What A Gem

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Diamonds have four important characteristics, and the quality of each determines the value and the price of each diamond. These characteristics are referred to as the four C’s – clarity, carat, color and cut.

Clarity is the measure of inclusions, which are internal defects in diamonds. These inclusions may be crystals of a different diamond or some foreign materials. They could also be tiny cracks or other structural imperfections that look cloudy or white. The clarity of diamonds is determined by the size, color, number, location, visibility and orientation of these inclusions. Clarity grading has become systematic through organizations such as the GIA, or Gemological Institute of America. The systems based the ratings on the inclusions as viewed by a diamond professional less than 10x magnification.

The ratings start at a low imperfect, with the best rating referred to as flawless. Only 20 percent of all diamonds in existence at any one time actually have a clarity grading high enough for it to be used as a gemstone. The rest are used industrially. A large percentage of the diamonds with gemstone clarity still have inclusions that are visible, though some of these are hidden under jewelry settings.

Seldom do inclusions affect the structural integrity or performance of diamonds of gem quality. About the only things that can affect the ability of a diamond to scatter and transmit light is a large could. A diamond may be less resistant to fracture if it has a large crack close to the surface or breaking the surface.

Carat is another important characteristic of diamonds. It is the weight measure that determines the diamond’s mass. One carat is 200 milligrams. The price for each diamond carat increases with the weight of the carat. This is because larger diamonds are comparably higher rated and more desirable for gemstones.

While there really is no smooth price increase for diamonds based on size, there is a sharp price jump when the diamond reaches milestone weight. Because of demand for these larger, heavier diamonds, you might find a considerably lower price for a .95 carat diamond than you would for one that is 1.05 carat weight.

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