The 4C’s Of Diamond Grading

The 4 Cs

How The Experts Grade Diamonds

Have you ever found yourself looking at a diamond and wondering how special it actually is?

If so, you’re not alone. There are 4 very specific ways to determine the quality of your diamond, known as the 4C’s:

Here’s where it all started

Today the leading authority in the US diamond trade is the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). It was founded as a non-profit resource for jewelers in 1931. While other gem labs are in operation, the most common grading system used is that introduced by the GIA in 1953 and relies upon the 4C’s of diamonds.

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Let’s Take A Closer Look At Each Aspect Of The 4C’s

1. Color

The color of your diamond is graded on an alphabetic scale that starts with the letter D.

What does it all mean?

The letter designations for color are as follows:

D, E, F – Indicate colorless, or white, diamonds. Only slight deviations visible to the naked eye separate the three grades.

G, H, I, J – Mark near-colorless diamonds that still appear white to casual viewing.

K, L, M – Signify faint yellow, including brownish tints.

N, O, P, Q, R – Symbolize very light yellows (and browns).

S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z – Proclaim, light yellow or brown.

To clarify

The lower a diamond is on the alphabetical grade, the less rare and less valuable it is.

On the other hand

Some diamonds with good hue saturation below Z are considered “fancy” diamonds and the value may increase with eye appeal. Yellow diamonds are the most common, with other colors being much rarer and more valuable (i.e., the blue Hope Diamond). Red is the rarest tone of all.

2. Clarity

The clarity of your diamond is typically determined at 10x magnification through a microscope or jeweler’s loupe. Understanding clarity within a diamond typically depends on the size and number of inclusions or imperfections.

Simply put

The fewer inclusions there are, the better the stone reflects or refracts light, and the more valuable the diamond.

FL – Flawless: Extremely rare, with no inclusions that are visible using 10x magnification.

VVS1, VVS2 – Very Very Slightly Included: There are no inclusions but there are blemishes that are visible using 10x magnification.

VS1, VS2 – Very Slightly Included: Inclusions are not seen by the naked eye, however, can be viewed under 10x magnification. These are considered minor inclusions.

IF – Internally Flawless: No inclusions, but contains a blemish that is visible at 10x magnification. These are nearly identical to FL graded diamonds.

SI1, SI2Slightly Included: Diamonds of this grade are easy to see at 10x but not generally visible to naked eye.

I1, I2, I3 – Included: Inclusions visible to the naked eye; I3 would be considered an inferior diamond.

3. Cut

Keep in mind

This does not refer to the style of the stone (Marquise, Princess, etc.) but rather the proportions, angles, and symmetry of the diamond’s facets. Given two similar stones, the one with the perfect cut will be more valuable than the one that’s poorly faceted.

No doubt about it

Cutting diamonds is quite technical and requires careful planning and years of practice. Science has developed sensitive equipment for the measurement of light, but when it comes to your diamonds, it’s still very much in the eye of the beholder.

4. Carat

This is a measurement of the weight, or mass, of the stone. One carat equals about .2 grams. Typically a large raw diamond is cut around flaws into as many quality stones as possible, so weights may vary, but increasingly larger stones are more the exception and more valuable.

More specifically

Your 1.1 carat weight diamond will command a higher price than a comparable stone of 1.0 carats

Meet With Our Experts

Set up a meeting with our highly skilled gemologist with the luxury of a safe and exclusive setting.

You Deserve The Best When You Sell Us Your Diamond

At GSA Diamonds our professionals have over 60 years of combined experience as diamond buyers in Indianapolis. If you have diamonds from estate sales or any other source, we are prepared to buy 0.50 carats and up.


Sell Your Diamonds In A Secure And Private Setting

One of the advantages of our diamond selling process is that we see our customers in private, and provide complete confidentiality. We are located in the Indianapolis area but customers come to us from all over.

To sum up

We pride ourselves on providing each of our clients an honest and trustworthy experience.

The 5th “C”

We bet you’re wondering if there is another C, well there is – Care

Tips For Caring For Your Diamonds

If you are not ready to sell your diamonds now, keep them protected so you will not diminish their resale value. When storing them, keep them separate by placing them in a fabric-lined box that has compartments. Alternately, wrap each one in soft tissue paper or get a jewelry pouch. Remove rings before strenuous physical activity in order to protect them from scratches and abrasions. When using cleaners, wear gloves because cleaners can dull the luster of jewelry.