Diamond Education

The 4 C's of Diamond Quality

A good jeweler is the first step to a smart purchase. To find a jeweler you can trust, ask your family and friends for recommendations. Your jeweler should be knowledgeable about diamonds and help you feel comfortable making this important purchase. Steven Cash "Diamonds By Design" suggests that the 5th "C" should be Confidence in your jeweler. We offer the following information to help you decide on the right diamond for you and to provide you with the information you need to make an educated choice. See our glossary of diamond terms. Diamond Buying Guide The first thing you need to know when buying a diamond is the 4Cs: carat, clarity, color and cut. The 4Cs are used to classify the rarity and determine the price of diamonds.

While you may have certain preferences when it comes to diamonds, all 4Cs should be taken into account before you make your purchase. In the end, if you want a larger diamond, you may prefer a diamond of higher carat weight but lower on the color scale. If beauty is more important, you may want a smaller, colorless stone for the same price.

Whether large or small, cut is critical since releasing a diamond's maximum potential for beauty and brilliance is an art accomplished only by superior diamond artisans. So which of the characteristics of diamonds is most important? The choice is yours, but make it an educated one.
CUT refers to the way a diamond was cut in order to maximize sparkle and brilliance.

CUT refers to the way a diamond was cut in order to maximize sparkle and brilliance.

COLOR is determined by the 'whiteness' of a diamond, or its lack of color and is graded on a sliding scale.

COLOR is determined by the 'whiteness' of a diamond, or its lack of color and is graded on a sliding scale.

CLARITY is an indication of a diamond's natural inclusions.

CLARITY is an indication of a diamond's natural inclusions.


CARAT weight is the actual mass of the diamond and is a reflection of its size.

CARAT weight is the actual mass of the diamond and is a reflection of its size.



Cut is the most crucial of the 4 Cs, as it not only governs shape but affects and influences the Fire, Life and Brilliance of a diamond.
Brilliance refers to the overall light reflected from a diamond;
Fire is the dispersion of light into the rainbow colors of the spectrum; and
Life is the movement of light within a diamond, or scintillation.

Aside from the shape of the diamond, from the classic round brilliant to fancy cuts, a cut is evaluated on the precision of its critical angles, its symmetry, proportions and polish. Proportions concern the relationships between the different parts of the diamond: the table (top flat facet), the crown (visible top of the diamond), the girdle (the line or edge around the middle of the diamond) and the pavilion (the underside). These relationships can affect the way the diamond interacts with light.


In terms of color, the finest white diamonds (as opposed to fancy colored diamonds) should be as close to colorless as possible. Color grading as defined by the GIA is classified by letters of the alphabet, the best being D, colorless, and continuing through G to J, near colorless, right down to Z. Color gradations for each letter are subtle but clearly defined to the professional eye. The letter D was chosen to represent the top white diamond color, as other pre-existing, imprecise and confusing classifications had used letters A, B and C among other labels.


Clarity indicates the presence (or lack of) inclusions inside the diamond, as well as external marks or blemishes. Most diamonds contain minute inner flaws or inclusions, often referred to as "birthmarks", as they occurred during the long formation process of the diamond, over millions or billions of years under extreme heat and pressure deep within the earth’s core.

Clarity is graded according to the visibility of inclusions or blemishes under tenfold magnification.
  • Flawless (FL): The top grade, reserved for the rarest and most highly prized diamonds. No inclusions or blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification.
  • Internally Flawless (IF): No inclusions and only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification.
  • Very, Very Slightly Included (VVSI): difficult to see under magnification even for an experienced grader.
  • Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2): Inclusions are minor and range from difficult to somewhat easy for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification.
  • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2): Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader under 10x magnification
  • Included (I1, I2, and I3): Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance.

Carat Weight

Diamond carat weight is the measurement of how much a diamond weighs. A metric “carat” is defined as 200 milligrams.

Each carat can be subdivided into 100 ‘points.’ This allows very precise measurements to the hundredth decimal place. A jeweler may describe the weight of a diamond below one carat by its ‘points’ alone. For instance, the jeweler may refer to a diamond that weighs 0.25 carats as a ‘twenty-five pointer.’ Diamond weights greater than one carat are expressed in carats and decimals. A 1.08 carat stone would be described as ‘one point oh eight carats.’

All else being equal, diamond price increases with diamond carat weight because larger diamonds are more rare and more desirable. But two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different values (and prices) depending on three other factors of the diamond 4Cs: Clarity, Color, and Cut.

It’s important to remember that a diamond’s value is determined using all of the 4Cs, not just carat weight.

Diamond Shape Guide

Did you know that the 10 universally recognized diamond shapes that we know today are in fact relatively recent innovations, created and given a theoretic, public platform beginning only in the early 20th century? The 14th century marked the start of European diamond cutting novelties that yielded shapes which, while being the predecessors of today's cuts, are unknown to the modern day diamond consumer: The Point Cut, Old Eight Cut, Pendeloque, Briolette, Rosette, Mazarin and Peruzzi. These advances were in fact the stepping stones to today's 10 contemporary diamond cuts, the global diamond industry's accepted standards.

Each diamond shape has specific and unique characteristics that influence the quality of the diamond. To help you decide what shape best suits your personal taste, take a look below at the different qualities of each distinct diamond shape.

Diamond Care Guide

Like all precious objects, diamonds require proper care and protection. Although diamonds are considered to be the strongest natural matter on earth, they are still susceptible to cracking, dulling and even breaking. Dirt, dust, grease, and soap scum can leave a grimy film coating, and any forceful impact could potentially shatter the stone. In order to keep your diamond shining like new, it's important to protect it and clean it periodically.

Protecting Your Diamond Jewelry

Steven Cash "Diamonds By Design" recommends that you remove your diamond jewelry when engaging in any type of activity that might dirty or endanger the stone. These activities might include washing dishes, gardening, playing sports, or going to the beach. When you remove your jewelry, be sure to store it in a soft individual pouch, felt or leather-lined box. This will both help protect your diamond jewelry as well as help you to avoid misplacing your valuable investment.

We also recommend that you bring your diamond jewelry to a local jeweler once or twice a year to check the mountings, settings, and stones, and to have your diamond professionally cleaned.

Cleaning Your Diamond Jewelry

Cleaning your diamond jewelry is a simple and straightforward task which you can do at home using regular, safe, household products.

  1. Create a warm, mild, soapy solution by mixing liquid soap, dish-washing liquid, or detergent with warm water. Do not use chlorine detergent. Soak your diamond in the solution.
  2. If necessary, use a soft brush to clean small crevices. Do not use rough or metal bristles. Toothbrushes work the best.
  3. Rinse the diamond jewelry in warm water. You may place the ring in a strainer so as not to drop it.
  4. Use a clean, dry, lint-free cloth to dry your diamond jewelry.
There are also a number of jewelry cleaning kits and cleaning solutions on the market. If you choose to buy a kit or solution, be sure that it is the correct solution for the jewelry you wish to clean. Read the directions carefully and follow the listed instructions.