The 4 C’s of diamonds
Our diamond education is the most comprehensive diamond buying guide, designed to answer all your questions. We address the 4 C’s of diamonds (carat, cut, color and clarity) and beyond so you can make a prudent diamond buying decision while maximizing your diamond’s appearance and value. Diamonds are considered the world’s most precious gemstone. They are traditionally used for engagement rings and other jewelry as a symbol of love and commitment. Buying a diamond is an important personal, financial and emotional decision. Our knowledgeable staff is able to provide invaluable guidance so you can shop with confidence in a pressure-free environment.
A diamond’s 4 C’s represent the four main components of its beauty and structure: Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat. When looking at a diamond, the eye perceives a balance of its characteristics and components, including, but not limited to, the 4 C’s.
Each of the C’s are graded on a scale, and can be evaluated for quality. Though some universal terminology and standard grading exists, it does vary by lab entity. The most consistent entities—and the ones we recommend gaining a certificate from—are the GIA and the AGS.
Gradings of the 4 C’s help determine the value of a diamond and indicate its quality. Diamond sellers often set their prices based on grading reports. Knowing the basics of these gradings is helpful when comparing two similar diamonds, but what remains most important is how the diamond appears to the naked eye—and how attractive the diamond is overall. In this sense, having a foundational understanding of the 4 C’s is imperative as a buyer, so that you can avoid spending your budget on a component that will go unnoticed.
The Carat Weight
The word carat derives from the word carob, a Mediterranean seed, which has an extremely consistent weight for measuring. The greater the carat weight, the rarer, and more valuable the diamond becomes. Five metric carats weighs exactly 1 gram.
Some people want the largest diamond possible. If size is a priority, we at Stambaugh Jewelers can help you classify the proper cut, color and clarity to fit your budget economically, and fit your jewelry beautifully. Many of our engagement rings can fit diamonds up to 5.00 carats, but each ring has different size constraints based on its size and the type of setting. Prong settings can be manipulated to fit virtually any size diamond, but tension-set diamonds and bezel set diamonds have more limitations on size.
The true definition of cut is the quality of the proportions and symmetry of the diamond. Your diamond’s proportions make a vast difference on how brightly your diamond shines. An ‘ideal cut’ diamond is one that allows the maximum amount of light to return through the top of the diamond, which takes into consideration the depth, table size, crown height and angle, girdle thickness and more. Our diamond professionals will be happy to assist you in selecting the best diamond cut.
After a rough diamond is mined, it is evaluated to determine its best possible cut, in order to maintain the maximum clarity, color, and carat weight. The term ‘cut’ is often confused with diamond ‘shape’, such as round brilliant or princess cut.
Diamonds range from colorless to yellow or light brown, and are sometimes found in a spectrum of fancy colors, including yellow, blue, and even red diamonds. The less color, the rarer the diamond.
D – Colorless
E-F – Colorless
G-J – Near Colorless
K-M – Faint Yellow
N-R – Very Light Yellow
S-Z – Light Yellow
After ‘Z’ on the color scale, diamonds become fancy yellow, which cost more because of their rarity.
Diamonds are composed of mostly carbon. During the heating process, other elements become trapped inside, giving each diamond its own unique fingerprint. These inclusions help identify the clarity of your diamond.
F – No inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader.
IF – No inclusions and only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader.
VVS1-VVS2 – Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see.
VS1-VS2 – Inclusions are clearly visible but can be characterized as minor.
SI1-SI2 – Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader.
I1-I3 – Inclusions are obvious and may affect transparency and brilliance.
*All diamonds are viewed through a 10x magnification lens by diamond graders.