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The 4 C's

The 4C's

In selecting a diamond, the rarity, value and beauty is determined by the four factors known as the 4C's: Carat Weight , Color , Clarity , and Cut (proportions & finish). Today, many consumers are aware of the 4C's, however, understanding how they determine value is important to discover what appeals to you in selecting a diamond, and getting the most for your money.

  • Color
  • Cut
  • Clarity
  • Carat Weight

Understanding Cut - The 4 C's - Jewelry Warehouse

Diamond cut is perhaps the most important of the four Cs, so it is important to understand how this quality affects the properties and values of a diamond. A good cut gives a diamond its brilliance, which is that brightness that seems to come from the very heart of a diamond. The angles and finish of any diamond are what determine its ability to handle light, which leads to brilliance.

The cut of a diamond refers to its proportions. Of the 4C's, the cut is the aspect most directly influenced by man. The other three are dictated by nature.

Quite often the cut of a diamond is confused with its shape. Diamonds are cut into various shapes depending upon the original form of the uncut diamond, which is referred to as “rough.” Whatever the shape, a well-cut diamond is better able to reflect light. Click Here to learn more about Diamond shapes,

A diamond's ability to reflect light determines its display of fire and brilliance. Diamonds are usually cut with 58 facets, or separate flat surfaces. These facets follow a mathematical formula and are placed at precise angles in relation to each other. This relationship is designed to maximize the amount of light reflected through the diamond and to increase its beauty.

Shallow Cut

Ideal Cut

Deep Cut

When a diamond is cut to proper proportions light enters through the table and travels to the pavilion where it reflects from one side to the other before reflecting back out of the diamond through the table and to the observer's eye giving it a very satisfying sparkle effect. This light is the brilliance we mentioned, and it's this flashing, fiery effect that makes diamonds so mesmerizing.

When the cut of a diamond is too deep, some light escapes through the opposite side of the pavilion, resulting in an overall dull appearance. When the cut of a diamond is too shallow, light escapes through the pavilion before it can be reflected, again resulting in an overall dull appearance.

Because cut is so important, several grading methods have been developed to help consumers determine the cut of a particular diamond. In general, these grades are:

  • Ideal
  • Premium
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Fair & Poor

Which Grade of Cut Should I Buy?

Selecting the grade of cut is really a matter of preference. To make the best selection, you need to understand the various grades. Please note that the descriptions below are general guidelines.

Ideal Cut

This cut is intended to maximize brilliance, and the typically smaller table sizes of these diamonds have the added benefit of creating a great deal of dispersion or 'fire' as well. This category applies only to round diamonds.


In the case of round diamonds, many Premium Cut diamonds have cuts that are the equal of any Ideal Cut diamond, though they often can be purchased at slightly lower prices than AGS Ideal Cuts. They are intended to provide maximum brilliance and fire.

Very Good

These diamonds reflect most of the light that enters them, creating a good deal of brilliance. With these diamonds, the cutters have chosen to stray slightly from the preferred diamond proportions in order to create a larger diamond. The result is that these diamonds fall slightly outside of some customers' preferences in terms of, for example, table size or girdle width, though, in many cases many of the parameters of diamonds in this range will overlap with certain parameters of diamonds in the Ideal or Premium ranges. Generally, the price of these diamonds in slightly below that of Premium cuts.


Diamonds that reflect much of the light that enters them. Their proportions fall outside of the preferred range because the cutter has chosen to create the largest possible diamond from the original rough crystal, rather than cutting extra weight off to create a smaller Premium quality diamond. Diamonds in this range offer an excellent cost-savings to customers who want to stay in a budget without sacrificing quality or beauty.


A diamond graded as fair reflects only a small proportion of the light that enters it. Typically these diamonds have been cut to maximize the carat weight over most other considerations.


A poor cut diamond appears lifeless to the eye. Poor cut stone are not recommended for fin jewelry, and we do not offer poorly cut diamonds for sale to our customers.

Cut can be something very difficult for a layperson to evaluate, which is why it is important to buy a diamond that has been certified by a reputable diamond lab, verifying the quality of your diamond.

A well cut diamond is the secret to a beautiful and brilliant diamond. Like beauty itself, the true meaning of “well cut” is often found in the eye of the beholder. While you may prefer a particular set of proportions, someone else might prefer slightly different proportions. Personal preference, even among experts, will always be an issue in defining the best cut.