Balancing the 4C’s

The Secret to Getting More Bang for Your Buck

The 4C’s are a way of classifying diamonds, which was developed decades ago by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America).  They are: carat, cut, color and clarity.  

Here’s the basics you need to know about each of the 4C’s.

Carat describes the weight of the diamond, not the size the diamond appears to be.  As diamonds increase in carat size past certain thresholds, the price of the diamond per carat can jump quite a bit.   As an example, one five-carat diamond will cost more than (5) 1-carat diamonds of the same cut, color and clarity grade.

Diamonds can have a higher carat weight, but actually have a smaller diameter (appear smaller) than a lower carat-weight diamond that is not cut as deep.  



The second of the four C’s is “Cut.” A diamond acts like a prism with light entering the top of the diamond, interacting internally within the walls of the diamond and being reflect back out the top of the diamond. The amount of light which remains, interacts and is reflected back out of the top of the diamond will determine the amount sparkle a diamond will have—you want sparkle!

The images above show how light is lost if a stone is cut too shallow or too deep.  Too deep a stone will not only cut down on sparkle, but will also reduce the diameter of her diamonds and make them appear smaller than their carat size.


 The third “C” is color.  This describes how white a diamond is.  “White” in this case means absence of color. This is rated on a scale of D to Z, with D having no traces of a secondary color and Z being considered “yellow-grade.” So, a diamond will be a lot more yellow as you continue through the alphabet.  Note: Fancy yellow diamonds are rare and desirable and have their own grading scale.  They are not the same as white diamonds further up the color chart.

The last of the 4C’s is clarity.   This is the measure of a diamond’s imperfections. The term “inclusions” will describe the defects on the inside of the diamond. 


All these criteria are inter-related.  When you choose a better color, clarity, cut grade--and of course, carat size the price of the diamond goes up.  Conversely, when you elect to go with a lower color, cut, or clarity grade, the price of the diamond will go down. 

By understanding the 4C's you can balance them based on what is most important to you/her.  If size is the most important, then you may need to be willing to accept a lower color, clarity or cut grade.  The reverse is true if clarity is most important to you. 

What we have done is to zero in on what we think is the Goldilocks balance of all four.  The result is to maximize your budget and still get a beautiful piece of diamond jewelry for her.