What are the 4 Cs? Why is it important?

Diamond zoom

Hunting for that perfect diamond may seem rather daunting. One way to simplify the process is to think about the 4Cs. These are the 4 most important aspects to a diamond: Color, Cut, Clarity and Carat Weight. The 4Cs have become a universal diamond grading system since the 1940s. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) standardized these terms for discussing a diamond, and over the years it has proven to be a resourceful tool to assist in buying an engagement ring. No matter where you are purchasing your diamond or engagement ring from, these characteristics should all be discussed in depth.

Author By Holly Albertson

First, we have color. This is the grade given to the diamond based not on color, but the lack of color. The purest grade is a D-where no hue is present. This is the whitest stone you can get! The color scale continues down the alphabet all the way to Z. Past Z and you’ll get into Fancy colors, something we can save for another time! It is important to note that color is truly a personal choice, especially when it comes to picking a diamond for an engagement ring. Some people want only the whitest : D E F colors of diamonds are consequently the best options for those looking for white diamonds. On the other hand, you might like a slight touch of warmth seen in J K L. It is good to think about what color metal you will be using as well, as that can impact your diamond color choice too.

Diamond color scale

The diamond Cut, we believe is the most important of the 4Cs. When it comes to the 4Cs, we aren’t referring to the shape of the diamond, but the quality of the cut itself. Excellent cut is what will help the stone sparkle and shine the most! In order to get an Excellent cut, the stone must have a combination of proportions (table, depth, girdle etc.)  that lead to a bright looking stone! The farther down the scale you go, Very Good, Good, Poor and Fair, the less scintillation and sparkle you have. As cut is the most important feature, we really recommend striving for Excellent Cut, or at least Very Good Cut in order to get a quality diamond.

Diamond Cuts

Next we have clarity. This is the way we describe how clean the stone looks, how free from inclusions or blemishes the stone is. Typically we talk about how eye clean the stone is-meaning are there any inclusions visible to the naked eye? The cleanest diamond quality out there is Flawless (FL). This means there are no inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification. Then there is Internally flawless (IF), with only blemishes visible under 10x. You’ll then move down the scale to Very, Very slightly included (VVS1-2), Very slightly included (VS1-2), slightly included (SI1-2) and included (I1-3). If you are looking for an eye clean stone, we recommend starting at VS2 and higher.

Diamond Clarity

The last of the 4Cs is Carat Weight. This is how diamonds, and other gemstones, are measured. This is a universal way of weighing stones. One important thing to note here: a stone of the same weight can look visually different, depending on how well they are cut. For example, an Excellent cut 0.90ct Round can look just as large if not larger than a Poorly cut 1.00ct Round. This could be due to a large depth or girdle in the Poorly cut stone, allowing for wasted dead weight to be hidden in these areas instead of being spread upon the top visual portion. The diamond carat size is one thing you should think about before starting your diamond search.

Diamond Carat scale

Now that you’ve learned a bit about the 4Cs, it is time to decide which one you want to prioritize. Some people find they prefer a larger carat weight over clarity. Some want the whitest color. Take the time to think about these 4Cs before starting your search for your next diamond!

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