The 4 C's Diamond Chart

A brilliant round cut diamond.
A brilliant round cut diamond.

The Importance of the 4 C's: Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat Weight

For every diamond, there is so much more to it than price and carat weight. The question "how many carats is that?" is commonly asked when looking at a recently engaged woman's ring, but carat weight alone is only 1/4 of the equation in determining a brilliant diamond. A whopping 2 carat diamond can look pretty awful if cut, color, and clarity are all lacking. In this hub, I will briefly explain the 4 C's and the scale that each characteristic is based on.


Cut

With cut the single most important thing to keep in mind is that a stone's brilliance is determined by the angle and placement of the diamond's facets. Cut is classified by both shape and brilliance of proportions. Standard cuts include round, princess, square, oval, pear, and radiant. The round shape has always been the preferred cut of diamond. Diamonds with the best proportions refract nearly all light entering the stone out the top and sides of the stone which provides the most brilliance.

Differences in color cannot be detected with the naked eye for diamonds rated D through I.
Differences in color cannot be detected with the naked eye for diamonds rated D through I. | Source

Color

The importance of color in a diamond is actually the opposite. Diamonds that are colorless are the highest quality diamonds. The scale is characterized by letter beginning with a flawless "D" and going down to "Z" which has a yellowish color to it. Color can affect the value of a diamond by thousands of dollars, but the color differences cannot be detected by the naked eye for the ranges D through I. Therefore, any diamond buyer on a budget would be wise to chose an "H or I" color for his or her stone.

Clarity

Clarity measures the inclusions or flaws that an individual diamond has. Almost every diamond has some flaw, but the highest grade for clarity is called "flawless." The worst grade for diamond clarity is "included." I will let you consult the provided chart for further analysis. All in all, the naked eye cannot detect any imperfections up to VS2, or very small inclusions.

Carat Weight

Now to what everyone refers to when they see a diamond. Carat weight is defined as the weight of a diamond. For reference, a one carat diamond weighs only .20 grams. Often times, a diamond that is less carats than another diamond but has better characteristics in the other three C's will cost more than the diamond that has a higher carat weight. The chart to the right should give you a better idea of how size changes with respect to carat weight.

Thinking of Buying a Loose Diamond?

After reading about the 4 C's, I personally think a diamond buyer should determine his or her budget first then find a diamond that meets the lowest standards in the categories to the point where discrepancies cannot be visible to the naked eye. For instance, I would purchase a brilliant round cut diamond with "I" color and VS2 clarity. Then based on the budget, I would purchase the largest carat size attainable based on the previous three C's. James Allen is one website that allows you to hand pick loose diamonds and sort them by each of the 4 C's according to your specified budget.

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