What Are The Four C’s Of Diamond Quality?

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It has long been recognized that the quality of a diamond is decided by the four C’s of the diamond, but are you really sure what that means? Besides a home and a car, a diamond is one of the largest purchases most people make in their life.

Just as with any important purchase you should understand exactly what you are purchasing. Just as this article about cheap wholesale diamonds reveals, the truth about the industry is that you get what you paid for.

Diamonds, although they may appear similar have vastly different values according the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The GIA has established a system for grading diamonds that is commonly known as the four C’s. This system is the best way to ensure the quality and value of a diamond.


The carat, although thought of as the size of the diamond, is actually a measurement of its weight; however it should be relative to the size. The carat weight is the easiest to determine but the stone must be loose. Too many jewelers approximate the carat weight in a setting telling you it may be more than what it is because the setting or cut may make it look larger.

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The cut refers to two separate things, the first being the shape of the diamond which can be round, marquise, pear, princess, oval, heart, emerald, or trillion. The second is the quality of proportions. Most diamonds today are not cut as well as they could be with many cutters choosing to sacrifice some of the diamond’s beauty to achieve a larger carat weight.

The cut is what gives the diamond its sparkle. It allows the maximum amount of light to enter through the top to be reflected back so that you can see its fire. If the stone is cut too shallow or deep it does not have the maximum amount of light and it may look dull or less brilliant then other cuts.


Diamonds come naturally in almost all colors of the rainbow but most of us are considering the color in the white range. The color determines the overall beauty. On the system that the GIA came up with the color starts with the letter D which is the best, and ranges down to a Z which is a more yellow diamond.

It is not so much as the color as the lack of color that allows the light to pass effortlessly through the stone. A white color diamond will look very clean and brilliant whereas a yellow diamond looks dark and dirty as opposed to actually being yellow.


Clarity refers to how many inclusions, or flaws, are in the diamond. In most cases the clarity has little to do with the beauty of the diamond, just how it looks under a microscope. It must be examined loose under 10 times magnification by a gemologist. Every minute inclusion makes the diamond unique and is considered to be “nature’s fingerprints”.

They don’t normally cause durability issues or mar the beauty of the diamond unless it is a very large inclusion which will probably be able to be seen by the naked eye. Sometimes though, if accurately represented these obvious inclusions can be concealed in the setting making it more durable, but you should pay less for this ring. The fewer inclusions the rarer the diamond will be.