Through the combined efforts of the earth and man, the diamonds sold in jewelry stores across the world are created. Absolutely every diamond is unique, and a multi-layered grading system is necessary to determine each diamond's value.
The Four C's grading system was developed by GIA in the 1950s and has been used as the standard throughout the jewelry industry every since. The first three C's determine the quality of the diamond, while the last C measures its size. The infinite combinations of size and quality, as well as the rarity of these combinations, give diamonds a complex value structure.
Modern diamond cutting utilizes experienced crafts people and precision instruments, so that all diamonds may be cut according to an ideal relationship of angles and dimensions which maximizes the brilliance (reflection) and fire (dispersion) of the diamond. The cut is of extraordinary importance because it is the one factor that has the greatest single influence on the brilliancy of the stone. Cut is graded from Excellent to Poor.
Diamonds are weighed by the standard measure known as the "carat." For stones of the same cut, carat weight will give an indication of how large the stone is. However, for two stones of different cuts, carat weight is not always a good indicator of size. A one-carat brilliant cut diamond would appear to be a very different size compared with a one-carat marquise cut. Generally, the higher the carat weight, the more expensive the stone will be. However, price can vary greatly depending on how well the stone scores in the other three Cs.
Did you know?
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Diamonds are found in almost every color, although the greatest majority of them are white with a slight yellowish tint. If a diamond is of a decided color (such as the famous Hope Diamond, which is as blue as a sapphire) it is called a "fancy colored diamond" or simply "fancy." These hues are caused by other elements entering the diamond during its creation. For example, blue diamonds get their color from boron while yellow diamonds are colored by nitrogen. However, fancy diamonds in exceptional quality are rare. For the majority of diamonds, the less tint of color the greater the value. Indeed, two diamonds with the exact same ratings on the other three C's but differing in color can be valued vastly different. On a scale of D to Z, D is for colorless while Z is considered fancy.
Clarity is the degree to which a stone is free from inclusions and/or blemishes. The grading scale for clarity goes from F--which is considered Flawless--to I3--which is for a highly imperfect stone that is visibly inferior in quality.