Since diamonds were first mined in ancient India over 2800 years ago, they have been associated with power, love, wealth and prestige. Ancient Egyptians believed in the power of the diamond 4c and how it could connect love with eternity. Their belief was founded upon Vena Amoris (the vein of love) finger leading back to the heart. By wearing a diamond ring on the Vena Amoris, the ancient Egyptians passionately believed that eternal love could be achieved.

Even today, throughout much of the world, a diamond 4c ring worn on the third finger is viewed as a symbol of the commitment of love. So having found the 'love of your life' how do you find the special diamond 4c that is going to symbolise everlasting love?

To start with there is an amazing range of prices to consider from modest sums to telephone number figures that most of us can only dream of. What is more, diamond selling price is not the same as diamond 4c value - the difference is the profits and overheads added of the seller! It is therefore advisable before making any purchase to find out a little more about diamonds and their intrinsic value so that you can have that diamond of your dreams without breaking the bank.

Whilst many people may have heard that a diamond 4c value depends critically in terms of the 4Cs: the Cut, Clarity, Carat, and Colour, few really understand how this works in practice. The carat is the weight of a diamond. One carat is 0.2 gram or 200 milligrams and hence is easy to measure objectively with the help of an accurate weighing scale. This is not the case with the other attributes. It is unfortunate that people are often misled into paying too much for an inferior diamond 4c because they do not understand the other more subjective attributes.

The most important and often least understood "C" is "Cut". To get from the raw diamond 4c to the finished cut sparkling gemstone requires the skilled hand of a master cutter. A rough or uncut diamond is rather unimpressive compared to the sparkling gems resulting from cutting and polishing!

The better the CUT proportions, the better the diamond handles light to create sparkle. Therefore CUT is the single most important factor affecting a diamond's brilliance and visual fire. However, "Cut" is often confused with diamond 4c Shape.

diamond 4c can be cut into many different shapes: 80-85% of all diamonds are cut into the round brilliant diamond shape as this is the most popular. About 5-10% of all diamond 4c are cut into the princess shape (a square shape) and the remaining 5-10% are spread between all the other shapes e.g. emerald cut, pear shape, oval, cushion, asscher, radiant, marquise, heart, baguette...etc.
The sad fact is that 75-80% of diamonds sold anywhere are poorly proportioned to retain carat weight rather to maximise sparkle as the average person and the average vendor sells them by the carat!
Poorly cut diamonds are actually worth up to 50% less than many vendors sell them at but unless you buy with expert advise you often end up paying more for these inferior diamond 4c. Hence a diamond in the hand bought with expertise at a direct from trade low price may literally have a net value that is more than the value of higher price diamonds being sold elsewhere!

With fancy shapes like hearts, pears, marquise, there are visual clues that even a novice can use to spot diamonds that are too fat, too thin or too irregular. However, more expertise is required to judge the most popular shape, the round brilliant. All round diamonds have the same visually round shape but will differ in their angles, proportions and depths that are not visually apparent especially when the diamond 4c is already set in a piece of jewellery rather than being loose. For the round shape, the solution is to buy diamonds with the highest grades for Cut proportions on independent certificates from the three most reputable independent laboratories i.e. GIA, HRD and IGI. Many other certificates are not worth the paper they are written on as they are either not strict enough in their grading (e.g. EGL) or not fully independent.

Another critical factor affecting diamond value is "Colour". Most diamond 4c are referred to as "colourless" which in diamond terminology ranges from actually colourless to yellowish shades. The difference between various colour grades makes a critical difference to value though the differences in shade are very subtle requiring expertise to judge when the diamond is loose. Few people realise that it is impossible to accurately asses a diamond 4c colour when the diamond is already set in jewellery.
A very tiny percentage of diamonds have other distinct colours e.g. blue, green, yellow, orange, pink, or red. Such fancy coloured diamonds command telephone figure prices in line with their rarity.

Diamond Clarity is the remaining C and refers to the presence of inclusions or imperfections in a diamond. Almost all diamonds have some imperfections as individual as the person who wears the diamond 4c. For the purposes of jewellery, diamonds are graded by the amount of imperfections that can be seen at x10 magnification with a jeweller's magnifying glass. This is the easiest factor for most people to understand and appreciate especially when viewing a diamond close up under magnification.

Historically, the shops whether prestigious ones like Cartier and Tiffany to more modest independent retailers have been popular for their choice and convenience as well as their instant fulfilment. However, branded shops have higher margins, often charging as much as 2-3 times the diamond 4c trade price, to cover their higher costs of advertising/branding and high stock levels. Even modest non-branded retailers often charge double the trade price to cover their stock and premises overheads.

Hence, many shrewd shoppers nowadays prefer to purchase from diamond brokers (e.g. in the UK: bestdiamonds or designsbyindigo) who can sell with expertise from loose diamond 4c as well as provide non-retail trade prices. Such diamond brokers provide a more personalised service by cherry-picking diamonds to suit their clients budget and needs rather than just selling "stock".

On the whole diamond brokers like these are still relatively few compared to the growth of online "diamond bucket shops" where one can simply click and order from a list of diamond 4c. Many mass-market shoppers are turning to these bucket shops for the convenience of buying via their computer screen from which they can look at pictures of thousands of items online and place their order without ever talking to a human.

Typically, such mass-market diamond 4c retailers provide a list of diamonds owned by groups of wholesalers and let the shopper pick the diamond they want based on the specifications in the list. The shopper pays for the diamond in advance and then the wholesaler or the retailer ships the diamond 4c to the consumer. Due to their low overhead costs, diamond 4c bucket shops can provide lower prices than most branded or independent jewellery shops.