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From Clarity to Carats: Ultimate Guide to Diamond Characteristics

Diamonds have long been revered for their breathtaking beauty and unparalleled durability, making them the perfect symbol of love and commitment. In this complete guide to all the diamond characteristics, we will explore the unique features that distinguish these precious gemstones from one another - from carat weight to cut, clarity, and color.

We'll also delve into the various shapes and cuts available, factors affecting diamond quality, enhancements and treatments used in the industry, as well as care and maintenance tips for your treasured investment.

Whether you're considering a sparkling engagement ring or simply fascinated by these stunning natural wonders, this comprehensive guide will unravel all you need to know about diamonds.

Key Takeaways

  • The 4Cs (cut, color, clarity, and carat) are crucial in evaluating diamond quality.
  • Diamond shape affects a stone's brilliance and sparkle. Popular cuts include round, princess, emerald, oval, cushion, marquise, and pear.
  • Understanding diamond grading scales and certification is essential in making informed purchasing decisions.
  • Proper care and maintenance of diamonds ensure their longevity for generations to come.

Understanding Diamond Quality: The 4 Cs

The 4Cs (cut, color, clarity, and carat) are widely accepted as the standard characteristics for evaluating diamond quality.

Carat Weight

Carat weight plays a significant role in determining the value of a diamond, as larger diamonds are generally more rare and desirable. One carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams or 0.007 ounces, making it the standard unit of measurement for gemstone weight across the globe.

Carat Weight

To help jewelry shoppers grasp this concept, consider an analogy: imagine two people who both weigh 150 lbs., but one has an athletic build and well-proportioned frame while the other is out of shape and heavyset.

Despite weighing the same amount (carats), their appearances differ drastically due to how well they've been "cut" - similar to how different carats impact on each diamond's aesthetics when they follow through each cut grade or quality.


One of the most significant diamond characteristics to consider when purchasing jewelry is the cut. The cut refers to how well a diamond has been shaped, proportioned, and polished from its rough form into a finished gemstone.

When evaluating a diamond's cut, experts often focus on three main aspects: brightness (the combination of internal and external reflections), fire (the dispersion of white light into colors), and scintillation (sparkle created by reflections within the stone).

For example, round polished diamonds are highly admired for their exceptional sparkle due to their symmetrical shape that optimizes these three factors.

However, other cuts such as emerald or cushion may offer unique beauty in terms of patterns and overall appearance while sacrificing some brilliance.


Clarity is one of the essential characteristics that determine a diamond's quality and value. It refers to how free a diamond is from internal imperfections, also known as inclusions, and external blemishes or irregularities on its surface.

Inclusions can consist of feathers, crystals, clouds, or even tiny black flecks within the gemstone.

When discussing diamond clarity grades, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) developed a standardized scale that ranges from Internally Flawless (IF), where no inclusions are visible under 10x magnification by a trained grader, to Included (I3), where inclusions are prominent enough to affect transparency and brilliance.

For many jewelry shoppers seeking an engagement ring or other special piece featuring natural diamonds, understanding this grading system helps ensure they make an informed selection without compromising on beauty or budget constraints.


The color of a diamond is an essential characteristic for determining its quality and value. Diamonds come in many different shades ranging from colorless diamonds to yellow, brown, or even pink and blue.

The most valuable diamonds are those with a colorless appearance as they allow more light to pass through, creating stunning brilliance and fire.

Color is graded on a scale from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow), with each grade indicating the intensity of the diamond's hue. A diamond graded between D-F is considered "colorless", while G-J has a slightly visible tint that can often be invisible when set in jewelry.

An interesting fact about colored diamonds is that their hues are caused by elements such as nitrogen or boron present during their formation process.

Diamond Shapes And Cuts

Explore the world of diamond shapes and cuts, from classic round cuts to unique fancy diamonds, and learn how each cut affects a diamond's brilliance.

Round Cut

Round Cut

The round cut diamond is one of the most popular shapes and is often chosen for engagement rings. This timeless and classic shape has been around for over a century and continues to be in high demand because of its brilliance, fire, and sparkle.

