Diamonds 101: Understanding the 4C's

  • By interactive
  • 28 Nov, 2016

Master Jeweler Tips

Diamonds - Jewelry by Christopher

Diamonds are the most precious and sought-after stones on earth. They have been in demand for centuries and are still seen as the one of the ultimate symbols of wealth and prosperity. Because each diamond is unique, there are specific qualities that a master jeweler looks for to establish the true value of each gem. With so many variations in diamonds, it wasn't until the late 20th century that the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) created the first globally accepted standard for judging and describing the value of diamonds.

The 4C's of diamonds include color, clarity, cut and carat weight. This universal method for assessing the quality of diamonds can be used anywhere in the world and is vital in the custom handmade jewelry design process. With the help of the 4C's, diamond quality can now be communicated in one universal language and let's diamond customers now exactly what they are purchasing and using in their custom jewelry pieces.

Understanding the 4C's of Diamonds


Diamonds can range from the truly colorless to yellow, light brown, blue, pink or even red! However, the less color found in the gem, the more rare the diamond.

The Color Scale

  • D - Colorless
  • E-F - Colorless
  • G-J - Near Colorless
  • K-M - Faint Yellow
  • N-R - Very Light Yellow
  • S-Z - Light Yellow
  • After Z, diamonds are seen as a more fancy yellow. This type of gem has much more value because of it's rarity.


Diamonds are composed of several different elements including carbon. When carbon is heated, other elements are trapped inside, which gives each diamond it's very own "fingerprint." These fingerprints are then used to help identify the clarity of each diamond. Every diamond is viewed through a 10x magnification lens by diamond graders to determine its clarity. The better the clarity, the more valuable the diamond.

The Clarity Scale

  • F - No blemishes or inclusions visible to a skilled grader.
  • IF - Slight blemishes and no inclusions visible to a skilled grader.
  • VVS1-VVS2 - Inclusions are difficult for a skilled grader to identify.
  • VS1-VS2 - Inclusions are clearly visible but characterized as minor.
  • SI1-SI2 - Inclusions are noticeable to a skilled grader.
  • I1-I3 - Inclusions are obvious and can affect the transparency and brilliance of the gem.


The cut of your diamond should show the true quality of the proportions and the symmetry of the gem. The ideal cut for a diamond should allow the maximum amount of light to return through the top of the gem and should take into consideration the table size, depth, girdle thickness, crown height and angle and other elements. Once a rough diamond is mined, it is closely evaluated to determine the best possible cut to maintain the maximum carat weight, clarity and color.


Carat is derived from the word carob, a Mediterranean seed, which is known for it's extremely consistent weight and used in measuring. With diamonds, the greater the carat weight, the rarer and more valuable the gem. For reference, 5 metric carats are equal to 1 gram. While some people simply want their master jeweler to use the largest diamond possible in their custom jewelry design, it is best to consider proper cut, color and clarity as well.

    Christopher's Fine Jewelry Blog | Rockford IL

    By interactive 26 May, 2017

    For those jewelry lovers born in the month of June, there are two beautiful gems associated with your birth month. The precious pearl and rare alexandrite gemstones are a perfect match for welcoming in the warmer weather and celebrating that special June birthday in your life. Both known for their natural beauty, these gems make for the perfect focal point in a custom jewelry design from your local Rockford and Beloit jeweler or a lovely addition to a well-loved existing piece.

    By interactive 05 May, 2017

    At Jewelry by Christopher, we’ve mastered unique engagement rings. Once you work with our master jeweler to design a one-of-a-kind ring, the only thing left to do is plan the perfect proposal! Everyone knows that how you pop the question is nearly as important as the diamond engagement ring itself. If you’ve found all the inspiration you need for the ring but are still scratching your head about the proposal, don’t worry. Luckily, Illinois is home to some of the most beautiful and romantic spots to take the plunge.

    By interactive 05 May, 2017

    If there is one thing that's true about Wisconsin residents, it’s the fact that we know how to celebrate! And what better reason is there to celebrate than designing the perfect custom engagement ring at Janesville’s Jewelry by Christopher? Once you’ve set your sights on the most beautiful engagement ring, you’ll need to find the most amazing location to pop the big question! Luckily, Wisconsin is full of unique and exciting spots that are guaranteed to get a “yes.”

    By interactive 05 May, 2017

    The gorgeous emerald is the birthstone for the month of May and the perfect gem to represent spring. This bold gemstone has been thought to symbolize love and rebirth since it first came into fashion centuries ago. The emerald was also once thought to aid in fertility and was the gem of Venus. With such an illustrious history and timeless deep green hue, the classic emerald makes for the perfect center stone in a custom engagement ring or a lively addition to a treasured earring set or pendant.

    By interactive 03 Apr, 2017

    Diamonds get their name from the ancient Greek word adamas , which means invincible. They are found in a wide array of colors including black, green, blue, yellow, red, pink, orange and purple. In modern jewelry design, natural diamonds are more rare and make the ultimate unique gift for a loved one.

    By interactive 29 Mar, 2017

    Individuals born in the month of March are lucky in that they have 2 beautiful gemstones to represent their birth month. The gorgeous aquamarine and bloodstone are very different from each other in their appearance but both carry with them a rich history and similar symbolism, making them both ideal gems to use in your custom jewelry creations. With the help of Master Craftsman Christopher, you can create a one-of-a-kind design that represents the March birthday in your life perfectly at your local Rockford jewelers.

    By interactive 31 Jan, 2017

    To kick off the new year, those born in January can look forward to seeing their birthstone —the garnet— in a variety of rainbow colors. Whether you’re looking for a special gift to surprise a loved one or you’re in the market for the perfect birthday treat for yourself, custom jewelry using the beautiful garnet birthstone is always a good idea. With a little bit of inspiration and expert advice from Master Craftsman Christopher, the legendary garnet can be simple and elegant or a true show stopper —the choice is up to you!

    By interactive 31 Jan, 2017

    Jewelry lovers who are born in the month of February are lucky enough to enjoy the amethyst as their special birthstone. In a month that is often cold, sometimes dark and usually very short, the brilliant amethyst brings warmth and sparkle. Whether you’re looking to create a custom jewelry piece for a loved one or want to invest in a birthday gift for yourself, the classic and regal amethyst is a gemstone is sure to turn heads for all the right reasons. With special care and years of experience, Master Craftsman Christopher can help you to create a one-of-a-kind custom jewelry piece that can be treasured for many more birthdays to come.

    By interactive 31 Jan, 2017

    Whether you’re ready to finally pop the question or you’re simply looking to find a custom jewelry piece that your loved one will treasure for many years to come, jewelry shopping should be fun and exciting. However, it is common for those giving such a special gift to question whether or not they should bring their loved one along to join in on the fun and celebration. At Jewelry by Christopher, this is a question that first-time and seasoned custom jewelry clients ask all of the time. While there is really no right or wrong answer to this question, there are a few things to consider before inviting that special someone along for the ride.

    By interactive 31 Jan, 2017

    Have you ever felt inspired to purchase or design a beautiful ring but found that the technical terms used in ring design only confused you? If so, know that you aren’t alone. Technical terms should never keep you from letting your creative juices flow and with the help of Master Craftsman Christopher, you can learn the basics of ring design to create a beautiful and unique wedding ring . For wedding ring design in Chicago, Rockford or the surrounding areas, no other custom jewelry designer has the experience and knowledge needed to guide you through this important process.

    More Posts
    Share by: