellow, orange, pink, or red) are highly valued. These colored diamonds are very rare and valuable and are referred to as fancy diamonds, fancy color diamonds, or colored fancies.

The clarity of a diamond refers to the number of internal flaws or inclusions that a diamond has. The number, size, orientation, visibility, and location of inclusions determine the visible clarity of a diamond. Inclusions disrupt the flow of light that goes in and out of a diamond affecting its brilliance. Clarity is graded on a scale from F (flawless) to I (Included); and diamonds with a higher clarity grade have a higher value.

Carat weight refers to the mass of a diamond. Larger diamonds are more rare and therefore the price of diamonds increases exponentially with size. Therefore, a two-carat diamond is much more than twice the value of a one-carat diamond of the same quality.

When choosing a carat weight, take into consideration the hand and ring size of the wearer. A one-carat diamond, for example, will look bigger on a small finger or hand than it does on a big finger or hand.

People often get caught up with carat weight when choosing a diamond. However, when choosing a diamond that is right for you, all four C’s need to be taken into consideration as the combination of all four C’s affect the appearance and value of a diamond. Use your personal preferences and the characteristics that are important to you in choosing a diamond.

How to buy a diamond:
Research and learn:
Learn as much as you can about the four C’s and about diamonds and diamond jewelry before you buy. Look online for answers or ask your local jeweler for help. The more you know about diamonds, the more confident you will feel in choosing a diamond that is right for you.
Decide which of the four C’s are important to you:
Go over the four C’s of cut, clarity, color, and carat and decide which ones are the most important to you. Would you prefer a bigger carat weight diamond with less clarity than a smaller carat weight diamond with a higher clarity rating? Ask yourself questions like this before choosing a diamond.
Find out how much diamonds are costing in the market and figure out a price range that you are willing to spend on your diamond purchase. Look at your price range and try to get the best combination of the four C’s that suit what you are looking for.
Ask your jeweler for certification on any diamond or diamonds that you are interested in buying to insure the quality of your purchase.
How to care for your diamonds:

Diamonds and diamond jewelry should be stored in individual pouches or cases, since diamonds can scratch other jewelry.

The less you handle your diamond jewelry the less oils, grease, and dirt will attach itself to your jewelry. Cleaning your diamonds periodically will remove any dirt or grease that has attached itself and will maintain the brilliance and shine of your diamonds.

When looking to clean your diamond jewelry, ask your jeweler or a professional to look at your specific piece of jewelry to determine the best cleaning method. Have the professionals clean it or follow their instructions, which might include the use of store bought cleaners or at home solutions.

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