Diamond Guide: The 4 C’s & More

A diamond is forever stunning. While the price ranges, the main reason the diamond has overshadowed all others is because it ALWAYS glitters– dirty or clean, a diamond SPARKLES.

The Diamond Trading Company developed the 4 C’s as a way to judge Diamonds. Cut, Carat Weight, Color & Clarity determine the value of a diamond.Diamond Styles

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When talking about the cut of a diamond it refers to the angles and proportions that a diamond has and how they are positioned. Cut is the most important of the 4 C’s since it is what makes a diamond sparkle and show brilliance. The consistency and balance of these facets can greatly affect how the stone captures light and reflects it back to the eye.

Diamond Cut

The 3 types of refection: scintillation, brilliance and fire.

Scintillation describes the flashes of sparkle that appear when light passes over a diamond.

Brilliance is the amount of white light reflected.

Fire refers to the way a diamond disperses white light passing though it into the different colors of the rainbow.

A well cut diamond will display more scintillation, brilliance and fire than average or poor cut, and it also commands a premium price. When looking for a well cut stone the diamond’s depth, symmetry and polish (surface condition of a diamond’s facets) are important. Depth is very important and should be proportionate to its diameter, that way light will get reflected back out of the top of the stone.

We offer 4 Cuts of diamonds: Ideal/Excellent, Very Good, Good & Fair. Although we do recommend staying at Good and above.

Ideal/ Excellent- Reflects nearly all the light that enters the diamond. This rare cut represents roughly the top 3% of diamond cut quality.

Very Good- It reflects nearly as much light as the ideal cut, but for a much lower price. This cut represents roughly the top 15% of diamond cut quality.

Good- It reflects most of the light that enters. This cut represents roughly the top 25% of diamond cut quality.

Fair- Adequate quality cut that reflects some light while maximizing weight. While not as brilliant as a good cut, still a quality diamond.

GIA CertificatesGIA Certificate

Established in 1931, the non-profit Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is the world’s foremost authority on diamonds, colored stones, and pearls. This laboratory is known for consistency and an unbiased diamond grading systems.

Diamonds that are accompanied by GIA grading reports are the most highly valued in the industry. At Karenna Maraj Jewelry Collection we believe cut to be paramount, and as such all our stones are rigorously vetted for brilliance and artistry. Every large diamond we sell will include a GIA diamond certificate. So whatever shape you choose, your stone(s) will dazzle.

Diamond Cut vs. Diamond Shape

Diamond cut assesses the light performance of a diamond and is based on a combination of factors: proportions, symmetry, and polish.

Diamond shape is related to the outline form of a diamond. Round is the most popular.

Diamonds are cut into many different shapes, reflecting not only popular taste but proportions and quality of the rough stone. The most popular shapes include round, princess, oval, marquise, pear, cushion, emerald, asscher, radiant and heart. There are also over 200 specialty shapes available.Diamond Shapes

Diamond Anatomy

Table- The largest facet of a gemstone

Crown- The top portion of a diamond extending from the girdle to the table

Girdle- The intersection of the crown and pavilion which defines the circumference of a diamondDiamond Anatomy

Diameter- The measurement from one girdle edge of a diamond straight across to the opposing side

Pavilion- The bottom portion of a diamond, extending from the girdle to the culet

Culet- The facet at the tip of a gemstone

Depth- The height of a gemstone measured from the culet to the table


Color refers to the body color of the diamond, not the light that it reflects. Completely colorless diamonds (D color) are rare , but they are sought after and will have premium prices. Diamonds with less color allow more light to pass through, like a prism, releasing more brilliance and fire. It divides the light into a spectrum of colors, reflecting it as color flashes.

