Understanding the 4 Cs: A Definitive Guide To Diamonds

Before you jump in and buy a diamond ring, research the four Cs of diamonds, as they are the critical factors that affect a gemstone’s price. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Gemological Society (AGS), sister labs founded by Robert Shipley, developed ways of grading cut, clarity, color, and carat. By having a definitive guide to diamonds, you’re sure to purchase the ideal gem for your price point and style; however, keep in mind these “grades” are simply opinions.


Diamonds with the least amount of color are of the highest quality and, therefore, are the most expensive. The GIA color scale begins with D to represent colorless diamonds and precedes through every subsequent letter of the alphabet. Each grade represents more body of color until you get to Z—the lowest grade with the most body color.

For example, a diamond could be a “high G,” “middle G,” or “low G” which is just as different as a “high G” and “high H.” Moreover, some grade low because they have shades of brown, gray, or green and sparkle less.


As diamonds are natural stones, they often have imperfections; the clarity of a diamond refers to how many it has under 10x magnification.

GIA defines clarity as the absence of blemishes and inclusions. Diamonds without these imperfections are expensive because they’re so rare. However, clarity does not directly impact the brilliance and sparkle of a diamond—if certain characteristics related to clarity do not affect the face-up appearance of a diamond, its value increases.

Rankings in order of highest to lowest depending on flaw inclusion are:

Diamonds with few imperfections rank higher, with a Flawless or FL grade as the ranking; however, very few can afford these.


Diamonds come in various shapes, such as:

However, the cut doesn’t necessarily refer to shape, but rather the relationship between the facets which impacts light performance. In other words, the cut grade is based on how precise the cut is.

In the late 90s, the GIA and AGS concluded that every facet of a diamond matter. AGS then developed a performance-based cut grading system and an Angular Spectrum Evaluation Tool, so each facet’s impact was measurable.


A carat is a precise unit of weight; the larger the diamond, the higher its carat weight. Carat size alone may not be the reason for a diamond’s price, as it’s this aspect combined with the above elements—color, cut, and clarity—that truly determine a gem’s worth.

A diamond is a symbol of love between you and your partner, and you want one that’s perfect for you. Finding the perfect diamond comes easier after understanding the four Cs—cut, clarity, color, and carat. Remember, opinion highly influences the grade a diamond receives, so buy the ring you feel most drawn to. Look to Fire and Ice Diamonds for high-end diamonds as you prepare to go down this path!