ASSESSING THE VALUE OF DIAMONDS
In assessing the value of any diamond, there are four C’s involved: carat weight, color, cut and clarity. For the most part, the combination of these four characteristics determines the value of a diamond. That is, a certain diamond may have a high value due to its minimal external and internal imperfections or it may have a low value because of the poor quality of the diamond’s cut. The shapes of diamonds also affect their prices, depending largely on the craftsmanship of their shapes such as the quality of their roundness (Weiss, 2002, p. 165).
Carat weight primarily refers to the size of the diamond wherein 100 points correspond to one carat. Thus, if a diamond has 50 points, its weight is half a carat which is less expensive compared to a diamond with 100 points or one carat. Apparently, larger diamonds are more expensive than smaller ones since rough diamonds that are large occur rarely in the environment (Geballe, Pohl & Seitz, 1990, p. 1194). In addition, two diamonds each with the weight of half a carat do not cost more than a diamond with the weight of a full carat.
Color also determines the value of diamonds in terms of the amount of color the stone contains. The colors of diamonds are rated by jewelers using letters that range from D to Z. While a diamond with a D-rating is considered as colorless, a higher denomination means that the diamond has increased yellowish hues. Generally, colorless diamonds have higher value since diamonds are expected to be pure. However, diamonds with “fancy” colors are extremely rare and are, therefore, of high value as well. It is important to note that the color of a diamond can also be artificially manipulated through certain heating processes.
A diamond’s cut specifically refers to the overall appearance of the diamond in terms of how it was artificially shaped. The better the cut of a diamond, the more it is expected to maximize its brilliance and sparkle when placed in a well lit space. The symmetry, polish and finish of a diamond determine the quality of the cut and, therefore, the beauty and the value of the stone. More importantly, the precise positioning of the facets of a diamond is also a significant factor to consider since it affects the refraction of light passing through the diamond.
The clarity of a diamond is primarily affected by the amount of the diamond’s surface blemishes such as cavities and fractures, as well as its “inclusions” such as the presence of clouds and tiny black carbon spots inside the diamond. The size, location, number and nature of these blemishes and inclusions determine the clearness and purity of a diamond. The clearer and purer a diamond is, the higher its value will be. A scale is used to identify a diamond’s clarity, from “F”—meaning, the diamond is “flawless”—to I3 or “Included #3 which means that the diamond has easily identifiable inclusions. The clarity grading scheme is generally based on the scale provided by the Gemological Institute of America (Harlow & Veblen, 1991, p. 653).
Naturally-occurring diamonds greatly vary in shape and require to be cut in order to increase their market value (Peterson, 1995, p. 75). In reshaping diamonds, there are several factors that should be considered in order to maximize their value. For example, a diamond with 58 facets or a round brilliant cut is more expensive than a diamond with a rough shape that is polished and finished poorly. The symmetry of the facets also determines the shape of the diamond which in turn affects the refraction of light passing through the diamond. If a diamond has a poor symmetry of its facets, it is likely that the diamond will not be able to refract light and lose its brilliance. Such a diamond can also leak light on its side and bottom parts, making it less valuable. Other diamond shapes include but are not limited to princess, emerald, marquise, oval, radiant, cushion and heart. By far, the round brilliant cut is the most popular and most applied shape for diamonds. Diamond shapes continue to develop through time as more and more new shapes become available.
Geballe, T. H., Pohl, R. O., & Seitz, R. (1990). Cool Diamonds. Science, New Series, 250(4985), 1194-1195
Harlow, G. E., & Veblen, D. R. (1991). Potassium in Clinopyroxene Inclusions from Diamonds. Science, New Series, 251(4994), 652-655.
Peterson, I. (1995). Diamonds in Nature. Science News, 128(5), 75.
Weiss, P. (2002). Better-Built Diamonds. Science News, 162(11), 165.