4 C's of Diamonds
You've probably heard about the 4 C's of a diamond, and you may even know that it stands for cut, color, clarity and carat weight. Below we take a closer look into the individual 4Cs.
Of all the 4Cs, cut has the greatest effect on a diamond’s beauty. In determining the quality of the cut, the diamond grader evaluates the cutter’s skill in the fashioning of the diamond. The more precise the cut, the more captivating the diamond is to the eye.
The color of gem-quality diamonds occurs in many hues. In the range from colorless to light yellow or light brown. Colorless diamonds are the rarest. Other natural colors (blue, red, pink for example) are known as "fancy,” and their color grading is different than from white colorless diamonds.
Diamonds can have internal characteristics known as inclusions or external characteristics known as blemishes. Diamonds without inclusions or blemishes are rare; however, most characteristics can only be seen with magnification.
Diamond Cut specifically refers to the quality of a diamond’s angles, proportions, symmetrical facets, brilliance, scintillation and finishing details. These factors directly impact a diamond’s ability to sparkle, along with its overall aesthetic appeal. The GIA grades Diamond Cut on the scale of Ideal, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor. The Ideal and Excellent grades, depending on Diamond shape, signify proportions and angles cut for maximum brilliance and fire. Cuts vary significantly among diamonds and diamond cutters. At times, a cutter may aim for maximum Carat weight, leaving the diamond too deep or too shallow for optimal light reflection. Other times a diamond may be cut to minimize the number of inclusions, improving its Clarity, but forgoing maximum sparkle. Even an Ideal cut diamond may have a yellow tint that is too noticeable and detracts from the gem’s beauty.
The carat is the diamond’s physical weight measured in metric carats. One carat equals 1/5 gram and is subdivided into 100 points. Carat weight is the most objective grade of the 4Cs.
History of Engagement rings
Engagement rings have been a tradition ever since Ancient Egypt. Egyptians believed circles were symbols of eternity. Wedded couples exchanged rings made out of braided reeds. These were worn on the left hand ring finger, which apparently had a vein that ran directly to the heart, later named Vena amoris. In 2nd century B.C. the ancient Romans are believed to have started the tradition of betrothal rings instead of giving the bride money or a valuable object. But its symbolism wasn’t so much about love as it was ownership. According to Pliny the Elder, the groom first gave the bride a gold ring to wear during the betrothal ceremony and at special events, then an iron ring to wear at home, signifying her binding legal agreement to his ownership of her. Diamonds didn’t appear on engagement rings until centuries later. One of the first recorded uses of a diamond engagement ring was in 1477. Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy with a ring set with thin, flat pieces of diamonds in the shape of an “M.” This set a glamorous precedent for European nobility, who added more precious gems to their jewelry.
When did diamonds become so popular and appreciated for engagement rings?
Everything changed when diamonds were discovered in South Africa. In 1880, Cecil Rhodes founded the DeBeers Mining Company with other investors. Within the decade, they controlled 90 percent of the world’s diamond production—and turned diamond engagement rings into nothing more than an ad campaign. In 1947 Frances Gerety wrote the slogan “A Diamond is Forever”. It instantly became the lasting symbol of eternal love. The line was so elegant and efficient that De Beers is still using it. In the following years brides started wearing beautiful diamond engagement rings on their finger.