What Makes One Diamond More Valuable Than Another?

We’ve seen the evolution of the diamond. Since we opened in 1891, we’ve witnessed new cuts emerge and old ones become classics. Each cut has its own personality, which makes choosing the type of diamond shape an important part of finding the perfect diamond for each special occasion. Whichever shape you select, be assured that it represents outstanding quality and value.

Even The Most Humble Diamonds Are Rare

Two hundred and fifty tons of earth must be moved to produce a one carat polished diamond. It requires on average a 3 1/2 carat rough diamond to produce a 1 carat polished diamond. Of all the diamonds ever discovered, only a small percentage is of gem quality. Diamond is the hardest substance known to man, so it is highly prized for its uses in mining and manufacturing as well as in jewelry.

The 4 C’s – Cut

The beauty and value of a diamond rests partially in the hands of the craftsman. A vital aspect of a diamond’s value is cut. The quality of the cut determines its fire, or brilliance. A well cut diamond maximizes the reflection of light. The proper angle and symmetry of the facets, in conjunction with the stone’s polish, unleash the diamond’s fire and enhances its natural beauty. Therefore, the more delicate and precise a cut is, the more the diamond will sparkle and the more brilliant it will be.

The 4C's Cuts - Shallow, ideal and too deep diamond cuts illustration

The 4 C’s – Clarity

Like people, all diamonds are unique. As diamonds are being formed, small amounts of minerals are trapped in them during the crystallization process. These mineral characteristics identify individual diamonds, much like fingerprints do for people. Called “inclusions”, their locations, number, sizes and color determine the diamond’s value. The fewer imposing inclusions there are, the higher the clarity of the diamond. It will reflect more light, and the diamond will be deemed more valuable. A diamond without visible inclusions is a rare act of nature. It will return the most light to the eye, since there is nothing to distort the light’s path.

Free from all inclusions and blemishes, even under magnification.
Minute inclusions which are extremely difficult to see under 10x.
Minute inclusions which are very difficult to see under 10x magnification.
Minor inclusions which are difficult to see face up under 10x magnification.
Minor inclusions which are somewhat easy to see face up under 10x magnification.
Inclusions which can only be seen under 10x magnification.
Inclusions which can be easily seen under 10x magnification.
Obvious inclusions under 10x magnification. Inclusions are visible to the unaided eye.
Obvious inclusions which are easily visible to the unaided eye.
Prominent inclusions which are very easily visible to the unaided eye.

Characteristics Which Affect Diamond Clarity:

Cleavage or feather, occurs along atomic grain Fracture, irregular crystal break Included crystal Carbon spot, included crystal (dark) Pinpoint, small included crystal (white) Cloud, group of pinpoints Internal grain line Laser drill hole Bearded or Feathered girdle, minute to small hairline fractures extended from the girdle into the stone Natural, unpolished surface, original “skin” of the rough diamond Pit, small indentation on a facet surface Cavity, opening on surface nick, minor surface chip Grain/Twinning line, irregularity in atomic grain, the crystal growth Scratch, small groove Abraded facet junction, can be from normal wear

The 4 C’s – Color

Diamond is the only gemstone prized for its lack of color. Color is graded against a set of master stones under a special light which simulates northern sunlight. While many diamonds appear colorless, subtle differences exist, and diamonds may have subtle yellow or brown tones. A tint of yellow or brown in a diamond is due to nitrogen trapped inside. How close a diamond is to colorless determines its value, so the less color a diamond has, the more valuable it is.

Very rarely, some diamonds have intensely strong colors. The strong colors of these diamonds, termed “Fancies”, exist due to trace elements being trapped in the diamonds. The colors can include the entire spectrum. These “Fancy” diamonds are often more valuable than even a colorless diamond.

Note: Colors pictured above are exaggerated in order to illustrate color differences in diamonds. These colors do not reflect natural diamond colors.

The 4 C’s – Weight in Carats

What does the unit carat represent?

Interestingly enough, it is the weight of one carab seed, a product of the locust tree. These seeds are nearly uniform in weight and therefore were used by early gem traders as a unit of weight by which to measure their diamonds.

Carat weight is the physical weight of the diamond. A carat is a unit of weight measurement for diamonds and colored gemstones. One carat is divided into 100 points, with each point equaling 1/100th (.01) of a carat (ct.). Larger diamonds are not only more rare, but they also enhance all the other characteristics. In a large diamond, clarity, cut and color all work together to show the brilliance and fire of a diamond. However, among large and small diamonds, the smaller could be more valuable if it has a better cut, color and clarity.
This is a chart that explains the range of acceptable carat weights (points) used in our fractional descriptions. Since no two diamonds are exactly alike, diamond carat weights must fall within the decimal range listed in this chart for specific fractional descriptions to be used to describe the weight of diamonds in a particular piece of our jewelry.