What Are The Main Characteristics (The 4Cs) of Diamonds?
Before buying any diamond, either online (Like on James Allen or BlueNile) or in a retail store, you need to know what are the main 4 characteristics of any diamonds, called 4Cs, where it stands for Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat.
Suggested read: James Allen Vs. Blue Nile Full Comparison & Review
Since you’re here, I can rest-assure you, you will not leave the site before you understand all what you need to know about these 4Cs, so you’ll look more professional next time you’re shopping for a diamond.
Since each C is independent from the others, and it needs to be understood in its sole context, we’ve created 4 separate articles that will explain each one of these 4Cs (And 1 dedicated article for the Round Cut Diamonds, since it’s the most popular cut), grab a coffee, and begin with your favorite C, and once you complete, scroll down this page to read more about the most important C in any diamond characteristic to know where to focus your budget more:
The 4Cs – Which is the Most Important & Why?
We have a complete article about this topic, because we receive tons of questions by people asking about this, we thought it will be very useful to dig into deep details about order of importance for the 4Cs, so if you want the full report, please read Diamonds 4Cs: Most Important Characteristic of Diamonds.
So by now, after reading the above 4 articles, you know that the most important key characteristics (The 4Cs) of diamonds are: Carat, Cut, Color and Clarity. When you know exactly how they are evaluated, you make better decisions in the purchase of your diamond.
In order to help you with this decision I’ve grouped the information that you see here, knowing the 4Cs allows you to judge the quality of a diamond, compare it with others, and assess how much it is worth, or its fair market price value. Ask to see the certificate that comes with each diamond you look at. Diamond certification is the written proof of a diamond’s attributes, certificates usually come from an independent gemological laboratory, such as IGI, AGS or GIA, if you got a diamond with EGL certificate, read why you should avoid EGL certificate diamonds.
Certification shows the precise grading for each of the 4Cs and, therefore, the diamond value. When she, her family, friends, and everyone she knows looks at her diamond, what they’ll notice most is:
- Diamond Size: which is determined by Carat weight mainly
- Diamond Brilliance: how flashy and light reflecting is the diamond, this factor hugely determined largely by the Cut.
Cut Vs. Carat, Which is More Important?
So now we’ve excluded color & clarity from the most important C in any diamond characteristic, we have Cut & carat remaining, which one will stand?
To make it easier for all of us, we all know that the Cut is the most important characteristic of any diamond, but what’s more important is: Why the Cut? Not the Carat for example?
If you ask any diamond expert, he/she will undoubtedly tell you that Cut is the most important attribute of a diamond, because Cut is dependent on the craftsmanship applied in cutting the facets of the stone. The artisan attempts to cut a diamond to make the best use of light. Look at the image in the right here, and then read this technical explanation:
When a diamond is Cut to good proportions, light is refracted from one facet to another, then dispersed through the top of the diamond. When a diamond is Cut too deep, some light escapes through the opposite side of the diamond. If the diamond is Cut too shallow, light escapes through the bottom of the stone before it can be reflected. In addition, the facets must be placed with precise symmetry for maximum brilliance.
Here’s the bottom line: Brilliance is the WoW factor in any diamond, and what makes one diamond more beautiful than another. It’s the arch in a person’s eyebrow as they are nearly blinded by the flash of light coming from your diamond. Of course, a diamond may be Cut well, but have poor color and clarity.
The point is, to be exceptionally beautiful, a diamond must be of high quality in all 4Cs. But without the cutting craftsmanship of a master artisan, a rough stone will never release its maximum brilliance and beauty no matter how good its color and clarity. So pay extra attention to Cut. And because the quality of the diamond is so important, you should buy the diamond first before a setting or a necklace.
Size or Quality – Which is More Important?
A valid question that comes from time to time from readers, I want a bigger diamond, and that’s it!
If we look behind the reason of having a bigger diamond, most probably we will see that the answer is somewhere around “To have the diamond easily seen by anyone, to get it notable in the crowd”, let’s see if that’s the case always.
Determining which of the 4 Cs is the most important is, in part, is a matter of taste . If size is key, then carat weight will count most to you, but remember that size is not related to the beauty of the stone. A smaller diamond that is more masterfully cut and features greater clarity and better color will be more beautiful and brilliant than a larger stone of the same price that does not meet the same standards for cut, clarity and color.
Also, if you have a larger diamond, but has lower clarity & cut, people will see it IF they look at her hands, but if the cut is superb, people will unintentionally look at this brilliance source when it hits their eyes, whether they were looking at the diamond or anywhere around.
In other words, a big diamond is not necessarily a beautiful diamond. But if size is really important to you, look for a diamond that offers the largest visual appearance and more brilliance than conventionally cut round diamonds of comparable color and clarity.
I hope by reaching this point, you’ve totally understood what are the four main characteristics of any diamonds, and you know where to focus when you shop for a diamond.