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The 4 C’s

Before making the decision to purchase a diamond, you should understand the 4C’s – Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat. All diamonds are graded using the 4C’s grading system to determine quality. The combination of these four characteristics is what makes each and every diamond unique and beautiful.

Diamond Color

Although diamonds come in variety of colors including yellows, blues, greens, and reds, white diamonds are the most sought after. Diamond color grade is actually based on a diamond’s lack of color, or “whiteness.” While white diamonds tend to have a slight yellow tint, the most valuable are completely clear and colorless.

Color is graded on an alphabetical scale from “D” to “Z”.

Did You Know?The untrained eye might not notice a major difference in quality between grade levels, however the difference in price can be substantial. Therefore, by choosing a diamond in one of the middle grade ranges (G-I) you are typically getting the best value.

Use the interactive scale below to see if you can tell the difference in color grades yourself.

Colorless

Colorless D

No color. Appears completely clear under 10x magnification. Recommended paired with platinum, white gold or palladium. These metals emphasize the lack of color.ed-dmd-k-color.color

Colorless E

No visible color. Can only be discerned from a D graded diamond by a gemologist in side-by-side comparison. Set in platinum, white gold or palladium to emphasize the lack of color.ed-dmd-d-color.color

Colorless F

No visible color. Can only be discerned from D and E graded diamonds by a gemologist in side-by-side comparison. Set in platinum, white gold or palladium to emphasize the lack of color.ed-dmd-d-color.color

Near-Colorless

Near-Colorless G

Very subtle traces of color, typically visible only in side-by-side comparison. Will look stunning in a variety of metals, although yellow gold will neutralize any color in the diamond.

ed-dmd-g-color.color

Near-Colorless H

Subtle traces of color, typically visible only in side-by-side comparison. Suitable for both white and yellow metal settings. Yellow gold will neutralize any visible color in the diamond.

ed-dmd-g-color.color

Near-Colorless I

Subtle traces of color, sometimes detected by the unaided eye. Suitable for both white and yellow metal settings. Yellow gold will neutralize any visible color in the diamond.

ed-dmd-g-color.color

Near-Colorless J

Subtle traces of color, sometimes detected by the unaided eye. Suitable for both white and yellow metal settings. Yellow gold will neutralize any visible color in the diamond.ed-dmd-g-color.color

Faint Yellow

Faint Yellow K

A yellow tint may be detectable without magnification. A warmer colored diamond may appeal, so be sure to consider your personal taste. A yellow gold setting may help to neutralize the hue.

ed-dmd-k-color.color

Faint Yellow L

A yellow tint may be detectable without magnification. These slightly colored diamonds may appeal, so be sure to consider your personal taste. A yellow gold setting may help to neutralize the hue.

ed-dmd-k-color.color

Faint Yellow M-Z

A yellow or brown tint is clear to the unaided eye. Their visible color makes these diamonds much more affordable. Set them in yellow gold for a warm, colorful look.

ed-dmd-k-color.color

Diamond Clarity

Clarity grade is a measure of the number and size of minor flaws or “inclusions” that a diamond contains. An inclusion is any spot, scratch, bubble, or line that occurred when the diamond was still being formed deep in the earth. Nearly every diamond has inclusions, but most inclusions are not visible to the naked eye. Gem laboratories use a magnifying glass (at 10x magnification) to determine the amount, size, position, nature, and color of the inclusions. The clarity of diamonds ranges from “flawless” to “included”.

Did You Know?You should avoid diamonds with visible flaws that affect their overall beauty or durability, but it is not necessary to select a flawless diamond. To make sure that your diamond has no visible flaws, we recommend stones with a grade of SI2 or higher. However, some SI diamonds can provide great value as many are virtually flawless to the naked eye.

Use the interactive scale below to distinguish between clarity grades.

FL, IF

These rare diamonds contain no flaws (FL) or only very insignificant blemishes (IF) when viewed under 10x magnification.    ed-clarity-1-fl-if.clar

VVS1, VVS2

The tiny inclusions in these stones are very difficult to see, even at 10x magnification.ed-clarity-2-vvs1-vvs2.clar

VS1, VS2 (Very Slightly Included)

These stones contain inclusions that are visible only under 10x magnification.ed-clarity-3-vs1-vs2.clar

SI1, SI2 (Slightly Included)

Diamonds at this level have inclusions that are clearly visible under magnification and may be visible without magnification.

ed-clarity-4-si1-si2.clar

ed-clarity-5-i1-i2-i3.clarI1, I2, I3 (Included or Imperfect)

In these diamonds, the inclusions are clearly visible without magnification.

