How to Compromise on 4Cs - Diamond Clarity vs Color vs Cut

How to Compromise on 4Cs - Diamond Clarity vs Color vs Cut

How to Compromise on 4Cs - Diamond Clarity vs Color vs Cut

Posted by Sharif A.K. on 3rd May 2019

How to Compromise on the 4Cs – the Four Scenarios Our Clients Often Consider…

When it comes to buying loose diamonds, there is no one-size-fit-all approach. Diamonds are naturally formed over millions of years. Each one is unique and deserves a unique assessment. The 4Cs and related factors are there to help make the assessment process easier.

Here are the four scenarios that shoppers often considered when they were shopping for diamonds over the last decade. Use these four scenarios below as a guide to get the best option within your particular budget range.

Diamond Clarity vs Color - What is Important

Scenario 1: They wanted the highest quality diamonds available in the market…

Under this scenario, shoppers prioritized quality over size. What they went for were investment grade diamonds in the range of Flawless to  VVS clarity, D to F color, Excellent/Ideal cut, None Fluorescence, and GIA or AGS graded diamonds, and at least 1 carat weight. What makes these diamonds investment grade is their rarity/scarcity. In our estimation, less than 1% of all naturally mined diamonds would have high enough quality in terms of all the 4Cs and fluorescence in order for them to qualify as investment grade.

Here are a couple examples of investment grade diamonds:

GIA 1.5 Carat D IF Ideal Cut. Follow link..

AGS 2 Carat D VVS1 Ideal Cut. Follow link..

What qualifies under this range?

  • Lowest carat weight to qualify for this scenario – 1 carat 
  • Lowest color to qualify for this scenario – G Color (top of the near colorless range).
  • Lowest clarity to quality for this scenario – VS1 clarity.
  • Lowest fluorescence range to qualify for this scenario – None.
  • Lowest grading labs to qualify for this scenario - GIA, AGS, GCAL 

James Allen

Scenario 2: While quality is important to them, they also want a big stone…

The shoppers under this category likes to take a balanced-approach, they want to maximize on all four Cs instead of prioritizing the highest grades under each C. We like this approach best and think diamond under this category still fall within the investment grade range.

So what would be ideal options under this category? Generally, shoppers aim for say 1.5 carat diamond instead of a 1-1.2 carat and go for say a G/H color diamonds, VS2-VS1 clarity, Excellent Cut, with tolerance for up to faint or medium blue fluorescence. Shoppers still stick with either GIA or AGS certification.

Here are a couple of examples of diamonds within the “balanced-approach” range:

GIA 1.2 Carat G, VS2, Excellent Cut. Follow link..

AGS 1.5 H, VS1, Ideal Cut. Follow link..

What range qualifies under this scenario?

  • Lowest carat weight to qualify for this scenario – .0.8 carat 
  • Lowest color to qualify for this scenario – G Color (top of the near colorless range).
  • Lowest color to qualify for this scenario – I Color (near colorless range).
  • Lowest clarity to quality for this scenario – SI1 clarity.
  • Lowest fluorescence range to qualify for this scenario – None to strong blue fluorescence.
  • IGI or HRD certification is okay too.

Blue Nile

Scenario 3: Carat weight is more important to them than quality, but they still want a diamond with optimal brilliance and fire.

Under this option, buyers want a big stone at the cost of the other 3Cs, but they don’t want to end up with an ugly looking stone either. So in a sense, they are willing to take risks in a calculated manner…

Shoppers under this category don’t mind a slight yellow tint, and they also don’t mind low clarity grades such as SI1/SI2 clarity as long as the stone is eye-clean in terms inclusions. They still prefer the cut to be in the very good to excellent range, and since they don’t mind a slight color in the diamond, they are willing to go for even  strong blue fluorescence (fluorescence in I, J, K and lower color ranges is a positive factor).

So what they would do is to go for a 2 carat diamond instead of 1.5 carat, SI1 or SI2 clarity, I/J color, and good to excellent cut with very good to ideal proportions, and up to strong blue fluorescence. It is absolutely important to buy GIA graded diamonds as other labs play games when they grade lower clarity and color grades (do not even go for AGS in this range).

