Your Diamond Guide: Understanding the 4Cs

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Navigating the world of diamonds can be difficult, but Oster Jewelers is here to help. Traditionally, diamond rings have long been associated with a proposal and engagement, but today diamond rings can mark any special occasion from birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Valentine’s, and even as a right hand ring to treat yourself or a loved one! Oster Jewelers (based in Cherry Creek North, Denver, CO) features an extensive collection of exquisite diamonds rings for every style, but there’s more to a diamond than meets the eye. Understanding the “Four C’s of diamonds” (4Cs), Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat, will get you shopping with confidence. Here’s a quick diamond guide to get you started.

The Four C’s of Diamonds

Originally developed in the 1940s by the founder of GIA (Gemological Institute of America), the 4Cs were coined as a clever way to recall the four most prominent factors to characterize a faceted diamond. This has been further expanded over time, allowing a way to communicate diamond quality universally.


Sébastien Barier Round Diamond Ring
Sébastien Barier Round Diamond Ring

Often mistaken for the shape of a diamond, the cut refers to the craftmanship of a stone. This element of the 4Cs is the most important consideration when purchasing a round brilliant diamond. The ideal diamond cut focuses most of the light through the crown of the stone, with a depth that’s not too deep or shallow. The cut of a diamond is graded excellent, great, or poor, with the first being the most preferred.


Louis Glick Cushion Cut Diamond Ring (Graded E)
3 carat Cushion Cut Diamond Ring

The second C of the 4Cs refers to “color,” but it is the absence of this factor that is the most coveted in the jewelry world when it comes to white diamonds. A diamond is evaluated on a D to Z scale of 23 color grades, with D having no detectable color, and Z showing a noticeable color. Fancy diamonds, (aka colored diamonds) are excluded from this ranking, and are evaluated on an independent scale. The rarest and most valuable of stones will be grade D, E, or F. Still very popular, G and H stones provide plenty of beautiful white sparkle at a more affordable price point.


Precision Set Split Shank Diamond Ring
Precision Set Split Shank Diamond Ring

The clarity of a diamond is one of the most defining factors in determining the quality of the stone and refers to amount, as well as location and size of inclusions (internal) and blemishes (external). A flawless graded diamond (FL) means the stone does not have any visible imperfections (inclusions or blemishes) when magnified at 10x. This is the holy grail when it comes to diamonds. At the opposite end of the spectrum is a grading of “included” which means the inclusions are obvious under the same level of magnification, often impacting the brilliance and clarity of a stone. Between these two opposite grades is a range of rankings from: IF (internally flawless, but external blemishes may be present); VVS (very very slightly included); VS (very slightly included); and SI (slightly included). Within each grading, a diamond is ranked from 1-3, with 1 being preferred.


Oster Collection Cushion Cut Halo Diamond Ring
Oster Collection Cushion Cut Halo Diamond Ring

Easily the most frequently referenced of the 4Cs, a diamond’s carat refers to its weight with a positive correlation of price increase with size. Size increases by .5 carats are considered to be “magic sizes” (.5, 1.0, 1.5, etc). The visible difference between a one carat diamond and a slightly smaller .98 carat diamond is negligible, however the savings can be worthwhile. The weight of a diamond is not the only factor affecting its apparent size. The proportions of the stone can impact the way the size of a stone appears. A shallower wider diamond will seem bigger than a similar sized diamond of more preferred proportions.

Other Considerations


While the 4Cs are the GIA industry standard for evaluating diamonds, there are other factors to consider when picking the perfect diamond ring. The most personal is the shape of the stone. Some of the most popular shapes include the following:


Louis Glick Asscher Cut Diamond Ring
Asscher Cut Diamond Ring with 4.06 carat diamond

Created over a century ago, the Asscher cut is esteemed for its geometric aesthetic reflected in the “X” shape made by 58 converging facets. It features cropped corners giving it the appearance of an octagon. The most famous Asscher diamond engagement ring was given to Elizabeth Taylor and soon became her namesake.