Diamond Cut

Cut is often considered the most important of the four C’s because it determines the brilliance of the diamond. The more light reflected throughout the diamond, the greater the brilliance or sparkle.

At Solomon Brothers, we cut and polish our own diamonds to ensure greater quality. Our cutters use sophisticated computerized systems to measure the light-reflecting qualities of our stones and create superior brilliance.

Cut has three key components you should be aware of – Depth and Width, Symmetry, and Grade.

Depth And Width

If the cut is too shallow, light will leak out of the bottom of the diamond; too deep and light will reflect out of the side of the diamond. An “ideal cut” diamond is neither too shallow nor too deep, ensuring that no light will escape.

Symmetry

The symmetry of a diamond is defined by the alignment of its many facets (or surfaces) in relation to one another. An “ideal cut” diamond has all facets positioned in perfect geometric relation to the others, allowing light to bounce from facet to facet before returning through the top of the diamond back to your eyes.

Did You Know? A classic “round brilliant” cut includes a total of 58 perfectly aligned facets.

Grade

Leading gem laboratories such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the European Gemological Laboratory (EGL USA) grade diamonds according to the quality of their cut. They are graded on a scale from “poor” to “excellent”. Use the interactive scale below to further understand the differences in cut grades.

At Solomon Brothers, we use our state-of-the-art OGI Firetrace analyzer to ensure superior accuracy as we assess each diamond. This instrument gives us a sophisticated, computerized analysis that measures the diamond, mathematically simulates its light-reflecting properties, and determines how much “life” is in the stone. With our OGI Firetrace analysis, you know the exact properties of the diamond you are considering.

Excellent (Ideal)

An ideal diamond will display the maximum amount of reflected light. Because symmetry plays such an important role, only “round” diamonds (as opposed to specialty shapes) can be graded as “excellent”    ed-cut-excellent.cut

 

Very Good (Nearly “ideal”)

These diamonds reflect up to 90% of the light that enters them. They are exceptionally well-cut diamonds creating an exquisite stone. Good – Because these diamonds still reflect a good portion of the light that enters the stone, they make very attractive engagement rings.ed-cut-nearideal.cet

Good

Because these diamonds still reflect a good portion of the light that enters the stone, they make very attractive engagement rings.good.cut

Fair

These stones will reflect approximately 40% of the light that enters. While the size of the diamond can mean good value for money, the stone will lack high brilliance.fair.cut

Poor

Although less brilliant than other diamonds and therefore not recommended for engagement rings, these still create a lovely effect in earrings and pendants and often represent excellent value.poor.cut

Carat Weight

Contrary to popular belief, carat refers to the weight of the diamond, not necessarily the size. The size is measured in millimeters across the top, as that is how it is viewed when set in a ring. But just as cut grade depends on depth and width, carat weight depends on both factors as well. Two diamonds that appear to be the same size can have different depths and ultimately different carat weights.

Since all diamonds must be cut and polished to remove the outer layer of “rough”, large carat diamonds are understandably rare. Sometimes a diamond is cut to maximize carat weight, resulting in less brilliance or sparkle. Bigger might not be better after all.

Did You Know?Diamond prices noticeably increase at the full- and half-carat weights. If you are looking for a 1-carat diamond for example, you should consider 0.98 or 0.99-carat diamonds because they will appear to be the same size but you can potentially save big.

Use the interactive scale below to help you choose the carat weight that is right for you.

Carat 0.25

1 carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. Because carat is a record of a diamond’s weight – not its size – two diamonds of slightly different sizes may have the same carat weight. A diamond’s size is also dependent on how evenly its weight is distributed, and the quality of its cut. Some diamonds are cut to maximize carat weight, resulting in less sparkle. A balance of quality in carat and cut is therefore recommended.

For the best value, look at diamonds slightly lighter than the carat weight you initially want. For example, instead of 1-carat diamonds, consider 0.98 and 0.99-carat diamonds. The difference in size will be negligible, but savings here can be significant.ed-carat-0-25

Carat 0.33

1 carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. Because carat is a record of a diamond’s weight – not its size – two diamonds of slightly different sizes may have the same carat weight. A diamond’s size is also dependent on how evenly its weight is distributed, and the quality of its cut. Some diamonds are cut to maximize carat weight, resulting in less sparkle. A balance of quality in carat and cut is therefore recommended.

