The 4 C's: The factors that determine a diamond's value
We all know that diamonds are precious and valuable, but how is their worth determined? What should one look for when buying a diamond? Here are the four value factors, also called the Four Cs, that jewelry professionals use when determining the value of a diamond.
As natural minerals formed by the Earth, no diamond is perfect. Diamonds have internal inclusions- bits of other minerals or prehistoric earth- inside them, as well as surface blemishes. Clarity is the absence of those features. The less inclusions and blemishes, the more valuable a diamond. A flawless diamond is extremely rare.
We often think of diamonds as being white, but the truth is that they come in a wide variety of colors, including yellow, brown and - more rarely - red, purple, and green. Truly colorless diamonds are quite rare, in fact. Most seemingly clear diamonds use in jewelry actually have yellow or brown tints, but the more clear the more valuable. When purchasing a colored diamond, the opposite is true- the brighter, purer colors are worth more.
Diamonds come in many shapes, but a well cut diamond stands out with how it sparkles and shines. The standard round shape is called a brilliant cut- all others are referred to as fancy cuts.
A well cut diamond has all three of the following attributes:
Brilliance: how well the light reflects through a diamond
Fire: flashes of color you'll see refracted through a diamond
Scintillation: the contrast of light and dark areas
The size of a diamond is determined by its weight in carats. Unsurprisingly, the larger and higher weight a diamond, the more it is worth. But it is not a direct ratio; a diamond that weights twice as much as its counterpart will be more than twice as valuable. The reason for this is that larger diamonds are more rare. So, for example, four diamonds that have a total weight of one carat will be far less expensive than a single diamond of that weight.
Knowing these factors will help you feel more confident when assessing and purchasing a diamond.