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The 4 C’s of Diamonds

Jun 1, 2017

So you want to buy a diamond, but you’re not sure where to start. Buying a diamond can be one of the biggest investments you’ll make in something that you have the least amount of knowledge in. It’s small and it’s expensive and it’s hard to know if you’re getting your investment worth. So we’ve […]

Ben Bridge Jeweler

So you want to buy a diamond, but you’re not sure where to start. Buying a diamond can be one of the biggest investments you’ll make in something that you have the least amount of knowledge in. It’s small and it’s expensive and it’s hard to know if you’re getting your investment worth. So we’ve put together a diamond buying guide that will give you some confidence in your purchase.

Uncut Diamonds

You can learn which of the four Cs is the most important; is there a best diamond color; is there a color that works the diamond for earrings?

Everyone has heard of the four C’s when it comes to buying diamonds: Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat. We’ll go over each of these terms so you can both impress your friends and have confidence you have the information when you need to buy a diamond you’ll love.

Guide to Diamond Cuts

The first thing anyone notices about a diamond is its shape. Is it round? Is it an oval? Is it a heart shape? But the C, for Cut, actually refers to how well those shapes are cut.

The cut of a diamond, no matter what the final shape, is the most important step in the life of a diamond. A skilled diamond cutter can make or literally break a diamond. Better clarity is advised, for different shapes, for example. The cut is probably the most important of the four Cs because it will determine the overall beauty of your diamond, no matter what final shape you pick. And when it comes to a diamond, it’s all about the sparkle. From an uncut diamond to a final gem, the diamond can loose as much as 60 percent or more of its size. It can take a 3 carat uncut or raw diamond to produce a 1 carat finished gem.

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) grading scale rates cuts as ‘Excellent’, ‘Very Good”, ‘Fair’, or ‘Poor’. The American Gem Society (AGS) rates cuts on a scale of 1 to 10.

In any diamond cut, there are three main cuts; there is the table, or the top of a diamond, the girdle, the middle of the diamond, and the pavilion, the bottom. An excellent cut will allow light to enter a diamond, bounce around its facets like reflecting mirrors and exit the top in an exciting display of either white light, referred to as brilliance, or a rainbow of colors, called fire. A diamond with an excellent cut will catch your eye and can even look bigger than its actual carat size. Those are the rings and the diamonds you’ll find yourself distracted by when you find yourself staring at a ring. Different cuts and shapes produce different amounts of fire and brilliance.

For some of the diamonds sold by Ben Bridge in our Forevermark collection, only two master diamond cutters, called Diamantaires have met the standards required to cut our Signature Forevermark diamonds.

The cut obviously determines the shape of a diamond and there are shapes that, when cut well, offer the most brilliance and fire. There are also shapes that show off an elegant diamond with amazing clarity. There are shapes that can look larger for their carat size. The most important thing when it comes to a diamond, however, is the shape you connect with, because if it’s not the look you want, it doesn’t matter if it’s an excellent cut.

A one carat round diamond with the perfect proportions, the perfect pavilion depth and the perfect angle, won’t be the perfect diamond if you’re dreaming of a princess cut. The diamond is important, but the look on their face is what really matters.

Fall in love with your diamond, because it should be with you a long time. According to experts, diamonds can be as old as 3.5 billion years old to a mere 900 million years young. And although you probably won’t have yours that long, make sure it’s one you love.

 

 Diamond shapes

What to look for in different cuts and shapes and what they mean.

Round

This cut tends to be the most balanced, versatile and popular cut for gemstones because it allows the stone to be faceted to enhance the sparkle and play of light. Round cut diamonds will give you the most sparkle of any of the diamond shapes, although any gemstone can be cut into a round stone. If this is your favorite cut, you might be more of a traditionalist and you definitely know a good thing when you see it.

On a classic round brilliant-cut diamond, the fifty-eight facets must be precisely aligned and proportioned for maximum brilliance. If a round diamond is cut too deep or too shallow, light escapes out of the bottom or the sides instead of reflecting back to you, which explain why some diamonds are more brilliant than others.

Ben Bridge also offers a Signature Forevermark diamond with an additional 8 facets. This cut and shape has been described as the most beautiful ever offered. The Signature Forevermark is only offered through Ben Bridge and only about one percent of stones qualify for this classification because the qualifications are so rigorous. Other jewelers may have signature diamonds, but they are not the same as those offered through Ben Bridge Jewelers.

