Planning to Buy Diamonds this Season? Get to know the 4Cs

Anyone wanting to make an informed purchase of diamond jewelry needs at least a cursory understanding of diamond grading specs and the 4 C’s of diamonds. These are the standards used when grading diamonds, and ultimately determine their value. They are Cut, Color,Clarity and Carat weight. What follows is a brief description to acquaint diamond shoppers with these essential benchmarks that determine diamond grades.

Note: Click on the Images to have an enlarged view.


The less color the better. In other words, everything else being equal, a colorless diamond will be much more valuable. Diamonds range in color from colorless to brown, and are ranked by letter starting with “D”,(colorless) to “Z”, (brownish) This is determined under special lighting, and does not include the “fancy colored diamonds”, as these are graded differently. In short, the clearer the better!


Most people think that the cut of a diamond refers to it’s shape. That’s not so. It actually refers to the way a diamond is shaped to refract light, thus enabling it to sparkle. This is quite an art and requires that each facet of the stone be cut at precise angles to each other, in the correct shape and size, to bring about the desired effect. Each diamond shape has different measurements for it’s particular dimensions. There are eight basic shapes popular today, and they are, in no particular order; heart, princess, pear, marquise, radiant, emerald, oval and round. Understanding these characteristics can make a diamond jewelry purchase much less nerve-racking. You’re spending a good deal of money; it’s nice to know what you’re spending it on!


Clarity is an important feature of a diamond, and it is noteworthy to know how to grade the clarity of a diamond prior to purchasing one. It is really quite simple to learn how to grade the clarity of a diamond. There are fundamentally two things that you must understand. Diamonds with visual inclusions and flaws, and those that are eye clean implying that there are no inclusions or flaws that can be seen with the naked eye. And then the clarity of a diamond is further analyzed into subclasses.

Some people erroneously believe that diamond clarity pertains to how clear it is. This is not so. Clarity really pertains to the internal and external defects of the diamond. The best diamonds, as might be expected, get a grade of FL or IF, Flawless or Internally Flawless, this means that it is perfect. A grade of I-1, I-2 or I-3 signifies that the diamond is imperfect, with a grade of I-3 being the most defective.

Other grades are VVS1 and VVS2, which means that the diamond is very, very slightly defective. VS1 and VS2, meaning the diamond is very slightly imperfect; SI-1 and SI-2, which means that the diamond is slightly imperfect.


Diamonds are graded in Carat Weight. One carat weighs 200 milligrams. If a diamond is mentioned to as four grains, this in addition means that it is a one carat diamond. The word carob is the basis for the word Carat. A carob that grows on a tree in the Mediterranean is a bean . Years ago, if a diamond weighed as much as a carob bean, it was one carob, or one carat.

Yet, in the far east, where Carob trees don’t grow, rice was utilized to measure the weight of a diamond. If a diamond weighed the same as four grains of rice, it was four grains or one carat as we recognize it to be today. The bulk of diamond buys are for diamonds that are one-third of a carat.

Contrary to popular belief, a large stone alone does not a valuable diamond make! While bigger can be better, it’s not the only factor. All the other C’s carry as much weight in the end, and be sure to use the size as a factor, though not necessarily a determining one. Remember a carat is actually a measurement of weight, not size, equal to 200 Milligrams.

Be alert when browsing for diamonds that have been set or mounted. If many diamonds are used in the piece, the label on the jewelry will give the CTW or Carat Total Weight. It doesn’t tell you the carat weight of each stone in the piece. You need to ask the jeweler for the whole carat weight of the biggest diamond in the piece to really understand what you are purchasing.

Posted on December 15, 2011, in Art, Attractions, Fashion and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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