The 4Cs of Diamonds

Diamonds have long tugged on our heartstrings and for good reason. Their timeless, classic elegance makes them the perfect precious gemstone for any occasion. Selecting a diamond encompasses many considerations, and it’s not uncommon to feel slightly lost when researching. To help you feel confident and knowledgeable about how to assess a diamond's quality, we’ve outlined the 4Cs of diamonds: cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. 


definition of 4Cs: cut

The first of the 4Cs is the cut of the diamond, which refers to how a diamond is faceted. When diamonds are mined from the earth, they are in their rough, natural state. The cut of a diamond is what brings out its brilliance; it is often considered the most important of the 4Cs as it is responsible for determining how much sparkle and "fire" a diamond shows. Generally, diamond cuts are scored on a scale from "excellent" to "poor." A diamond denoted with a cut as "excellent" or" very good" will sparkle and easily catch the light whereas a "poor" cut diamond will look lackluster or dull in appearance. The more precise the cut, the more captivating the diamond.

Below is a visual representation of how light passes through a diamond based on its cut. If the cut is too shallow or too deep, much of the light is lost through the pavilion (side) of the diamond rather rather returning and exiting through the table (top).

Cut: how the rough diamond is faceted to “unearth” its sparkle.


definition of 4 Cs of diamonds: color

The second characteristic you'll want to assess when selecting a diamond is its color—or lack thereof, rather. The less color a diamond has, the clearer or whiter it will appear. Colorless diamond are more rare and therefore viewed as more valuable, which influences their price. It's important to note that distinguishing different grades of color (generally up to three grades) is extremely difficult to the untrained eye. When considering your price point, this information is good to keep in mind, as a diamond with a "lower" grade can still be a high quality, beautiful diamond!

Diamonds can span many hues that range from colorless (the rarest) to light yellow or brown (more common). Other natural colors, such as blue, red, and pink (and more colors), are referred to as “fancy.” Fancy diamonds follow a different grading scale. Diamonds are graded based on the industry standard scaled implelemted by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) on a letter scale from D-Z based on their natural coloring. Below, you can see a the scale with examples of diamonds from each category.

Color: a range from perfectly white to faint yellow


definition of 4 Cs of diamonds: clarity

Next up on our list is clarity, which is an assessment of imperfections on and in the diamond. Internal marks are called inclusions and external marks are called blemishes. While smaller inclusions cannot be seen by the naked eye, larger ones often can. A common term used when shopping for gemstones is "eye clean," which refers to a diamond or gemstone that has no visible inclusions. Typically, a diamond's cut or color play a larger role in determining the stone's overall beauty, so while clarity should be considered, it may not need to be at the forefront of your evaluation. Diamonds with Small Inclusions (SI) and Very Small Inclusions (VI) are rarely visible to the unaided eye are a more affordable option than diamonds with fewer inclusions.

Natural diamonds are created under incredible amounts of heat and pressure after a long period of time near the earth's core. Blemishes and inclusions are to be expected. At Anueva, we lovingly refer to visible inclusions as “beauty marks.” Diamonds are truly a gift from nature, inclusions and all!

Clarity: Natural markings in a diamond that are visible…or not!


definition of 4 Cs of diamonds: carat

Finally, we have arrived at our last 'C' which is carat (not to be confused with karat, which is a measure of gold's purity). Carat refers to the weight of a diamond—not its size. A diamond's carat weight has a direct correlation to its price, but that's certainly not to say a larger carat diamond is a better quality one. Thanks to the forged relationship between a larger carat size and perceived wealth (a myth other perpetuated by Hollywood and media stereotypes), many people solely make their decision on carat size. If you're shopping on a budget, one great tip is to buy just below a next full carat size (ex. buy a 0.97ct diamond rather than a 1.03ct diamond). The difference in size is so minuscule, you wouldn't be able to tell, yet the price will be more affordable. 

Pictured below are a series of diamonds with different carat weights. A diamond’s physical weight is measured in metric carats. One carat is equivalent to 1/5 gram and is further divided into 100 points. For reference, one U.S. pound would require 2,265 carats.

Carat: how much a diamond weighs

Shop Smart

Now that you understand the 4Cs of diamonds, you can make an informed purchase. We encourage you to take all four factors into consideration, but not to get too hung up on any singular item. All are important, but the most influential 'C' is the cut of a diamond. Ultimately, the most important thing is that you love it and know that is a true, certified stone!

Here at Anueva Jewelry, we cherish all diamonds alike. We love to work with vintage and antique gemstones to lessen the environmental impact. Alternatively, for new diamonds, we do our best to work with small, eco-conscious, and family-run operations. New or old, all of our diamond creations are designed to sparkle as rare as you! Shop our collection of loose diamond stones today and begin the process of building your dream ring. Should you have any questions, book a virtual appointment with our Custom Concierge Design Specialists!