- October 11th, 2011
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Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Diamonds are forever. Whatever cliché comes to mind when you think of diamonds, the fact is that they remain one of the most romantic—and expensive—stones on the market. That makes them a perfect gift for just about any woman. Whether you’re buying for a special lady in your life or treating yourself, choosing the perfect diamond requires a working knowledge of the four C’s: cut, color, clarity, and carat weight.
When jewelers speak of cut, they’re not talking about the shape of the diamond necessarily. They’re referring instead to the angles and facets of the stone after it has been handled by the cutter. A well-cut diamond sparkles because the various surfaces reflect light back and forth, giving the stone that brilliant quality that takes your breath away. If the diamond has been cut too deep or too shallow, it will not reflect light as well, leaving even a quality stone looking dull.
A perfect diamond is completely colorless. It is also quite rare and therefore, quite expensive. From colorless, diamonds progress in color all the way to light yellow. While white or colorless diamonds are the most popular, those with a slight tinge of color will be less expensive. Often, the color is not pronounced enough to be noticeable, especially when paired with the setting.
A diamond’s clarity refers to whether or not it contains “inclusions” such as other minerals or tiny imperfections. Clarity is gauged on a scale, with SI1 and SI2 referring to diamonds with no inclusions visible to the naked eye. The higher the clarity, the more expensive the diamond will be. Clarity can also affect a diamond’s brilliance, especially as you progress further down the scale, so try to stay in the SI1 or SI2 range if at all possible.
The final consideration for your diamond purchase is its carat weight. The heavier a stone, the larger and more expensive it will be. How important carat weight is depends on your budget and whether you are more interested in a big flashy diamond or a nearly perfect diamond. If you are limited in how much you can spend, you may be willing to sacrifice quality for size or vice versa, a choice that is entirely personal.
The next time you purchase a diamond, having a working knowledge of these essential diamond characteristics will prepare you to understand what the jeweler tells you about the stone you’re interested in. You’ll also be a more satisfied customer as you come to appreciate the true value of the stone you buy.