All About the 4 Cs

Diamonds have long been one of the most beloved and fabled gems in history - cementing themselves as an eternal symbol of love. Up until the 20th century, there were no standards for determining a diamond’s quality. GIA produced the first universal standard for diamonds: the 4Cs. Representing colour, clarity, cut, and carat, the 4Cs allow for a ubiquitous definition of a diamond’s quality and customers can understand pricing and value.

Selecting a diamond can be a big and personal choice. While you may think one of the Cs is more important than others, keep in mind that all 4Cs are intermingled and work together to form the brilliance of a diamond. There are many things to consider that will differ from person to person. The first thing to determine is what you value and define your diamond priorities.


The first C is cut, often considered by most as the most important C. Cut in this instance does not refer to the diamond’s shape (round, emerald, etc.) but instead how its facets interact with light. A well-cut diamond can even offset any compromises from the other 3 Cs. They are graded on the scale of ideal, excellent, very good, good, fair, and poor. One of the most beloved aspects of this stone is the dazzling sparkles it gives off. It’s also a good indication of how well it was designed.

For aesthetic appearances, when there’s internal and external light reflected, it’s referred to as brightness; the scattered rainbow of light seen is fire, and the twinkling sparkles are scintillation. Even a perfect 2ct diamond with no imperfections or colour tint can still look dull if not cut extremely well.

  • Face-Up Appearance
  • Brightness
  • Fire
  • Scintillation
  • Design
  • Weight Ratio
  • Durability
  • Craftsmanship
  • Polish
  • Symmetry

    Clarity evaluates the internal and external characteristics - referred to as inclusions and blemishes respectively. No diamond is perfectly pure but to the naked eye, a VS1 and an SI2 diamond could be indistinguishable. The closer it is to purity the better its clarity will be.

  • FL: Flawless
  • IF: Internally Flawless
  • VVS1: Very, Very Slightly Included 1
  • VVS2: Very, Very Slightly Included 2
  • VS1: Very Slightly Included 1
  • VS2: Very Slightly Included 2
  • SI1: Slight Included 1
  • SI2: Slightly Included 2
  • I1: Inclusions 1
  • I2: Inclusions 2

    The third C is colour, which peculiarly means a diamond’s absence of colour. GIA’s grading scale for a diamond’s colour starts from D to Z - with D being completely colourless and Z having a light yellow tint. The closer it is to being colourless the rarer the diamond becomes. Colour is an important component since it directly affects the stone’s appearance. That being said, diamonds come in an array of colours, tones, and saturations (referred to as “fancy diamonds”) with some hues being even rarer than their white counterparts.

  • D E F: Colourless
  • G H I J: Near Colourless
  • K L M: Faint
  • N O P Q R: Very Light
  • S T U V W X Y Z: Light

    Many believe the term carat refers to the size of the diamond but in fact, it’s the weight. The same carat diamond can differ in size depending on the cut and shape. One carat is equivalent to 0.2 grams.

    Higher carat weight does not mean a diamond is more valuable. Cut, colour, and clarity also play a part in how the stone will look and be valued. It’s always best to see diamonds in person to determine the true quality of one.