Diamond Education

Diamond Education

Diamond Anatomy & Cut Quality

Beautiful. Rare. Cherished. Each diamond is unique and is a miracle of time, place and change. And each has specific qualities that establish its value.

Understanding the 4 C’s of Diamond Shopping

A better understanding of the 4 Cs of diamond buying will ensure you get the best value diamond that suits you and your budget.



Cut quality is the factor that fuels a diamond’s fire, sparkle and brilliance. The allure and beauty of a particular diamond depends more on cut quality than anything else.

The GIA Diamond Cut Grading System for standard round brilliants in the D-to-Z color range is based on the assessment of seven components. The first three — brightness (the total light reflected from a diamond), fire (the dispersion of light into the colors of the spectrum), and scintillation (the pattern of light and dark areas and the flashes of light, or sparkle, when a diamond is moved) — are appearance-based aspects. The remaining four — weight ratio, durability, polish, and symmetry — are related to a diamond’s design and craftsmanship.


Diamond Cut Descriptions
  • Excellent – The diamond, which has an even pattern of bright and dark areas, scores in the top category for all grade-setting determinants.Although its proportions are different from the diamond in the first example, this diamond also has an even pattern of bright and dark areas and scores in the top category for all grade-setting determinants.
  • Very Good – This diamond’s grade is determined by brightness, scintillation, and polish. Although no individual proportions would necessarily cause its brightness or scintillation to perform poorly, the combination of this particular set of proportions leads to increased darkness in the pavilion mains.This diamond’s grade is determined by its fire, scintillation, and weight ratio. It has a “splintery” pattern, most likely caused by a higher crown height with a somewhat steeper crown angle, accompanied by a long lower-girdle facets.  This diamond’s grade is determined by its brightness, scintillation, and finish. There is a slight darkening within the table and along the upper-girdle facets.
  • Good – This diamond’s grade is limited by its scintillation. In this case, the somewhat shallow pavilion angle produces dark pavilion mains. This diamond’s grade is determined by its fire, scintillation, and weight ratio. A somewhat steep crown angle, combined with a slightly steep pavilion and this total depth, leads to a diamond that displays a slightly dark ring within the table edge, as well as somewhat dark upper-girdle facets.
  • Fair – This diamond’s grade is limited by its scintillation. The combination of a shallow crown angle and a somewhat shallow pavilion angle leads to a face-up appearance with a lack of contrast and general darkness. This diamond’s grade is determined by its fire, scintillation, and weight ratio. A slightly steep crown angle, combined with a steep pavilion angle and large total depth, causes this diamond to display general darkness in the table area and a very dark upper-girdle area. This diamond’s grade is limited by its brightness and scintillation. The large table and a somewhat shallow crown height, with this pavilion angle, cause a general darkness in this diamond, along with a slight fisheye that becomes more evident when the diamond is tilted.
  • Poor – This diamond’s grade is limited by its weight ratio. Although most of the proportions for this diamond are fairly standard, the extremely thick girdle greatly increases the total depth. Therefore, this diamond’s diameter is much smaller than its carat weight would indicate. This diamond’s grade is limited by its fire and scintillation. This slightly steep crown angle, very steep pavilion angle, and large total depth all cause this diamond to have a very dark table area, along with a very dark upper-girdle areas. This diamond’s grade is also limited by its weight ratio. The somewhat steep crown angle, slightly steep pavilion angle, and very thick girdle greatly increase the total depth. Therefore, this diamond’s diameter is much smaller than its carat weight would indicate.


To understand diamond clarity, we must first understand how diamonds are created. Natural diamonds are the result of carbon exposed to tremendous heat and pressure deep in the earth. This process can result in a variety of internal characteristics called ‘inclusions’ and external characteristics called ‘blemishes.’

Evaluating diamond clarity involves determining the number, size, relief, nature, and position of these characteristics, as well as how these affect the overall appearance of the stone. If you are trying to determine what is the best clarity for a diamond, remember that no diamond is perfectly pure. But the closer it comes to purity, the better its clarity.

Diamond Clarity Descriptions

Flawless (FL) No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10x magnification
Internally Flawless (IF) No inclusions visible under 10x magnification
Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor
Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification
Included (I1, I2, and I3) Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance


Diamond Color Actually Means Lack of Color

Understanding what diamond color means helps in choosing the right diamond. Interestingly, the diamond color evaluation of most gem-quality diamonds is based on the absence of color. A chemically pure and structurally perfect diamond has no hue, like a drop of pure water, and consequently, a higher value. GIA’s D-to-Z diamond color-grading system measures the degree of colorlessness by comparing a stone under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions to masterstones of established color value.

Many of these diamond color distinctions are so subtle that they are invisible to the untrained eye; however, these distinctions make a very big difference in diamond quality and price. Hence, it is important to get a GIA expert’s opinion in evaluating the best color for your diamond.

Why does the GIA color grading system start at D?

Why does the GIA color grading system start at D?
Before GIA universalized the D-to-Z Color Grading Scale, there was no clear standard to define what diamond color is. A variety of other systems were used loosely, from A, B, and C (used without clear definition), to Arabic (0, 1, 2, 3) and Roman (I, II, III) numbers, to descriptive terms like “gem blue” or “blue white,” which are notorious for misinterpretation. So, the creators of the GIA Color Scale wanted to start fresh, without any association with earlier systems. Thus the GIA scale starts at the letter D. Very few people still cling to other grading systems, and no other system has the clarity and universal acceptance of the GIA scale.

Carat (Size)

Diamond Carat Weight Measures a Diamond’s Apparent Size

To put it simply, diamond carat weight measures how much a diamond weighs.

A metric “carat” is defined as 200 milligrams. Each carat is subdivided into 100 ‘points.’ This allows very precise measurements to the hundredth decimal place. A jeweler may describe the weight of a diamond below one carat by its ‘points’ alone. For instance, the jeweler may refer to a diamond that weighs 0.25 carats as a ‘twenty-five pointer.’ Diamond weights greater than one carat are expressed in carats and decimals. A 1.08 carat stone would be described as ‘one point oh eight carats.’

All else being equal, diamond price increases with diamond carat weight because larger diamonds are rarer and more desirable. However, two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different values (and prices) depending on three other factors of the diamond 4Cs: Color, Clarity, and Cut.

While now you know what carat means, it’s also important to remember that a diamond’s value is determined using all of the 4Cs, and not just carat weight.

This short video explains carat weight and shows how diamonds are weighed in GIA’s lab on an extremely precise electronic scale.

How did the carat system start?

In order to understand what a diamond carat measures, it would help to know the origins of the modern carat system. Carat weight started with the carob seed, when early gem traders used the small, uniform seeds as counterweights in their balance scales. Today, the carat is the same milligram weight in every corner of the world.
What are “magic sizes”?
Some weights are considered “magic sizes” – half carat, three-quarter carat, and carat. Visually, there’s little difference between a 0.99 carat diamond and one that weighs a full carat. But the price differences between the two can be significant.

* Source taken from https://www.gia.edu/

Diamond Shapes

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