The 4 C's of Diamonds

Diamond Fun Fact

An estimated 10 million people globally are directly or indirectly supported by the diamond industry

The 4 C's are the key characteristics of diamonds: Carat, Cut, Color and Clarity.
These 4 C's determine the quality and value of a diamond, so it's a good idea to learn about them before buying any diamond or diamond ring.


Carat is the term used to define the weight of diamonds. Since all diamonds are made up of the same material - carat is related to the size of a diamond. To easily quantify carats, jewelers assign 100 "points" to each carat and discuss weight based on portions of those points. A 50-point diamond, for instance, is the equivalent of a half-carat.

Because large diamonds are found less commonly than small diamonds, the price of a diamond rises exponentially to its size. For example, one 1 carat diamond would cost more than two 0.5 carat diamonds.


Diamond cut is perhaps the most important of the four Cs, so it is important to understand how this quality affects the properties and values of a diamond. Only a good cut can give a diamond its brilliance, luster and fire which is so characteristic of diamonds.

A diamond's cut is judged by the quality of symmetry, proportioning and polish.

When a diamond is well-cut, light enters through the table and travels to the pavilion where it reflects from one side to the other before reflecting back out of the diamond through the table and to the observer's eye.

In a poorly cut diamond, the light that enters through the table reaches the facets and then 'leaks' out from the sides or bottom of the diamond rather than reflecting back to the eye. Less light reflected back to the eye means less brilliance.

Several grading methods have been developed to help consumers determine the cut of a particular diamond. In general, these grades are Ideal, Premium,Very Good, Good, Fair & Poor .


The ideal diamond will have as little color as possible. Most diamonds appear icy white, but many have tiny hints of color, usually yellow. Colorless diamonds are composed of pure carbon. Traces of other elements incorporated into their atomic structure account for the changes in color. A single change in color grade can significantly affect a diamond's value.

To grade 'whiteness' or colorlessness, most jewelers refer to GIA's professional color scale that begins with the highest rating of D for colorless, and travels down the alphabet to grade stones with traces of very faint or light yellowish or brownish color. The color scale continues all the way to Z.

The closer to white or "colorless" the stone appears, the more valuable it is. Colorless diamonds are extremely rare, and therefore very valuable. The reason - the absence of color allows more light to pass through the stone.


Clarity is a measure of the number and size of the tiny imperfections that occur in almost all diamonds. These 'internal characteristics' of a diamond are usually referred to as 'inclusions', and surface defects are called 'blemishes'.

Most inclusions do not affect the diamonds' performance or structural integrity. However, large 'clouds' can affect a diamond's ability to transmit and scatter light. Large cracks close to or breaking the surface may reduce a diamond's resistance to fracture.

The better the clarity, the more expensive the diamond. Flawless diamonds are extremely rare and therefore very expensive.

Usually a good choice would be to select an 'eye-clean' diamond. This means that you cannot see the diamond inclusions with the naked eye (they are only visible with 10x magnification).