M. A. Jewelry Designs, Corp

Diamond 4 C’s

A diamond is rated by a system established by the Gemological Institute of America as a universal method of determining a diamond’s quality and overall cost. This is a brief explanation of the system and a guide for assisting in your diamond purchase.


Clarity is the rating of a diamond’s inclusions and is the primary factor when determining a diamond’s cost. Diamonds form deep within the earth and in this archaic environment a foreign element can become trapped within the diamond as it forms, gemologists call these trapped elements inclusions. Inclusions can range from another diamond being absorbed in the crystal formation or could be an entirely different gemstone such as a garnet that becomes enveloped in the diamond’s formation. These types of inclusions are called crystals. Another type of inclusion that is most common in diamond is called a feather inclusion. Just as the name implies this inclusion can appear as a bird’s feather trapped within the diamond. The relative size, position and quantity are considered when a gemologist evaluates clarity. The clarity rating scale is as follows:

  • Flawless and Internally Flawless (F & IF) – There are no visible inclusions under 10X magnification and in the case of Internally Flawless only minor surface blemishes are visible
  • Very, Very Slight Inclusions (VVS 1 & 2) – Inclusions are very small and extremely difficult to see under 10X magnification; inclusions are limited to pinpoint crystals and grain centers
  • Very Slight Inclusions (VS 1 & 2) – Inclusions are small and moderately difficult to see under 10X magnification; inclusions in this clarity are tiny included crystals and very small feather inclusions
  • Slightly Included (SI 1 & 2) – Inclusions are somewhat difficult to moderately easy to see with 10X magnification and in some cases with the SI-2 clarity can be visible to the naked eye
  • Included (I 1,2 & 3) – Inclusions are obvious to the unaided eye and affect the overall beauty of the diamond; in the case of I-2 and I-3 clarities the diamond’s durability can be affected


Diamonds come in all colors of the visible spectrum but the ones most preferred in the jewelry industry are the diamonds that display little or no color, often referred to as “white diamonds”. Fancy colors such as blue and pink have become highly sought after for their rarity and exceptional beauty. A diamond’s color comes from the visible light spectrum and due to diamond’s density white light is separated into spectral color, some of this color is absorbed by the diamond and reflected back as a tinge of color, most commonly yellow and brown. Gemologists confirm that color is a result of nitrogen molecules trapped within the diamond’s crystal lattice that hold on to these parts of the visible light spectrum as that light passes through the diamond. The color scale for diamonds is as follows:

  • Colorless (D E and F) – These diamonds display no visible color and are rated on their level of transparency; colorless diamonds are very rare and highly sought after
  • Near Colorless (G H I and J) – These diamonds display a very slight degree of color and in G and H color diamonds can appear colorless when viewed from the top of the diamond, I and J color diamonds can have a slightly noticeable color when viewed face up
  • Faint Color (K L and M) – These diamonds have a more noticeable color
  • Very Light Color (N to R) – These diamonds have a distinctly noticeable color
  • Light Color (S to Z) – These diamonds have an obvious color
  • Fancy Color – Yellow and brown diamonds that are darker than a Z color are considered fancy color; diamonds that are any color other than yellow and brown are considered fancy, the fancy color scale is fancy faint, fancy light, fancy, fancy intense, fancy vivid, fancy deep and fancy dark


A diamond’s cut can be categorized in two ways, the shape and make of a polished diamond. Diamonds are cut in popular shapes for jewelry and they include Round, Princess, Radiant, Marquise, Pear, Oval and Heart shapes. Since diamond is the hardest substance known to man this presents a challenge for diamond cutters to harness the beauty of the stone. The make of a finished diamond creates the sparkling effect known as scintillation and fire; this is especially true for the Round Brilliant Cut diamond. In recent years gemologists have labored to created a cut grade for Round and Princess cut diamonds, this grading scale is rated from Poor (negligible light return) to Excellent (optimal light return). Terms like “ideal” or “premium” cut are often used to describe a diamond’s make and include the angles and measurements on a finished diamond. Round diamonds that are cut too deep or too shallow do not have good light return while diamond that have the proper angles of reflection ensure that the diamond will sparkle beautifully. It is important to take note of a diamond’s measurements when determining how bright it will sparkle, particularly the total depth percentage. Round diamonds that have a total depth of around 60% are considered Very Good to Excellent cuts, in Princess cuts this total depth will be around 70%.


