The four Cs
They’re the hardest substance on earth. They’re a girl’s best friend. They’re forever. In fact, there’s an awful lot to say about diamonds. But at Mappin & Webb, we prefer to simply think of diamonds as a declaration – of love, of loyalty, of sheer, spontaneous happiness.
But before you go about choosing that perfect diamond, we think it’s important you understand exactly what it is you’re buying. So we’ve put together this guide to assist you as you start looking.
There are four main criteria to bear in mind, when buying your diamond. For convenience’ sake, we call them the ‘Four Cs’. These are cut, colour, clarity and caratweight (of course there is another C, cost, but we’ll leave that for you to decide).
When we think of diamonds, we usually think of them as totally colourless. And, while these are the rarest and most valuable, they come in a whole range of other colours, like pink, blue or green. These are also very rare and, needless to say, very valuable.
We use the alphabet to grade colour. ‘D’ denotes colourless, and we move along the alphabet as any colour gets more visible.
Being the world’s hardest natural substance, a diamond takes a lot of cutting – and a huge amount of skill, too. Transforming a diamond from its natural, rough state to a glittering, perfect jewel can take weeks, even months.
And, rather like a good suit, the cut is hugely important. A diamond that’s cut to good proportions handles light better, creating more brilliance and sparkle – and, of course, commands a higher value.
Clarity is graded based on the number, location, size and type of 'inclusions'. These are nature's birthmarks and are sometimes referred to as 'flaws'.
Most diamonds contain miniscule inclusions that make each and every one unique.
These inclusions neither mar the beauty nor endanger the durability of a diamond, although a stone will sparkle more the fewer and smaller the inclusions are.
Like all precious stones, diamonds are weighed in carats. Originally, they were measured with carob seeds, and this may be where the word 'carat' comes from.
Later the system became more scientific, and one carat was standardised at 0.2 grams.
Fewer than 5% of diamonds used in jewellery weigh more than a carat. Most are weighed in hundredths of a carat, or 'points'. So 50 points is a half of a carat, or 0.50 carats.