Multi-carat diamonds are investment pieces, because when a diamond exceeds one carat, the price rises dramatically. Large carat diamonds like four-carat stones are not, typically, marketed to the budget buyer. Instead, they often appeal to those able and willing to spend tens of thousands on the perfect stone. But just how much can a buyer expect to spend for a four-carat diamond? Really, the price for four-carat diamonds can vary greatly; a four-carat diamond can start at around $17,000 and soar beyond $100,000 for nearly flawless stones.
The price, of course, reflects the quality of the diamond. With the carat weight equal, the other three c’s of diamond grading—cut, clarity and color—all play a part in setting the price of the diamond. So how do you buy a four-carat diamond? And what qualities of this stone size must a buyer absolutely consider before finalizing the purchase?
Four carat diamonds are expensive, because large carat diamonds are rare. So a “budget” four-carat stone takes on a very different connotation. Those wishing to keep the diamond large and the price tag low still must budget at least in the $17,000 range. However, for this budget price, a buyer must sacrifice one major “c”—color. Many lower priced four-carat stones are more muted in their color; this means they may have a yellow or warmer hue. Buyers who aren’t too concerned about color can help mask the yellow undertone of the diamond by setting the stone in yellow gold.
As the budget allowance increases, though, the buyer can be more discerning about the diamond’s color, cut and clarity. Those with a tight budget—under $25,000—will need to decide what aspects of the diamond can be sacrificed. Many buyers decide that color is the major c that can be sacrificed. Color won’t necessarily affect the sparkle or the beauty of the diamond. Some buyers love a warmer hued diamond, and color is one of the more subjective C’s in the diamond market. Downgrading color, however, can significantly impact price for those on a tighter budget.
Buyers who demand a crisp colorless diamond might not be willing to sacrifice the idea of a colorless stone. This may mean choosing a diamond with a lower clarity grade—like SI1 (slightly included). Beware when sacrificing a diamond’s clarity grade, though. The clarity of the diamond can greatly impact the refraction of light within the stone. Slightly Included (SI) is the lowest clarity grade that buyers should select, as the clarity affects the beauty and integrity of the diamond. Typically, diamonds graded Included (I)–the grade below SI—feature noticeable blemishes and inclusions. This could mean a visible black carbon blemish, a feather inclusion or maybe even a small crack.
What about the cut? Should a buyer opt for cut grade that is less than “good?” Sacrificing the cut grade becomes tricky; a poorly cut diamond won’t be as brilliant or beautiful on the hand. So while the stone would be large, the overall appearance of the diamond would be less appealing. As a rule, buyers should avoid diamonds that have cut grades less than “good.” For reference, the Gemological Institute of America offers cut grades that range from Excellent to Poor.
Shape Shapes the Price, Too!
While cut, color and clarity impact the dollar amount, so, too, does the shape of the diamond. Certain diamond shapes may command a higher price tag. Round brilliant often tends to be the most expensive as the shape offers the most fire.
Fancy shapes also can make a four-carat diamond appear bigger on the hand. Vertical diamond shapes like pear, oval, emerald and marquise may give the illusion of a heftier carat size when compared to round brilliant or princess shapes. A buyer who places a high priority on the size of the diamond can maximize the carat weight by choosing a diamond that appears larger than four carats.
When selecting a fancy shaped four-carat diamond, however, always pay attention to the cut grade. Shapes like pear, marquise and heart need to have the proper proportions and dimensions to maximize the beauty and brilliance of the diamond. A pear that is cut too wide may look like a misshapen round brilliant.
If you spend five figures (or more!) on a diamond, you should insure the investment. A traditional homeowner’s policy often can be upgraded with an umbrella policy to insure jewelry and other valuable items. Some companies also specialize in insurance just for jewelry. Before buying an insurance policy to protect the diamond, you’ll need to have the stone (or jewelry item) appraised by a professional. Also, there may be coverage exclusions that you need to understand. Some policies protect against loss, but others might not. Be sure you are aware of any coverage limitations before you finalize the policy. And don’t wear the diamond until you know that the insurance coverage is active!
A four-carat stone should not be placed in a setting that leaves it vulnerable to chipping, damage or other hazards. Treat the diamond like an investment and choose settings that offer the maximum security and protection.
For rings, bezel settings keep the diamond tightly encased in a halo of metal. Six-prong center mounts also provide a secure setting for larger diamonds. Avoid tension settings, as they make leave part of the diamond vulnerable. If you select a diamond shape that features sharp points or tips—like princess, pear, and marquise—choose a setting that keeps the tips protected and fully covered. Tips and points are often the most prone to chips and breaks.
Four-carat diamond earrings should be placed in a protective six-prong mount or a bezel setting. Always choose screw-on earring backs to ensure that the diamond stays locked in place. Regular earring backs often become dislodged—and this can lead to a huge financial loss.
Necklace settings also should follow the same setting options. Again, select six-prong diamond mounts or a bezel setting. Necklaces, however, are a little less at risk for serious wear and tear. Rings and bracelets, though, often suffer the most abuse throughout the day.
Four-carat diamonds are an investment piece. These stones are not for those with a tight budget, but lower priced ($17,000) stones can be found. When opting for a ‘budget’ four-carat diamond, buyers need to sacrifice one of the remaining 3cs (cut, color or clarity). Typically, the easiest way to keep a large carat diamond on budget is to opt for a lower color grade (and, thus, a warmer diamond). Cut and clarity can be downgraded to make room in the budget, but buyers need to beware when selecting lower end cuts and clarity grades. A poorly cut diamond often isn’t as brilliant or beautiful, and a lower clarity grade also can affect the durability of the stone. The shape of the stone, though, can affect the value of the diamond—round brilliant is often the most expensive shape. As four-carat diamonds always command a high price tag, buyers should be sure that they purchase insurance coverage for the stone and place the diamond in a secure jewelry setting (like a bezel or six-prong mount). No matter what color or shape you choose for your four-carat diamond, understand that diamonds of higher carats are rare and a true investment. Protect your purchase and enjoy every moment of the stone’s brilliance and beauty.