Valuing Diamonds

By: Donna Terra

When buying a diamond, there are some important facts that you should know. Exactly how valuable is the diamond you are purchasing, and are you getting your monies worth? The quality and value of diamonds are measured by four factors, known as the 4C's.

These 4C's refer to cut, colour, carat weight and clarity. The quality of a diamond is measured by cut, colour and clarity, while the carat weight refers to the size of the diamond. Of the 4C's, cut is the characteristic directly influenced by man, while colour, clarity and carat weight are all dictated by nature.

Diamond Cut

A diamond in its natural, uncut state is called a 'rough' diamond. In this rough state, it resembles nothing more than a piece of glass. It is the skill of the cutter that makes a diamond as beautiful as what it is known for.

It is important to know the difference between cut and shape. Popular shapes include Round Brilliant, Oval, Pear, Heart and Emerald. Within these shapes, the cut determines the quality of the stone. Most diamonds are cut with 58 facets, regardless of the shape.

Diamond Colour

A diamond's colour is one of the most important factors when determining the value of the stone. With white diamonds, the closest the diamond is to being completely colourless, the more valuable it is. Diamonds are graded into categories defined by letters. This colour ranges from exceptional whites (categories D, E and F) to tinted colours (categories M to Z). Fancy coloured diamonds are graded by intensity of colour, not lack thereof.

Diamond Clarity

During the formation of a diamond there is the possibility of minute particles of non crystallized carbon or non-diamond crystals to get caught in the diamond. These little imperfections are called inclusions and provide each diamond with unique characteristics.

Inclusions may not always be visible with the naked eye, but they do interfere with the passing of light through the diamond. The fewer inclusions the diamond has, the more valuable it is.

Clarity is characterized by different grading scales, based on number, size and position of inclusions within the diamond. Grading ranges from flawless and internally flawless, very small and small inclusions, to imperfect.

Diamond Carat

A carat is the unit of measurement used to determine the weight of the diamond. The actual weight of one carat is 0.2 grams. Diamonds are weighed prior to setting for a more accurate measurement and are priced per carat according to their size and quality. Even though the carat weight of a diamond is relative to its size, it is not always relative to the quality of the diamond. Therefore if two diamonds have the same carat weight, the one could be more valuable because of a better quality.

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