Various characteristics of diamonds are graded and categorized by the diamond industry. To learn about diamonds is to first learn about the "four Cs" of diamonds -- the four characteristics which are considered the most important in determining a diamond's value:
These are the criteria jewelers use when grading diamonds, and they're the ones you'll need to understand to buy the right diamond for you.
And then there's the "Fifth C":
Cut is probably the most important, and most challenging, of the four Cs to understand. The brilliance of a diamond depends heavily on its cut.
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Most diamonds contain some inner flaws, or inclusions, that occur during the formation process. The visibility, number and size of these inclusions determine what is called the clarity of a diamond. Diamonds that are clear create more brilliance, and thus are more highly prized, and priced.
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Colorless diamonds are the most desirable since they allow the most refraction of light (sparkle). Off white diamonds absorb light, inhibiting brilliance.
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A carat is the unit of weight by which a diamond is measured. Because large diamonds are found less commonly than small diamonds, the price of a diamond rises exponentionaly to its size. Read this guide to get a better understanding of what a carat is and how it affects the appearance of a diamond.
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The Fifth C: Certificates
The diamond certificate, which is sometimes called a grading report, is a complete evaluation of your diamond that has been performed by a qualified professional with the help of special gemological instruments. Each stone bears its own recognizable, individual characteristics, which is listed on the certificate.