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What Are the 4 C's of Diamonds?

Posted on February 07 2019

You may have heard people refer to the 4C's of diamonds before. But what does this mean, and why should you care? If you think all diamonds were created equal, you're wrong. Understanding the 4C's can help you determine the differences between diamonds and make a more informed decision when purchasing. Read on to learn the importance of color, clarity, cut and carat weight.

1. Color

Color contributes to the quality level of a white diamond. The highest-quality diamonds have no color at all, while those of lesser quality may appear yellow.

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has a scale of diamond color ratings that goes from D to Z. The colorless diamonds receive a D rating, while those with a Z are yellow or brown. G and H diamonds also provide excellent quality, though they generally cost less than a D- or F-rated diamond. You usually will not see a color difference between all these diamonds with the naked eye, though the lower the quality, the more likely you will notice the color.

In rare instances, you will find colored diamonds. These have a natural color, such as green or blue, and you will have a difficult time finding them. These are not graded on the same scale as white diamonds.

2. Clarity

Many people consider clarity the least important of the C's. This measures the flaws and imperfections on the diamond, though it's important to note that nearly all diamonds have these blemishes. The GIA also has a grading scale for clarity, assigning 11 different grades.

The highest, FL, means flawless. A very tiny percentage of diamonds achieve this grade. Most have small nicks you can't see with the naked eye. The shape and size of the diamond will impact its clarity grade. For the best value, look for ones graded SI or VS.

3. Cut

The way you cut a diamond affects its sparkle. Unfortunately, a diamond with a cut that is too deep or too shallow may seem dull, even if it has outstanding color and clarity. A well-cut diamond will reflect light out of its table, or top. Diamonds earn a grade of poor or fair, good, very good and ideal. Very good diamonds provide the best value.

4. Carat Weight

Many people have the mistaken belief that diamond carats refer to the size of the gem, but they actually refer to the weight of the gem. They help determine the price of a diamond because heavier ones are rarer. Many people purchase diamonds just shy of a full or half weight to get the best value — that is, getting a 1.9-carat diamond instead of a 2.0-carat diamond. Weight takes into account:

  • Top diameter, in millimeters
  • Cut grade

Now that you understand the diamond 4C's, you can make an informed decision about what type of diamond to purchase. You'll find a wide assortment of desirable diamonds in the selection of jewelry from Little Switzerland. Buy them at our stores across the Caribbean, or call (877) 800-9998 to shop by phone.

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