The 5 C’s – A guide to Diamonds

1. Cut

Cut is a term which has more than one meaning, the first refers to the shape of the diamond e.g.  A Princess Cut Diamond but the second refers to the reflective qualities of that particular diamond. It is the latter which we refer to in diamond grading.

A diamonds life and fire is fundamentally determined by the cut and polish of its facets allowing the maximum amount of light to enter though the table (the top) which is then reflected and sent back through the table and into the viewer’s eye. In comparison a poorly cut diamond draws light through the table and reflects through the facets in the same way but then this light is lost and drops away through the sides and bottom of the diamond.

Various grades are available to help ascertain the quality of cut, starting from the finest, Ideal, followed by Premium, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor. As a very loose guideline Ideal and Premium Cut diamonds will attract a higher premium while value for money and great quality can be found with Very Good and Good while Fair and Poor should be approached with caution.


The Final Word

At Catherine Best each diamond we use is personally inspected before we commit to setting it in our jewellery. We make sure, through over 25 years of experience, that the diamonds we use are what they claim to be. We use our heads to be sure that their credentials and price are true and then we use our hearts to know if this diamond is good enough for our jewellery. When you look at a diamond you should ask “Does it talk to me, does it smile?” If the answer is yes then you know that diamond is right for you because if your diamond smiles up at you it is impossible for you not to smile straight back.


2. Colour

Diamonds today are graded in colour from D to Z. The scale begins with D which is colourless and finishes at Z which is a diamond of a light yellow or a brown colour. When colour grading began myriad different systems were implemented, many focusing on the Letters A, B and C but there was little or no consistency between these systems so the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) decided to start afresh with a system beginning at the Letter D. This system is the standard adhered to around the world today.

When it comes to a diamonds colour less is definitely more. A colourless stone will allow the maximum amount of light to travel through increasing its brilliance and fire so therefore the whiter a diamond the higher its price. The changes as you move through the scale are subtle, especially to the untrained eye, but are nevertheless very important.


The Final Word

We have incredibly high standards in regards to diamond colour and at the same time we have a core belief in offering the very best value that the market can offer. With this in mind a large majority of the diamonds used in our Jewellery are a G or H colour. G and H colour diamonds show virtually no colour whatsoever to the untrained eye but do not attract the same higher premium as the official colourless range of D, E and F. In our opinion as you move further down the scale then that is the starting point where colour starts to become visible.


3. Clarity

When we talk about diamond clarity in the jewellery world we are referring to the inclusions (internal) or blemishes (external) held by the stone. Seeing a diamond beautifully cut in all its splendour can make it quite easy to forget that they are formed at very high temperatures and incredible depths in the earth’s mantle so inclusions are just a natural part of a diamonds make up and personality – Every diamond is unique and different.

A diamond’s clarity is determined under a 10x loupe magnification with the highest grading called Flawless which has no internal or external flaws. Flawless diamonds are incredibly rare and attract a very high premium as does the next level Internally Flawless. We then enter the realms of VVS, VS, SI and I which all include variations of the word imperfect such as very very slightly imperfect, very slightly imperfect, slightly imperfect and imperfect.

It is important to remember that officially these clarity terms only become apparent under 10x loupe magnification and shouldn’t affect your experience looking at your diamond with the naked eye.


The Final Word

The high majority of the small brilliant cut diamonds we use in our jewellery are VS clarity and the larger diamonds we offer mainly stay in the bracket between VVS and SI. We can always procure any special one off diamond for you based on your own specific requirements.

Clarity can play a vital part in choosing a diamond and while you cannot see the difference between, for example, a VVS and a SI with the naked eye it can impact substantially on the cost. A VVS diamond is a very high quality stone and as such diamonds that have few clarity characteristics are very rare and special. A SI2 diamond, for example, will have some internal clarity characteristics but in all cases inclusions ultimately make a diamond unique and can make it more affordable too.

As in all cases we would urge you to look at the diamond as a whole and not get too caught up with just one of the 4 C’s. Does a diamond claim to be a particular clarity? If so then fantastic but how is it cut? What does it look like to you? Many diamonds available online will offer a certain clarity of diamond for a certain price but often that price will come at a sacrifice to some other aspect of the diamond. All our larger diamonds are inspected thoroughly by our team to ensure the diamond you are buying is an all round excellent stone in terms of its value and that it is true in terms of its quality. All of this knowledge provides crucial piece of mind allowing you just to focus on the diamond that best suits you.


4. Carat Weight

Diamonds and other gemstones are measured in carats, the word carat interestingly dates back to the traders of the ancient world. A standard, reasonably consistent, unit of measurement was required for the merchants of the Mediterranean and the Middle East to carry out their trade and it was this need that led to the widespread use of seeds and grains as accepted units of measurement.

The carob seed, used for food purposes, was found to be an ideal choice due to the fact that all carob seeds weigh the same as each other. In time the carob seed became the standard unit of weight for diamonds and gemstones and throughout history the word eventually became corrupted into what we know today as carat.

The carat weight of a diamond is simply its weight but there are factors that can still surprise. A common misconception is that a 1ct diamond will cost exactly double a 0.50ct diamond but diamond prices depend on so many variables and weight is just one of them. Fundamentally larger diamonds are rarer than smaller ones so a larger stone doesn’t just cost more it costs more per carat.

Carat weight can also be symbolic, while the difference between a 0.99ct and a 1.00ct diamond is impossible to notice with the naked eye it often impacts greatly on someone’s choice, even if that means paying slightly more for the more sought after weight.


The Final Word

We take a simple approach to a diamonds carat weight and that is the Sky’s the limit! It’s purely down to your own personal preferences and wishes as to how large you want your diamond to be. The only word of advice is again not to overlook the other factors which all contribute to a diamonds overall look, feel and cost.


5. Catherine Best

Many people are aware that there are 4C’s to consider when choosing your perfect diamond but here we have a 5th and that is ourselves, Catherine Best. We have over 25 years of experience in the jewellery industry and we offer a truly bespoke service.  We have a very small circle of reputable diamond and gemstone suppliers who we have forged long standing relationships with over the years which has built up not only a firm level of trust but also an understanding that we are only interested in items of quality.

The diamond market is a very changeable place where different trends can take hold, a popular example is the market can offer many diamonds which hit a certain price point and provide a certain carat weight of diamond in return at the expense of all the other factors that make a diamond magical. Be assured we do not take an overly lofty view of this practice and if this is what you would like we would always procure the diamond you have your heart set on but at the same time we are concerned with the preoccupation of price versus carat weight as it appears on paper, even with an accompanying diamond certificate which in today’s market should be viewed with slight caution. The old adage here definitely applies, “If something looks too good to be true it probably is!”

That is where our experience and knowledge comes to the fore as we work with you to ensure you get the best possible diamond at the best possible price. If upon inspecting, for example, a 1.00ct diamond for what appears to be the bargain of a lifetime we find it badly proportioned, dull or lifeless we will advise you accordingly and we certainly will not use any diamonds of this ilk in any of our Catherine Best designs you see online or in our studios.

Each Catherine Best piece is designed and made lovingly by hand, using amongst other things the chosen diamonds and gemstones as inspiration. These stones are often the centre piece of your cherished item of jewellery and will be worn everyday for your lifetime and beyond being passed down the generations and bringing with them years of joy and memories.


The Final Word

If you choose a diamond you fall in love with every single time you lay eyes on it then you know it is the perfect precious stone for you.