Here are a couple of examples of good large stone with lower clarity and color, but still brilliant options:

GIA 2.5 Carat SI1, J, Excellent Cut. Follow link..

GIA 1.5 Carat, SI2, I, Very Good Cut. Follow link..

What range qualifies under this scenario?

  • Lowest carat weight to qualify for this scenario – 0.5 carat 
  • Lowest color to qualify for this scenario – J Color (bottom of the near colorless range).
  • Lowest clarity to quality for this scenario – SI2 clarity so long as the stone is eye-clean or at least 90% eye clean.
  • Lowest fluorescence range to qualify for this scenario – none to strong blue fluorescence (presence of fluorescence is preferred in this range).
  • Lowest grading labs to qualify for this scenario - GIA (only GIA)

Scenario 4: One C needs to be ignored entirely, in order to buy a large diamond within a given budget range…

Buyers under this scenario decide to ignore the importance of one C entirely in order to buy a big diamond within a tight budget range. So what they do is evaluate how they can still get a brilliant diamond with great fire and scintillation after compromising on a particular C, and importantly what C would that be? For us under this specific approach, the C that needs to be compromised on is Color. Diamonds in high color grade, but low clarity grade in the I2-I3 will still look very ugly, but diamonds in the low color grades such as K-M, but high clarity grade such as VS/VVS range will have beautiful fire and scintillation if they are cut right. So therefore, the approach under this scenario would be (assuming your budget is 5K) to go for 1.5 carat diamond, K-M color diamond, VVS/VS clarity, excellent cut, and up to very strong blue fluorescence. It is also okay to go with IGI or HRD certification as low color and high clarity grade diamonds are relatively well graded by such labs.

Here are a couple of good examples in this range.

GIA. 1.4 Carat Round VS1, L Color, Strong Blue Fluorescence. Follow Link…

GIA. 3 Carat VVS, L, Blue Fluorescence. Ideal cut. Follow link…

What range qualifies under this scenario?

  • Lowest carat weight to qualify for this scenario –  Any 
  • Lowest color to qualify for this scenario – K-Z Color (faint to light yellow).
  • Lowest clarity to quality for this scenario – Flawless to VS1 clarity.
  • Lowest fluorescence range to qualify for this scenario – none to very strong blue fluorescence (presence of fluorescence is preferred in this range).
  • Lowest grading labs to qualify for this scenario - GIA, AGS, GSL, HRD, IGI, PGS  

GIA Certified Diamonds

Conclusion…

Everything depends on your budget…

If you have a good budget, we would advise you to go for very high quality diamonds – investment grade stones. The chances of them maintaining or even appreciating value over time is high because they are rare/scarce, and a result, as mining cost go high, and as such diamonds become more and more in demand, its price will go higher, and it would serve as a good investment for you. In addition, they have the best brilliance, fire and scintillation. Go for the best!

If your budget is okay, go for a balanced-approach, meaning don’t overly compromise on either C and prioritize quality and size equally. These types of high quality and large size stones are highly in demand and presently have the best resale value because they are easier to sale. Such diamonds have high circulation and high demand because more people can afford to buy them as opposed to best quality investment grade diamonds that few people can afford.

If you budget is low and size is important to you, compromise on clarity and color to a degree to get a big stone. However, know that you will need to do a lot of due diligence to identify the right stone with the right inclusion types/locations and fluorescence in order for it to be eye-clean and without imperfections that can affect the brilliance of the stone. In other words, make sure you spend enough time to learn about the details of the 4Cs before you consider this option.

Finally, if you are willing to compromise on one C in order to get a big diamond, we recommend that you compromise on color and maximize on clarity and cut. So what if the stone is slightly yellow, it will still have lots of fire and brilliance. In addition, some people actually prefer warmer colors and a slight yellow hue might be your preference anyways… Make sure you follow our fluorescence guide if you are compromising on color as it can be a helpful ally – blue is a complementary color to yellow, so blue fluorescence can make yellow diamonds appear whiter than their actual grades.

Finally, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.