Shop for Signature Forevermark Diamonds

Shop for Round cut Diamonds

Oval cut


A lot of sparkle, a little bit different, the Oval cut is usually brilliant cut like the round cut but the shape is a less common than the round. For the woman that wants something just as sparkly but is also unique and willing to take risks.

This is also a cut that can give the illusion of a bigger diamond because of the proportions, but still offers all of the sparkle and glamour of a round diamond.

Shop for Oval cut Diamonds

Emerald cut

It’s not a flashy cut, but it’s full of elegance. This cut is designed to create flashes of light and a clean, mirror-like look. When you look at this stone, you can clearly see the individual cuts. It works best in stones with higher clarity to make sure it displays its best attributes. If you choose this cut, you have elegance, style and more a vintage taste.

Shop for Emerald cut Diamonds

Marquise

This spectacular cut was named after the Marquise de Pompadour, a mistress of the King of France. The shape creates the illusion of a bigger diamond and can be a great choice when you want to maximize the look of your stone. This is for the woman who knows what she wants. Symmetry is the key to make a high-quality marquise cut.

Shop for Marquise cut Diamonds

Pear

Like the marquise cut, symmetry is the key to this amazing shape. This cut can look both modern and vintage; the woman who wears it makes her own rules. It can also create a beautiful elongated finger that can be worn either point up or down. The point is up to you!

Shop for Pear cut Diamonds

 

Cushion

A lot of bling, with a modern flair, the cushion is a square cut, but with slightly softened corners. Increasingly popular as a diamond a cushion cut offers the sparkle of a traditional cut, but for a modern woman with romantic taste.

Shop for Cushion cut Diamonds

Princess

This may be called the Princess cut, but it’s for a woman who has a little bit of princess and a little bit of glamour.  Princess cut stones are square in shape, but like round diamonds, they are cut with a brilliant facet pattern. This cut gives just as much brilliance and fire as a round cut brilliant stone, but with an clean straight lines. If you pick this cut you still want the sparkle, but you also have more modern taste.

Shop for Princess cut Diamonds

 

Asscher

The Asscher cut has the drama of a princess and clean steps of an Emerald. It’s feminine, but old fashioned and romantic. If you’re in love with this cut, look for stones with very high clarity, because like the Emerald cut, the steps in this cut will show off every aspect of the diamond.

Shop for Asscher cut Diamonds

 

 

Heart Shaped

This is of course the most romantic of cuts. While it may not offer the most sparkle, this is for the true romantic who wants what they want, a literal expression of love in a gemstone. When you’re looking at heart-shaped cuts, you want to look for the symmetry of the stone. They are also faceted to enhance their sparkle, while still professing their love in the iconic heart shape.

Shop for Heart cut Diamonds

Guide to Diamond Clarity

When you’re talking about the clarity of a diamond, you’re actually referring to the lack of something. The fewer tiny particles, or inclusions, trapped inside of a diamond the better and the fewer blemishes on the outside the better the clarity of a diamond.

Clarity matters in some cuts more than others. In an Emerald cut diamond, for example, you want a diamond with an extremely high clarity, because the cut and shape involved will highlight any inclusions. Inclusions can be less noticeable in a round cut if they’re off to the side

Diamond clarity is measured from flawless to I3 on the GIA clarity scale, depending how many flaws are visible under a jewelers loop, or microscope. At flawless, no inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader even at 10X multiplication. These diamonds are very rare and because of that, can be very expensive. At the opposite end of the scale is an I3 grading, where the flaws are visible under 10x magnification, and could affect the shine and sparkle of a diamond.

The GIA clarity scale was created to clarify (no pun intended) the grading of diamonds. Before the scale, jewelers used different phrases and the buyer might not always get the same grading for their diamond from different jewelers.

The GIA has 11 grades for clarity ranging from Flawless to Included. While the higher clarity grades are more valuable, many people consider that inclusions add character to the diamond. They can be thought of like your diamonds’ fingerprint; they make your diamond unique.

