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Diamonds: The 4Cs


There are many qualities a diamond possesses that attributes to its overall beauty. The Gemological Institute of America outlines four main characteristics to look for, often referred to as the 4C’s—carat, cut, color, and clarity. Through precise grading metrics, each quality is measurable and ultimately influences the overall price of the diamond. Understanding the 4C’s can help you make an informed diamond purchase. 


It is often assumed that a carat refers to a diamond’s physical size but it actually measures the weight of the stone. The carat weight can be deceiving. For example, an emerald cut diamond will appear larger than a more compact, round cut stone even though they may be the same carat. While this characteristic is the most well-known, it isn’t the only defining element of a diamond. In fact, two diamonds of the same carat can vary greatly in quality based on the other features.



The cut of the diamond refers to the shape of the stone. The most popular diamond shape, the round brilliant is the only cut with a GIA grading. All other fancy shape stones must be personally inspected. An exceptionally cut diamond will maximize the light reflected off the stone, resulting in a brilliant display of light and fire. Each cut must follow a specific standard of technical measurements to produce a diamond that has sound proportions, symmetry, and polish.


A diamond’s colour refers to the absence of visible colour within the stone. Noticeable hues of yellows and browns are a result of impurities within the diamond. The more colourless a diamond is, the more desirable it will be and the higher it is rated on the GIA colour-grading system. This scale rates diamonds from D to Z, with D-rated stones being the clearest and rarest diamonds and Z-rated stones showing strong hints of colour visible to the naked eye.



Diamonds naturally contain inclusions that are measured by a clarity scale. Inclusions are caused by minute amounts of liquids, solids, or gasses that are trapped inside during formation. Most inclusions do not affect the structure of the diamond, but some can be visible to the naked eye, which can distort the diamond’s reflective nature. Clarity is rated using a 10x loupe, or magnification, to determine the number of inclusions present in a stone and their visibility to the eye. These ratings range from FL (flawless) to I3 (extremely included and visible) and greatly affect the price of a stone.

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