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What are the Four Cs of Diamonds?

Millennial couple diamond selfie

Diamonds are beautiful as a gem hanging from a white gold chain and as a cluster of jewels in an engagement ring. They are adorned by many because of their distinct beauty and durability. However, to find the best clarity diamond possible, a diamond graded by GIA (Gemological Institute of America) standards is a must. GIA, during the mid-twentieth century, developed a universal grading method that embodies a checklist of the four C’s; color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. These are touched on further below.


Initially, a diamond is graded on the presence or lack of color found within the jewel. The absence of color within a diamond is depicted of premium quality and shall cost more. With no hues presence, a diamond is referred to as chemically and structurally pure and perfect. By using the globally recognized GIA diamond color system, graded from D to Z, the absence or presence of color can be expressed. The letter D is used to represent a colorless diamond, however, if the presence of color is witnessed within the diamond, the letter grade increases. It’s important to note that hues within diamonds are mostly invisible to the untrained eye.


As most diamonds used for jewelry are produced within the earth’s mantle, they are exposed to intense heat and pressure, and small crystals can get caught inside the diamond during their creation. Consequently, it’s a natural occurrence for many diamonds to have what is referred to in clarity as inclusions and blemishes. It’s important to know, no diamond is 100% pure. However, there are different grades of clarity, such as FL (flawless) that come pretty close. 

  • FL – Flawless is assigned to diamonds that have no blemishes or inclusions when viewed with 10x magnification. 
  • IF – Internally Flawless, which means there are inclusions inside the diamond. However, blemishes are present externally and viewable with 10x magnification.
  • VVS – This term very very slightly, splits into two further categories. VVS determines that a diamond may have inclusions or blemishes that are very difficult to see unless you are a skilled grader using 10x magnification.


Many people assume that the cut of a diamond is determined by its shape. Such as pear, oval, round, oblong, and so forth. However, the cut refers to the ability of the facets of the diamond to interact with, and fracture light. The elements that determine this are the symmetry of the diamond, the proportions, and the polish. The GIA system uses brightness (internal and external reflected white light), fire (the ability to emit a scattered rainbow effect gleam) and scintillation (to assess the sparkliness of the jewel) to evaluate the cut.

Carat Weight 

Larger diamonds are more valuable because they are rarer in comparison to the smaller diamonds and more desirable to customers. However, it’s important to note that two diamonds that carry equal carat weight can vary in price and demand drastically. Considering the four C’s as a whole is essential to decipher the actual value of a diamond.  


The four C’s are essential for sellers and consumers to define the value of a diamond and to help the buyer understand what kind of jewel they are purchasing.

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