Click on the below grading scale to see both the different clarity of diamonds and click on the diamond itself to see where the inclusion are on a graphical representation of the diamond

 

Guide to Color in Diamonds

After the shape of a diamond, color is probably what you notice the most. The GIA color scale grades diamonds on a scale from D-Z starting at D, which means no color, and ending at Z which means a lightly colored diamond, usually yellowish or brownish. Are there any diamonds that have a color grade of A-C? The short answer is no, because when the GIA developed the color grading scale used by most of the world today, they started it at D.

Before the GIA color scale was developed in the 1950s, there were systems that started at A, and one that used number 0, 1, 2 etc., and even a color system that used Roman numerals. Like the clarity scale the GIA wanted to differentiate its system and start fresh. The GIA color grading scale gives buyer’s confidence that a diamond with a color grade of H I or J is the same in Japan and New York and Seattle.

Diamonds that are color grade D are very rare. Diamonds graded up to J on the GIA scale are considered near colorless. It becomes easier for the consumer to see color past the M, but a color grade that’s higher on the scale can be a way to save money on your diamond. Some people prefer a diamond with a higher color grade because they think it looks warmer. A warm candle-light color can invoke romance.

Diamonds are usually color graded before they’re in a setting because a setting of rose gold, yellow gold or white gold can make a diamond look different colors.

Click through the color scale below to compare different colors.

 

Guide to Fancy Colored diamonds

When you go beyond the color scale at Z, you have diamonds that are considered Fancy colored diamonds actually come in every imaginable color from red, the most rare, to blue, the second most rare, to yellows and browns, the most common color. Unlike what people think of as traditional diamonds, where the less color the better, in fancy diamonds, the more color the more valuable the fancy diamond.

Fancy diamonds are graded from faint to fancy, to vivid.

Yellow Diamonds

While you get to yellowish diamonds at the top end of the color scale, the truly yellow diamonds are beyond the scale. Beautiful yellow diamonds live in the world of fancy diamonds. Vibrant Canary yellow, Sunlight yellow, the reason they’re yellow is because of a tiny bit of nitrogen that was in the mix of carbon when the diamond was formed, but nitrogen aside, they just look stunning. Yellow diamonds are one most common fancy colored diamonds.

Pink Diamonds

Although they’re found around the globe, most pink diamonds come from Australia today. Where their color comes from is still under debate by scientists trying to discover what makes a pink diamond pink. One theory is natural radiation they were exposed to while they lay underground for the millions of years it took them to work their way to the surface. Another theory is that they were experienced some sort of molecular shift when they were first formed because of a seismic shift. Whatever the cause, pink diamonds are beautiful and can be incredibly romantic. They also hold the record for the most expensive colored diamond sold at auction.

Black Diamonds

Black diamonds became popular in the 1980s, and have soared in popularity ever since because of the drama they bring and because they are affordable. The color comes from tiny bits of carbon or other inclusions trapped in the diamond as it formed. Almost all black diamonds are treated in order to produce an even color.

Brown Diamonds

Brown diamonds are the most common color variety of natural diamonds. They came into popularity when a large mine in Australia began marketing brown diamonds as chocolate diamonds and while the chocolate marketing didn’t last, the diamonds did. Today they’re often set with other diamonds to enhance their color and offer a striking look. Brown diamonds edge out yellow fancy diamonds as the most common color.

Blue Diamonds

The most famous blue diamond, and probably the most famous diamond in general, is the Hope diamond. At just over 45 carats, it’s not the largest diamond, but the value of the Hope diamond is an indication of how rare blue diamonds are. Most blue diamond’s sold today have been treated. There was even a diamond reported by the GIA of a natural diamond that had a blue lab-grown diamond top layer, like the icing on a cake.

Guide to Diamond Carats

It’s probably the most common question when it comes to diamonds, how many carats is your diamond? Is that a one carat ring? But the carat also one of the most misunderstood aspects of diamonds. Carats actually refer to the weight of a diamond, not the size, but obviously the heavier the diamond, the larger it is. While today a one carat diamond weighs about 200 mg, carats originally it referring to an actual carob seed.

Larger diamonds are rarer than smaller ones, and as the carat weight increases, the value of the diamond rises quickly. The increase is not directly proportionate to the size, so a one-carat diamond will cost more than double that of a 1/2-carat diamond (assuming color, clarity, and cut are identical). Weight does not always enhance the value of a diamond, either. Two diamonds of equal weight may be unequal in value, because so many other factors affect the cost of a diamond, such as cut, color, and clarity.