For the best value, look at diamonds slightly lighter than the carat weight you initially want. For example, instead of 1-carat diamonds, consider 0.98 and 0.99-carat diamonds. The difference in size will be negligible, but savings here can be significant.ed-carat-0-33

Carat 0.50ed-carat-0-50

1 carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. Because carat is a record of a diamond’s weight – not its size – two diamonds of slightly different sizes may have the same carat weight. A diamond’s size is also dependent on how evenly its weight is distributed, and the quality of its cut. Some diamonds are cut to maximize carat weight, resulting in less sparkle. A balance of quality in carat and cut is therefore recommended.

For the best value, look at diamonds slightly lighter than the carat weight you initially want. For example, instead of 1-carat diamonds, consider 0.98 and 0.99-carat diamonds. The difference in size will be negligible, but savings here can be significant.

Carat 0.75

1 carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. Because carat is a record of a diamond’s weight – not its size – two diamonds of slightly different sizes may have the same carat weight. A diamond’s size is also dependent on how evenly its weight is distributed, and the quality of its cut. Some diamonds are cut to maximize carat weight, resulting in less sparkle. A balance of quality in carat and cut is therefore recommended.

For the best value, look at diamonds slightly lighter than the carat weight you initially want. For example, instead of 1-carat diamonds, consider 0.98 and 0.99-carat diamonds. The difference in size will be negligible, but savings here can be significant.ed-carat-0-75

Carat 1.00

1 carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. Because carat is a record of a diamond’s weight – not its size – two diamonds of slightly different sizes may have the same carat weight. A diamond’s size is also dependent on how evenly its weight is distributed, and the quality of its cut. Some diamonds are cut to maximize carat weight, resulting in less sparkle. A balance of quality in carat and cut is therefore recommended.

For the best value, look at diamonds slightly lighter than the carat weight you initially want. For example, instead of 1-carat diamonds, consider 0.98 and 0.99-carat diamonds. The difference in size will be negligible, but savings here can be significant.ed-carat-1-0

Carat 1.5

1 carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. Because carat is a record of a diamond’s weight – not its size – two diamonds of slightly different sizes may have the same carat weight. A diamond’s size is also dependent on how evenly its weight is distributed, and the quality of its cut. Some diamonds are cut to maximize carat weight, resulting in less sparkle. A balance of quality in carat and cut is therefore recommended.

For the best value, look at diamonds slightly lighter than the carat weight you initially want. For example, instead of 1-carat diamonds, consider 0.98 and 0.99-carat diamonds. The difference in size will be negligible, but savings here can be significant.ed-carat-1-5

Carat 2.00

1 carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. Because carat is a record of a diamond’s weight – not its size – two diamonds of slightly different sizes may have the same carat weight. A diamond’s size is also dependent on how evenly its weight is distributed, and the quality of its cut. Some diamonds are cut to maximize carat weight, resulting in less sparkle. A balance of quality in carat and cut is therefore recommended.

For the best value, look at diamonds slightly lighter than the carat weight you initially want. For example, instead of 1-carat diamonds, consider 0.98 and 0.99-carat diamonds. The difference in size will be negligible, but savings here can be significant.ed-carat-2

Carat 3.00

1 carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. Because carat is a record of a diamond’s weight – not its size – two diamonds of slightly different sizes may have the same carat weight. A diamond’s size is also dependent on how evenly its weight is distributed, and the quality of its cut. Some diamonds are cut to maximize carat weight, resulting in less sparkle. A balance of quality in carat and cut is therefore recommended.

For the best value, look at diamonds slightly lighter than the carat weight you initially want. For example, instead of 1-carat diamonds, consider 0.98 and 0.99-carat diamonds. The difference in size will be negligible, but savings here can be significant.ed-carat-3

Carat 4.00

1 carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. Because carat is a record of a diamond’s weight – not its size – two diamonds of slightly different sizes may have the same carat weight. A diamond’s size is also dependent on how evenly its weight is distributed, and the quality of its cut. Some diamonds are cut to maximize carat weight, resulting in less sparkle. A balance of quality in carat and cut is therefore recommended.

For the best value, look at diamonds slightly lighter than the carat weight you initially want. For example, instead of 1-carat diamonds, consider 0.98 and 0.99-carat diamonds. The difference in size will be negligible, but savings here can be significant.ed-carat-4

Carat 5.00

1 carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. Because carat is a record of a diamond’s weight – not its size – two diamonds of slightly different sizes may have the same carat weight. A diamond’s size is also dependent on how evenly its weight is distributed, and the quality of its cut. Some diamonds are cut to maximize carat weight, resulting in less sparkle. A balance of quality in carat and cut is therefore recommended.

For the best value, look at diamonds slightly lighter than the carat weight you initially want. For example, instead of 1-carat diamonds, consider 0.98 and 0.99-carat diamonds. The difference in size will be negligible, but savings here can be significant.ed-carat-5

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