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The 4 C’s of Loose Diamonds

January 16, 2018

When making an important purchase such as a loose diamond or piece of diamond jewelry, how do you know if you’re getting the best diamond for your money? To begin with, you want to make sure you’re purchasing from a reputable fine jewelry dealer who carries GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or IGI (International Gemological Institute) certified diamonds.  Second, you need to spend a bit of time educating yourself on what makes a quality diamond in the first place. The globally-accepted standard for evaluating diamond quality as determined by the GIA is: Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat Weight, also known as the 4 C’s of loose diamonds. Here’s how to interpret the 4 C’s for your diamond purchase.

Diamond Color

Diamonds are graded by the GIA on a scale from D (colorless) to Z (containing light color).

D-F diamonds are considered colorless and should only be set in white gold or platinum since using colored gold would tint the diamond, thereby destroying its colorless effect.

G-J diamonds are considered “near colorless” and should also be set in white gold or platinum to maximize the colorless effect.

K-M diamonds are considered to have “faint color” and carry a yellow tint that is more perceptible to the naked eye. Set in gold, the warm tint of these diamonds will appeal to some people while appearing too yellow to others.

N-R diamonds are classified as “very light color” but are not carried by most jewelers due to their very perceptible yellow or brown tint.

S-Z diamonds, or “light color,” have too much tint for the preference of most customers seeking a white diamond.

Diamond Clarity

Because diamonds are formed underground by extreme heat and pressure, a completely flawless diamond is rare, so almost every diamond will emerge with a birthmark, or “inclusion.” A diamond’s clarity grade is based on how many, how big, and how visible the inclusions are under a 10x magnification.

FL – Flawless.  Extremely rare.

IF – Internally Flawless. Inclusions are only visible to a skilled GIA grader using 10X magnification.

VVS1/VVS2 – Very, Very, Slightly Included. Inclusions are difficult to see under a 10x magnification.

VS1/VS2 – Very Slightly Included. Inclusions are visible under 10X magnification but can still be classified as minor.

SI1/SI2 – Slightly Included. Inclusions are clearly observed under 10x magnification and also be detected by the naked eye.

I1/I2/I3 – Included. Inclusions are obvious under magnification as well as being almost always visible to the naked eye.

Diamond Cut

Cut is a mostly personal preference but can be dependent, to a certain degree, upon what type of jewelry setting you choose. These are the most popular:

Round Brilliant

The round brilliant diamond is the most popular cut of diamond in the United States. Because of its perfect cut, it dazzles the eye no matter its size, but this perfection is also what makes the round brilliant the most expensive since so much of the diamond is lost in the cutting process.

Princess Cut

Frequently seen as the focal stone in engagement rings, the princess cut diamond will be less expensive than its round brilliant counterpart of similar size because less of the diamond is lost in the cutting.

Cushion Cut

Originating in the 18th century, the cushion cut is named for its likeness to a pillow. A favorite among those who love the look of vintage jewelry, with its soft edges and large facets, a cushion  cut can achieve similar brilliance as a round.

Radiant Cut

A modern update to the cushion cut, the radiant cut diamond is a perfect hybrid of a traditional round cut and an elegant emerald cut, resulting in a square or rectangular shape with a whopping seventy facets, thus living up to its name.

Oval Cut

With a slightly longer silhouette than a round brilliant, the oval cut has the advantage of appearing larger than other diamond cuts of the same weight.

Emerald Cut

Perhaps the most glamourous shape of diamond, the  emerald cut wins fans for its “hall of mirrors” effect and its ability to elongate the finger of the wearer.

Although the shape is important, also the GIA considers the quality of the cut itself. How well the diamond was shaped, how even each cut is made, and overall how well the cut gives off a glow and shine.

Diamond Carat Weight

A carat is the measurement of how much a diamond weighs, with a metric “carat” defined as 200 milligrams. A carat can then be subdivided into “points” to the hundredth decimal place. So, a 2.5 carat diamond would weigh 500 milligrams.

For expert advice deciding which diamond cut is right for your piece of jewelry and your budget, trust the diamond experts at Miro Jewelers to guide you through the purchase process.  Miro Jewelers is committed to giving its Denver Metro area customers a warm, welcoming, and stress-free shopping experience, so you have all the time you need to select the keepsake or gift that’s right for you. Conveniently located in Cherry Creek shopping district convenient to Denver and Centennial, Colorado, Miro Jewelers proudly serves the Littleton, Westminster, Arvada, and Lakewood, Colorado communities. Visit us today and see for yourself why Miro is the most trusted jeweler in the Denver metro area.


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