Click on the link below to see the size of different carat diamonds.

 

What about the Fifth C?

While everyone has heard of the four C’s of Diamonds, there’s a fifth C you should think about when you’re buying a diamond, and that is Consideration: Look at the certifications and diamond reports your jeweler offers,  and make sure you are buying from a responsible and ethical jeweler.

Ben Bridge offers several certifications and diamond reports with its jewelry. Certificates from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the American Gem Society (AGS) and the Forevermark Diamond Institute offer third party, expert opinions on the quality of the diamonds sold. These three laboratories are among the most respected in the jewelry industry and are known for consistency and unbiased diamond grading. Every member of our Quality Control department has earned, at minimum, a Graduate Gemologist diploma from the Gemological Institute of America and they inspect our jewelry and loose diamonds using 10 power microscopic magnification.

Most of our loose diamonds 1 carat or larger come with a certificate or diamond report. In addition, Ikuma Canadian Diamonds larger than .46 come with and AGS certificate. You can type in your diamonds unique ID number in the Ikuma Tracker to see exactly where your diamond was mined.

Ben Bridge is a member of the AGS, Jewelers of America and the Responsible Jewellery Council, as well as a host of community and local organizations.

Ben Bridge cares deeply about protecting both the people and the environment in every stage of our supply chain.

GIA

The Gemological Institute of America, or the GIA, was established in 1931 as the world’s foremost authority on diamonds, colored stones and pearls. It is a nonprofit institute that was established to offer a universal standard to evaluate gems. It is an unbiased institution that builds trust in gem quality.

Each GIA report has a number that you can enter into the GIA website to look up your report online.

American Gem Society

We are proud and active members of the American Gem Society (AGS), an organization dedicated to consumer protection, standing for high ethics and ongoing education. Only 1 in 20 jewelers in the country have met their high standards and Ben Bridge has been a member for over thirty years. We are proud to have more Registered Jewelers, Certified Gemologists, and watchmakers than any other jeweler in North America.

In order to ensure our pieces meet your quality standards, we maintain the most exacting quality control standards in the jewelry industry. Every member of our Quality Control department has earned, at minimum, a Graduate Gemologist diploma from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and they inspect our jewelry and loose diamonds using 10 power microscopic magnification.

Forevermark Diamond Certificate

The Signature Forevermark Diamond is a unique collaboration between Ben Bridge Jeweler and Forevermark. Less than one percent of the world’s diamonds become a Signature Forevermark Diamond with each Signature Forevermark Diamond hand selected for its beauty, rarity and responsible sourcing. To maximize its brilliance these are cut with extra facets and reviewed again to assure it meets the standards.

Each Signature Forevermark Diamond is inscribed with the Forevermark icon and a unique identification number, beginning with “1912”, the year Ben Bridge was founded. Each Signature Forevermark Diamond originates from a carefully selected mine that benefits the local people and communities. Ask to see the Forevermark inscription on the diamond. It’s invisible to the naked eye, but with a viewer it offers a powerful example of why these diamonds are some of the most amazing gemstones for sale today.

The Signature Forevermark promise means that every diamond is a natural and untreated diamond that meets the exacting standards of the cut and quality required. In one group of rough diamonds recently sent to the Forevermark Diamond Institute, only about 75% passed the certification process. The diamonds that didn’t pass were still amazing diamonds, but a Forevermark Diamond has to meet standards above and beyond. The Black Label Collection is a collection now available of Signature Forevermark diamonds in Princess, Cushion, and Oval cuts.

Ikuma, the Canadian Diamond

Ikuma is the native Inuit word for fire which seemed an appropriate name for a diamond collection. There are three mines in far Northern Canada where these are mined. When these mines were first opened they worked with the indigenous communities to make sure they meet the rigorous environmental and social regulations for the region. These are the ultimate in a conflict free diamond; they moved more than 5,000 fish when the mining threatened the lake they were living in.

Each Ikuma diamond is microscopically laser inscribed with a unique identification number and a maple leaf to guarantee its Canadian provenance and that it meets our promise to you. Any Ikuma diamond that is 0.46 or larger comes with an AGS certificate. You can type in your diamonds unique ID number in the Ikuma Tracker to see exactly where your diamond was mined.

 

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