What to Know about the 5 C’s of Diamonds


The value and quality of any diamond is judged based on five essential criteria. Together, they’re known as the “five C’s of diamonds”: cut, color, clarity, carat and certification. So, what do you need to know about the 5 C’s when buying a diamond?

Well, here are some of the basics:

  • Some differences related to quality require a qualified grader and specialty equipment to detect. Others can be seen by the naked eye.
  • A diamond can only be accurately assessed before it has been set. Once it’s been set, not even trained graders are able to determine size, color and clarity precisely. Only estimated values can be given.
  • The value of a diamond can be greatly affected by minor differences in weight, clarity and color. Because of this, only loose diamonds are graded by laboratories.
  • Accurate diamond grading certificates are the only true form of diamond certification.

Cut of a Diamond

A diamond’s cut is the only characteristic that’s completely dependent on the human touch. The cut of a diamond refers to:

  • Style
  • Shape
  • Proportions
  • Make
  • Finish
  • Symmetry

Both the angles and the proportions influence the internal light reflection, as well as the distribution of the light that leaves the diamond. This is what determines the diamond’s fire, brilliance, sparkle and brightness. Ultimately, the diamond’s cut determines the apparent beauty.

Color of a Diamond

Generally, diamonds will fall within color categories ranging from “D” to “Z”, or colorless to light yellow. Just about all diamonds have some trace of the colors brown, gray or yellow. To determine a diamond’s color, a visual assessment is conducted in a laboratory. During this assessment, the diamond is compared to a master set of diamonds.

Using the International Color Grading Scale to grade the diamonds, color differences are very subtle. Some of the most valuable colors include fancy, natural colors like red, yellow, purple, pink and blue. The most valuable of all is the colorless grade.

Clarity of a Diamond

You may have heard the saying that “no two diamonds are the same.” Well, this is absolutely true. The clarity of a diamond is determined based on just how clean it appears. Diamond clarity must be determined by a professional, using a high-powered device that magnifies the stone.

Visible marks or spots located within the diamond are called inclusions. The diamond’s inclusions are essentially its fingerprint. Its durability or the reflection of light aren’t inhibited by small inclusions.

Carat of a Diamond

The carat of a diamond is how you express its weight:

1 carat is the equivalent of 0.2 grams

A diamond’s value is obviously determined by its weight. However, two diamonds weighing exactly the same can have extremely unequal values. That’s because value also depends on the diamond’s quality.

A diamond’s weight indicates its size only. Even when two diamonds weigh the same amount, they can still appear to have totally different sizes. Internationally, diamond weight is noted using two decimal places.

Certification of a Diamond

Some say the 5th C of diamond is confidence. But, this confidence is created by something that’s treasured in the gem industry: a diamond certificate.

You can only receive this certificate after your diamond has been certified by a grading report provided by a certified grading laboratory.

A true, authentic grading report can only be conducted with a loose diamond. That’s is because settings and mountings influence or obscure the diamond’s cut, color and clarity. This makes it very hard to determine a diamonds exact carat size. Loose make grading simpler by making it easier to avoid stone damage while testing for applied treatments to the diamond.

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