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The 4 C’s of Diamonds

Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat Weight

Each diamond has its own set of qualities that establish its value. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) created the globally accepted standard for describing diamonds, “The 4 C’s” which includes Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat weight.

When shopping for diamonds, it is important to understand that the higher a diamond is graded in each of these categories, the rarer and more costly it becomes. Diamonds graded highly in all categories are exceedingly rare.



GIA’s color-grading scale begins with the letter D, representing colorless, and continues with increasing presence of color to the letter Z, or light yellow or brown. However, diamonds do come in colors other than white- many colors in fact! Any diamond that does not fall on the D-Z scale is a Fancy color.

Colorless Diamonds (D-F): These diamonds are the rarest and valuable of all those on the color scale. D stones are absolutely colorless, and E displays virtually no color. F color diamonds will display a nearly undetectable amount of color that can only be detected by a gemologist.

Near Colorless Diamonds (G-J): Diamonds within this color range display a trace amount of color when viewed by an expert gemologist in the face-down position (see image below). These diamonds appear colorless when viewed face-up, so any slight color will be undetectable to the untrained eye once the diamond has been mounted. Near colorless diamonds provide an excellent value for the price.

Faint Color Diamonds (K-M): Diamonds within the faint color category show a slight hint color when viewed in the face-up position. Many people love the warm champagne glow that radiates from these gems.



Inclusions are characteristics specific to each stone, and what makes each gem unique. It is important to select a diamond that does not have any inclusions that will affect the beauty or durability of the stone.

Flawless (FL): No inclusions or blemishes visible using 10x magnification.
Internally Flawless (IF): Blemishes are visible, but no inclusions visible using 10x magnification.
Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1-VVS2): Tiny inclusions that are very difficult to see are visible using 10x magnification.
Very Slightly Included (VS1-VS2): Minor inclusions that are somewhat easy to see are visible using 10x magnification.
Slightly Included (SI1-SI2): Noticeable inclusions that are easy to see are visible using 10x magnification.
Included (I1-I2-I3): Obvious inclusions are visible to the unaided eye and may affect transparency and brilliance.


Carat Weight

Carat weight refers to the weight of the stone. Because density differs between gemstones, two stones of the same size can have different densities.

For diamonds, a premium is paid for benchmark carat weights- meaning 1 carat, 1.5 carats, and so on. We can help you save money with a stone that is just under the coveted benchmark weight.



Cut grades how we the diamond was cut. Today, lasers are used to precision-cut gemstones. Before lasers, skilled artisans were hand-cutting stones- fine examples can still be found in antique jewelry.

Differences Between Antique & Modern Diamonds


Feeling a little overwhelmed? We get it! Contact us now so we can help guide you through the process of choosing a diamond. We will take the guesswork out of it and hand-pick your perfect stone. Already have a stone picked out? We would be happy to review it for you.