The Perfect Diamond: a Guide to the 4 C’s

A glimmering stone displayed on velvet. The brilliant focal point of an engagement ring. The subject of jewel heists, treasure hunts, and mystery stories told around the world. 

Diamonds hold a significant place in our culture’s consciousness. Yet, so many details seem left to the experts. When shopping for engagement rings, knowing the difference between a flawed and perfect diamond can make the difference between a dream and a disappointment.

Even if you’re just a part-time diamond admirer, you can up your diamond game by learning a few terms and categories. The 4 C’s, as they’re known, are ways to measure the quality of a gem. They are the difference between a good diamond and a great one.

Keep reading to learn more!


The first C refers to carat. Carats are a unit used to measure the weight of a diamond. 

The weight is measured by points, where 100 points equals 1 carat. Depending on the cut of the gem, two diamonds of the same weight can have different apparent sizes. A princess cut diamond may weigh the same as a round cut stone, but because of the shape, it will look larger. 

Because carat measures the size of the diamond, it plays a large role in the cost of a ring. 


The second “C” to pay attention to stands for a diamond’s color. Natural diamonds run the full spectrum of colors. They can be black, white, or any color of the rainbow. The most valuable diamonds are perfectly colorless. These transparent stones are seen as the purest.

Perfect white is seen as the ideal diamond, especially for engagement rings. A diamond’s color is measured in colors ranging from D to Z. E represents the most colorless, and Z is a light yellow color. G to J on the scale are graded as “near colorless”, and many engagement rings fall within this spectrum.

Colored diamonds beyond Z, called fancy color diamonds, have an allure of their own, especially as they have gained popularity over the years. Still, perfectly colorless diamonds get the most attention and command the highest prices. 


A diamond’s clarity refers to whether the diamond is free from flaws. Irregularities within the diamond can affect the light as it passes through the gem. The best diamond have the highest clarity.

The clarity grade is dependent on the different types of blemishes and how prominent they are. Inclusions are internal flaws, and blemishes are external flaws. When diamonds form, it is natural for them to have marks and blemishes. Almost all diamonds have flaws, but their visibility varies. Whether a diamond is acceptable for fine jewelry may be determined on a case-to-case basis


The cut of a diamond may be the most important. The cut refers to the shape and its proportions--the size and angles of each facet--and how they work to reflect light up through the top of the stone. Symmetry is key, and it is tied to how precisely the diamond cutter works. In this category, the value is tied to the craftsman and the skill used on the rough diamond. 

Diamonds are essentially prisms that light passes through. A good diamond will capture the light, magnify it within the diamond, and cause it to reflect back through the top.

There are three main aspects of a diamond’s cut: brilliance, fire, and scintillation. Brilliance refers to the intensity of the white light reflected back. Fire names the way the light scatters, creating a rainbow effect. And scintillation describes the white sparkles or flashes of light that appear as the diamond moves.

The perfect diamond

These four traits--carat, color, clarity, and cut--largely determine the cost of your diamond. They are essential to the centerpiece of a diamond ring (and any other diamond jewelry). However, there are so many other qualities that make a ring stand out, including style and setting.

Wherever you are, and whatever type of ring you’re hoping to choose, with the right qualities in mind, you’ll find the perfect ring! We can’t wait to see what it is.