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 Home » Consumers » 4 C's
4 C's: Cut, Color, Clarity & Carat

When shopping for a diamond you will enter a world with its own unique language that is full of unknowns. Several questions should immediately occur to you. What should I look for? How can I tell a good diamond from a poor one? Diamonds come in all shapes, sizes & levels of quality. The combination of these characteristics determines the cost.

Diamonds have a standardized language (system) for quality grading. The most widely used system is the one taught and used by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Please familiarize yourself with the grading system to understand the terminology used on our website.

To determine a diamond's quality we examine each of the 4 C's- Cut, Color, Clarity & Carat (a measure of weight). The following is a quick overview of the 4 C's.

Cut- the better cut a diamond, the more brilliance.

The cut of a diamond refers to a diamond's proportions. The proportions of a diamond determine its brilliance. In order to maximize the brilliance the diamond cutter examines the diamond in its rough form and determines the most suitable shape and direction for cutting. The cutter must then place each of the diamond's facets, which act as light dispersing mirrors in exact geometric relation with one another. The superior cut diamond has greater brilliance.

Color- the less color in a diamond the more beautiful

While many diamonds appear colorless, many actually have subtle yellow or brown tones visible under proper lighting. The color of diamonds range from colorless through near colorless, faint yellow and very light yellow. Using the alphabet, GIA began its grading scale with D (representing Colorless) and continuing through the alphabet to letter Z (representing stronger saturation of color).

Clarity- the fewer inclusions the greater its value

Clarity refers to the inclusions in a diamond. Virtually all diamonds contain identifying characteristics, yet many are invisible to the naked eye. These inclusions can be seen under the scrutiny of a 10-power magnifying loupe or a microscope. These are nature's birthmarks. The size, nature, location & number of inclusions determine a diamond's clarity grade.

The clarity grades are:

  • Flawless (FL) - the diamond will not have any inclusions or surface blemishes.
  • Internally Flawless (IF) - the diamond has no inclusions but may have surface blemishes.
  • Very Very Small (VVS 1 & 2) - Minute inclusions that are extremely difficult to see under 10-power magnification.
  • Very Small (VS 1 & 2) - Minor inclusions that are difficult to see under 10- power magnification.
  • Slightly Included (SI 1& 2) - noticeable to relatively easy to find under 10-power magnification
  • Included (I1, 2, 3) - Inclusions are obvious under magnifications and probably to the naked eye.

Carat weight- the larger the diamond, the greater its rarity

Carat weight is a measure of weight on a scale, not of dimensions. 100 points make up a carat, therefore a 50 point diamond is the same as a carat and a 0.50 carat (ct) diamond. It is important to note that carat alone is meaningless unless you consider the Cut, Color & Clarity of a diamond. However size does increase the value of a diamond for the simple reason that large diamonds are rarer that smaller diamonds. Only one polished diamond in a thousand weighs more than one carat.

Many people ask: Which "C" is the most important? A diamond's quality depends on a combination of all four C's. However, we believe the most critical of these is the cut. More than any factor it determines the brilliance and beauty of a diamond. A well cut diamond can hide inclusions &/or give a whiter, more brilliant appearance.

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David Levy Diamonds & Fine Jewels
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