The round cut diamond typically has 58 facets, allowing it to reflect light beautifully. It's important to note that not all diamonds with a round shape are created equal as the quality of the cut can significantly impact its overall beauty.

Princess Cut

Princess Cut

Princess cut diamonds are characterized by their sharp corners and chevron facets, giving them a square or rectangular shape. They are known for their brilliance and fire, which makes them a popular choice for engagement rings.

When shopping for a princess cut diamond, it is important to look at the quality of the cut as well as the carat weight, clarity, and color.

One advantage of this particular cut is that it can hide inclusions more effectively than other cuts due to its faceting style. This means you can get away with buying a slightly lower clarity grade without sacrificing on visual appeal.

However, be mindful of choosing too low of a clarity grade as visible inclusions can detract from the overall beauty of the stone.

Emerald Cut

Emerald Cut

The emerald cut diamond is a rectangular-shaped diamond with cropped corners. This type of cut has elongated facets that run parallel to the edges, creating a hall-of-mirrors effect.

The large flat table on top of the stone showcases the clarity and color better than other cuts. This cut highlights the diamond's natural beauty, providing an elegant and sophisticated look to any piece of jewelry.

The unique shape also makes it appear larger than other diamonds of similar carat weight, making it more cost-effective for those looking for bigger-looking stones without compromising quality.

Oval Cut

Oval Cut

One of the most popular diamond cuts for engagement rings is the oval cut. It's an elongated shape that can create a flattering illusion of longer, slimmer fingers.

The oval cut has facets that reflect light beautifully and give off a lot of sparkle, similar to round brilliant diamonds. However, oval-cut diamonds are less common than round ones in jewelry stores.

Oval-cut diamonds have been more popular lately due to their unique look and versatility as center stones in engagement rings or as side-stones accentuating other shapes like cushion-cuts or pear-shaped stones.

Cushion Cut

Cushion Cut

The cushion cut is a popular diamond shape that has rounded corners and slightly curved edges, giving it a more vintage or antique look.

When it comes to the 4Cs, a cushion cut can hide some of the diamond's internal flaws due to its larger facets. This means you might be able to get away with choosing a lower clarity grade without sacrificing too much on appearance.

Make sure not to skimp on the cut as that will affect how well your cushion cut diamond sparkles.

Marquise Cut

Marquise Cut

The marquise cut is a diamond shape with an elongated oval shape and pointed ends. This cut, also known as the navette cut, resembles the hull of a ship or a football when viewed from above.

The long, narrow facets create an illusion of greater size which can help to make the diamond appear larger than it really is. Marquise diamonds are popular for engagement rings because their unique shape makes them stand out from other traditional cuts like round or princess.

Choosing this type of diamond requires careful consideration since flaws and inclusions may be more apparent due to its elongated nature.

Pear Cut

Pear Cut

The pear cut diamond is a popular choice for those seeking something unique and elegant. This cut shares characteristics with both the round and marquise cuts, making it a versatile option that works well in many settings.

The most distinctive feature of the pear cut is its teardrop shape, which makes it an excellent choice for earrings or pendants.

When evaluating the quality of a pear cut diamond, it's important to consider all four Cs: clarity, color, cut, and carat weight. Look for diamonds with high clarity grades like internally flawless (IF) or very slightly included (VS), as well as color grades in the near-colorless range such as D-F.

Fancy Diamonds

Fancy Diamonds

Fancy diamonds are natural diamonds with intense color hues, making them unique and highly valuable. These diamonds come in a wide range of colors, including pink, blue, yellow, green, and red.

The intensity of the color is an essential factor in determining their value.

One of the most famous fancy diamonds is the 45-carat Hope Diamond that's rich blue in hue and valued at over $200 million! Fancy colored diamonds occur naturally but can also be created using treatments like irradiation or heat to enhance or change their appearance, while some even have a combination of two or more colors making them rare and expensive.

Factors Affecting Diamond Quality

Factors like fluorescence, symmetry and proportions affect diamond quality.


Fluorescence is a characteristic that affects the appearance of some diamonds. It refers to the diamond's tendency to emit a soft glow when exposed to ultraviolet light.

While fluorescence can make some diamonds look milky or hazy, it can also enhance the color and brilliance of others. For example, if a diamond has a yellow tint, blue fluorescence may make it appear whiter and brighter.