The GIA is the standard for the grading scale of transparent diamonds. The scale runs from D-F (colorless), G-J (near colorless), K-L (faint yellow), to Z (light yellow). This lack of color is measured in degrees based on comparisons with masterstones- made while viewed under controlled lighting and conditions. This means that regardless of where in the world the diamond is graded it will be under the same conditions and should receive the same grade. The color differences are invisible to the untrained eye and should be left to a trained diamond grader.Diamond Color

D- Completely colorless or icy white. The highest color grade—extremely rare and most expensive.

E- Colorless. Only very small traces of color can be detected by an expert gemologist—a rare, high quality diamond.

F- Colorless. Slight color detected by an expert gemologist, but still considered a “colorless” grade—a high-quality diamond.

G- Near-colorless. Color noticeable when compared to diamonds of better grades, but offers excellent value.

H- Near-colorless. Color more noticeable when compared to diamonds of better grades, but offers great value.

I- Near-colorless. Very slightly detected color—a good value.

J- Near-colorless. Slightly detected color—a good value.

Color Choosing Tips

Larger diamonds will show color more easily. We recommend a H color diamond and above if the size is over 1ct. Some fancy shaped stones hide color better than others and can cost less than a round stone. We also recommend thinking about the color of metal you will setting the diamond in. A yellow gold setting can make a yellow stone appear more yellow, while a white gold or platinum setting can make a near-colorless diamond appear whiter.

Fancy Colored DiamondsFancy Colored Diamonds

When diamonds are formed with traces of other minerals, rare and beautiful colors can result. Only 1 in every 10,000 diamonds possess natural color. Because of their rarity, more colored diamonds, especially those with more intense color, are highly desirable and are quite valuable. Fancy colored diamonds are graded on a separate color scale and can be even more valuable than white diamonds. Fancy colors include intense yellow or brown (somewhat rare) and even pink, blue, purple, green or red (very rare). An intense pink or blue diamond can be among the most expensive. Out of all naturally occurring fancy color diamonds, red diamonds are the rarest and sometimes sell for millions of dollars.

Fancy Color Diamonds


A diamond’s clarity is measured by the existence, or absence, of visible imperfections. This is determined by 5 factors: number, size, nature, color, and position of the internal (inclusions) and external (blemishes) imperfections. Inclusions are also known as Internal characteristics.

Number The amount of easily seen characteristics. Having fewer characteristics means a higher clarity grade.


SizeThe larger or more noticeable a characteristic, the lower the clarity grade.

Nature The type of inclusion and its impact on durability.

Color- Color is a measure of how easily a characteristic is seen. How much contrast between the characteristic and surrounding diamond.

Position The position of any characteristic. Under the table (most visible) or close to the pavilion. The position turns inclusions into reflectors, which have a bigger impact on the clarity grade.

Clarity levels begin with flawless and move all the way to Included. Experienced graders use 10X magnification to identify the various clarity characteristics, and to map their location on “diamond plots.” These plots are like small maps for each individual diamond, and are used to identify individual stones. Each diamond is unique and plots work as a form of individual identification, like a fingerprint.

Diamond ClarityFL, IF- No flaws

VVS1, VVS2- Very difficult to see inclusions under 10X magnification

VS1, VS2- Inclusions are not typically visible to the unaided eye

SI1, SI2- Inclusions are visible under 10X magnification and may be visible with the unaided eye

I1, I2, I3- Inclusions are visible with the unaided eye

Diamond ClarityClarity Choosing Tips

Best Value- ‘Eye-clean’ means that the diamond’s inclusions are too small to see without magnification. So you don’t need to buy a high clarity grade to avoid seeing imperfections. We recommend to start looking at Slightly Included (SI) or Very Slightly Included (VS) because the inclusions won’t be seen without magnification.

Higher Clarity- Another common falsehood is that a higher clarity grade results in more sparkle. The sparkle is created by the cut of the diamond.Diamond Shapes2

Diamond Shape If you are considering certain fancy-shaped diamonds (like an emerald or Asscher cut where flaws are more visible), you may want to spend more for a higher clarity grade. Emerald and Asscher have rectangular cuts which emphasize transparency and can make inclusions more visible. However, round, princess, oval, marquise, pear, and heart-shaped diamonds may not require as high of a clarity grade. These reflect light better because of the many facets and will hide inclusions.

