Learning About the 4 Cs – Part III

Rony TennenbaumContinued from “C is for Carat” and “C is for Cut & Color.”


“C” is for CLARITY

Clarity is the “C” that grades a diamond’s surface or internal inclusions and flaws which are caused throughout the diamond’s growth or cutting process.

A diamond’s clarity is determined by the number, size, type and placement of its inclusions. Inclusions include crystals or tiny gaps that represent small minerals caught in the diamond during its growth. Forms of inclusions appear as: pinpoints, needles, knots, chips, cavities, feathers and more.

Though most diamonds have some sort of flaw or inclusion, GIA’s standard grading system helps determine the extent of these flaws. The less imperfections that appear in a stone, the higher it’s grade on the clarity grading chart and more valuable the diamond.

Diamond clarity grades are: FL (flawless), IF (internally flawless), VVS1, VVS2 (very very slightly included), VS1, VS2 (very slightly included), SI1, SI2 (slightly included) and I1, I2, I3 (imperfect).

As with any of the previous C’s, the extent of clarity and the cost each grade requires is very much a preference to how noticeable or undetected you are willing to accept an imperfection in your diamond. Of course budget will also play a considerable factor in final choice.

Summing up “The 4 C’s”

To recap, diamonds are graded by 4 C’s: CARAT, CUT, COLOR and CLARITY. The unique combination of the 4 in each individual stone is what makes up that diamond’s final quality and cost.

Carat – refers to the diamond weight.

Cut – refers to a diamond’s shape or silhouette, as well as the fineness of the proportions between facets.

Color – refers to the presence or lack of traces of minerals and chemicals that leave hues of color

Clarity – refers to the inclusions and imperfections that have grown within the diamond crystal over millions of years in the earth.

As mentioned before, it is a complex system of combining all four factors in each individual stone that makes up a diamond’s value. When shopping for diamonds, it is always beneficial to start with a budget in mind. Shop around and see first what is available for your budget. Sometimes going to three different locations may produce different results and stones closer to your liking.

Finally, note that some stones are “certified” by reputable laboratories. These certifications authenticate to you the consumer that what you are being told about the diamond is in fact true. Top laboratories you will find are GIA, EGL, IGI, IGL and more. Certificates will usually state all the important grades that a diamond was granted based on each of the 4 C’s. Certificates are NOT appraisals; they do not identify a diamond’s retail value, but simply explain the facts and map of your diamond as seen under a microscope. Certified stones may be more expensive than non-certified stones and as everything else, it is a preference whether you need your stone to be certified or not.

No matter how difficult the choice or how daunting the process may feel, remember this: “the right” stone will eventually find you.

So keep looking for it because it is looking for you! Happy Diamond Hunting!


Previously in the series: C Is For Carat and C Is for Cut & Color.


Photo credit: GIA (Gemological Institute of America) & Rony Tennenbaum 

In his 25 years experience in designing and creating engagement rings and wedding bands, Rony has dedicated more than a decade of service toward helping same-sex couples translate their sentiments of commitment into meaninful custom rings, symbolizing their unique love.