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4Cs of Diamonds

Cut, carat, colour and clarity, also known as the 4Cs of diamonds, are the universal language of the diamond. The system was developed in the 1950s by the Gemological Institute of America as a standard for analyzing and evaluating diamond characteristics. Each of the 4Cs is evaluated separately, but it’s the balance of each characteristic and how they work together that determines the true value of a diamond.  

Learn the meaning of the 4Cs and how they can help you choose the diamond that’s right for you whether you’re shopping for an engagement ring, an anniversary gift, or just because.
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Considered the most important of the 4Cs, a quality cut has the power to downplay and even hide flaws in the stone while emphasizing the stone’s best qualities. Unlike the other 3Cs, cut is the result of human intervention. A diamond cutter balances proportions, symmetry, and polish to turn a rough diamond into a beautiful gemstone that is set in a piece of jewellery. A well-cut diamond should reveal the stone’s natural sparkle, scintillation, and overall brilliance.

Cut describes the quality of workmanship and the angles cut into the diamond and each stone is assigned a cut grade using the GIA standards ranging from Excellent to Poor. Cut can also be used to describe a diamond’s shape, for example, round, princess, emerald, etc.


Clarity is a measure of the tiny natural imperfections—or lack thereof—that exist in most every diamond. Known as “inclusions”, imperfections may be tiny scratches, chips, cracks, dark dots, or white points. The diamond is graded based on the number, size, and position of the inclusions. Cut can impact the visibility of certain inclusions, so while a particular stone may have more inclusions, its clarity grade may be higher because the diamond has been cut in a way that hides them.

The clarity grade, which ranges from Flawless to Included, impacts the value and price of a diamond as well as its vulnerability to further damage.


The colour grade refers to the whiteness of the diamond, which means a diamond is actually evaluated on its absence of colour. The most valuable diamonds are rated as colourless or near colourless on a 12-letter alphabet scale of D to Z, with D being the most desirable. 

To maximize the natural colour of your diamond, it’s important to choose the right metal setting to go with it. For example, yellow gold will reflect on the colourless stone, giving it a yellow tint, while an already yellow-tinted diamond will appear whiter in a yellow gold setting. White gold and platinum settings can enhance the beauty of a colourless or near colourless diamond making the combination a popular choice for engagement rings.


A diamond’s weight is measured in carats. One carat is made up of 100 equal parts called “points”. Contrary to popular belief, this is not the same thing as the diamond’s size. Differences in cut can mean two stones that appear to be the same size and have the same diameter can be completely different weights. Naturally, the higher the carat, the more valuable the diamond, but it isn’t always true that the bigger the diamond, the better. 

Balancing the other 3Cs with carat weight is the best way to get a diamond that delivers maximum sparkle and brilliance while sticking to your budget. You can also consider going with an off-size diamond to get a better deal on a diamond. For example, a 0.9-carat diamond will look virtually the same to the naked eye as a 1-carat diamond, but it will be more affordable.
Shopping For Diamonds

Shopping For Diamonds

Beyond the 4Cs, there are a few more things to keep in mind while you shop for diamond jewellery. From how to care for your diamond jewellery to the difference between lab-created and natural diamonds, our diamond guide is here to help you pick out the diamond jewellery of your dreams.

Learn More About Diamonds

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  • Diamond Shapes

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    Explore the role shape plays in the overall aesthetic of your diamond jewellery.