Rahaminov Cushion Cut Diamond Ring
Rahaminov Cushion Cut Diamond Ring

A cushion cut diamond blends the love of a modern silhouette with an appreciation for tradition. Also known as a “pillow” cut for its rounded corners, this timeless style is based off of the 1700’s “Ole Mine” cut. The cushion cut allows for versatility in design and often makes diamonds appear larger than they really are. A great choice to make a statement as a cocktail or right hand ring!


Louis Glick Emerald Cut Diamond Ring
Emerald Cut Diamond Ring

One of the oldest diamond shapes, the emerald cut is created using a process called “step cutting,” where 57 facets are expertly carved, creating the sophisticated symmetry this diamond style is loved for. Celebrities like Amal Clooney to Beyonce have all said “yes” to the emerald cut, a style that has made its way from the 1500’s to the modern red carpet.


K. Brunini Sage 18KWG Rose Cut Kite Diamond Twig Ring
K. Brunini Sage 18KWG Rose Cut Kite Diamond Twig Ring

First appearing in the Art Deco period, the Kite diamond shape stands out with its sharp and decidedly angular silhouette constructed by four elongated sides. The unique shape of this fancy cut diamond allows for more dramatic sparkle, thanks to its bold cut that brings more light into the stone. This dramatic diamond is a wonderful choice to create the illusion of elegant long fingers for those with smaller hands.


K. Brunini Sage 18KRG Rose Cut Pear Brown Diamond Twig Ring
Anne Sportun 14KWG Rose Cut Pear Brown Diamond Ring

Dating back to the 1400’s, the pear shaped diamond marries the classic round cut shape with the finesse of a marquise cut to create a beautiful teardrop that dazzles. Whether as a solitaire, nestled in a halo, or offset on a two-stone engagement ring, the pear diamond offers a modern appeal for anyone looking to make a sparkling statement for any occasion.


Sébastien Barier Round Diamond & Pave Diamond Ring
Sébastien Barier Round Diamond & Pave Diamond Ring

A favorite among brides, the round “brilliant” diamond has the best light reflection of any cut and is the only style regulated by the GIA. Nearly universally flattering, the round cut diamond is prized for its radiance and exceptional fire.


Louis Glick Platinum Large Starburst 3-Stone Trilogy Diamond Ring
Louis Glick Platinum Large Starburst 3-Stone Trilogy Diamond Ring

Combining the best of both worlds, the Starburst cut, created by Louis Glick, unites the best of radiant and round cuts in perfect sparkling harmony. This rectangular brilliant cut diamond boasts a minimum of 88 kite and star-shaped facets that come together in an explosion of fire & light.

Fancy Diamonds

Graded on their own scale, fancy diamonds are found in a spectrum of colors. Whereas white diamonds lose value with increase of color, fancy diamonds are the opposite. The deeper the color, the more rare and valuable the stone is.


Louis Glick 5-ct Fancy Yellow Starburst Diamond Ring
Louis Glick 5-ct Fancy Yellow Starburst Diamond Ring

Perhaps the most popular of fancy diamonds, yellow diamonds are a ray of sunshine that were first discovered in 1867. Reminiscent of the bright and glistening sun, a yellow diamond engagement ring is a symbol of optimism that evokes the spirit of a life rich with love and happiness. Yellow diamonds are ranked on a GIA scale based on the intensity of their color (Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Dark, Fancy Deep, Fancy Intense, and Fancy Wild).


Anne Sportun 14KRG Rose Cut Pear Brown Diamond Ring
Anne Sportun 14KRG Rose Cut Pear Brown Diamond Ring

Brown diamonds are found in a rich palette ranging from the palest milk chocolate to the richest mocha. The most common of fancy diamonds, brown diamonds are not ranked on the GIA scale, but instead on a grading system running from C1 at the lightest to C7 at the darkest.


Anne Sportun 14KWG Rose Cut Pear Grey Diamond Ring
Anne Sportun 14KWG Rose Cut Pear Grey Diamond Ring

More rare than yellow or brown, grey diamonds come in a variety of shades ranging from the lightest of silvers to decadently dark. While inclusions are discouraged in white diamonds, they’re coveted in grey diamonds. This feature creates a “salt and pepper effect” that varies from stone to stone making each one unique and beautiful.

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