14 May

What are the 4 C’s of diamonds?

Table of contents

A pink diamond in tweezers.

What are the 4 C’s of diamonds?

In order to determine a diamond’s retail value, a certified specialist must categorise and grade its features, to provide an authentication certificate.

The international standard in diamond categorisation is known as “The 4 C’s”. These stand for Clarity, Cut, Carat and Colour, experts use The 4 Cs of diamonds to judge the quality and market value, for both investment and resale.

Pricing a pink diamond is a multifaceted process, and not possible to do according to a simple, precise formula.

The first step involves review & certification of each diamond by a gemmological laboratory that will issue a report listing the grades of a stone’s assets.

In the colourless diamond market, these grades are detailed in a price list that quite accurately reflects the stone’s value. In many cases, the grading report alone can be used as a strong indicator of its market value.

This is not the case for pink diamonds. While the diamond grading report remains an integral component for verifying the authenticity of the stone, the visible attributes of a pink diamond are what dictates its market value.

Why is this so? Pink diamonds exhibit multiple features that are found in an endless number of combinations. Thus, two stones with identical grading reports can appear to be very different when physically viewed.

The 4 C’s of diamonds: Cut

The cut of a diamond refers to two aspects: its shape and  the quality of its make.

The cut or make of a pink diamond is integral to optimising its colour. Fancy colour diamonds are cut differently than colourless diamonds, and the way a stone is cut & polished will either enhance or diminish the stone’s natural colour.

The main consideration when plotting the cut of a pink diamond is how to best reinforce its colour intensity and vibrancy.

When it comes to shape, there are two types of diamonds: round brilliant cut diamonds, and fancy cut diamonds, including princess cut, emerald cut, pear-shaped, and marquise-shaped diamonds.

A pink diamond should be cut in such a way that maximises colour retention, colour dispersion, and spread.

Colour retention refers to the strength and brightness of a pink diamond’s hue.

Colour dispersion refers to how evenly distributed the colour is across the diamond when viewed face-up. From a commercial perspective, diamonds that have solid, uniform colour all throughout the stone are given a premium.

Pink diamonds a scale of colour dispersion, lift poorest on the left and perfect on the right.

Spread refers to how large the diamond looks relative to its weight. The bigger it looks,  the higher the price premium the diamond will receive. Most fancy colour diamonds are cut with a high depth percentage, so when we see a shallow stone with excellent colour retention, it deserves a price premium

The two diamonds pictured below are of the same weight, however the more shallow stone will appear to be bigger.

The 4 C’s of diamonds: Clarity

Clarity is one of the most influential elements of The 4 C’s when it comes to valuing a colourless diamond. A diamond’s clarity is determined by examining any exterior or interior imperfections under a microscope that magnifies it by ten times.

When grading a diamond for clarity, both features on the stone’s surface, known as blemishes, and flaws within its heart, known as inclusions, are taken into account.

The more inclusions a colourless diamond has, the more it can impact its beauty and market value and desirability.

A diamond without any inclusions is extremely rare. When it comes to more valuable Argyle colored diamonds, the saturation and hue of the tint will win out over pure clarity. The rarer the stone, the less an impact the clarity grade will have on its price.

Pink diamonds are more highly included than colourless diamonds due to the nature of the environment in which they are formed. Although large and obvious inclusions can detract from a coloured diamond’s beauty, they are often masked or partially hidden by the intensity of the diamond’s colour.

In practice, pink diamonds with high clarity do carry a premium over those of lesser clarity. Again however, the rarer the colour of a pink diamond, the less an impact the clarity grade will have on its price.

The 4 C’s of diamonds: Colour

The quality of colour is by far the most important factor when selecting a pink diamond for investment.

The colour of a diamond is divided into three categories: hue, saturation, and tone.

The hue of the stone refers to its dominant colour, which may also have a tint of another colour. Saturation describes the amount of colour in the stone, or how strong it is,, while tone refers to the level of brightness or dullness.

Argyle pink diamonds follow their own system of grading colour:

  • Purplish Pink (PP)
  • Pink (P)
  • Pink Rosé (PR)
  • Pink Champagne (PC)

The value of Argyle pink diamonds usually increases with its colour intensity, ranging from 1 (the highest) to 9 (the lowest).

Level of diamond colour from light to vivid.

The GIA color grades for pink diamonds begin at Faint and, as their saturation increases, run through Very Light, Light, Fancy Light, Fancy, and Fancy Intense, to Fancy Vivid.

Diamonds that are darker in tone may receive grades of Fancy Dark (weaker in saturation), or Fancy Deep (stronger in saturation). If a diamond in this hue range is both very dark in tone and very strong in saturation it may receive a grade of Fancy Red.

Pink diamonds from light to deep

The 4 C’s of diamonds: Carat

The weight of a diamond is not measured in size, but instead in carats.

An expertly cut diamond has a direct relationship between carat weight and diameter. A carat is 200 milligrams, and each carat measure is subdivided into 100 subunits, to allow for very precise weight assessments as it plays such an important factor in retail value.

According to GIA: a diamond price increases with its carat weight because larger diamonds are rarer and more desirable. However, two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different values (and prices) depending on three other factors of the diamond 4 C’s: Cut, Clarity and Colour. 

For example, a pink diamond with a carat weight equal to a non-fancy coloured diamond is more likely to be worth more in terms of value, due to its rarity.

The 5th of diamonds: Conflict-free

Conflict-free” or “blood-free” has become increasingly important to many diamond buyers and investors.  “Conflict” or “blood” diamonds refer to rough diamonds that originate from a civil war-torn country or zone and may have been used unethically to finance a war against a government or rival faction.

Ethical sourcing of conflict-free diamonds is incredibly important to Australian Diamond Portfolio, we are a full supporter of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS).

Australian Diamond Portfolio requires all of our suppliers to provide us with a written warranty as per the KPCS, stating that their diamonds come from Kimberley-certified sources and are not involved in funding conflict.

If you’re interested in finding out more about investing in certified, investment-grade (and conflict-free) pink diamonds, get a free Pink Diamond Guide from Australian Diamond Portfolio.


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