The 4Cs Of Diamonds

by Ultimate Jewelry Guide
The 4Cs Of Diamonds

Have you ever wondered how diamonds are graded? The 4Cs is the basis used worldwide to grade diamonds. The four C’s of diamonds are cut, clarity, color, and carat. Diamonds, like our fingerprints, have unique characteristics that make them stand out from each other. These characteristics correspond to the 4Cs. 

Here is a complete guide to explain how the 4Cs affect the value and appeal of diamonds.

The History Of The 4Cs


Robert M. Shipley, the founder of the Gemological Institute of America, established the use of the 4Cs as the standard in classifying diamonds and other gemstones. He used it as a mnemonic device for his students to remember the characteristics of a well-faceted diamond. Since then, the 4Cs has become the binocular of the industry in determining the properties and quality of diamonds. 4Cs is the revolutionary way towards professionalizing the field of gemology that used to be a way of trade back then.

Before having the 4Cs, people in the industry uses inconsistent and vague representations of the qualities and properties of gemstones. For instance, they use ‘river’ or ‘water’ for colorless diamonds and ‘cape for pale yellow’. For clarity, they only classify it ‘with flaws’ or ‘without flaws’. While for the cute they only render it either ‘made well’ and made ‘poor’. But the term carat has remained in its true sense since the 1500s.

What Are The 4Cs Of Diamonds?

Diamonds are graded and categorized through their cut, clarity, carat, and color. These 4Cs are what makes diamonds unique. Here is what 4C means and how they affect the quality and value of diamonds.


The cut is not just about the form of the diamond but also about how its facets interact with light. Cut also involves symmetry, proportion, and polish. The diamond’s cut directly reflects its beauty and aesthetic value. The symmetry, proportion, and smoothness of a diamond’s cut give it an astonishing and elegant look, making it in demand in the market. Some of the most common but beautiful diamond cuts are brilliant cut, step cut, and mixed cut. The factors that affect the quality of the cut of a diamond are precision, symmetry, and polish.

Diamond Cut Chart

Diamond Cut Chart


Clarity does not just refer to the clear and mirror-like characteristic of a diamond. It refers to the purity and rarity of a diamond. Clarity is graded by the visibility of inclusions with 10x magnification. A diamond is rendered flawless if there are no internal flaws and external imperfections visible under 10x magnification.

Diamond Clarity Grades

Diamond Clarity Grade Chart

The clarity of a diamond is categorized as: 

  • FL or flawless – These are the pieces of diamonds with no internal and external inclusions.
  • VVS1 and VVS2 – VVS stands for very, very slightly included. These are pieces of diamonds with minimal inclusions visible in the diamond table, but not visible to the naked eye.
  • VS1 and VS2 – VS stands for very slightly included. These are pieces of diamonds with inclusions visible in the diamond table, but manifest minimally to the naked eye.
  • SI1 and SI2 – SI stands for slightly included. These are pieces of diamonds with very visible inclusions, both in the diamond table and to the naked eye.
  • I1, I2, and I3 – I stand for imperfect. These are pieces of industrial-grade diamonds. These diamonds are not suitable to be used for fine and standard jewelries.


The color of a diamond refers to the natural tint present within. The range of color within a diamond is from grade D D, which is colorless, to grade Z, which is light yellow. The color of a diamond is not its entirety. The color of a diamond refers to the reflections it creates within its facets. These colors are just hues in their facets. The color grades directly affect the face value of a diamond diamond, which is why it is very important.

Diamond Color Grades

Diamond Color Grade Chart

Color is categorized from D to Z, and here are the color grades chronologically: 

  • Colorless – D, E, F
  • Nearly Colorless – G, H, I, J
  • Faint Yellow – K, L, M
  • Very Light Yellow – N, O, P, Q, R
  • Light Yellow – S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z


Carat refers to the weight of a diamond. Carat varies among diamond shapes, such as round, brilliant, emerald, radiant, heart, and many others. The size of a diamond does not directly reflect its carat. Some diamonds look large but have a lower carat. This is to clarify that size is not denoted by carat, only the weight of the diamond. On the other hand, carat weight does not determine the value of the diamond alone.

Carat Weight Chart

Carat Weight Chart

What Is The Purpose Of The 4Cs?

The clarity, color, cut, and carat or 4Cs is the accepted standard of determining the quality of the diamond. It is a globally accepted standard that jewelers, gemologists, and diamond enthusiasts use. The quality of a diamond is dependent on the combination of the 4Cs in it. A diamond with a balanced combination of high-quality cut, high clarity grade, and accurate carat and color is probably one with high value. It is most suitable for luxury jewelry pieces.

The 4Cs are your best purchasing guide when buying diamonds and other gemstones—a great understanding of the 4Cs results in wise purchase and investment. You are not just investing in the attractive appearance of a diamond but also in its durability.

What Is The Importance Of The 4Cs?

In conclusion, the 4Cs are important for diamond enthusiasts and everyone in the gemstone industry because it guides purchasing diamonds right on quality and on budget. By knowing the 4Cs and understanding their meaning and purpose in the quality of a diamond, you can be able to purchase and invest in the right pieces. The 4Cs as a global standard of rendering quality of diamonds and other gemstones leads to the improvement of the crafting process of diamonds. Each year, the industry strives to achieve a higher quality of diamonds aligned to the uniform criteria, which are the 4Cs.

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