Demystifying Diamond Quality: Understanding The Four Cs
The Exquisite Beauty of a Diamond
With all of its mesmerizing sparkles and reflections, there is something about the beauty of a diamond that inspires intrigue and deep appreciation like no other gemstone. Cherished for thousands of years, a diamond’s appeal continues to capture the hearts and minds of people across cultures and generations. Anyone who has peered at diamond engagement rings in a jeweler’s showcase can attest to this gemstone’s dazzling “it factor” that sets it apart from other stones!
Each Diamond is Unique
Like snowflakes, no two diamonds are exactly alike. When you are investing in a diamond for yourself or a loved one, your selection is highly personal. Naturally, you want to select a diamond that is both high quality and pleasing to your eye. Understandably, this can make shopping for engagement rings an especially bewildering experience if you aren’t sure what to look for. Let Fana be your guide.
The Four Cs of Diamonds
If you have ever shopped for diamond engagement rings, you've probably heard of The Four Cs of Diamonds. These metrics were established by The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), which was founded in 1931 and dedicated to education in gemology and jewelry arts. The Four Cs are the main characteristics that determine a diamond’s overall quality. They are:
- Carat Weight
While you might have heard of these terms, fully understanding them can be challenging if you don’t know fine jewelry like the back of your hand. So, to aid in your journey, we will detail The Four Cs of Diamonds and explain just what they mean.
The first of the Four Cs is color, which simply refers to the presence or absence of color in a diamond. A colorless diamond is deemed more valuable than a diamond that reveals hints of color. Bear this in mind when searching for engagement rings. The specific diamond color grades are noted below:
- D, E, F: Colorless
- G, H, I, J: Near-colorless
- K, L, M: Very faint yellow
- N-Z: Deeper color
Fana exclusively uses diamonds that are color-rated G and above, which still appear white to the naked eye, making them a popular choice for engagement rings.
The second in The Four Cs of Diamonds is clarity, which is a significant factor in the selection of engagement rings. Tiny inclusions or imperfections develop during the diamond's formation process, some of which may not be visible to the naked eye. Know that the higher the clarity grade, the smaller the imperfections, contributing to a more valuable diamond.
The GIA Diamond Clarity Scale is comprised of six main categories that classify a diamond from most to least favorable. You will want to be knowledgeable about these grades as you shop for diamond engagement rings. Opting for a diamond with a clarity grade of SI1 or above will ensure that you're getting an eye-catching and appealing stone, which is why Fana diamonds are graded SI1 and above. The diamond grades are as follows:
- Flawless (FL). No inclusions or blemishes are visible under 10x magnification
- Internally Flawless (IF). No inclusions are visible under 10x magnification
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2). Inclusions are minor enough to be difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
- Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2). With effort, minor inclusions can be seen under 10x magnification
- Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2). Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification
- Included (I1, I2, and I3). Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification, and this may affect the diamond's transparency and brilliance
Carat weight, the third category of The Four Cs, refers to the weight (or size) of a diamond, and it is one of the most crucial factors that inform the price of a diamond. Understandably, it is also one of the most pivotal considerations for those searching for fine jewelry and engagement rings alike. Carat weight is graded on a scale that ranges from 0.25 ct to over 5 ct. While many people want to go bold with their diamond engagement ring, bear in mind “Size isn’t everything.” Before making an engagement ring purchase, consider other factors, such as your budget and your fiance’s lifestyle and hand size—and select the stone that is right for you as a couple.
A diamond’s cut is perhaps the most exciting category of The Four Cs, as it refers to a diamond's shape, proportions, and symmetry. The quality of a diamond’s cut impacts its fire and brilliance, the two primary factors affecting its overall beauty. In turn, a poorly-cut diamond can be lifeless and lackluster, while a well-cut diamond can be breathtakingly beautiful. It all comes down to the skill of your gem cutter.
A round-brilliant diamond’s quality is determined by an official grading system set by the GIA, which evaluates the cut quality of the gemstone using a five-point scale from Excellent to Poor. It evaluates the following attributes:
- Appearance. This is how the diamond appears when viewed from the face-up, evaluating its brightness, fire, and scintillation.
- Design. This is how well the diamond was designed to ensure optimal weight and overall durability.
- Quality. This involves the quality of the workmanship or craftsmanship that went into aligning and polishing the diamond’s facets.
Bearing in mind a stone’s appearance, design, and quality, a diamond’s cut grade is based on seven factors: brightness, fire, scintillation, weight ratio, durability, polish, and symmetry. All of its attributes are factored into a diamond’s overall grade, ranging from Excellent to Poor, as follows:
- Excellent. The highest designation set by the GIA, this cut is very bright with a consistent pattern of contrasting light and dark areas.
- Very Good. Slightly less bright than the excellent grade. Some facets may be slightly asymmetrical.
- Good. This cut has more darkness and can sometimes appear dull.
- Fair. The stone may have poorly-shaped facets that are misaligned, giving an overall dull appearance.
- Poor. Obvious dark areas with considerably less sparkle and shine than higher cut grades.
While Excellent is the highest designation set by the GIA, a small percentage of Excellent cut diamonds rank so highly that they are referred to as “Ideal.”
- Ideal. Diamonds with ideal cuts have the proper symmetry, angles, light reflections, and overall brilliance that make them stand out from the rest.
We hope that our information on The Four Cs of Diamonds gave you a helpful introduction. When shopping for a diamond engagement ring, it is essential to take into account the color, clarity, carat, and cut of the stone. While you may make an online purchase, there is great value in having an onsite consultation with your jeweler. This allows you to view their selection of diamonds and settings firsthand and ask any questions you may have. By understanding diamond quality, you can make a romantic and lasting investment in a piece of jewelry that will bring you joy for a lifetime.
With generations of experience in the jewelry industry, Fana would love to guide you on the journey for your next piece of beautiful, memorable diamond jewelry. You can take comfort in knowing that Fana diamonds are:
- Clarity-rated SI1 or better
- Color-rated G or better
We have a long history of creating wedding bands, engagement rings, and other fine jewelry in a variety of styles to fit your modern, classic, or romantic style. You may find a Fana retailer near you or visit our new NYC jewelry boutique in Soho. Have any questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us!