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What are the four Cs of diamonds?

Investing in assets like gold, silver and diamonds has been around for a long time. Along with being used for hedging against economic downturns, they hold emotional and traditional value. For instance, several families have a tradition of passing down jewellery from one generation to another. 

Before investing in a diamond, it’s important to understand how value is determined.

When purchasing diamonds, you need to check for four characteristics, the four Cs, to determine their quality and value. The characteristics – carat, cut, clarity and colour – help in establishing a retail value for the diamond, in accordance with industry standards.

Next time you’re in the store to purchase a diamond, remember that every quality diamond carries a certificate of authentication and is graded by a qualified expert. Additionally, we also have a fifth C that is gaining significant importance at present. 

The fifth C stands for conflict-free, signifying that the diamond has not been mined in a conflict zone. Let’s elaborate on this a little more below. 

Define the 4 Cs of diamonds

Choosing the right stone is difficult and evaluating diamond quality is crucial. You should be aware of the four Cs of diamonds meaning before any diamond buying.

Let’s look at 4 Cs of diamonds in order of importance:

  • Cut: The sparkle always draws attention toward the stone. It’s the diamond’s cut, shape and facets that make it sparkle. The higher the facets and cut, the greater the sparkle. A diamond grader generally evaluates the cutter’s skill in fashioning the diamond to determine the quality of the cut. According to the Cape Town Diamond Museum, South Africa, the most famous cut and shape is the round brilliant, which has 57 facets. A brilliantly cut diamond usually has 48 facets, but the Kohinoor (the cut version) has eight additional star-shaped facets around its culvert, making a total of 66 facets.

  • Clarity: The absence of tiny flaws gives clarity. A diamond with no clear flaws has a higher valuation. Internal flaws are referred to as inclusions, while external ones are called blemishes. Gemologists and qualified experts use a scale to determine clarity: flawless (FL) to very, very slightly included (VVS) to slightly included (SI) to included (I). There is a number gradation for each category. Diamonds without inclusions or blemishes are rare and highly valued.

  • Carat: A diamond’s physical weight is measured in carats using a metric carats system. One carat equals 200 milligrams and is subdivided into 100 points. Since the price of a diamond increases with a diamond's size, large stones are rarer. Before the Kohinoor was cut, it was the biggest diamond in the world, weighing 793 carats. 

  • Colour: Diamonds come in many hues, ranging from colourless to light yellow or light brown. While colourless diamonds are the rarest, there are other natural colour ones. These blue, red and pink variations are called fancy diamonds. Depending on hue and intensity, a diamond’s colour can either diminish or enhance its value. It can be determined by experienced and trained gemologists.

Now that we have the diamond 4 Cs explained, let us dive a little into the fifth C: conflict-free. 

Buyers, especially millennials, are playing a huge role in coining the conflict-free or blood-free diamond trend. Conflict or blood diamonds refer to stones mined in civil war-torn countries or zones. Diamond mining in those areas has been used unethically to finance a war against a government. 

At present, more than a half a dozen African nations have been tagged as conflict diamonds zones. In order to grade a diamond as conflict-free, it should be mined and refined in a place with fair pay, safe working conditions, sound environmental practices and no human rights abuse. A conflict or blood-free certificate is issued by Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS).

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