Do the 4Cs still make the grade?

| May 23rd, 2019

Do the 4Cs still make the grade?
"Do the 4Cs still make the grade?"

Renée Newman, author of a guide for the diamond trade, proposes a fifth C and two Ts. The “5Cs and 2Ts” isn’t as catchy as the usual formula, but it might be a better pricing method, according to the author of a diamond-trade guide that claims the 4Cs are no longer adequate.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that there are only four diamond price factors — color, clarity, cut and carat weight,” Renée Newman, a graduate gemologist who last year published the third edition of her Diamond Handbook, says in an interview with Rapaport News. “In fact, there are other factors, such as the transparency and treatment status. They can have a large impact on price. We [in the trade] may know that, but the consumers don’t, because they just hear about the 4Cs.”

Transparency matters

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) developed the 4Cs in the 1950s, when the industry considered cloudy diamonds to be industrial quality and didn’t put them into jewelry, the Handbook explains. Today, jewelers do use cloudy and hazy diamonds, but their clarity grades often don’t reflect their lower transparency, even though that characteristic can affect the value.

Newman distinguishes between clarity — a stone’s lack of inclusions and other blemishes — and the first “T,” transparency, which is how well it lets light pass. While a diamond with high clarity will have few or no inclusions, a stone is transparent if a viewer can see objects through it distinctly. Many laboratories don’t take into account subtle differences in transparency, Newman writes. “I’ve seen hazy and slightly cloudy diamonds with VS clarity grades,” she notes in the book.

How to treat treatments

Very few treated diamonds were on the market when the 4Cs came along, Newman explains. Most diamonds are still untreated now, but it’s becoming a larger minority as sellers seek to improve stones’ color, clarity and transparency.

This second “T” is important, as it hugely impacts the price. An untreated 1-carat, fancy-green, VS-clarity diamond will often fetch more than $200,000, compared with around $5,000 for an irradiated diamond with otherwise identical characteristics, Newman estimates. Treated diamonds are also much harder to resell.

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Source Rapaport

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