Diamond Education

The 4 C's

Diamond Anatomy & Cut Quality

Understanding the 4 C’s of Diamonds Shopping

Selecting a diamond starts by understanding the unique characteristics of each stone. GIA created the first globally accepted standard for describing diamonds: Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat Weight.
This basic knowledge below will not only unlock the mystery of a diamond’s quality, but it will also help you understand a diamond’s value and price.
The 4Cs of diamonds impact the stone’s beauty and value. Learn more about each of the diamond 4Cs below.


A Diamond’s Clarity grade evaluates how clean a diamond is from both inclusions and blemishes. Clarity is graded by the GIA on the following diamond clarity chart:

Diamond Clarity Descriptions

– FL (Flawless)
– IF (Internally Flawless)
– VVS1 (Very, Very Slightly Included 1)
– VVS2 (Very, Very Slightly Included 2)
– VS1 (Very Slightly Included 1)
– VS2 (Very Slightly Included 2)
– SI1 (Slightly Included 1)
– SI2 (Slightly Included 2)
– I1 (Inclusions 1)
– I2 (Inclusions 2)
Note that each diamond differs slightly. Rather than sticking to a particular grade on the diamond clarity chart, review each diamond to see if you notice imperfections.


Diamond cut refers to the polish, proportions, and symmetry of a diamond, not the stone’s shape. The quality of a diamond’s cut determines the sparkle and overall beauty of the stone.
The cut of a diamond is then given one of five gradings: excellent, very good, good, fair, and poor.

Diamond Cut Descriptions

Excellent: These diamonds are pristinely cut with the correct proportions to maximize the fire, sparkle, and brilliance in the diamond.
Very Good : Diamonds with this grade are beautifully cut. They are very similar to excellent-grade diamonds, although slightly less quality.
Good: These diamonds are cut in such a way that gives some sparkle to the stone, but may be disproportionate in some areas. Because of these inconsistencies
Fair: Light easily exits through the bottom and sides of a fair grade diamond. For this reason, fair cut diamonds are not ideal for center stones but could be suitable for smaller side stones on a ring.
Poor: As the name of this rating suggests, poor cut diamonds are the least favorable—and luckily, the least common.


The diamond color scale is a standardized grading system that assesses the absence of color in a diamond. Created by the Gemological Institute of American (GIA), diamonds are graded on a scale of D to Z, with D representing colorless diamonds.

Diamond Color Descriptions

Diamond colors fall under a D-Z scale, with D meaning completely colorless (and the most expensive), and Z having a light yellow hue. Standard diamond quality falls within the D-J color grade. The shape of the diamond also influences its spot on the color scale. A round brilliant diamond, for example, hides color incredibly well, meaning you can go further down the scale without seeing any yellowing. However, longer diamond shapes, like oval and radiant, reveal color much easier. Keep in mind, though, diamond color is essentially personal preference and doesn’t indicate quality whatsoever.

Carat (Size)

This is the name for the weight of the diamond. It can be expressed as carats, or ct., or cts. A metric carat is 200 milligrams (a lot less than you’d think, right?). Each carat is divided into 100 “points,” which means you may also hear the term “pointer.” This would be referenced by jewelers, such as in the case of a diamond weighing .25cts, as a “25 pointer”.

Diamond Sizing Descriptions

With everything else being equal, each point will increase the price of the diamond. However, you could have two diamonds that weigh the same carat weight but have substantially different prices and values, depending on the other 3C’s- clarity, cut and color.
The larger the carat weight of the diamond, typically the more expensive, because bigger diamonds are more rare. Especially when the diamond has good color and clarity, the price will significantly increase.
No single diamond is perfect for everyone—but all of our customers, whether they’re eyeing a .50-carat or a 16-carat diamond, want as much sparkle as their budget allows. Of the 4Cs (cut, color, clarity, carat), the cut has the greatest influence on a diamond’s beauty and sparkle. Even a diamond with a flawless clarity grade (no blemishes or inclusions) can look glassy or dull if the cut is too shallow or deep. So, when determining what diamond to buy, go with the best cut grade that you can afford.

Earring Size.