It's important to note that not all diamonds exhibit fluorescence, and those that do can vary in intensity from none at all to very strong. The impact of fluorescence on a diamond's value depends on several factors, including its color grade and clarity rating.

Symmetry And Proportions

Symmetry and proportions are crucial factors that affect the diamond's brilliance, fire, and scintillation. A well-proportioned diamond reflects light from one facet to another, resulting in impressive sparkle.

To determine symmetry and proportions, professionals evaluate aspects such as table percentage, girdle thickness, crown height angle, pavilion depth angle among others.

For instance, a thin or thick girdle can affect how light refracts within a diamond leading to less brightness.

Overall symmetry is also important since it determines how balanced the facets appear when viewed under magnification.

In summary all diamonds have unique combinations of these characteristics which contribute to their individual beauty hence understanding them will help you make better informed decision on your purchase.

Certification And Appraisals

Certification and appraisals are crucial when buying a diamond. A certification is a document issued by an independent gemological laboratory that verifies the quality of a diamond.

The most respected labs include the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), American Gem Society (AGS), International Gemological Institute (IGI) and European Gemological Laboratory (EGL).

Getting an appraisal from a certified appraiser can give you an idea of how much your diamond is worth based on its market value. It's also helpful in getting insurance coverage for expensive jewelry purchases.

Keep in mind that some appraisers may give higher or lower values than others due to their methods or biases and it’s important to find someone who has expert knowledge in this domain.

Enhancements And Treatments In Diamonds

Common enhancements and treatments in diamonds include filling fractures, laser drilling, irradiation, and high-pressure high-temperature treatment. These treatments can improve a diamond's appearance or remove dark spots but also affect the value of the diamond.

Common Treatments And Enhancements

Diamonds undergo various treatments and enhancements to improve their appearance or mask inherently visible blemishes. Although enhanced diamonds may be cheaper than untreated ones, they should be disclosed to potential buyers.

Here are some of the most common treatments and enhancements in diamonds:

  1. Fracture filling: This treatment involves injecting a glass-like substance into the diamond to fill surface-reaching cracks or fractures. It can improve the clarity of a diamond but may wear off over time.
  2. Clarity enhancement: This process involves treating a diamond with chemicals or lasers to remove or minimize internal inclusions or blemishes, thereby improving its clarity rating.
  3. High-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) treatment: This process aims to change the color of diamonds by subjecting them to extreme heat and pressure that mimic natural geological conditions.
  4. Irradiation: This treatment involves exposing diamonds to radiation that alters their color from pale yellow or brown to green, blue, black, or pink.
  5. Coating: This process is used on fancy colored diamonds to enhance their hue artificially by applying chemical coatings that wear off over time.

It is important for buyers to seek information on treatments and enhancements before purchasing a diamond because they can affect its value and durability in several ways.

How Treatments Affect Value And Appearance

Treatments and enhancements can have a significant effect on the value and appearance of diamonds. Common treatments include irradiation, HPHT (high-pressure, high-temperature) treatment, and fracture filling.

These treatments can change the color or clarity of a diamond to make it more desirable to buyers.

It's essential to note that treated diamonds are typically less valuable than untreated ones. The reason for this is because treated diamonds are not as rare as natural gem-quality diamonds.

Moreover, some treatments are only temporary, so their effect may fade over time, diminishing their value further.

Diamond Ratings And Quality - The Definitive Guide

Learn everything you need to know about the best possible ratings for diamond properties, rarity and cost of high-quality diamonds in our definitive guide.

The Best Possible Ratings For Diamond Properties

When it comes to evaluating the quality of a diamond, there are several criteria to consider.

For color: D (colorless) is considered the highest rating, while Z (light yellow or brown) is lowest.

For clarity: Internally flawless (IF) diamonds have no visible inclusions under 10x magnification, making them the highest-rated.

For cut: An excellent cut will reflect light optimally and produce maximum brilliance and fire.

For carat weight: Larger carat size equals more value but doesn't always mean better quality compared with smaller stones.

Understanding these ratings can help you choose the right diamond for your needs and budget while ensuring that you invest in a beautiful gemstone that will last a lifetime.

