How to Choose a Diamond: Understanding Diamond Quality and the 4 C's

Proposals, anniversaries, birthdays, and milestones are part of what make up the stories of our lives, and fine jewelry is a lasting way to commemorate these moments.

We believe in jewelry for a lifetime, and as you build your collection, we’re here to help you understand stone and metal quality, especially when it comes to the world’s most popular stone: the diamond

Diamonds are the most well-known and well-loved gemstone, adored for their sparkle, durability, and timelessness. We use diamonds of various shapes and sizes in fine jewelry, and when purchasing or designing a piece with diamonds, it’s helpful to know about diamond quality using the 4 C’s: Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat. 


The 4C’s were developed in the 1940’s by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the leader in gemological research. Today, the 4C’s and the International Diamond Grading System by the GIA are the worldwide standard for evaluating diamond quality, and it’s what we use for our jewelry.

The 4 C’s


Most of us consider diamonds to be colorless gemstones, but they actually fall on a scale from colorless to light yellow or brown. Starting with D (colorless) to Z (light yellow or brown), each diamond is given a letter rating for how apparent its color is in comparison to a master set.

Truly colorless diamonds are the rarest, making them among the most expensive diamonds available. Most diamonds used in fine jewelry are near colorless with tints of yellow or brown. When viewing and comparing diamonds, you can see the differences whether slight or extreme and find the color rating that is most desirable to you.


From flawless to included, diamonds are ranked on a scale for clarity. As natural gemstones formed under intense heat and pressure, it’s extremely rare for a diamond to be without any characteristics or inclusions. In fact, it’s these characteristics that differentiate genuine diamonds from artificial or laboratory-made ones.

The fewer inclusions a diamond has, the more valuable it’s considered. Many inclusions, however, are barely visible to the naked eye, and by viewing various diamonds within the clarity rankings, you can decide which level of clarity appeals most to you.


Diamonds are beloved for their sparkle, which has everything to do with the cut. The GIA ranks a diamond’s cut by looking at three important facets of its relationship with light: brightness, fire, and scintillation. 

Brightness encompasses the white light reflecting from the surface and interior of the diamond. Fire is the flares of color and light you see from the diamond. Scintillation covers the pattern of light and dark you see when the diamond or light moves and causes the famous diamond sparkle. By understanding each of these areas and how it describes a diamond’s interaction with light, you can determine which qualities matter most and which cut rating is right for you.


Probably the most widely understood evaluation of a diamond is its size, which is measured in carats. Even diamonds that are the same carat weight can look different based on their cut, color, and clarity, which is why it's important to understand all four C’s for full context when selecting a precious stone.

One carat is 200 milligrams. For diamonds below one carat, the carat is divided into 100 points, and the diamond is measured accordingly. For example, a 0.75 carat diamond is 75 points, a 0.50 carat diamond is 50 points, and so on. 

Choosing Your Diamond

The 4C’s help distinguish diamond quality, but they are only a starting point for selecting the right diamond for you. As the old adage goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it's important to view diamonds in person to see what you find most beautiful. 

With years of experience specializing in diamonds and fine jewelry, we’re here to guide you in discovering the diamond you love. The 4C’s will lead us through your priorities, and ultimately we will land on the one that captures your heart.