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Diamond 4C's: Choosing the Perfect Combination
At England Diamond, we believe there's a perfect diamond for every occasion. We also understand that your diamond is an investment, and one that likely will become a family heirloom in years to come. This comprehensive guide was incepted to simplify the process of choosing an “ideal” diamond that meets your need. We've also compounded this information into bite-size chunks with weekly Diamond Recommendations, which can be found here. Our diamond expert selects prime examples from the many thousands of diamonds in our catalogue of stock, based on the characteristics and value we feel will best match your requirements.
Diamonds By Occasion
Like fingerprints, every diamond is unique to the next, and they're available to buy in thousands of different specifications. So, how do you know which diamond specification is right for you? Firstly, never lose sight of the motivation behind your purchase. A recommended diamond specification for a romantic proposal will differ somewhat to that for investment purpose. Our diamond expert suggests the following depending on the motivation for your purchase:
1. Engagements & Weddings: Go for a visibly perfect diamond
2. Investment & Heirloom: Consider Rarity
3. Value: Demand and liquidity
4. Fashion Wear: Go for Brilliance, Fire, and Durability
5. A Gift For a Friend/ Girlfriend: Budget dependent, however, at least one of the 4 Cs should be of highest grade.
1. For Engagements and Weddings:
Visual perfection should always be a leading consideration when shopping for an engagement or wedding ring. After all, your choice is intended to represent your perfect relationship, and will be a constant reminder to your intended every day for the rest of her life! But, acquiring a “visual perfect” stone doesn’t mean you must stretch your budget to buy a flawless, colorless, top cut diamond.
The nuances between colour variation, clarity, proportion and polish are often extremely subtle, meaning they are difficult to be picked up on by the naked eye, especially with the absence of side by side comparison. So long as your purchases is above the minimum specifications listed below, your diamond shall shine and dance just “perfect”. And with the extra budget you saved, you can now buy a even bigger diamond.
Recommended Minimum Specifications
Colour: D to G
Clarity: VS2 or better
Carat: Budget dependent
Symmetry: Very good or Excellent
Polish: Very good or Excellent
Fluorescence: None to Faint (for D to F color), Faint to Medium (for G)
Some jewellers will advise diamonds of 3EX calibre (Excellent Cut, Symmetry and Polish) for Cut grade. However, in terms of visual quality, so long as the cut is of Excellent grade, even though symmetry and polish are merely “Very Good”, the fire, brilliance and scintillation given off by the stone will still be visually “excellent”.
Fluorescence should be “none” to “Medium” if your chosen colour grade falls between D to G. Although rare, some diamonds with exceptionally strong fluorescence can be “milky” in appearance. However, for diamonds graded at G or lower, a faint to medium fluorescence is still aesthetically acceptable, since its presence actually makes the diamond appear whiter.
Every diamond we ship is fully inspected by a GIA accredited expert in accordance with its GIA report so that we can offer you quality assurance. We are committed to filtering out the treated diamonds that are detected by the GIA, since there are some which are heat-treated to change their colour from yellow to white. In doing this, we can guarantee you not only the most visibly perfect diamond possible, but also a natural one.
2. For Investment or Heirloom:
Diamonds haven't quite seen the same popularity as gold and silver over the past decade, but their potential still makes them a worthwhile investment – if you know how to pick the right stone.
Rare and precious diamonds will obviously be more appreciated and valuable in time, but what makes a rare diamond? The majority of rare diamonds exceed 1 carat, and the other 3C’s are usually of the highest grade.
Colour choice should be limited to D for pure colourlessness, and at this colour purity level, your choice of fluorescence should be “none” to avoid any impact on transparency. Since it is very difficult to find diamonds that are completely flawless (FL), stones graded at IF (Internally Flawless) are still acceptable. Cut grade, symmetry, polish must be graded by GIA as excellent for the sake of optimal brilliance, fire, scintillation, and finish.
Recommended Minimum Specifications for a Rare Diamond
Clarity: FL or IF
Carat: bigger than 1.0
If you’re looking for an exceptionally rare diamond, you may wish to consider natural fancy colour diamonds, available in a wide range of hues such as red, pink, green, blue, brown, intense yellow, and many more. Fancy diamonds can be more expensive than regular colourless diamonds, and prices can exceed tens of thousands of dollars. If you are interested in such a stone, please contact us for further information. The grading system for fancy diamonds is quite different to the regular 4C’s standard, and our GIA accredited diamond experts are here to help.
