4 C's of Diamonds

You've probably heard about the 4C’s which classify the value of diamonds. Every diamond’s price, rarity and beauty are determined by the combination of color, clarity, cut and carat weight. Diamonds are not only beautiful but like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike. Also, 10 Diamonds with the same color, clarity, cut and carat weight can all look different. Which C is most important? We have our favorite but it's most important to get the diamond that appeals or speaks the most to you - whatever your favorite C or C's are.



White-colored diamonds remain the most popular, even though diamonds are found in a kaleidoscope of colors. Colored diamonds are becoming more and more popular and natural colored diamonds can be found in any color, although if you can afford a natural red or green come and talk to us because we have store we would like to sell you!

White diamonds are graded on a color scale implemented by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), which ranges from D, which is colorless, to Z. Before this scale was standardized by GIA there were loose color gradings of A,B,C and I,II,III  and 0,1,2,3 so GIA chose to make their most colorless diamond grade D. Color differences can be so subtle that diamond colors are graded under controlled lighting conditions by skilled diamond graders and are compared to a master set for accuracy. While truly colorless diamonds, graded D, are treasured for their rarity, diamond color is ultimately a very personal taste. 


Nature ensures that each diamond is as individual as the person who wears it. Naturally occurring inclusions such as minerals or fractures are the unique identifying characteristics created while diamonds are formed in the earth. In order to determine clarity, diamond graders and jewelers use magnification to view diamonds at 10 times their actual size so these tiny inclusions are more easily seen. Just like with color, there is a scale, also established by GIA, for clarity ranging from Flawless or F (no inclusions visible under 10 power magnification) which are the most rare, to Included or I1, I2 and I3 (inclusions visible under 10 power magnification which can affect the diamond's tranparancy and brilliance).

The higher a diamond’s clarity, the more rare and valuable it is. Depending on where the inclusion is in the diamond, it could impact the dispersion of light, making the diamond less brilliant. However, sometimes a noticeable inclusion can be favorably set under a prong or portion of the mounting so that it is not visible, making a diamond with a lower clarity grade look even more beautiful.


Often what people first think about when cut is mentioned is the shape of the diamond - and there are many different shapes such as Round Brilliant, Princess Cut, Pear Shaped, Marquise, Emerald Cut and many others. This C refers to the proportions and angels of the diamond and how the facets react with each other. This is determined by a master diamond cutter, who reveals the diamond's true beauty. 

A well cut diamond reflects light from one mirror-like facet to another and projects the light through the top of the stone. This determines the brilliance, fire and scintillation of the diamond. Diamonds that are cut too deep or too shallow leak light through the side or bottom, resulting in a lackluster appearance. GIA has established 5 cut grades from excellent to poor for diamonds. A lower graded color and clarity diamond that has an excellent cut grade often sparkles and shimmers more than a higher graded diamond that does not have an excellent cut.

Even though most people focus on color and clarity, we feel that cut can be the most important characteristic and can give a diamond with a lower color and clarity grade as much or more sparkle and fire than a higher graded diamond. 

Carat Weight

Carat is a diamond’s measure of weight, not size. One full carat is equal to 100 points. Diamonds weighing less than a carat are often referred to by their points so a ¾ carat diamond often will be called a 75 pointer by a jeweler. Large diamonds are found less frequently in nature. For example out of gem quality diamonds, only about 1 in 1 million is 1 carat or larger. All other factors being equal, as diamonds get larger the price increases but a 1 carat diamond will usually cost more than twice a ½ carat diamond with the same color, clarity and cut.

Its important to remember that carat is only the weight of the diamond. Because of the cut, in a grouping of 1 carat diamonds, some will look larger or smaller than others (and their diameters will also vary if they are round brilliants). 

Sometimes you will see a 5th or even a 6th "C" added to the list - something like Cost or Confidence but we like to keep things simple and by talking with us about the 4 C's that everyone has heard about we'll take care of any others.