Education

The 4Cs of diamond selection

Carat Weight

The single biggest cost factor when it comes to diamonds is size – as the carat weight increases, so does the price. A one carat stone will be two and a half times the price of a half carat stone with similar cut, clarity and colour grade.

Throughout your diamond search, we can prioritise certain qualities of a stone, which you or your partner may consider to be more important than others. For example, if the carat of a stone is high on your list of priorities and you are working to a set budget, we will prioritise carat weight over other qualities such as colour or clarity.

With every diamond, we pride ourselves in finding a balance between all the 4Cs. It’s important you explain to us what it is you’re looking for in a diamond, so we can help you find it, set it – and see it sparkle.

Colour

Did you know that when a diamond is lower in colour grade, the stone has an increasing degree of yellow or brown tinge?

It’s actually a lack of colour that makes a stone more precious. Colour grades are not finite – it’s more accurate to think of the grades like brackets. Graders use a master stone which has been graded to the centre of colour, and compare and contrast every individual stone to see which window it fits into on the scale. Although the white diamond is the premium or clear diamond, it can depend on your budget as to how highly you may want to prioritise a higher colour grade.

There’s a widely held fashion tip – if you want to make your teeth look whiter, wear red lipstick. This theory works on the basis that a surrounding colour can highlight and hide different things – like the whiteness of your teeth. A slightly yellow tint to a stone which is to be set in white gold or platinum would be somewhat noticeable. It’s for this reason Whitakers would recommend you select a colour grading of G or better.

But if your stone is to be set in yellow or rose gold, a stone with a lower colour grading could also be a good choice as the naked eye is unable to pick up the subtle differences between the yellow colour in the gold and the yellow tint in the diamond. Setting a H colour graded stone in yellow gold can actually make the diamond look much brighter.

The colour of a stone and how heavily this should be weighted in your decision really depends on the context of your chosen setting. At Whitakers, we believe you should invest in things you can see as opposed to things you can’t. Come in store and speak to one of our friendly staff – they’d love to help you decide whether colour is a worthwhile investment for your selection.

Clarity

Stones are graded depending on the visibility of the marks. Think of a diamond as a 3D prism. If you zoom in closely, in some stones you’ll be able to see just a few tiny cracks inside the prism. Remembering that a diamond is like a little room of mirrors, cracks can change the way light bounces inside the prism and out to your eye. For lower graded stones, these natural growth marks can impact the passage of light.

Marks which can be seen with the naked eye are classed as either P1, P2 or P3. If marks can be seen easily with a microscope, they are graded as SI 1 or SI 2. If marks can be spotted after a few minutes using a microscope, the stone is graded as a VS1 or VS2 stone. If a jeweller has difficulty spotting marks in perfect lighting conditions under a microscope, the stone is classed as VVS or loupe clean.

Marks in the SI categories can’t be seen by the naked eye – they require 10x magnification for even a skilled jeweller to identify.

Cut

Because we would rather you invest your money in things you can see than things you can’t, we’ll help you strike the right balance between all qualities of a stone, so the ring you choose is just right.

The cut of the diamond is the X-Factor and makes all the difference between a big stone, an eye clean stone, and a stone which is truly stunning. There are five cut grades, ranging from Poor, Medium, Good, Very Good and Excellent.

Consider the role of cut in the same way you would with hair, or a suit. Hair can be richly coloured and healthy, but if someone has a terrible haircut, they just won’t look good. Similarly, a suit made of beautiful material will look terrible if it isn’t cut well. It’s exactly the same with diamonds.

You may have a beautiful large, clear, white diamond – but it won’t look stunning unless the cut is just right. They say there’s only two weeks between a good haircut and a bad one, but diamonds are forever, so it’s important to get the cut right.

A diamond is like a little room of mirrors and windows. A stone’s brilliance is determined by how well the light is let in so it can best be reflected inside the prism and out to the eye. When the light bounces around inside the prism of the diamond and back out to your eye, it creates a unique sparkle. Having a well-cut diamond ensures your room of mirrors is arranged in such a way that every surface will reflect light and direct it to create a sparkle. The better your room of mirrors is arranged, the more brilliance your stone will have.