The Four "C"s

Diamonds are the most desirable of all gems.  Their value will vary greatly depending on four main factors-Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat Weight-known as the 4 C’s.  While these characteristics are important, ultimately, the diamond must be beautifully perfect to you.


A diamond’s size is measured in carats, which represents the weight of the stone. The word carat comes from the carob seed, which was used long ago to balance the scale when weighing diamonds. One carat is equal to 1/5 of a gram. The higher the carat weight, the larger the diamond, and the value will increase exponentially. For diamonds weighing less than one carat, their size may be referred to in points. One carat equals 100 points, like cents on the dollar. A ¾ carat diamond is also 75 points, a ½ carat is 50 points and so on. The price of a diamond is most directly related to its carat-weight.


Diamonds are cut and polished into a variety of shapes. Brilliant Round, Princess, Pear, Emerald, Cushion, and Radiant are some examples of these shapes. However, the cut of a diamond is much more than the shape. Cut is also a measure of the proportion of the angles and facets relative to the size. A diamond that is poor or fair in cut will not reflect and refract light properly and is not nearly as valuable as one with excellent or very good cut. An excellent cut diamond will have optimal luster, brilliance, dispersion of light, and scintillation, or “sparkle”.


Diamonds occur in every color of the spectrum, and the most popular are colorless. Laboratories, like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and European Gemological Laboratory (EGL), will grade diamonds based on their deviation from the purest white using an alphabetical scale beginning with the letter D. Colorless diamonds are graded D-F and near-colorless G-J. Diamonds graded K-Z will have a warm yellow or brown tint. Although most diamonds come in shades of white, yellow, and brown, they are also found in red, pink, canary yellow, blue, and purple. These are known as Fancies and are graded by the intensity of the color. This scale is Faint, Very Light, Light, Fancy Light, Fancy Intense, Fancy Vivid, Fancy Dark, and Fancy Deep. These fancy colored diamonds are extremely rare and the most valuable of all.


A diamond’s clarity is determined by the amount of inclusions or imperfections present inside the stone. A tiny percentage of diamonds have no inclusions and are graded Flawless (FL). The scale continues with Internally Flawless (IF), Very-Very small (VVS1-2), Very small (VS1-2), Small Inclusions (SI1-3), and Imperfect (I1-3). These categories take in to account the number, size, and location of the inclusions in the diamond. Inclusions can interfere with the passage of light and diminish the sparkle and value of the diamond. Generally, a clarity grade of SI1 or higher will have some inclusions, but they can only be seen under magnification.