Diamond Education

The 4 C's

Understanding the 4 C’s of Diamonds

Every diamond is unique. Yet all diamonds share certain features that allow us to compare and evaluate them. These features are called the 4Cs.

The valuation of a diamond is based on the 4 characteristics below. But numbers alone can’t describe a diamond’s mysterious and captivating beauty – for that, you’ll have to visit your local jeweler to see one for yourself.


Diamond clarity is the quality of diamonds that relates to the existence and visual appearance of internal characteristics of a diamond called inclusions, and surface defects, called blemishes. Clarity is one of the four Cs of diamond grading, the others being carat, color, and cut.

Diamond Clarity Descriptions

Flawless (FL) – No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10x magnification

Internally Flawless (IF) – No inclusions visible under 10x magnification

Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) – Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification

Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) – Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor

Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) – Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification

Included (I1, I2, and I3) – Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance


A diamond cut is a style or design guide used when shaping a diamond for polishing such as the brilliant cut. Cut does not necessarily refer to shape (pear, oval), but the symmetry, proportioning and polish of a diamond. What diamond cut actually does mean is how well a diamond’s facets interact with light.The cut of a diamond greatly affects a diamond’s brilliance; this means if it is cut poorly, it will be less luminous.

Diamond Cut Factors

Brightness – Internal and external white light reflected from a diamond

Fire – The scattering of white light into all the colors of the rainbow

Scintillation – The amount of sparkle a diamond produces, and the pattern of light and dark areas caused by reflections within the diamond


The color evaluation of gem-quality diamonds is based on the absence of color. A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond has no hue, like a drop of pure water, and consequently, a higher value. GIA’s D-to-Z diamond color-grading system measures the degree of colorlessness by comparing a stone under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions to masterstones of established color value.

Diamond Color Descriptions

D-F – Colorless

G-J – Near Colorless


N-RVery Light

S-Z – Light

Carat (weight)

Carat refers to a unit of weight for a diamond as opposed to a measurement of size. A metric “carat” is defined as 200 milligrams. Each carat is subdivided into 100 ‘points.’ This allows very precise measurements to the hundredth decimal place. A diamonds carat weight will measure its apparent size.

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