Understanding the Diamond 4C’s a Complete Diamond Guide

If you're looking for a precious stone that is more than just beautiful, then there's no better choice than the diamond. Each of these stones have their own unique qualities and differences worth noting when making your decision on which one will suit whatever needs may come up in life!

What are the 4C’s?

The 4C’s, which you may have heard of before, were first developed by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) in the 1950s to evaluate diamonds based on four criteria: color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. Today, these standards are internationally accepted and trusted around the world as an impartial and objective evaluation body.

Clarity of Diamond 

According to the GIA, diamond clarity is the degree to which inclusions are free of blemishes. Natural diamonds are the result of carbon being exposed to intense heat and pressure deep within the earth. This process can result in a variety of internal features called "inclusions" and external features called "blemishes''.

A diamond's clarity evaluation involves determining the number, size, relief, and nature of these features and their location, as well as the effect of such factors on the stone's appearance. No diamond is completely free of impurities, but the closer a diamond comes to being so, the more valuable it becomes. The GIA Diamond Clarity Scale has six categories, some of which are subdivided, for a total of 11 grades.

  • Flawless (FL); No inclusions or blemishes under 10x magnification
  • Internally Flawless (IF); No inclusions under 10x magnification.
  • Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2); Inclusions are so slight that they
  • are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification.
  • Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2); Inclusions manageable at 10x
  • magnification, but can be characterized as faint
  • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2); Inclusions visible under 10x magnification
  • Inclusion Dead (I1, I2, I3); Inclusions easily visible under 10x magnification, may affect clarity and brilliance

In many cases, inclusions and blemishes are so small that they cannot be seen by anyone other than a trained diamond grader. To the naked eye, VS1 and SI2 diamonds may look exactly the same, but these diamonds are quite different in terms of overall quality. This is why an accurate diamond clarity assessment by an expert is so crucial.

Color of Diamond 

The color of a diamond actually means the absence of color. The more colorless and transparent a diamond is, the higher its value. A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond, like a drop of water without impurities, has no hue and is therefore highly valued. The more compounds it contains and the more yellowish it becomes, the lower its value.

GIA's D to Z diamond color grading system measures how colorless a diamond is by comparing it to a master stone under controlled lighting and precise observation conditions. These color differences are often very subtle and invisible to the untrained eye, but they can make a huge difference in the quality and price of a diamond.

Diamonds gradually become yellowish toward the "Z color," with colorless D being the highest rank. Diamonds are classified into five grades: colorless (colorless), near colorless (nearly colorless), faint (faint yellow), very light (very light yellow), and light (light yellow).

The transparency of G-color diamonds is such that few people can detect a yellowish tint when looking at a single G-color diamond. If you have good eyesight, you can only faintly sense the color when the diamonds are placed side by side with D-colored diamonds.

Why transparent colorless trades at high prices?

Colorless diamonds are one of the most miraculous of natural minerals and are traded at high prices around the world. Theoretically, a completely colorless diamond is made up of only 100% pure carbon in a uniform isotropic arrangement. However, diamonds, which are natural minerals to begin with, are often colored due to impurity atoms other than carbon, missing atoms, or distortions in the crystal structure during the formation process. The more colorless a diamond is, the purer and rarer it is among nature's creations, and the higher the price, due to its limited nature and high demand.

The popular transparent non-colorless diamond fancy color diamonds

Natural colored diamonds that are rare in color, clear with no inclusions, and have beautiful color and transparency are more expensive than colorless, transparent diamonds. Blue diamonds, pink diamonds, and green diamonds are available, and are popular for use as accents in engagement rings. Natural fancy colored diamonds are expensive, but recent technological developments have made it possible to create diamonds that look as good as real natural colored diamonds. Green and blue-green diamonds in particular are said to be difficult to distinguish, but it is possible to determine whether they are man-made or natural by performing an identification test.

Cut of Diamond

The third "C" is for "cut." Of the 4Cs, cut is the only one that is evaluated by the craftsman's hand. The cut determines the brilliance of the diamond. Diamonds are known for their strong light and brilliance. Often people think that the cut of a diamond is about the shape (round, heart, oval, marquise, pear), but the cut grade of a diamond is an evaluation of how well the diamond's facets interact with the light.

The balance, symmetry, and polish of the stone create a spectacular reflection of light that is only possible with diamonds. Therefore, precise artistic skill and workmanship are required to shape the stone.

The cut of a diamond is critical to the final beauty and value of the stone. And of the 4Cs of diamonds, the cut is the most complex and technically difficult to analyze.

To determine the cut grade of a standard round brilliant diamond (a shape that makes up the majority of diamond jewelry), GIA calculates the percentage of these facets that affect the diamond's face-up appearance. These percentages allow the GIA to evaluate how well a diamond interacts with light to produce the desired visual effect, such as

  • Brilliance/Brightness: internal and external white light reflected from the diamond
  • Fire: dispersion of white light showing all the colors of the rainbow
  • Scintillation: the amount of brilliance produced by the diamond and the

pattern of light and dark areas produced by reflections within the diamond

The GIA cut scale for standard round brilliant cut diamonds in the D to Z color range has five grades from Excellent to Poor.

Carat of Diamond

Diamond carat weight is a measurement of the weight of a diamond. The standard "carat" is defined as 200 milligrams.

One carat can be divided into 100 "points". This allows for very precise measurements to one hundred decimal places. A jeweler may describe the weight of a diamond weighing less than one carat in "points" only. For example, a jeweler might refer to a diamond weighing 0.25 carat as a "25 pointer.

Other things being equal, diamond prices increase with carat weight. This is because larger diamonds are rarer and more desirable. However, two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different values (and prices) depending on the other three elements of the diamond's 4Cs: clarity, color, and cut.

It is important to remember that the value of a diamond is determined using all of the 4Cs, not just the carat weight.

What is Magic size?

Weights such as 0.5 carat, 0.75 carat, and 1 carat are considered "magic sizes." Visually, there is little difference between a 0.99-carat diamond and one that weighs one carat. However, their prices can vary widely.

As Seen in Grace Ormonde Wedding Style Photography by: Kellie Walsh, 4 Eyes Photography 

Engagement Rings: 1 & 3 Chopard Kwiat