Diamond Size- If you are buying a diamond over one carat the facets are larger and become more plentiful. This can make the inclusions more visible, so we would recommend a higher clarity diamond.Rough Diamonds

Diamonds are not perfect, they are made underground through enormous pressure and heat and therefore natural inclusions and blemishes are inevitable. In most cases, a diamond’s beauty is not affected by these in any way since most inclusions can’t be seen with the naked eye. This is sometimes called the least valuable of the 4 C’s because the imperfections do not affect the sparkle. Inclusions can be made up of crystals of a foreign material or tiny cracks known as feathers.

Types Of Inclusions

    • Clouds
    • Feathers
    • Crystals or minerals
    • Knots
    • Cavities
    • Cleavage
    • Internal graining

Types Of Blemishes 

  • Polish lines
  • Scratches
  • Nicks
  • Pits
  • Chips
  • Breaks
  • Dark or light spots






Loose Diamonds


The size of a diamond is measured, not by its dimensions, but by weight. The term carat comes from the ancient method of weighing precious metal and stones against the seeds of the carob tree. It was believed that there was little variance in their mass. However, this was a factual inaccuracy because their mass varies as much as any other seeds. It wasn’t until 1907 at the Fourth General Conference on Weights and Measures that a standard was agreed upon.

One carat, the traditional unit of measure for a diamond, is equal to approximately 200mg. You may of also heard the weight of a diamond referred to in points. One point is equal to 1/100 of a carat; therefore, a 50-point diamond equals 0.50 carat.

1 Carat = 200 milligrams
1 Point = 0.01 carat = 1/100 of a carat

Diamond sizeTotal carat weight (t.c.w) represents the total weight of all the diamonds or gemstones in the piece of jewelry, when more than one stone is used. For example, diamond earrings the t.c.w is for the combined weight of the stones in both earrings.

Diamonds of equal weight may appear slightly different in size, depending on their depth and proportions. Because they are quite rare, larger diamonds of good quality are more valuable. A general rule of thumb is that a diamond of double the weight costs around four times more. This happens because the supply is low (larger = rarer) and demand is high (larger = more popular). Carat weight plays the most significant role in price, but don’t be fooled, a better quality diamond is always best, whatever the weight. The wonderful sparkle that you lust for is because of the cut, not the size.

Carat Choosing Tips

Buy slightly smaller- When choosing a diamond, a great way to save some money is by buying a stone that is just under the whole or half carat mark. For example, instead of buying a 1ct diamond, contemplate buying a .90ct diamond. This will save substantial money and no one will ever be able to tell the difference.

Fancy shapes- Fancy shapes often cost less than a round diamond. And also, fancy shapes typically can appear larger than their carat weight size. So they can be a good cost alternative to round.

Finger size- Keep in mind that the smaller the finger the larger a diamond will appear. For example, a 1ct diamond will look much larger on a size 5 finger than a size 8 finger.Diamond Ring Size

Ring settings- Putting a center diamond in a halo setting will help to enlarge the look of the center diamond. Small diamonds are placed all around the center and they not only increase the overall look, but placing smaller diamonds next to the larger one will give a sense of proportion.

Band width- Picking a ring with a thin band makes the center stone appear larger.


Uncut Diamonds

All gem-quality diamonds are rare, taking billions of years for nature to form them. While the four C’s helps you to identify the quality of the diamond you are purchasing, it is the combination of these four characteristics that determine a diamond’s rarity and value. And remember—beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A diamond can only be truly perfect if you think it is beautifully perfect for you!
We pride ourselves and guard our reputation for fair dealing, honesty, and service. Investing in diamond jewelry is an exciting but serious decision. We only work with conflict-free diamond providers!