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The Four C's - Picking the Perfect Diamond

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

Find the perfect diamond for your partner's engagement ring.

It is crucial to know the 4 C's of Diamond Quality when shopping for an engagement ring. Using the 4 Cs, anybody can evaluate a diamond's most vital characteristics. This supports both the buyer and the jeweler in making an informed decision about the value of an diamond for your future fiancé's engagement ring. The 4 C's of Diamonds are:

  • Cut,

  • Color,

  • Clarity, and

  • Carat Weight.

If you're in the market for an engagement ring or just wondering how it all works, we've put together a definitive guide to selecting the perfect type of diamond. In the mood to jump right in? Let's go:

Definitions of Diamond Quality:

For evaluating diamond qualities, a sophisticated grading system is used by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Gem Society (AGS), two of the most well-known institutes. They are the most reliable organizations, therefore we suggest you get your diamond certification through on of these organizations. The quality of each of the four Cs can be determined using a numeric grading scale. Certain concepts, such as terminology and grading standards, are universal, however, there can be significant variation from lab to lab.


Why Are The 4Cs So Crucial?

For the first time, the diamond 4Cs provided a global standard by which diamond quality could be judged and a transparent method by which diamond value could be determined. This grading system was introduced in the middle of the twentieth century. When comparing two diamonds, it can be difficult to tell the difference just by looking at them. The 4Cs became a tool to help consumers understand why they might choose to buy one diamond over another.

The 4Cs of a diamond are as crucial now as they were a century ago. A diamond's brilliance can be enhanced, however, by giving growing attention to one of the four Cs (cut). As a shopper, you'll be better able to select a diamond that fits your budget if you have this information in hand.

The Cut:

When it comes to determining a diamond's overall attractiveness, the "Cut" is arguably the most crucial factor. A diamond's cut determines its dimensions, symmetry, brightness, fire, scintillation, and other characteristics. Each of these aspects has a direct bearing on how well a diamond sparkles and how attractive it is to the eye. According to the GIA diamond cut chart, Diamond Cut can range from "Ideal" to "Very Good" to "Good" to "Fair" to "Poor."

Grades of "Ideal" and "Excellent" indicate that the diamond has been cut to achieve the highest amount of brilliance and fire possible for its shape. Diamonds and diamond cutters can produce vastly different cuts, even if they are given the same grade on the diamond cut table. As cutters strive for ever-greater Carat totals, sometimes the resulting diamonds are either too deep or too shallow to reflect light in the best possible way. Sometimes a diamond is cut in a way that improves its Clarity by reducing the number of inclusions, at the expense of its brilliance. A diamond of "Ideal" proportions and polish could nonetheless be marred by an unattractive yellow hue.

The Color:

For centuries, white diamonds have earned a premium spot on the market, and this is reflected in the scale's designation of greater quality for white stones. The highest grade, D, is the "translucent or colorless," rarest, and most expensive. Diamonds get increasingly more yellow, brown, or gray as they descend through the 23rd-grade level from D to Z.

Most diamonds offered for jewelry now fall anywhere between G and J on the colorimeter, making them nearly colorless. The human eye can begin to notice a yellowish hue at the J grade and higher. A diamond with a D color grade is extremely uncommon, making them rather expensive. Going down the scale to H or I still gets you a white-looking diamond but at a more reasonable price. Keep in mind that "fancy" diamonds, when they are produced naturally, are extremely uncommon and expensive, and their value has increased as they have grown more trendy.

Diamond Carat

To determine how heavy a diamond is, we use a system based on its mass: one carat is equal to 200 milligrams.

Don't be deceived by the karat used to measure the purity of gold, or the carrot, a wonderful and healthy vegetable.... these are not the same thing as "carat".

Because larger diamonds are so much more unusual, their value rises as their carat weight grows. Of course, a diamond's size does play a role in its value, but other factors like its cut, clarity, and color also have an impact. Exceptional diamonds, for instance, can command substantially greater prices per carat than their larger counterparts of lower cut, clarity, and color grades. While carat weight is one factor in determining a diamond's size, the diamond's cut and shape also play a role.

When compared to a radiant cut diamond of the same carat weight, an emerald cut diamond of the same weight will appear significantly larger. Diamonds of the same carat weight that are cut shallowly, like the Asscher or the Radiant, appear smaller than those with more prominent top facets.

Diamond Clarity:

If a diamond has no flaws or inclusions, it is said to be of high clarity. Diamonds found in nature are synthetic, formed when carbon is subjected to extreme conditions below the earth's surface. Internal features, known as inclusions, and outward features, known as blemishes, can arise from this process. Determining the quantity, size, relief, type, and position of these qualities, as well as how they contribute to the diamond's overall look, is essential for a thorough clarity evaluation. There is no such thing as a flawless diamond, but the closer one comes to being such, the higher its value.

Here is the diamond chart:

Final Words

The 4Cs of diamonds stand for carat, clarity, color, and cut. All of these factors affect the overall value and beauty of a diamond. Carat weight is the most important factor in determining a diamond's value, followed by clarity, color, and cut. A diamond with excellent cut, color, and clarity can be worth more than twice as much as a diamond with poor cut, color, or clarity.


As San Diego’s premiere proposal planner, Proposals of San Diego creates moments that reflect the unique love story of each couple. We offer all-inclusive proposal packages, and plan one-of-a-kind experiences to ensure you have an Unforgettable Engagement.

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