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The 4 C's of Lab Diamonds

The 4C's Of Diamonds

The quality of a diamond is determined by the 4 C’s – cut, color, clarity, and carat

  • Carat- The size of the diamond.
  • Clarity – Imperfections within a diamond are call inclusions. Clarity ratings range from flawless, to level 3 imperfect.
  • Color – The color ranging from clear to yellow. The closer to color-free the stone, the more worth it has on the market.
  • Cut – The shape.

Carat Weight: 

The carat, the standard unit of weight for diamonds and other gemstones, takes its name from the carob seed. Because these small seeds had a fairly uniform weight, early gem traders used them as counterweights in their balance scales. One carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams or 0.2 grams. Diamonds are commonly sold in fractional carat weights, with a 1.00-carat diamond being highly desirable. However, carat weight alone doesn't determine a diamond's value; other factors like cut, color, and clarity also play a significant role. Larger diamonds are generally more rare and, therefore, more valuable, but two diamonds of the same carat weight can have significantly different prices depending on their other characteristics.


Clarity refers to the presence of internal and external characteristics or flaws within a diamond. These characteristics are known as inclusions (internal) and blemishes (external). Diamonds are formed deep within the Earth's mantle, and during their creation, various minerals or structural irregularities may become trapped inside, leading to inclusions. External blemishes can occur during the diamond's journey from the Earth's mantle to the surface or during the cutting and polishing process.

The GIA Clarity Grading Scale ranges from:

Flawless (FL) - No inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification.

Internally Flawless (IF) - No inclusions, only minor blemishes visible under 10x magnification.

Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2)- Inclusions are difficult to see under 10x magnification.

Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) - Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification but not obvious to the naked eye.

Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) - Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification and may be slightly visible to the naked eye.

Included (I1, I2, and I3) - Inclusions are visible to the naked eye and can affect the diamond's brilliance and transparency.


Diamond color refers to the presence or absence of color in a white diamond. The GIA Color Grading Scale ranges from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow or brown tint). As you move down the scale, the diamond's color becomes more apparent and intense. Colorless diamonds (D, E, F) are highly sought after because they allow maximum light reflection and brilliance. However, some fancy-colored diamonds, like blue, pink, or yellow, are graded on a separate scale and are prized for their unique hues.


The cut of a diamond refers to how well it has been shaped and faceted by a skilled diamond cutter. A well-cut diamond can maximize its brilliance, fire (the dispersion of light into spectral colors), and scintillation (sparkle). The GIA Cut Grading Scale ranges from Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, to Poor. A diamond's cut quality is evaluated based on factors such as symmetry, proportions, polish, and the arrangement of facets. The better the cut quality, the more captivating the diamond's appearance.

When buying a diamond, it's crucial to consider the interplay of these four factors to find a stone that suits your preferences, budget, and desired level of quality. Additionally, obtaining a diamond grading report from a reputable gemological laboratory will provide you with an objective evaluation of the diamond's 4 C's, giving you confidence in your purchase.

*All images courtesy of GIA

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