3. For Value and Popularity
When we refer to diamond’s value, we are discussing both a diamond's resale value, and the ease by which it can be resold. Naturally, fluctuations in interest rates, fashion trends and exclusivity will all have some bearing upon the liquidity of a diamond over many years, as will its condition. By looking at some hard data, you can see the demand for the key 4C combinations, and decide how easy it is for resale through your own network or through a retailer.
The above table is compiled by England Diamond, and combine recent sales data for both the US and China - respectively the biggest and 2nd biggeest diamond market in the world.
4. For Fashion Wear
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and if you want to be noticed, the ultimate way to do so is to choose a diamond with maximum bling factor. If you're buying a diamond piece purely as a stylish fashion accessory, you'll undoubtedly want to source the biggest and flashiest diamond that gives off optimal fire and brilliance. But, this doesn't have to mean paying over the odds for carat weight, if you're prepared to make adjustment on the 4Cs choice.
It must be stressed that opting for slightly lower clarity grade only slightly impacts the aesthetic beauty of a diamond to the naked eye. And as discussed previously, the fire, brilliance and scintillation of diamond that has minor inclusions will not be noticeably impacted, as long as the cut is of an Excellent grade. This is why you should never compromise on cut grade. Always opt for a Cut grade that is Excellent.
Colour, however, is a personal choice. Some people actually prefer yellow hued diamonds, since they are still very pretty and different. If you are seeking a larger diamond with a higher carat weight, you can afford to compromise on colour quality. Our recommendation to choose a color up to J grade (lowest grade of the “near colourless” grade), which shows a very faint yellow that is still hard to see at a distance or in the absence of side by side comparison. With other specifications at low priority, your available budget will increase the size options available to you.
Something else you might want to consider if intending to wear your jewellery on a daily basis is girdle width. Those with active lifestyles would be wise to consider a diamond with a thicker girdle (but not too thick), since there is less likelihood of it being damaged when caught on material, or if it comes into contact with a hard surface. Contrary to general perception, even diamonds, the hardest stones on earth, can chip at their anatomic “weak spots”.
Colour: J or higher
Clarity: SI1 or higher
Carat: As high as your budget allows
Polish: Very Good or Excellent
Girdle Width: Must be higher than VTN (Very Thin), but not thicker than STK (Slightly thick)
Fluorescence: None (D to F color), Faint to Medium (G to L)
5. For Gifting
Buying diamonds as a gift for a friend, girlfriend or partner will allow a little more freedom of choice according to budget, however, you should still strive to get the best possible quality for your money. Obviously your primary consideration should be the intended recipient's personal style/ individual taste, but you should also look for diamonds of a certain quality standard. A surprising number of people are quite familiar with the 4 Cs of diamonds, so you'd do well to steer clear of anything of low quality to avoid embarrassment.
So, still shop with extreme care. At least one of the 4 Cs should be Excellent grade (D for colour, IF for clarity, Excellent for cut) to make it a worthwhile and valued gift. Carat will depend on your budget, although it is always wise to opt for a slightly larger carat if the gift is for someone of particular importance or a milestone occasion (such as a birthday/ anniversary).
England Diamond offers the following recommendations (at different carat sizes) to aid in finding a gift within your budget:
· All Perfect Diamond (all 4C’s are of the top quality): An all perfect diamond should conform to the very best of GIA grades, being completely internally flawless and colourless, whilst also giving off top brilliance, fire and scintillation.
· Top Cut Diamond: Best cut grade as per GIA guidelines, with optimal colour and clarity
· Totally Colourless Diamond: A diamond with the best colour grade, with very good clarity and cut.
· Flawless Diamond: A diamond of the best clarity grade (IF- internally flawless), with decent cut and colour.
All our loose diamonds are supplied in a beautiful presentation package, so if you choose not to opt for a ring setting, this will still make a captivating gift. In fact, sometimes it is a more thoughtful way of gifting a diamond if you aren't too certain about the recipient's tastes. For every loose diamond that has any of its C’s at the highest level, England Diamond will automatically issue a card of endorsement, which will then serve as a highlight to the quality of the diamond to the gift receiver.
Other Important Considerations
You may feel that a limited budget equates to limited choice, however, with the right 4C's combination, you can still find a diamond with optimal brilliance, fire and shine to wow your intended. For further information about the importance of the four C's when buying diamonds, please refer to our “4C's of Diamonds” article here. You can learn more about diamond shape and anatomy in our “Anatomy of a Diamond” section, which also provides valuable information on the most popular shapes and cuts available.