The 4 C's of diamonds: a beginner's guide

February 1, 2023


Understanding the basic of engagement rings with the 4Cs


Ever seen a ring that caught your eye from across the room because of it’s sparkle? That’s most likely not because of the ring’s size, but because of the ring’s cut.Although cut is often overlooked, if done well, a diamond’s cut can be the most important C. A diamond’s cut is graded on the stones brightness (how light is reflected from the diamond), fire (how the light scatters through the diamond to create a rainbow of light), and scintillation (the amount of intense sparkle or flash that occurs across the surface of the diamond as it moves under light) which are determined by the diamond’s proportions.Diamond cuts are graded from ideal to poor.Ideal or Near Ideal
Very Good


The industry grades a diamond’s color on a scale from D to Z. “D” represents a completely colorless diamonds. As you go through the alphabet, diamonds will have more and more of a yellow or brown undertone. The closer a diamond is to colorless, the higher the value.

Why does color matter? After a diamond’s cut, the diamond’s color is the first thing someone will notice to the naked eye. A white diamond looks bigger, brighter, and sparkles more.

Here’s a little cheat sheet:
D, E, F = “Colorless”
G, H, I, J = “Near Colorless”
K, L, M = “Faint Color” and is usually more easily detected by the naked eye.

Insider tip: to the untrained eye it is extremely difficult to see the difference between a G or H colored diamond to a “Colorless” (D,E,F) Diamond. This is what makes G and H the most popular color grades.


A diamond’s clarity is determined by the number and size of natural imperfections and/or blemishes found in and on the stone. In the industry, these imperfections are referred to as “inclusions.” Most of these inclusions are so tiny, they require a 10x magnification to see them, and you would never see them with a naked eye.

The clarity grading scale goes from Flawless to Included. Flawless stones are incredibly rare, and therefore, incredibly expensive. A diamond graded VS2 or higher is generally an eye-clean stone. When you go below VS2, you can still be able to find an eye-clean diamond depending on the placement on the inclusions.

The importance of clarity also differs between diamond shapes. It is easier to see inclusions on steep cut diamonds, such as Emerald or Asscher cut. It is more difficult to see inclusions in brilliant cut diamonds, such as Round, Cushion and Radiant cuts.

Flawless (FL) – No inclusions or surface marks are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification

Internally Flawless (IF) – No inclusions and only superficial surface marks are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification.

Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) – Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification.

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 S12) – Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader under 10x magnification. SI2 stones may have inclusions visible to the naked eye.

Included (I1, I2, I3) – Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance.

Insider Tip: SI1 is the most popular diamond clarity purchased by consumers. This is because most SI1 stones have inclusions that require magnification or a trained eye to see.


If all else is equal (cut, clarity, and color), a diamond’s price increases with diamond carat weight because larger diamonds are more rare and more desirable. However, two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different values depending on the other 3 C’s.

Insider tip: “Magic Sizes,” as they are called in the diamond industry, are sizes that are particularly popular, and therefore more expensive. These weights are half carat, three-quarter carat, and carat. For example a 2 carat stone may be significantly more expensive than a 1.90 carat stone that looks very similar.

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