4 C’s of Diamond Quality

The Four C’s are the criteria jewelers use when grading diamonds. They give you a wealth of information about a diamond’s characteristics and value, but they can’t begin to describe one elusive quality – beauty. To do that, you’ll need to experience the diamond with your own eyes.


Cut has three attributes: brilliance (the total light reflected from a diamond), fire (the dispersion of light into the colors of the spectrum), and scintillation (the sparkle when a diamond is moved). Related to cut is the shape of a diamond. The standard round brilliant is the shape used in most diamond jewelry; all others are known as fancy shapes. Traditional fancy shapes include the marquise, pear, oval and emerald cuts. Hearts, cushions, triangles and a variety of others are also gaining popularity.


Every diamond is unique. None is absolutely perfect; they often contain unique birthmarks, either internal (inclusions) or external (blemishes).The clarity of a diamond is determined by the amount and location of inclusions or blemishes in the diamond when viewed under 10 power (10x) magnification. Clarity grades each diamond from Flawless to Imperfect 3. Diamonds that are clear create more brilliance, and thus are more highly prized, and priced.


Diamond color is all about what you can’t see. Diamonds are valued by how closely they approach colorlessness – the less color, the higher their value. Colorless diamonds are the most desirable because they allow the most refraction of light (sparkle). The exception is fancy-color diamonds, such as pinks and blues, which lie outside this color range. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) rates the body color in white diamonds from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow).


A carat is the unit of weight – not size- by which a diamond is measured: one carat is equal to 0.2 grams, about the same weight as a paperclip. A carat is divided into 100 points. For example, a 50-point diamond weighs 0.50 carats. But two diamonds of equal weight can have very different values depending on the other members of the Four C’s: cut, clarity and color.