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4 C's of Diamonds: Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat

Facts on the 4 C's of Diamonds: Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat

Diamonds have been a source of fascination for centuries now. Knowing about the 4 C's of diamonds: cut, clarity, color, and carat will not only help you identify the best ones but will also enable you to make a good deal while purchasing these precious stones.
Debopriya Bose
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
Besides being the hardest mineral on earth, diamonds are valued as gems for their remarkable optical characteristics. These are transparent crystals of carbon atoms that are tetrahedrally bonded. They are formed deep below the earth's surface under high temperature and pressure conditions. Because of their brilliance, these gemstones have been highly revered since ancient times. The word "diamond" comes from the Greek word adamas, meaning "unconquerable".
Unraveling The 4 C's of this Precious Gemstone
Of all the various properties of a diamond, it is the cut that gives it the brilliance. It is the single most important characteristic and this gem gets its splendor from the light rays that enter it and get reflected back into the observer's eyes. In case this gemstone has been ideally cut, light rays enter the gem through the table, strikes the sides of the pavilion, makes its way out, and into the eyes of the observer through the table. However, if the cut is very shallow or deep, the light rays will not be able to reach the observer's eyes. Instead, they get lost from the sides or bottom of the gemstone. Since the cut is so important, these stones have been graded into the following categories:
  • Ideal
  • Premium
  • Very good
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor
A diamond's clarity refers to how 'clean' it is. It may have certain impurities that have been a part of it right from the time it started forming inside the earth. However, there are a few clarity flaws, like scratches, air bubbles, and presence of other foreign materials, either inside or outside it, that mar the quality of this precious gem. The clarity of this gem is graded depending upon the color, size, number, and location of the inclusions or blemishes. These clarity flaws are observed under a 10X magnification.
The various clarity grades of this gemstone are:
  • FL (Flawless): In this grade, no clarity flaws are detected when observed under a 10X magnification.
  • IF (Internally Flawless): In this grade, flaws are present only on the surface that can be removed by further polishing.
  • VVS1, VVS2 (Very Very Slightly Imperfect): These have inclusions that are present but are not visible even under a 10X magnification.
  • VS1, VS2 (Very Slightly Imperfect): These have inclusions that can't be seen with naked eyes but are visible under a 10X magnification.
  • SI1, SI2 (Slightly Imperfect): In this grade, the flaws are visible to the naked eye.
  • I1, I2, I3 (Imperfect): Out here, the imperfections can be clearly seen with the naked eye.
After the cut, it is the color that determines the quality and price of this precious gemstone. It is needless to say that a colorless or white diamond, which is the rarest, is the most expensive variety. These gems are graded alphabetically from D (colorless) to X (colored). Color grading is done by placing them face down on a white background and comparing their color to a set of master stones graded by the Gemological Institute of America.
Carat refers to the standard unit of weight that is used to measure the weight of a diamond . One carat is equal to 200 milligrams. Once the cut, color, and clarity have been decided, it is easy to determine the weight. Sometimes the weight is also expressed in 'points'. One carat is equal to 100 points. Carat refers to the weight and not the size of the stone. A shallow cut gemstone may have a larger diameter and look bigger than a deep cut variety of the same weight.
No other material on this Earth can beat the grandeur of these glittering crystals. Even today diamond jewelry is highly valued as a gift, not only for its value but also due to the fact that they are considered to be the best expression of one's emotions. Traditionally used to express the feeling of love, and most commonly associated with wedding jewelry, today these precious stones form an integral part of a woman's wardrobe!