diamond 4 cs

Diamonds & The Four C’s

You’ve just proposed or your about to propose and you’re now thinking about wedding jewelry.


If your going to purchase a diamond, here’s a short lesson on what you need to know. We don’t want you just picking the “best-looking” ones; to get the best value for your money, you need to know what makes a diamond valuable.

The standard by which diamonds are judged the world over is based on the grading system created by the Gemology Institute of America (GIA) in the 1940s, or the 4 C’s: cut, color, clarity, and carat.


A diamond’s cut is not only about its shape, but how well it reflects light back to the eye of the viewer. The standard round shape is used in most diamond jewelry, while all others (pear, emerald, princess, etc.) are known as fancy shapes. A well-cut diamond is brilliant, and can even seem larger than other stones of the same carat. The angles, or facets, of a finished diamond are what gives it its brilliance. Poorly placed facets result in a lackluster appearance, while those made with ideal proportions will give that “fire” as you move the stone back and forth.


The rarest—and most expensive—of all diamond colors are white, or colorless. The diamonds that do have color, such as yellow, brown, and black, find their way into grinding wheels, drill bits, and other industrial uses. Although, it is quite common nowadays to find a little body color in some diamonds used for jewelry today. But remember, the whiter the diamond, the more valuable it is. Colorless diamonds are classified in the D-F range, and nearly colorless diamonds fall in the G-J range. If you’re shopping for diamonds on a budget, go with G-J range stones—these have trace amounts of color undetected by the untrained eye, yet still have that colorless look.



Diamonds often contain “birthmarks” from intense heat and pressure as they are being formed deep within the earth. These marks, called inclusions (internal marks) and blemishes (external marks) are not all the result of the stone’s growth underground; some flaws actually come from the extreme stress it undergoes during the cutting process. Completely flawless or absolutely perfect diamonds are rare, and most jewelers have never even come across one.

Clarity grades are made under 10x loupe magnification and range from FL or completely flawless to I1/I2/I3 or included (those with significant inclusions). A great affordable choice is an SI1 or SI2 (slightly included) diamond that is “eye-clean” or has no flaws visible to the naked eye. After all, how many of your girl friends will come up to you with a 10x microscope to examine your ring?


Don’t confuse carat with karat, which refers to gold purity (as in “18-karat gold”). Gemstones are weighed in metric carats, where one carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams, about the same weight as a paper clip. And just as a dollar is divided into 100 pennies, a carat is also divided into100 points. A 50-point diamond weighs 0.50 carats, a 75-point diamond weighs three-quarters of a carat, and so on. Most diamonds used in fine jewelry weigh one carat or less, and because large rough gems are rare, a single two-carat diamond will cost more than two one-carat diamonds of the same quality.


Don’t depend on carat alone and buy the biggest diamond out there. A gigantic, poorly cut stone can look glasslike next to a small, well-cut gem. Remember that a diamond’s allure is in its brilliance, not in its size—so when looking for a diamond, go for cut instead of carat.

Also only deal with reputable wedding jewelry sellers, and ask whether the diamond is conflict-free and to be issued a diamond certificate!

{Images via Diamonds Sydney}

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“I’m Marcela, an Aussie expat living in Hong Kong. This space is where I share my love for weddings and bits and pieces from my family’s life and adventures. I love celebrating weddings, motherhood, family, travel and life’s simple joys.”