What are the 4Cs for Engagement Ring Diamonds?

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA)  created the standard for describing diamonds: Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat Weight.

Known as the “4Cs” these Diamond Quality standards are the universal method for assessing the quality of any diamond.

The Diamond 4Cs mean two things: diamond quality cam be communicated in a universal language and diamond customers now know exactly what they were about to purchase.

If you are looking at buying a diamond for an engagement ring, it is important to understand the basics of the 4Cs and what they mean for your diamond.

Color

Diamond color actually means absence of color. A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond has no color and is perfectly clear like a drop of pure water. Clear diamonds have a higher value.

The GIA has established D-to-Z diamond color-grading system. It measures the degree of colorlessness by comparing a stone under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions.

The higher the letter in the alphabet, the better the color (or lack of color) and the more expensive the diamond will be.

Clarity

Clarity of a diamond basically refers to impurities or blemishes in the stone. Imagine a perfect diamond – that is “flawless”. In reality, diamonds have slight “characteristics” internally and externally that will make the diamond less flawless and will affect the clarity of the stone.

To understand diamond clarity, you must first understand the creation process of diamonds. Diamonds are the result of carbon exposed to tremendous heat and pressure. Natural diamonds experience this in the earth’s crust while lab grown diamonds experience this pressure and heat “artificially” through lab processes.

The creation of a diamond results in a variety of characteristics for the diamond. These characteristics located inside the diamond are called ‘inclusions’ and on the outside of the diamond are called ‘blemishes.’

Evaluating diamond clarity involves determining the number, size, relief, nature, and position of these internal and external characteristics. These characteristics will affect the overall appearance of the stone.

If you are trying to determine what is the best clarity for a diamond, remember that no diamond is perfectly pure. Use the guide above as a reference for what the letters mean terms of the clarity of your stone.

If you want to know all of the specifications for rating a diamond’s clarity here they are via GIA:

  • Flawless (FL) No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10x magnification
  • Internally Flawless (IF) No inclusions visible under 10x magnification
  • Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
  • Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor
  • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification
  • Included (I1I2, and I3) Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance

Cut

You can think of a diamond’s cut as shape (round, heart, oval, marquise, pear).

But what the official diamond cut actually refers to is how well a diamond’s facets interact with light. Diamonds are renowned for their ability to transmit light and sparkle intensely.

Precise artistry and workmanship are required to fashion a stone so its proportions, symmetry and polish deliver the magnificent return of light only possible in a diamond.

Achieving the best cut for a diamond reflects in the stone’s final beauty and value. And of all the 4Cs, cut is the most complicated to analyze.

When buying a diamond engagement ring, you should be more concerned if the cut is something that your future fiance is interested in. It is more important to focus on the other 3Cs to evaluate the cost of a diamond.

Carat

Carat is a measure of a diamond’s weight.

A metric “carat” is defined as 200 milligrams and each carat is subdivided into 100 ‘points. This means that diamonds are evaluated on a scale to the hundredths decimal point (i.e. 1.08 carats).

Carat is commonly referred to as a diamond’s size because weight and size are perfectly correlated. However, two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different prices depending on other 3Cs.