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The Four Cs of Diamonds by Andrew Stratton

The Four Cs of Diamonds by
Article Posted: 04/28/2015
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The Four Cs of Diamonds

"Did you see the size of that rock?" "Where did you get yours from?" "What setting should it be placed in?" When you are shopping for a beautiful jewel, what do you look for? Diamond shoppers should remember the four Cs: cut, clarity, color, and carat weight.


The cut is the stone's grade: excellent, very good, good, and fair. The cut also refers to how much light passes through the facets. According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the cut is probably the most complex of the four Cs, partly because the craftsmanship of each jewel is different. The beauty and value (monetary worth), brightness (how the white light shines internally and externally), fire (how the white light spreads into the rainbow), and scintillation (how much sparkle is produced, as well as reflections of light and dark) are also important when discussing the cut.

The shapes of the cut include round, cushion, marquise, princess, emerald, Asscher, oval, radiant, pear, and heart. The oval cut is one of the most popular cuts; it is basic and universal in that it can be placed in a ring, a necklace, or earrings.


Clarity is the "absence of inclusions and blemishes." The valuable pieces are those that are as close to being pure as possible after the carbon process. Clarity is on a scale of flawless (no inclusions or blemishes seen under 10x magnification) to included (inclusions clearly seen under 10x magnification, which affects transparency and brilliance).


Color is the lack of color in the stone. Color is represented by the letters D to Z. D-F are colorless jewels (any trace of color can only be seen by a gemologist or someone trained with jewels; these gems are usually set in white gold or platinum, as yellow gold would show color within it). G-J are nearly colorless (I-J may be a higher grade, but it sells for half the price of a D-grade piece). K-M are faintly colored (yellow tints start with K and go higher as the letters move toward M; yellow gold rings tend to offset the yellow tint). N-R are very lightly colored (usually with a yellow or brown tint). Finally, S-Z are lightly colored (though these have too much color to be considered white diamonds).

Carat Weight

Carat weight is how much the stone weighs. A carat is categorized into 100 points. A carat is 200 milligrams, or 1/5 of a gram. The larger a stone is, the more it costs, although the cost also depends on the color, cut, and clarity.

Where you get your diamond can be as important as what kind you get. Always look at reputable dealers. Ask questions about what you do not understand, and it doesn't hurt to shop around. Whatever style you decide to buy, buy it because it speaks to you!

When it comes to diamonds, Ann Arbor, MI residents can learn more about these precious gems by visiting

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