The 4 C’s of a Diamond Explained

Diamonds are our thing. Founder, Emily Eggebrecht, received her education from the Gemological Institute of America as well as New Approach School for Jewelers and holds certificates in Graduate Diamonds and Bench Jewelry along with a number of other jewelry design, CAD design, and gemstone grading credentials. With this wealth of knowledge, this week we’re going beyond the sparkle to give you the ultimate diamond guide and break down the history and meaning behind the 4 C’s of a diamond -- color, clarity, carat and cut.

The 4 C’s diamond grading systems started in 1931 with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). This California non-profit was looking to protect diamond buyers, so they created the Diamond 4Cs and the International Diamond Grading System™. These methods are now the universal benchmarks by which all diamonds are now graded and valued.

While a diamond’s grade is important, it’s not as crucial as your preference and budget. As we have helped countless couples over the years, our advice is always the same: Get what you love. The grading system is put in place to protect and inform buyers, but it does not override your unique and fabulous eye for style.


The color scale starts at D and goes all the way to Z. If a diamond is beyond a Z, it means the diamond might be bright blue or even canary yellow. DEF is considered colorless, GHIJ is near-colorless, and KLM is considered faint.

Color is determined by how saturated the stone is into one color field. The most common color fields are yellow and brown. Typically, at Consider, we sell I color or better.


The clarity scale goes from flawless all the way to ivory. Flawless at the top (Fl), very very slightly included (VVS1 and VVS2), very slightly included (VS1 and VS2), slightly included (SI1 and SI2), and included grades (I1, I2, I3) -- just to name a few. Any grade SI2 or above is considered “eye-clean,” and the naked eye cannot see the inclusions.

While we recommend SI2 or better, we also love the flawed and included diamonds. Salt and pepper, also known as galaxy diamonds, are on-trend and on-sparkle with lots of beautiful inclusions. Read more about these mysterious and edgy diamonds


Carat with a “C” is a measure of weight used for gems and diamonds. Karat with a “K” is used to measure the purity of gold.

According to the GIA, “Of the 4Cs, only cut, color, and clarity determine diamond quality. Carat doesn’t because a tiny diamond can be as beautiful and well-crafted as a much larger diamond.

Size is not the most critical indicator of a diamond's beauty because a tiny diamond can be as beautiful and well-crafted as a much larger diamond. Carat is pure preference and budget, and we are here for all the sparkle in all sizes.


Cut is broken down into symmetry and polish. Round diamonds get an overall cut grade, and at Consider, we stick with “excellent” cut grades.

The cut of the diamond is the only “non-natural” element of the diamond as the cut is determined by the gemologist or craftsman.

Ratios, asymmetry, and proportion are all things taken into account to determine the cut of a diamond. For a buyer, cut is usually the most important of the 4 C’s as it is usually our preference that determines this category.

Pear-shaped, heart-shaped, oval, round, marquise - what’s your favorite cut? Tag us @considerthewldflwrs and share your unique diamond shapes and stories. DM us if you have any questions, and thank you for allowing us to tell your love stories.

We hope this breakdown of the 4 C’s was helpful, but we also hope you grade your diamond with your own stylish C’s: cost, choice, comfort, and chicness. Grading is just one indicator of price and quality -- your gut is your guide when it comes to choosing heirloom jewelry.


Reference: The official GIA website, linked here