4 C’s of Diamonds


You may have heard of the “4 C’s” of diamonds, but if you don’t have a lot of experience with the stone—if you’re searching for an engagement ring, for example—the term may be alien to you. Fortunately, they’re easy to break down, and the easiest to understand is the first C, color. GIA is the gold standard for grading diamonds, and their scale for the color of a diamond goes from D to Z. D-grade diamonds are perfectly clear, while Z-grade stones have an extremely noticeable yellow tint. However, once a diamond reaches a certain shade or saturation (such as yellow, blue, or green diamonds), they become known as “fancy” diamonds, and are graded on a different scale entirely.


You’ve probably heard of carat when diamonds have been described, but a common misconception is that carat refers to size. It’s actually a measurement of weight, equivalent to 0.2 grams. Depending on the shape of the diamond, the same carat weight may be distributed more, making the stone appear longer; or it may be more centrally compact, making the stone daintier. The most popular carat weights are considered benchmarks for selling diamonds: 0.5 carat, 0.75 carat, 1 carat, 2 carats, and so on. Because of their popularity, they command the highest price. If looking to save some money, you may prefer buying a stone that’s extremely close to the benchmark weights, but slightly off. A 0.98-carat diamond rather than a 1-carat diamond, for example.


Arguably, the cut of a diamond impacts the fire and scintillation of the stone more than any other variable. When we talk about “cut,” that doesn’t refer to the shape of a diamond, but each shape has a particular cutting formula that’s ideal for its geometry. When a diamond is cut very close to the proper geometry, the sparkle and glow of the stone is maximized. If the girdle is of the improper thickness or the facets are improperly placed, even the biggest, whitest diamond will appear greyish and dull due to the leakage of light from it. While a woman can favor one of the C’s over the other, choosing a poorly cut diamond is rarely an option that’s acceptable.


Clarity is also an extremely important “C” for the woman who wants a vibrant, sparkling diamond. The aforementioned fire and sparkle are products of light reflecting and refracting inside of the crystal structure of a diamond. As you can imagine, if there are blockages inside of the crystal, light can’t easily pass through it. Inclusions such as sand, carbon, micro-crystals, and iron can not only act as blemishes, but also block light transfer. Alternatively, the crystal structure of the stone can include irregularities that alter the flow of light. The GIA grades the clarity of a diamond from FL (flawless) to I3 (extremely visibly included), but it’s important to read a report to know where the inclusions are located in the stone and what type they are.

If you’d like to learn more about the 4 C’s, especially in relation to the diamonds we offer here at Northeastern Fine Jewelry, give us a call at 518-372-3604, or visit our Schenectady, Albany, or Glens Falls, New York showrooms today!