Diamond Buying Guide
The 4 C's
The 4 Cs- Carat, Clarity, Color, and Cut- are the 4 main criteria by which industry professionals determine the quality of a diamond. This system was introduced in 1953 by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), and it is now recognized as the international standard.
While each stone is completely unique, The 4 Cs allow both jewelers and consumers to accurately assess a diamond’s value. Each “C” is scored on a scale. A diamond’s value is an aggregate of its “scores” in each of the 4 criteria. In order to help you find the perfect stone, we’ve explained the 4 Cs in greater detail below:
Carat (the first and the easiest C to determine) refers to a diamond’s carat weight. One carat is equal to 1/5, or 0.2, of a gram. Each carat is further divided into 100 points. For example, a diamond weighing 0.1 carats may be referred to as a 10-point diamond or a 0.9 carat diamond referred to as a 90-point diamond.
Clarity, the second of the 4 Cs, measures the absence of unique birthmarks found within each stone. Birthmarks located internally are referred to as inclusions, while those that reach a diamonds external surface are called blemishes. The GIA clarity scale is as follows:
Flawless (FL) - No birthmarks are visible under 10x magnification. Stones falling under this classification are exceptionally rare!
Internally Flawless (IF) - Only blemishes, not inclusions, are visible under 10x magnification.
Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) - Birthmarks are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) - Birthmarks can be identified under 10x magnification with effort, but are characterized as minor
Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) - Birthmarks are noticeable under 10x magnification
Included (I1, I2, and I3) - Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance
Similar to the clarity scale, the color scale measures the absence of color in a diamond. The higher the degree of colorlessness, the higher a stone scores on the color scale. GIA measures color on a scale from the letters D through Z. A score of D indicates colorlessness while a score of Z indicates the highest level of color saturation. Naturally colored stones outside this D-to-Z range are categorized as “fancy-color” diamonds. Stones in these categories are either yellow or brown that have a higher saturation than a Z or they are a color other than yellow or brown.
Cut is the final and most difficult of the 4 Cs to assess. A diamond’s cut consists of its proportions, symmetry, and polish, and, ultimately, measures how well a diamond interacts with light. In 2004, GIA introduced a 5-scale grading system for scoring a diamond’s cut. A diamond’s cut is graded as Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, or Poor. A diamond lacking in symmetry or correct proportions will not reflect light in an ideal manner.