The 4 C's of Diamonds

Gold Art understands that your diamond purchase is meaningful. To help with the shopping process, we've compiled this guide to help make your diamond purchase a more informed and enjoyable experience. The four most important criteria that a jeweler uses while grading a diamond are: Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat. This is commonly known as the 4 C's of a diamond. All four properties will determine a diamond's worth.


It's common to confuse the meaning of a diamond's "cut". Contrary to popular thought, cut is not the shape of a diamond. Actually, cut refers to the angles and proportions of a diamond. Diamond cut is considered the most important of the four Cs. Therefore, it is important to understand how cut affects the properties and values of a diamond. Diamonds that are cut too deep or too shallow can lose or leak light through the sides and bottom. This results in a less brilliant diamond of lesser value. But a well-cut diamond is able to handle light better, creating more scintillation and more sparkle, which leads to brilliance and more value.


Diamonds are graded for clarity under 10x loupe magnification. Clarity ranges from "Flawless" to "Included" (meaning inclusions are visible to the human eye). Below, is the chart that certification societies have standardized for grading and describing the clarity of a diamond.

F = Flawless
No internal or external flaws. Extremely rare.

IF = Internally Flawless
No internal flaws, but may have minor flaws on the outside. Very rare.

VVS1-VVS2 = Very, Very Slight Inclusions
Very small inclusions. It's difficult to detect inclusions under 10 x magnifications even by a trained gemologist. VVS1 inclusions can only be seen through the pavilion. VVS2 inclusions are more visible.

VS1-VS2 = Very Slightly Included
Inclusions can only be seen with difficulty under 10x magnification. VS1 inclusions are harder to see than VS2.

SI1-SI2 = Slightly Included
Inclusions easy to see under 10X magnification and might be visible to the naked eye

 I1-I2-I3 = Included
Inclusions visible to the human eye.


A diamond's color typically refers to the presence or absence of color in white diamonds. Diamonds act as prisms and can divide light into a spectrum of colors. The reflection of this light as colorful flashes is referred to as "fire". The more colorless a diamond, the more colorful the fire will appear. Diamond colors generally range from D - Z for white and yellow diamonds. D is the whitest. Around S they become "fancy" yellow diamonds.


The weight of a diamond measured in carats. One carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. Sometimes one carat is referred to as 100 "points". (Example: A diamond of 75 points weighs .75 carats.)  Carat-weight is the easiest of the 4 C's to determine. But two diamonds of equal weight can have very unequal value, depending on their cut, color and clarity. Larger diamonds often cost more per carat due to their size. Diamond cost increases exponentially with an increase in weight because larger diamonds are rarer than smaller diamonds and this rarity increases the value of a larger diamond.

NEXT in Diamond Education: Diamond Comparison Information.