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The 4 Cs of Diamonds
- Carat- This word for the measurement of a diamond's weight is derived from the carob seeds that were used to balance scales in ancient times. A carat is equal to 200 milligrams, and there are 142 carats to an ounce.
Carats are further divided into points. There are 100 points in a carat. A half carat diamond may be referred to as a 50-point stone (about 100 milligrams). Because large diamonds are rare, they generally have a greater value per carat.
- Clarity- A diamond's clarity is affected by any external irregularities and internal imperfections created by nature when the diamond was formed. Imperfections such as spots or lines are called inclusions. Although these marks make each stone unique, the fewer the inclusions, the more valuable the stone. Inclusions can interfere with the passage of light through the stone, diminishing the sparkle and value of the diamond.
According to the quality analysis system of the Gemological Institute of America, clarity is graded on a scale ranging from internally flawless (IF) to imperfect (I). To be graded flawless, a diamond must have no inclusions visible to a trained eye under a 10x magnification in good light.
- Color- Diamonds come in every color of the spectrum, but the most popular gems are colorless. Truly colorless, icy-white diamonds are extremely rare and therefore the most costly. Stones are graded by color and given designations dependant on how far they deviate from the purest white. Colorless stones are graded D. Color grading continues down through the alphabet, with each letter designating a more yellow tint. The best way to see the true color of diamond is by looking at it against a white surface. Although the great majority of diamonds come in shades of white, the gems also come in a spectrum of majestic colors, from red and canary yellow to blue, green, and brown. These colorful diamonds, known as fancies, are valued for their depth of color, just as white diamonds are valued for their lack of color.
- Cut- Each diamond is cut according to an exact mathematical formula. The most common cut, the round brilliant, has 58 facets, or small, flat, polished planes designed the yield the maximum amount of light to be reflected back to the viewer. This reflection, known as brilliance, is an extremely important factor in evaluating the quality of a diamond. A poorly cut diamond will actually lose light and appear dull. The widest circumference of a diamond is known as the girdle. Above the girdle of a brilliant cut diamond are 32 facets plus the table, the largest and topmost facet. Below the girdle are 24 facets plus the culet, or point. Cut is also used to describe the shape of a diamond. In addition to the round brilliant, other popular cuts include princess, emerald, pear, marquise or oval.