Diamonds are sold in weight increments called carats, this term comes from the earliest know manner of weighing gems on balance scales using carob seeds as the counter weights. One carat is equal to a fifth of a gram and diamonds are now weighed on precisely balanced scales to accurately record these very light weights to the thousandth of a carat. Weight measurements can be read like money; one tenth of a carat can be read as 0.01 ct. or called a point. Just like 100 pennies equal a dollar 100 points equal a carat. Carat is also an indication of the diamond’s size or circumference, a 1 carat size Round Brilliant diamond with ideal cut should measure 6.5 millimeters. Diamonds are valued by a per carat pricing scale, a price per carat is determined by the clarity and color and that number is multiplied by the carat weight to give a total price or value of the stone.

Other factors in determining a diamond’s quality


A diamond’s polish is rated on the same Poor to Excellent rating as the cut and evaluates the smoothness of the diamonds surface. A diamond cutter takes great care when polishing a diamond and this level of care is reflected on how well that surface is finished. Smooth surfaces that do not display the tell tale signs of the polishing wheel will receive Very Good or Excellent ratings while diamonds that show evidence of polishing such as drag lines or rough surfaces show little care was given and may receive a Fair or Poor rating.


A diamond is cut and faceted to amplify the natural brilliance of the stone. The level of care given to the size and placement of each facet is known as symmetry. A diamond displaying evenly sized and spaced facets shows great care went into the making of this stone and it may receive Very Good to Excellent ratings while uneven facets or unsymmetrical diamonds show little care when into the finishing process and these diamonds can receive a Fair or a Poor.

Polish and Symmetry are ratings of how well a diamond was made and does not affect the diamond’s color or clarity grades in addition to having a negligible effect on the overall price.


Fluorescence is a reaction some diamonds have to ultraviolet light making them appear to glow like a neon light, the most common fluorescent color seen is blue. Gemologists are not quite sure why this occurs but the popular belief is some electrons in the diamond’s atomic structure become excited when exposed to ultraviolet light and emit energy we see as light. The level in which we see this reaction is graded on a scale from Faint (barely noticeable) to Strong (obvious). Not all diamonds fluoresce and this reaction does not affect the diamond’s integrity. Only in cases of a Strong reaction can florescence have an effect on the price.

Clarity Enhancement

A diamond is a beautiful creation of nature however some diamonds are created with slight imperfections that could be easily seen with the naked eye. Some diamonds may have beautiful cut proportions and abundant fire and scintillation but one eye visible inclusion could make it undesirable. In the late 1980’s a company set out to make these types of diamonds more desirable through a method now know as clarity enhancement. There are two types of enhancement currently used to treat diamonds, the first being laser drilling where a laser cuts a channel thinner than a human hair to a dark crystal inclusion in order to change or “bleach” out the color making it blend better with the diamond and the second is called fracture filling where a surface reaching feather inclusion with visible relief is filled with a glass like composite material to make this inclusion less reflective. The end result is a beautiful diamond with an overall cleaner appearance and more importantly a much cheaper price when compared to a natural clarity diamond. These treatments are durable, the only know way to remove fracture filling is with a jeweler’s torch (3,500° to 6,300° F) but the filling can be replaced free of charge should this occur. The benefit of buying a clarity enhanced diamond allows you to get a more sizable diamond with beautiful color and clarity as opposed to spending more for a smaller diamond with similar color and clarity. Drilling and bleaching is a permanent treatment. Considering the expense of diamonds these days clarity enhancement is a good alternative for people with limited budgets. According to Federal Trade Commission guidelines subsection 23.22 gemstones must be disclosed as having any treatments done to them. M. A. Jewelry Designs Corp. adheres to this guideline by stating if a diamond has been clarity enhanced within the body of the item description.

Diamond Certification and Appraisals

In recent years the importance of having diamonds certified has become a key factor in many customers decisions on buying a diamond. When shopping for a diamond please consider the nature of a diamond report and how it differs slightly from an appraisal. A diamond report such as the reports issued by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the European Gemological Laboratory (EGL) is a report on a diamond’s color and clarity as well as its condition in terms of make and proportion with a plot of any inclusions that are in the stone. Diamonds graded by these laboratories were done so while loose and do not include any estimated value. Insurance companies tend to accept these reports when accompanied with an appraisal that describes the ring or mounting it is set in and includes an estimated retail replacement value. An appraisal will have all the same information as a diamond report along with other pertinent information insurance companies need to provide proper coverage. In the absence of an individual diamond report the appraisal becomes both the diamond’s report and the jewelry items appraisal. An independent appraisal should come from a person who has verifiable gemological credentials and who is unbiased, meaning they do not actively buy or sell diamonds and jewelry and they do not profit in any way from the sale of the diamond they are appraising.



*information on this page is based on the GIA Education textbook.