What makes one diamond more valuable than another? Ask any diamond and jewelry professional, and they will tell you the factors that influence the value of diamonds are much more complicated than the commonly referred to 4 c’s: Clarity, Color, Cut, and Carat Weight.
“Since each diamond is unique, there are a number of factors to consider when determining the value of a diamond jewelry piece,” said Andrew Fabrikant, owner of Andrew Fabrikant & Sons, a nationwide leader in diamond and estate jewelry buying. “Too often, jewelry buyers pay you only on the scrap value. Our assessment of the true value of your diamond jewelry is based upon the workmanship and desirability of the piece. If there is a history attached to the jewelry, as there often is, we take that into consideration before deciding on the value of the diamond jewelry item.”
The best scientific description of the 4 C’s can be found on the web site of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The GIA is the foremost authority on diamond grading and the only truly accepted laboratory in the world, with its system constantly mimicked by most appraisers and laboratories in the jewelry industry.
According to Andrew Fabrikant, at Fabon5th.com in New York, NY, “The 4 c’s are really just the beginning of the factors that make up the value of a diamond. I call the remaining considerations ‘Characteristics,’ making a fifth c if you will.” Characteristics include any properties that may affect the overall value of the stone, such as the construction of the diamond, the nature of imperfections, as well as natural or man made characteristics.
Andrew Fabrikant offers the following insider knowledge on the fifth c, Characteristics.
Proper Ratio of Depth and Table Percentages
Depth and table percentages will affect the value of a diamond because they are an indication of a well-proportioned stone. Andrew Fabrikant adds, “If a depth percentage is too big or small, it can change the amount of light reflected back to the human eye. A diamond that is too deep will allow light to escape out of the diamond and not reflect back up. Too shallow, and the light can pass right through the sides of the diamond, lessening overall brilliance.”
Table percentages act in very much the same way. If a table percentage is too large, light will not reflect well. If a table percentage is too small, the diamond will appear smaller than its weight, and although it may be brilliant, it will look smaller and thus less impressive.
Another significant characteristic that can affect the value of a diamond is fluorescence. Fluorescence is a naturally occurring property that can affect the look of a diamond. Fluorescence comes in many colors, blue (most common), yellow, white and red. Fluorescence varies in different levels, from none, faint, medium, strong and very strong. “Fluorescence has become a big factor when valuing a diamond. Stones showing medium fluorescence are discounted, and those with strong or very strong blue fluorescence are discounted to a much larger extent,” Andrew Fabrikant continues to explain.
The truth about fluorescence lies somewhere in between. Diamonds that are darker in color (color grades J – Z) tend to benefit from the presence of blue fluorescence, often making the diamond look whiter. The term “Blue White Diamond,” comes from the presence of fluorescence. Blue white is an old industry description of a diamond that appears whiter due to fluorescence rather than its color.
Medium or stronger Fluorescence in white diamonds (in the color range of D-I) can take away from the brilliance of the diamond and in some lighting conditions, make the stone less attractive.
Diamonds are grown and occur in nature. The same way woods, and grasses grow with grain, so do diamonds. In some diamonds, the presence of graining can affect the light reflection from the stone and give the diamond a hazy and cloudy look.
The girdle is the waist of the stone. It forms the border between the top and bottom of the diamond. Another description would be the “equator” between the “north” or top of the diamond and the “south”, or the bottom of the diamond.
According to Andrew, when buying a diamond, ideally one would want to stay away from the term “very” when describing the girdle. “A girdle that is marked by the GIA as very thin or very thick should be avoided if possible. I find that, when a diamond cutter is trying to achieve a certain carat weight and realizes they may have trouble getting to their magic number, they may use a larger girdle to assure the weight. Sometimes the use of a thinner girdle helps the proportional construction of the stone,” adds Andrew Fabrikant.
Specific carat weights can prove to be problematic. “I advise all my clients to avoid buying a diamond that has an even carat weight of .00. A diamond with a weight of .00 increases risk if the stone becomes damaged. If a diamond with an even carat of weight of say 2.00 is bruised or chipped, in order to repair it, the diamond would weigh in at a lower weight category,” says Andrew Fabrikant. “The weight change from 2.00 carats to 1.99 can have a tremendous affect on the value of the diamond.”
The Bottom of the Diamond
The culet or bottom of the diamond can also affect its look and value. The ideal measurement of a culet is none or the the absence of the culet. The bigger the size of the culet, the more of a negative effect it may have on the value of the diamond. A very small culet will have little affect on the look of the diamond. Diamonds with a very big open culet can appear to have dark circles in the center of the diamond and are known in the industry as “fish-eye.”
The proportion of the diamond is also very important. Andrew Fabrikant adds, “Round diamonds should be as close to a perfect circle as they can be. Emerald cuts should be symmetrical; ovals, marquise and pear shapes should be graceful. Beauty is what you see, and to have a beautiful diamond, it must be proportioned well.”
The 4 c’s are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to diamond knowledge. Various aspects of a diamond can affect appearance, beauty and value, whether the diamond is being purchased or sold. Andrew Fabrikant adds, “I often explain to my clients the many factors that affect the value of their diamond. Our purpose is to get our clients the best possible price for their jewelry, but also to answer all of their questions and guide them through the process to make it as seamless as possible.”