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  The 4 C's of Diamonds

  • By: www.bidz.com
  • Bidz, Inc.

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    The value of a diamond is determined by its Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat, also known as the classic "Four C's". Understanding such criteria as diamond grading reports, and the factors effecting a diamond's cost will help the buyer make a confident and sound decision when making a purchase.

    Deciding on a shape is a very important step in the selection process of your diamond. Following are some examples of the classic shapes of diamonds:

    The round brilliant diamond is the most popular diamond shape, the most brilliant of all the cuts, and is the most expensive. 

Round diamonds are most often found in engagement rings and are popular as stud earrings and in pendants. Most people like the Princess because it is rectangular and yet has some of the sparkle of a Round brilliant cut. 

The princess cut may have either 50 facets (21 crown, 4 girdle, 25 pavilion) or 58 facets (21 crown, 4 girdle, 33 pavilion), depending on how the pavilion is cut. This cut is most frequently a square shape where the length to width ratio is 1.0 to 1.1. 

The princess cut tends to be the smallest of the shapes for the same carat weight since the cut is basically an upside-down pyramid with most of the carat weight in the pavilion. Princess cut requires great care when setting and needs to be protected to avoid chipping or cracking. Ovals provide a bigger surface area than a round with the same carat weight and therefore are an excellent option for shoppers looking for a brilliance of the round but a bigger size for their dollar. 

Usually oval cut has the standard 58 facet pattern. Look for even, well rounded ends with a full body having an optimal length-to-width ratio of 1.33-1.66. The emerald cut is not a brilliant cut, but is called a step cut. Step cuts are comprised of larger facets which act like mirrors. Because of the angle, size and shape of the facets, the emerald cut shows less brilliance than the other brilliant cut diamonds. 

However, the emerald cut stone reveals a classic beauty and elegance not seen in other cuts. Because of the open and large facets, we recommend a higher color and clarity than you might consider for a brilliant cut stone because they are more likely to become visible at lower grades. The Pear Shaped Brilliant is a combination of a Round brilliant and a Marquise cut. 

The pear shape usually has the 58 facet brilliant pattern, but can be cut with different numbers of pavilion mains of 8,7,6, or 4 facets. In a pear, look for a well-shaped point and an even shaped opposite end with a length-to-width ratio of 1.50-1.75. 

Pear-shaped diamonds work great for pendants and drop earrings.
    Round Princess Oval Emerald Pear
    The heart shape is a brilliant cut and bears some similarity to the pear shape, except that there is a cleft at the top. 

It is important to look for a perfectly symmetrical appearance where the lobes (top arches) are of even height and breadth, and the overall shape is pleasing to the eye. The name 'Marquise' came from a legend of the Marquise of Pompadour that the Sun King wanted a Diamond to be polished into the shape of the mouth of the Marquise! 

The marquise is typicaly cut into 58 facet standard brilliant (33 crown, 25 pavilion), the same as the round brilliant. The crown cut is sometimes modified in the marquise to form what is called a 'French Tip', where the bezel facet at the point of the stone is eliminated. Marquise diamonds frequently display a bow tie, so try to find a stone in which this is minimal or absent. The marquise has a very big surface area for the carat weight so it's an excellent option if you want a big, long look for less dollars. The trillion cut was developed in the late seventies. 

The trillion is a triangle that has equilateral sides. It is a combination cut of the step and the brilliant cut diamond and when cut correctly has a wonderful brilliance. It is often cut shallow and often looks large for its carat weight. 

Trillion diamonds are beautiful when flanking a center diamond, or in a more advante-guarde piece as a center diamond. A matched pair also create beautiful earrings. The baguette is a step cut style used frequently as a side stone. 

Baguettes have unbeveled corners, usually only two rows of facets, and may be rectangular or tapered. Like the emerald cut, the baguette does not have the sparkle of a brilliant cut but has a classic beauty. 

Higher color and clarity are important because there are not facets to hide inclusions or body color.
    Heart Marquise Trillion Baguette


    Cut refers to the proportions and shape of the finished diamond, and is the most important factor in determining the brilliance of a diamond. A classic round brilliant cut diamond has 58 facets - 33 on the top, 24 on the bottom and the culet ( 1 point at the bottom - another tiny facet ).

    The finished diamond should be symmetrical. The table should be symmetrical, well-centered, and flat, not sloping. The cutlet should be centered when viewed from the top. The crown and pavilion facets should be in exact geometric relation to one another. And, the girdle should be perfectly round exhibiting a straight edge when viewed from the side.


    Too Shallow
    Diamonds that are cut too thin or shallow allow the light to pass through the sides of the diamond and appear lifeless, dull, or flat in the center.


    Too Deep
    Diamonds that are cut too deep or high do not reflect enough light back through the top of the diamond and appear to be dark in the center.