Have you ever heard someone talking about the 4 Cs of diamonds and been completely lost? Or maybe you know that one of the Cs is cut, but you can never remember the other three.
Either way, why not get a refresher on the 4 Cs? It’s useful information to have on hand whether you’re shopping for an engagement ring or you want to know more about your family heirlooms. Plus, it definitely might come up at a dinner party someday—and then you’ll be ready.
So, what are the 4 Cs of diamonds?
Created in the mid-20th century by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the 4 Cs are a globally accepted standard for judging diamond quality and value.
Fun fact: Diamonds on Wabash carries certified by GIA.
When you think of the grandest diamond (maybe imagine the Peacock’s Eye diamond à la Indiana Jones), you don’t visualize a diamond with a yellowish tinge. That’s because pure, colorless diamonds are the ideal.
This first C, “Color,” places a high value on the absence of color. Of course, many diamonds have a slight presence of color. By examining the diamond under controlled lighting, a label will be assigned to the gem according to a scale that begins with D (colorless) and ends with Z (the most presence of color).
A diamond’s clarity is determined by the absence of blemishes or inclusions. Blemishes are external characteristics, like noticeable polish lines. Inclusions are internal characteristics, like visible mineral crystals trapped inside the diamond.
No diamond is absolutely perfect, but the closer to perfection a diamond is, the higher score it earns. There are 6 categories with 11 grades for a diamond’s clarity. To learn more about this system, explore GIA’s diamond clarity guide.
The cut of a diamond is arguably one of the most influential factors in the gemstone’s beauty. After all, a colorless, clear diamond that has been cut poorly won’t be as stunning as it could be.
A diamond’s cut determines how it interacts with light. It requires a great amount of skill to cut a diamond perfectly, to help it return the most light to the viewer’s eye.
The grading system for cut relies on brightness, fire (when white light is refracted into all colors of the rainbow), and scintillation (sparkle). Symmetry, polish, and expertise helps make a diamond as bright, fiery, and scintillating as possible.
The carat is the standard for measuring a diamond’s weight. One carat is 200 milligrams. Typically, larger diamonds with more carats are more valuable—but the other 3 Cs still matter a lot.
According to GIA, the carat system originated from years ago, when early gem traders used small, uniform carob seeds to weigh gems.
Interested in learning more about diamonds and the 4 Cs?
Check out our diamonds page to explore our vast collection of diamonds and to learn more about each gem’s scores from the 4 Cs.
If you have any questions about the 4 Cs, feel free to contact us online or give us a call at 312.332.3133.