You’ve probably already heard the term “4 C’s” when shopping for diamonds. The four “C’s” are broken down into diamond cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. Each one of these factors influences the diamond with respect to aesthetics and affordability. While there’s no right or wrong choice, it’s crucial to understand the differences between the four C’s and determine which matters most to you.
Not to be confused with shape (round, princess, emerald, etc.), a diamond’s cut determines how light interacts with the gem. Its geometry — think: symmetry, proportions, and polish — dictates its brilliance. That’s why “cut” is often considered the most important “C” of the four.
You might think of a typical diamond as being transparent, but in reality, diamonds range in hues, from colorless to yellow to brown. A diamond’s color is graded on a scale of D to Z, with D being considered the highest grade. Generally, the higher the grade, the more “colorless” the diamond.
A diamond’s clarity comes down to the amount and types of flaws (or inclusions) that affect the gem’s appearance. Minor differences in the top clarity grades are almost invisible to the naked eye. However, the lower you get on the clarity scale, the worse a diamond’s brilliance gets.
A diamond’s carat signifies its weight. In theory, a higher carat weight translates to a larger diamond size, but that’s not always the rule. Remember a diamond’s shape also influences how it looks and how large (or small) the gem appears.