Color, clarity, cut, and carat. We all know we should pay attention to the 4Cs when buying diamonds, but what do they really mean?
The Gemological Institute of America or GIA is an independent nonprofit organization that is considered to have the final word on a diamond’s quality and authenticity. The GIA developed the 4Cs and an International Diamond Grading System standard that has been adopted by jewelry professionals worldwide. Let’s get to know each of the 4Cs a little bit better.
The GIA Color Scale ranges from D which is colorless, to Z which is light yellow or brown. Although it may not seem like it, most diamonds used in jewelry are not completely colorless. Truly colorless diamonds are actually extremely rare. Diamonds are grades on color after being compared to a master set. Each letter grade holds a spot on the chart that includes colorless, near colorless, faint, very light, and light.
The GIA Clarity Scale includes eleven clarity grades ranging from Flawless to I₃. Diamonds are formed under massive amounts of heat and pressure, because of this it is extremely rare to find a diamond that lacks internal and external characteristics. These characteristics are what help gemologists identify natural stones versus synthetic ones. The range the grades follows go from Very very slightly included, very slightly included, slightly included, and included.
The GIA Cut Scale ranges from Excellent to Poor. The quality of a diamond’s directly correlates with three major attributes brightness, fire, and scintillation. Brightness is the combination of all white light reflecting from the surface and the interior of the diamond. Fire describes the flares of color emitted from a diamond. And Scintillation describes the flashes of light you see when the diamond, light, or observer moves. The grades for cut range across Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. The GIA provides this scale for standard round brilliant diamonds that fall into the GIA D-to-Z color range.
Last but certainly not least, Carat weight. One carat equals 200 milligrams in weight. One carat is divided similarly as a penny to a dollar. You can get a .50 ct or .75 ct diamond. Carat preferences are all in the eye of the beholder.