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Diamond Gemological Characteristics

The most familiar usage of diamonds today is as gemstones used for adornment a usage which dates back into antiquity. The dispersion of white light into spectral colors is the primary gemological characteristic of gem diamonds. In the twentieth century, experts in the field of gemology have developed methods of grading diamonds and other gemstones based on the characteristics most important to their value as a gem. Four characteristics known informally as the four Cs are now commonly used as the basic descriptors of diamonds: carat, cut, color, and clarity. Most gem diamonds are traded on the wholesale market based on single values for each of the four Cs; for example knowing that a diamond is rated as 1.5 carats (300 mg), VS2 clarity, F color, excellent cut round brilliant, is enough to reasonably establish an expected price range. More detailed information from within each characteristic is used to determine actual market value for individual stones. Consumers who purchase individual diamonds are often advised to use the four Cs to pick the diamond that is "right" for them. Other characteristics also influence the value and appearance of a gem diamond. These include physical characteristics such as the presence of fluorescence as well as the diamond's source and which gemological institute evaluated the diamond. Cleanliness also dramatically affects a diamond's beauty. There are three major non-profit gemological associations which grade and provide reports or certificates ("certs") on diamonds; while carat weight and cut angles are mathematically defined, the clarity and color are judged by the trained human eye and are therefore open to slight variance in interpretation. The associations are listed below. • Gemological Institute of America (GIA) was the first laboratory in America to issue modern diamond reports, and is held in high regard amongst gemologists for its consistent, conservative grading. • American Gem Society (AGS) is not as widely recognized nor as old as the GIA but garners a high reputation. The AGS employs a number system for grading cut quality, color grade, and clarity. The highest grade being '0’ and the lowest being '10'. • Diamond High Council (HRD) Official certification laboratory of the Belgian diamond industry, located in Antwerp. Antwerp World Diamond Center Within the last two decades, a number of for-profit gemological grading laboratories have also been established, many of them also based in Antwerp or New York. These entities serve to provide similar services as the non-profit associations above, but in a less expensive and timelier fashion. They produce certificates that are similar in detail to the GIA's.