Diamonds and the 4 C's

The value of a diamond is determined by 4 characteristics known as “The 4 C’s”. These are Carat, Colour, Clarity and Cut.

1. Carat

A Carat is the unit of measurement used when weighing a diamond. One carat is the equivalent of 0.2 grams. A diamonds’ value is greatly determined by its weight. For example, if you had two identical diamonds i.e. same colour, clarity and cut but the one weighs 1 carat and the other only half a carat, the 1-carat diamond may be worth as much as 350% more than the half carat!

2. Colour

A diamond’s colour is graded in a range from D-Z. D being truly colourless and of the highest quality. E and F are also graded as colourless while G, H, I and J are near colourless. Stones grades K, L, and M will have obvious hints of colour and as the scale approaches P you may find subtle changes in hue and tone.
The exceptions to the rule are “Fancy” diamonds in colours that include pink, blue, orange, green, and canary yellow. These are particularly rare and very valuable.

3. Clarity

The number, size and type of flaws that are contained in a diamond determine its clarity.

The following are the various clarity categories:

  • Flawless (FL) & Internally Flawless (IF) – Diamonds that reveal no flaws on the surface or internally.
  • Very, Very Small Inclusion 1 (VVS1) & Very, Very Small Inclusion 2 (VVS2) – Diamonds with minute inclusions absolutely invisible to the naked eye. Only through careful inspection with a microscope can these tiny inclusions be accurately pinpointed.
  • Very Small Inclusion 1 (VS1) & Very Small Inclusion 2 (VS2) – Diamonds with tiny inclusions difficult to locate. Only a trained eye looking through a 10X loupe can pinpoint the inclusions in this category. The inclusions are nearly impossible to see with the naked eye.
  • Small Inclusion 1 (S1) & Small Inclusion 2 (S2) – Diamonds with inclusions easily identified through a 10x loupe. Finding flaws in this category with the naked eye is difficult. The gems in this category maintain their integrity, depending on the location of the inclusions.
  • Imperfect 1 (I1) to Imperfect (I3) – Diamonds with inclusions which may or may not be easily seen by the naked eye.

4. Cut

A diamond’s colour is graded in a range from D-Z. D being truly colourless and of the highest quality. E and F are also graded as colourless while G, H, I and J are near colourless. Stones grades K, L, and M will have obvious hints of colour and as the scale approaches P you may find subtle changes in hue and tone.
The exceptions to the rule are “Fancy” diamonds in colours that include pink, blue, orange, green, and canary yellow. These are particularly rare and very valuable.

The South African Ideal Cut

The cut of a diamond is crucial to its ability to reflect light. It is the one C governed by man’s skill rather than by nature – and it has a significant influence on the value of a diamond. If a diamond is cut too deep, light escapes downwards and the centre will appear dark, absorbing rather than reflecting light. A very shallow cut results in light escaping through the base, causing the diamond to look glassy, watery and dull, even grey. However, when a diamond is cut to perfect proportions, light entering from any direction is reflected through the top of the stone giving it maximum fire and brilliance.

Every one of the 58 facets of a South African Ideal Cut diamond is masterfully cut and angled to precise specifications that reflect its true beauty and value. These criteria are based on a combination of traditional fine craftsmanship and the latest empirical evidence available. A South African Ideal Cut diamond has the ability to reflect light, resulting in a superior cut diamond.

Diamonds from Non-Conflict Zones Only

The Kimberley Process started when Southern African diamond-producing states met in Kimberley, South Africa, in May 2000, to discuss ways to stop the trade in ‘conflict diamonds’ and ensure that diamond purchases were not funding violence.

In December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a landmark resolution supporting the creation of an international certification scheme for rough diamonds. By November 2002, negotiations between governments, the international diamond industry and civil society organisations resulted in the creation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). The KPCS document sets out the requirements for controlling rough diamond production and trade. The KPCS entered into force in 2003 when participating countries started to implement its rules.

Read More about the Kimberly Process.