The Four C’s

four c's

The Four C’s were not around before the 1940s. There wasn’t a common yardstick by which diamonds could be assessed. This was spotted as an opportunity by the GIA.

The Four C's

The Gemmological Institute Of America (GIA)

Then, in the 1940s, Robert M. Shipley, the creator of the GIA, came up with the phrase “4Cs”. This was to aid information by his students in the four characteristics of a faceted diamond. The idea was straightforward but groundbreaking

Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat weight.

President of the GIA ‘Richard T. Liddicoat’, developed his work by creating the GIA D-to-Z Color Scale and GIA Clarity Scale for diamonds, which are now both used globally.

Two very important things resulted from the development of the Diamond 4Cs and the GIA International Diamond Grading System. 1) diamond quality could now be expressed in a common tongue, and 2) diamond buyers could finally understand exactly what they were buying.

Cut Of A Diamond

This is without doubt the most important factor in a diamond’s beauty. It is the element of the Four C’s the buyer should focus their energy on. The element that ignites a diamond’s fire, sparkle, and brilliance is cut quality. More than anything else, the cut quality of a specific diamond determines its attraction and beauty.

The evaluation of seven components serves as the foundation for the GIA Diamond Cut Grading System for typical round brilliants in the D-to-Z colour range. The first three, which are based on appearance, are brightness (the total amount of light reflected from a diamond), fire (the division of light into colours of the spectrum), and scintillation (the distribution of light and dark areas and the flashes of light that occur when a diamond is moved). The next four factors—weight to durability, polish, symmetry, and longevity—have to do with a diamond’s layout and production.

In the GIA approach, each element is evaluated separately while taking into consideration its proportional weight in the diamond’s overall cut quality. Each cut grade represents a variety of proportion sets and face-up looks and is based on a relative scale from Excellent to Poor. There is a wide range of proportion sets that result in beautiful diamonds.

The Round Diamond

Take a look at the normal round dazzling from the side, for instance. The crown, girdle, and pavilion are the main parts, from top to bottom. A round brilliant cut diamond has 57 or 58 facets, the 58th of which is the culet, a little flat facet at the base of the pavilion. The table is the broad, flat facet on the top. The correlations between table size, crown angle, and pavilion depth are referred to as a diamond’s proportions. There are a vast variety of conceivable percentage combinations, and these ultimately influence how the stone interacts with light and how appealing the diamond is to the person viewing it.

Even though there are numerous factors to take into account when evaluating the overall cut appearance and quality of round brilliant diamonds, personal tastes also matter. People can select any particular appearance they desire from among the range of proportion sets represented by each cut grade.

When evaluating and purchasing round brilliant diamonds, the public and the diamond business can use cut along with colour, clarity, and carat weight to help them make better-informed judgments.

Diamond cut

Cut Versus Shape

Cut and Shape are frequently used interchangeably. Instead of the arrangement of facets required to provide an appealing face-up look, they believe that cut refers to the shape or outline of the diamond. This is not the case. The shape is what it says on the tin eg round, oval, or pear. The cut of a diamond refers to the different dimensions of a gem. How these facets are positioned to each other and how they create sparkle fire and brilliance with scintillation.

The majority of diamond jewellery is round. The term “fancy shapes” refers to all other shapes of Diamonds. Marquise, pear, oval shapes and Radiant are a few examples of conventional fancy shapes. Diamond jewellery is becoming increasingly fashionable with shapes like hearts, triangles, and many others.

Colour Of A Diamond

The diamond colour represents what you can’t see. Diamonds are graded according to how close they are to colourless — the less colour they have, the more valuable they are. (Except for coloured diamonds such as pink and blue, which are not in this colour range.) Most diamonds found in jewellery stores range in colour from colourless to near-colourless, with yellowish or brownish tinges.

Colour Grading

The GIA Diamond Colour Grading Scale is the industry standard. The grade starts with the letter D for colourless and increases with colour until the letter Z, which is light yellow or brown. Diamonds are colour graded by comparing them to gemstones of known colour under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions. This mostly happens in a lightbox. Many of these colour differences are so subtle that the untrained eye cannot see them. But these small differences can lead to huge differences in diamond quality and price.

Note how D, E and F colours are colourless.

G, H, I and J are near colourless.

We find that the most popular colour grades with our clients are D-G

Diamond Colour The Four C's

The colour grading system starts at the letter D. Before the GIA brought out this system there was much confusion in the industry with many people using different grading systems. For example, you would have an A1 or A3 or a B5 etc. Essentially the GIA wiped the slate clean and started with D.

