Diamond Education

Diamond Anatomy & Cut Quality

Diamond anatomy refers to the various parts of a diamond, including the table, crown, girdle, pavilion, and culet. Cut quality refers to how well a diamond’s facets interact with light, affecting its brilliance. Excellent, very good, good, and fair/poor are common cut grades. Cut quality greatly influences a diamond’s visual appeal.

Understanding the 4 C’s of Diamonds Shopping

When it comes to shopping for diamonds, the 4 C’s are essential factors to consider. They are used to evaluate and determine the quality and value of a diamond. The 4 C’s stand for Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat weight.


Clarity measures the presence of internal and external flaws, known as inclusions and blemishes, respectively. Almost all diamonds have some form of imperfections. The clarity grade indicates the size, number, and visibility of these flaws. The GIA clarity scale ranges from Flawless (no inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification) to Included (inclusions visible to the naked eye).

Diamond Clarity Descriptions

Diamond clarity refers to the absence of inclusions and blemishes. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) grades diamond clarity based on the following scale:

Flawless (FL): No inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification

Internally Flawless (IF): No inclusions visible under 10x magnification

Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2): Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification

Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2): Inclusions are minor and range from difficult to somewhat easy for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification

Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2): Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader under 10x magnification

Included (I1, I2, and I3): Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance

Each diamond is unique, and the clarity can significantly impact its value. However, many inclusions and blemishes are too tiny to be seen by anyone other than a trained diamond grader. To the naked eye, a VS1 and an SI2 diamond may look exactly the same, but these diamonds are quite different in terms of overall quality.


The cut refers to how well a diamond has been shaped and faceted. It directly affects the diamond’s sparkle and brilliance. A well-cut diamond reflects light internally and externally, creating maximum brightness and fire. The cut is graded on a scale from Excellent to Poor.

Diamond Clarity Descriptions

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) rates diamond cuts on the following scale:

Excellent: Reflects nearly all light that enters the diamond, creating exceptional sparkle and brilliance.

Very Good: Properly cut to reflect most light that enters. Very similar to excellent cut, but slightly less brilliance.

Good: Reflects most light that enters. Less brilliant than the previous grades, but still provides beautiful sparkle. Often chosen when a larger carat weight is a priority.

Fair: Allows much of the light entering the diamond to escape from the sides or bottom, reducing perceived fire and brilliance. More commonly found in larger diamond sizes, where a priority may be on size rather than quality.

Poor: Allows most light entering the diamond to escape from the sides or bottom. The diamond may appear noticeably dull and lifeless, even to an untrained eye.

A well-cut diamond can make light behave in breathtaking ways, resulting in a magnificent display of three important attributes: brilliance (the total light reflected from a diamond), fire (the dispersion of light into the colors of the spectrum), and scintillation (the flashes of light, or sparkle, seen when the diamond is moved).


The color of a diamond refers to the presence of any color in the diamond, with the highest quality diamonds being completely colorless. 

Diamond Color Descriptions

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) rates diamond color on a scale from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow or brown).


D-E-F: Colorless. This is the highest color grade. The diamond has virtually no color.

G-H-I-J: Near Colorless. While these diamonds contain slight color, it’s typically hard to detect unless compared side-by-side with diamonds of better grades.

K-L-M: Faint. A slight yellow hue can be observed, especially in larger diamonds.

N-R: Very Light. At this grade, diamonds have a noticeable light yellow or brown hue.

S-Z: Light. Diamonds at this grade have a distinct yellow or brown hue.

It’s important to note that color distinctions can be very subtle and, in many cases, not perceptible to the untrained eye. Often, they are invisible once a diamond is set in a ring or other piece of jewelry. The exact impact of a diamond’s color on its appearance and value can depend on a number of factors, including personal preference.

Carat (Size)

Carat is the unit of measurement used to determine a diamond’s weight. Larger diamonds are rarer and generally more valuable. However, the value is also influenced by the other three C’s. It’s important to note that carat weight alone doesn’t determine a diamond’s quality.

Diamond Sizing Descriptions

A carat is a unit of weight for diamonds and other gemstones, with one carat equivalent to 200 milligrams, or 0.2 grams. You might also hear about points when discussing diamond weight. A point is a subunit of a carat, with one carat being equivalent to 100 points. So, a 50-point diamond weighs 0.50 carats.

Diamonds can range in size from a fraction of a carat to several carats. Larger diamonds are rarer and, therefore, more valuable. However, two diamonds of the same carat weight can vary significantly in value based on the other 4Cs: Cut, Clarity, and Color.

A common categorization of carat weight you might see in the retail setting would be:

  • Under 0.50 carats: These are typically used for smaller accent diamonds, though they can also be used as the main stone in budget-friendly jewelry pieces.
  • 0.50 – 0.99 carats: A popular range for engagement rings and other jewelry items. They are noticeable but not overly large.
  • 1.00 – 1.99 carats: A highly sought-after size for engagement rings. A 1 carat diamond is often considered a kind of benchmark for diamond size.
  • 2.00 – 2.99 carats: Larger and more valuable, typically chosen for high-end jewelry.
  • 3.00 carats and above: These are rare and quite valuable. Diamonds of this size are usually found in luxury or bespoke jewelry.