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How to Prioritize the  4Cs? Diamond Clarity vs Color vs Cut

How to Prioritize the 4Cs? Diamond Clarity vs Color vs Cut

How to Prioritize the 4Cs? Diamond Clarity vs Color vs Cut

Posted by Sharif Khan on 10th Mar 2020

prioritize 4Cs

How to Compromise on the 4Cs – The 4 Scenarios

When it comes to buying loose diamonds, there is no one-size-fits-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 detailed below there to make the assessment process easier.

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

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

According to this scenario, shoppers prioritize quality over size. What they chose 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 which had at least 1 carat weight. What makes these diamonds investment grade is their rarity and scarcity. In our estimation, less than 1% of all naturally mined diamonds would have high enough quality in terms of all 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 1.72 Carat D VVS1 Ideal Cut. Follow link..

What qualifies diamonds under this range?

  • Lowest carat weight to qualify for this scenario – 1 carat
  • Lowest color to qualify for this scenario – G Color ( at the 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 in this category like to take a balanced-approach, they want to maximize on all four Cs instead of prioritizing the highest grades under each C. We prefer this approach and we think diamonds in this category still fall within the investment grade range.

So, what would be the ideal options under this category? Generally, shoppers aim for a 1.5 carat diamond instead of a 1-1.2 carat and they choose a G/H color diamond with 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?

  • The lowest carat weight to qualify for this scenario – .0.8 carat
  • The lowest color to qualify for this scenario – G Color (top of the near colorless range).
  • The lowest color to qualify for this scenario – I Color (near colorless range).
  • The lowest clarity to quality for this scenario – SI1 clarity.
  • The lowest fluorescence range to qualify for this scenario is none a strong blue fluorescence.
  • IGI or HRD certification is adequate as well.

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

In 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 a risk in a calculated manner…

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

So, what they would do is choose a 2 carat diamond instead of 1.5 carat, SI1 or SI2 clarity, I/J color. A good to excellent cut with very good to ideal proportions, and up to strong blue fluorescence. It is of absolute importance 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 with 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?

  • The lowest carat weight to qualify for this scenario – 0.5 carat
  • The lowest color to qualify for this scenario – J Color (bottom of the near colorless range).
  • The lowest clarity to quality for this scenario – SI2 clarity so long as the stone is eye-clean or at least 90% eye clean.
  • The lowest fluorescence range to qualify for this scenario – none to strong blue fluorescence (presence of fluorescence is preferred in this range).
  • The lowest grading lab 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 in 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. What C would that be? For us under this specific approach, the C that is compromised is Color. Diamonds in high color grades, but with low clarity grades are the I2-I3 which still look quite ugly. Diamonds that are in low color grades such as K-M, but high clarity grades such as VS/VVS range will have a beautiful fire and scintillation if they are cut right. So, the approach to this scenario is (assuming your budget is 5K) to go for 1.5 carat diamond, K-M color diamond, VVS/VS clarity, excellent cut, and up to a very strong blue fluorescence. It’s okay to go with IGI or HRD certification as low color and high clarity grade diamonds are relatively well graded by these labs.

Here are a couple of good examples in this range:

GIA. 1.53 Carat Round VS1, L Color. Follow Link…

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

What range qualifies in this scenario?

  • The lowest carat weight to qualify for this scenario – Any
  • The lowest color to qualify for this scenario – K-Z Color (faint to light yellow).
  • The lowest clarity to quality for this scenario – Flawless to VS1 clarity.
  • The lowest fluorescence range to qualify for this scenario – none to very strong blue fluorescence (presence of fluorescence is preferred in this range).
  • The lowest grading labs who 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 to purchase very high quality diamonds – investment grade type stones. The chances of them maintaining or even appreciating in value over time is very high because they are rare and scarce. Mining costs increase, and as such diamonds will become greater in demand, their prices will go higher. This is a good investment for you. Additionally, these diamonds have the best brilliance, fire and scintillation. Go for the best!

If you can afford to then go for a balanced-approach. This means you do not have to compromise excessively on either C so you can prioritize equally on both quality and size. These types of high quality and large size stones are greatly in demand and presently have the best resale value because they are easier to sale. Such diamonds have high circulation and demand because more people can afford to buy them as opposed to best quality investment grade diamonds that fewer people can afford.

If your budget is limited and size is important to you, then you can compromise on clarity and color to a degree to get a big stone. However, know that you will have to do a lot of due diligence. To identify the right stone with the right inclusion type/location and fluorescence. This is 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 considering 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 a lot of fire and brilliance. Additionally, some people actually prefer warmer colors and so a slight yellow hue may be your preference anyway… 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.