The Four C's
The value of a diamond is determined by its carat weight, cut, color and clarity, called simply the Four C’s. Each category is explained in more detail below.
A carat is a measurement of a diamond’s or other gemstone’s weight (not be confused with karat, the measure of the purity of gold). One carat is equal to 1/5 of a gram.
Carat weights are quoted in points. There are 100 points in a one carat diamond, written as 1 ct., while a half carat diamond is 50 points, expressed as .50 ct. Carats are further classified as light or heavy. Light half carats begin at .46 ct. and a heavy half carats finish at .59 ct. Light carats start at .90 ct. and heavy ones finish at 1.19 ct.
A larger diamond is usually more valuable, but not always. You need to consider the cut, color and clarity of the diamond as well. In fact, a smaller but more brilliant diamond could be a better choice for you.
The least understood of the Four C’s, the cut of the diamond is also the most important. Unlike colored gems, which absorb light, diamonds reflect light. Cut to correct proportions, diamonds will emit brilliant flashes of color known as fire. Cut poorly, they will appear dark, even though they may be very “white”—or clear—stones.
At the turn of the 20th century, a Russian mathematician, Marcel Tolkowsky, figured out how to cut diamonds in a way that maximized their fire and brilliance. Tolkowsky’s proportions still form the basis of today’s “ideal cut,” the most sought-after diamond cut, but also the most difficult to achieve. Dodson’s diamonds are very well cut, with most being ideal or near ideal.
In addition to the cut, two other factors affecting a diamond’s radiance are often overlooked: symmetry and polish. The 58 facets, or faces, of a round diamond should line up correctly next to each other in perfect symmetry. In fact, most diamonds’ facets do not have perfect symmetry, but when a diamond is cut well the result is a stone of spectacular brilliance.
A diamond’s polish is often compared to the paint job of a car. You may have a brand-new Mercedes, but if the paint job is terrible the car loses some of its appeal. The same is true of the polish of a diamond—poor polishing can mar an otherwise beautifully cut stone. At Dodson’s, we only carry diamonds that feature the very best symmetry and polish.
People usually think of diamonds as being clear stone. Many are, but diamonds can also be yellow, brown, gray, or silver. The Gemological Institute of America classifies diamonds’ color using the grading chart, above. The D-F category designates colorless diamonds, which are considered the very best, while G to J diamonds are near colorless. Interestingly, it’s much more difficult to see the color difference between a D and an F diamond than it is between a G and a J.
We believe that a colorless or near colorless diamond, in an ideal or near ideal cut, makes for a stone of extraordinary beauty, which is why most of our diamonds are in the D to H range.
Most diamonds contain tiny natural marks called inclusions. The incredible heat and pressure that creates diamonds also forms these inclusions, which appear as feathers, cracks, pinpoints, and crystals.
As with color grading, the Gemological Institute of America created nomenclature to standardize the description of diamond clarity (see clarity chart, above). As you can see in the chart, clarity ratings can range from Imperfect to Flawless, with varying degrees of clarity within the categories other than Flawless. The number of inclusions, their size and location all affect the diamond’s clarity grade.
With the naked eye, most people can’t see inclusions found in diamonds ranging from Flawless to some Imperfect (I1). We don’t think it makes sense to pay for a diamond with a VVS or VS grade when an SI—Slight Inclusions–or even Imperfect diamond will look the same, especially if a diamond with some inclusions is beautifully cut.
In the end, we think you’ll find your best value by worrying less about inclusions and focusing more on well-cut diamonds that are colorless or near colorless.
Dodson’s certifies its diamonds so you know you’re getting only the very best stones, regardless of price. All of our Dodson Diamonds are certified for clarity, color, and cut by our own Certified Gemologists. In addition, most of our diamonds have received independent certification from one of three of the top labs in the world: AGS, GIA, and EGL-LA.