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Diamond Guide

The 4C of Diamond Quality

The universal method for assessing the quality of any diamond, anywhere in the world.

The 4C of Diamond Quality

The universal method for assessing the quality of any diamond, anywhere in the world.

Diamond color

The 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 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.

GIA’s D-to-Z color-grading scale is the industry’s most widely accepted grading system. The scale begins with the letter D, representing colorless, and continues, with increasing presence of color, to the letter Z.

Many of these 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.

Colorless (D)

GIA Color Scale
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
W
X
Y
Z
Colorless Near Colorless Faint Very Light Light

Clarity

Diamond Clarity

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. While no diamond is perfectly pure, the closer it comes, the higher its value.

The GIA Clarity Scale has 6 categories, some of which are divided for a total of 11 specific grades.

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. This is why expert and accurate assessment of clarity is extremely important.

FL

Flawless

No inclusions and no blemishes visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification.

IF

Internally Flawless

No inclusions and only blemishes are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification.

VVS1

Very, Very Slightly Included

Minute inclusions that range from extremely difficult to very difficult to see are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification.

VVS2

Very, Very Slightly Included

Minute inclusions that range from extremely difficult to very difficult to see are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification.

VS1

Very Slightly Included

Minor inclusions that range from difficult to somewhat easy to see are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification.

VS2

Very Slightly Included

Minor inclusions that range from difficult to somewhat easy to see are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification.

SI1

Slightly Included

Noticeable inclusions that range from easy to very easy to see are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification.

SI2

Slightly Included

Noticeable inclusions that range from easy to very easy to see are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification.

I1

Included

Obvious inclusions are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance.

I2

Included

Obvious inclusions are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance.

I3

Included

Obvious inclusions are visible to a skilled grader using 10x magnification and may affect transparency and brilliance.

GIA Clarity Scale
FL
IF
VVS1
VVS2
VS1
VS2
SI1
SI2
I1
I2
I3
Flawless Internally Flawless Very, Very Slightly Included Very Slightly Included Slightly Included Included

CUT

Diamond Cut

Diamonds are renowned for their ability to transmit light and sparkle so intensely. We often think of a diamond’s cut as shape (round, emerald, pear), but a diamond’s cut grade is really about how well a diamond’s facets interact with light.

Precise artistry and workmanship are required to fashion a stone so its proportions, symmetry, and polish deliver the magnificent return of light only possible in a diamond.

The quality of cut is crucial to the diamond’s final beauty and value. And of all the 4Cs, it is the most complex and technically difficult to analyze.

The GIA Cut Grading System for the standard round brilliant diamond evaluates seven components. The first three, brightness, fire, and scintillation, consider the diamond’s overall face-up appearance. The remaining four, weight ratio, durability, polish, and symmetry, assess a diamond’s design and craftsmanship.

BRIGHTNESS

Internal and external white light reflected from a diamond.

FIRE

The scattering of white light into all the colors of the rainbow.

SCINTILLATION

The sparkle a diamond produces, and the pattern of light and dark areas caused by reflections within the diamond.

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.

  • This diamond also 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.

  • This diamond’s grade is limited by its scintillation. The shallow crown angle and low crown height lead to a face-up appearance with a lack of contrast in its pattern and localized darkness (especially in the table area).

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.

GIA Cut Scale
Excellent
Very Good
Good
Fair
Poor
Flawless Diamond

Anatomy Of

A Diamond

The design and craftsmanship of the diamond considers weight ratio (weight of the diamond relative to its diameter), the diamond's girdle thickness (which affects its durability), the symmetry of its facet arrangement, and the quality of polish on those facets.

Cut is oftentimes confused with the shape of the diamond but cut refers to a stone’s facet arrangement. Shape refers to the outline of the stone. The most common diamond shape used in jewelry is round, as seen in the standard round brilliant cut. All other diamond shapes are known as fancy shapes. Traditional fancy shapes include the marquise, pear, oval and octagonal (as seen in the emerald cut). Square, cushion (square with rounded edges), triangle, and a variety of other shapes are also gaining popularity in diamond jewelry.

CARAT

Diamond carat weight

Diamond carat weight is the measurement of how much a diamond weighs. A metric “carat” is defined as 200 milligrams.

Each carat can be 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 carat weight, because larger diamonds are more rare and more desirable. But two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different values (and prices) depending on three other factors within the 4Cs: Clarity, Color, and Cut. It’s important to remember that a diamond’s value is determined using all of the 4Cs, not just carat weight.

1.00ct.

1.00ct.

Diamond images are for reference only and may vary based on screen size.