Rarity And Cost Of High Quality Diamonds

High quality diamonds are rare and make up only a small percentage of the world's diamond supply. Diamonds with high clarity, color, and cut grades are particularly valuable because they have fewer internal flaws and more brilliance.

Factors such as demand and availability also play a role in determining the cost of high quality diamonds. While many types of natural diamonds exist on earth, only certain ones meet the criteria for gem quality, which is why their prices are often steep.

Diamond Care And Maintenance

Clean your diamond jewelry regularly with mild soap and water, taking care not to scratch the metal or damage any settings.

Cleaning And Caring Tips

Diamonds are incredibly durable, but they still require proper care and maintenance to keep them looking their best. Here are some tips for cleaning and caring for your diamond:

  1. Clean your diamond regularly: Use warm water, mild soap, and a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub away dirt and grime from your diamond. You can also use jewelry cleaner specifically designed for diamonds.
  2. Avoid harsh chemicals: Never use bleach or other harsh chemicals to clean your diamond. These can damage the metal setting or even discolor the stone itself.
  3. Store your diamond carefully: When you're not wearing your diamond jewelry, store it in a jewelry box or other safe space where it won't get scratched or damaged.
  4. Handle with care: Diamonds are tough, but they can still chip or break if handled roughly. Always take off your diamond jewelry before doing any strenuous activities (such as sports) or heavy lifting.
  5. Get regular checkups: It's a good idea to have your diamond jewelry checked by a professional jeweler every six months to make sure the settings are secure and the diamonds themselves are in good condition.

Remember, proper care and maintenance will ensure that your diamond stays beautiful for years to come. And with their incredible value and uniqueness, diamonds deserve nothing less than the best possible treatment!

Proper Storage And Handling

It is essential to store and handle diamonds carefully because even though they are incredibly durable, they can still be damaged. Store your diamond jewelry separately to prevent scratching by other pieces, especially those with a lower hardness rating on the Mohs scale, such as gold or silver.

When cleaning your diamonds at home, use gentle soap and water solution with a soft-bristled brush. Dry it off thoroughly before storage to prevent any moisture damage or dust buildup.

Finally, take additional care when traveling or wearing diamond jewelry during physical activities like sports or gardening. Diamonds are tough but not indestructible; they can chip if hit hard enough.

Thermal Conductivity Diamonds And Mohs Hardness Scale

Thermal conductivity is a critical property of diamonds that plays an essential role in scientific and industrial applications. Diamonds are known to be one of the best conductors of heat, making them useful for various purposes, such as cutting tools and electronic devices.

In contrast, the Mohs hardness scale measures a diamond's ability to resist scratching or abrasions. The scale ranges from 1 to 10, with ten being the hardest material on earth.

Understanding thermal conductivity and Mohs hardness scale is crucial when buying a diamond because these properties affect its durability and usability. For instance, if you plan to use your diamond for cutting or drilling other materials like glass or metal, you must consider its thermal conductivity and Mohs hardness rating to ensure your investment provides longevity while maintaining its shine and clarity over time.

Final Tips For Buying A Diamond

When it comes to buying a diamond, there are a few final tips that can help you make an informed decision. First and foremost, do your research. Learn about the 4Cs (cut, color, clarity, and carat weight) and how they affect a diamond's value and appearance.

Secondly, think about your budget. While larger diamonds may seem more impressive at first glance, smaller diamonds with higher quality grades can be just as stunning but less expensive.

Lastly, don't forget to ask questions. A trustworthy jeweler will be willing to answer all of your questions about the diamond you're interested in purchasing.

These tips are crucial for anyone looking to buy a diamond ring or other piece of jewelry containing one or multiple gem quality diamonds like round diamonds or natural fancy-colored ones like light yellow ones.


In conclusion, understanding the characteristics that determine the quality of man-made or mined diamonds is essential when shopping for a diamond. From carat weight to clarity, color, and cut, each aspect plays an integral part in determining the value of carat diamond.

Moreover, knowing about other factors like shape and certification allows you to make informed buying decisions. With this comprehensive guide at your disposal, you have all the information needed to choose the perfect diamond with confidence.