Following the 4 C’s of Diamond Color Grading

You’ve likely heard of the Three R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic) and the Five W’s (who, what, when, where and why). Now you can add another set of alliterative words to your lexicon: cut, color, clarity and carat weight, otherwise known as the Four C’s of Diamonds.

The Four C’s are the key facets to selecting the ideal diamond for engagement rings or other jewelry pieces. Let’s delve into more detail about what each entails, as listed in order of importance:

Cut

A diamond’s cut is arguably its most important feature because it determines the shape it’ll take, whether it’s round brilliant, princess, marquise, pearl or another popular style. The way in which a diamond is cut also affects how brilliantly it’ll shine—the more refined the cut, the brighter a diamond will sparkle. A diamond’s proportions, its symmetry and its polish are other factors expert diamond cutters consider when crafting the ideal diamond engagement ring.

Color

Next to cut, color is the second most important feature of a diamond because it’s plainly visible to the human eye and therefore impacts how a bride or groom will respond to it. Diamond color grading is often a matter of personal preference—generally speaking, however, the most valuable diamonds are the ones with little to no color. To determine a diamond’s quality, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) devised a color grade chart ranging from D to Z.

Diamond Engagement ring color grading

Colorless Diamonds (D-F)
  • D grade diamonds are absolutely colorless and extremely rare
  • E-F grade diamonds are essentially colorless but with small traces of color that can only be detected by a professional gemologist
Near-Colorless Diamonds (G-J)
  • G-H grade diamonds have traces of color that are difficult to detect unless placed alongside a colorless diamond
  • I-J grade diamonds have a slight warm color, making them more common than diamonds in the G-H range
Faint Color (K-M)
  • K-M grade diamonds have a barely noticeable yellowish tint that make them less valuable than diamonds in the G-J range
Very Light Color (N-R)
  • N-R grade diamonds have an easily observable color (usually yellow or brown) that makes it a relatively inexpensive engagement ring option
Light Color (S-Z)
  • S-Z grade diamonds can no longer be considered pure white diamonds due to the clear presence of color

Experts recommend buying engagement diamond rings within the D-F or G-J range for the best long-term value. Consult with a fine jewelry store for more information on diamond color grades.

Clarity

Diamond clarity is an important feature because it measures the tiny imperfections (also known as inclusions) found within a particular diamond. The fewer or smaller the inclusions, the greater the clarity. Diamonds with greater clarity are rarer and therefore considered to be more valuable. The clarity of a diamond is judged on a scale that consists of six categories and 11 clarity grades:

  1. Flawless (FL)
  2. Internally Flawless (IF)
  3. Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2)
  4. Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2)
  5. Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2)
  6. Included (I1, I2 and I3)

Carat Weight

Finally, carat weight is an important feature of a diamond that defines its weight (but not its size). Since a single carat equals 0.2 grams, a diamond with an average 1.5 carat weight won’t feel especially heavy on the finger. At the same time, the more carats a diamond has, the more expensive it’s likely to be.

Diamond Grade Questions?

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