The 4 C’s of Diamonds: The Industry Standard of Quality Assessment

man inspecting diamond

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the world’s authority on diamonds’ quality assessment, uses four parameters to ascertain a specific diamond’s quality. These parameters are referred to as the 4 C’s: Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat. Grading diamonds using the 4 C’s helps diamond traders set their prices, and buyers differentiate between two similar diamonds.

The 4 C’s Explained

Below is a breakdown of the 4 C’s to help you find the perfectly balanced diamond in terms of quality and value.


The Cut is probably the most vital aspect of a diamond’s quality that also impacts its beauty. The Cut essentially refers to the quality of a diamond’s proportions, angles, symmetrical elements, brilliance, scintillation, fire, and finishing details. These factors affect a diamond’s sparkle and overall aesthetic appeal. The GIA grades Diamond Cuts on the scale of Poor, Good, Very Good, Excellent, and Ideal. The Excellent and Ideal grades indicate that the diamond’s proportions and angles are cut for maximum fire and brilliance.

As such, while evaluating a Cut, look for high levels of brilliance and fire to guarantee an exceptional Cut.


The GIA grades a diamond’s color based on how white or colorless the diamond is. Diamonds are graded from D to Z, with D representing the most colorless diamonds and Z representing diamonds with noticeable yellow or brown tint. While evaluating a diamond’s color, ensure that it appears colorless in regards to its setting. Also, ascertain that the diamond is clear of any tinting that interferes with colored or white light reflections.


The GIA Clarity parameter seeks to evaluate how clean a diamond is from blemishes. The Institute uses the scale below to evaluate Clarity.

  • I2 (Inclusions 2)
  • I1 (Inclusions 1)
  • SI2 (Slightly Included 2)
  • SI2 (Slightly Included 1)
  • VS2 (Very Slightly Included 2)
  • VS1 (Very Slightly Included 1)
  • VVS2 (Very, Very Slightly Included 2)
  • VVS1 (Very, Very Slightly Included 1)
  • IF (Internally Flawless)
  • FL (Flawless)

When evaluating for Clarity, pick a diamond that is eye-clean. Small blemishes shouldn’t distract you from more important aspects such as fire and brilliance.


Most diamond enthusiasts often think a diamond’s Carat or Carat weight refers to the diamond’s actual size. However, Carat refers to the weight of the diamond, not the size. According to the GIA scale, a 1 Carat diamond typically weighs 0.2 grams or 200 milligrams.

While this parameter is important to consider, it falls last in the pecking order in relation to the other parameters discussed above. For example, a poor 1.5 Carat diamond will not shine brilliantly or attract as much attention as a nicely cut 1.0 Carat diamond.

In a nutshell, each of the 4 C’s contributes to the overall beauty and appearance of a diamond. For the best value while shopping, you can reduce your spending on factors such as Carat weight in favor of exceptional Cut and Color. For more information about our online diamond appraisal or to sell your diamond, reach out to Trade In My Diamond today!

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