Clarity Of A Diamond

To understand diamond clarity, you must first understand how diamonds are formed. This is often a misunderstood part of The Four C’s.

Natural diamonds are the result of carbon being subjected to enormous heat and pressure deep within the earth. This process happens for millions of years.

It produces a variety of internal and external features.

Internal features are called “inclusions”.

External features are called “blemishes”.

The evaluation of a diamond’s clarity involves determining the number, size, relief, type and location of these features, and their effect on the gemstone’s overall appearance. When trying to determine the best clarity for a diamond, remember that no diamond is pure. But the closer it is to pure, the better its clarity.

Inclusions and Blemishes

Diamond Clarity Scale

The GIA Diamond Clarity Scale has 6 categories, some of which are subdivided, for a total of 11 specific grades.

  1. Flawless or FL These diamonds have no external inclusions or blemishes under x10 magnification such as a jeweller’s loupe.
  2. Internally Flawless or IF No visible inclusions under x10 magnification.
  3. Very, Very Slightly included or VVS1 and VVS2 with inclusions so light it is even very difficult for a skilled diamond grader to spot.
  4. Very Slightly Included or VS1 and Vs2 Diamond is eye clean having no inclusions visible to the naked eye. A grader will be able to find inclusions with difficulty using an x10 loupe.
  5. Slightly Included or Si1 and Si2 A grader will be able to easily spot inclusions using an x10 loupe magnifier.
  6. Included Stones or i1 i2 or i3 Inclusions are clearly visible and may affect light passing around the stone. Not to be confused with Salt and Pepper Diamonds.

Diamond clarity | The Four C's

Carat Weight – The Four C’s

Another of The Four C’s is the Carat weight. The weight of diamonds and other gemstones is measured in metric carats.

A carat equals 0.2 grams, about the weight of a paper clip. (Don’t confuse carat with Karat, as “18k gold” refers to the purity of gold.)

There are 100 ‘Points’ in a Carat. For example, a 50-point diamond weighs 0.50 carats.

It must be said that two diamonds of the same weight can have vastly different monetary values. This depends on the other members of the four C’s as mentioned above.

Most diamonds used in fine jewellery weigh one carat or less.

Because even a fraction of a carat can make a significant difference in cost, precision is key.

Industry Weight

In the diamond industry, weight is usually measured in hundreds of a carat.

The weight of diamonds over one carat is expressed in carats and decimal places e.g 1.10 Carat.

The carat, a common unit of weight for diamonds and other gemstones, gets its name from the locust bean seed.

The locust bean see weighed fairly evenly so early gem merchants used them as counterweights on scales.

The modern metric carat, equal to 0.2 grams, was adopted by the United States in 1913 and other countries followed suit shortly after.

Today, a carat weighs the same everywhere in the world.

Two diamonds of the same carat weight can look very different in size. This is due to the cut. Wider diamonds are said to be ‘spready’. Narrower but chunky diamonds are said to be ‘carrying weight’. These terms affect poorly cut diamonds.

To ensure you get a diamond that is the correct carat weight we advise buying an Excellent cut or very good cut diamond.

Remember the Carats are not everything when buying a diamond. It should be bought due to the way it makes you feel and a balance between all of the 4’s is a great place to start.

Diamond clarity | The Four C's

The 5th C

The 5th ‘C’ that is often discussed is ‘COST’. The cost of the diamond always should be considered when buying a diamond. This may be hard for the untrained person to navigate. It often causes much confusion. No two diamonds are the same. There are always very subtle differences between them. Even though two certificates have the same grading there will be a difference in price between the stones. This may even be down to the wholesaler and their perception of the diamond’s value.

Furthermore different lavatories in different parts of the world may grade the same diamond differently. It has been found that although they strive to be uniform there may be a looseness on behalf of one laboratory over another. Our advice is always to use the

Magic Number Diamonds

The diamond market is very attuned to customers’ requests/needs. There are certain size margins to diamond weight. Once these margins are crossed there is a jump in price. For example, when a diamond is .98ct or a carat and another is 1.02ct there is a much higher jump in price than from 1ct to 1.04. The change in carat weight may be imperceptibly small but the psychology of the jump in weight from under a carat to over a carat is huge. The change in this is reflected in the price. The same can be said for most rounded numbers when buying a diamond.

magic numbers in diamonds

Other Characteristics Of A Diamond

Apart from The Four C’s we have covered other features of a diamond that may be featured on a certificate. These features include Polish Symmetry and Fluorescence. We have also made videos on our Instagram page.


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