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Diamonds 101

The 4 Cs of Diamonds

The 4 Cs, as they are known within the jewelry industry, are the standard way to measure the beauty, craftsmanship and value of a diamond.

#1 Cut

The term “diamond cut” refers to the quality of a diamond’s proportions and symmetry. These elements determine how much light a diamond captures and reflects, and therefore how much it sparkles. This is a direct result of the skill of the craftsman who shaped and cut the diamond.

There are four grades of diamond cut: Ideal, Very Good, Good and Poor.

If you compare two diamonds of different cuts grades, you will see that the higher cut grade has significantly more sparkle. There will also be a difference in their prices, with the better cut grade commanding a higher price. Of the 4 Cs, cut is generally recognized as the most important, since it has the greatest impact on a diamond’s appearance and quality.

Ideal Cut Diamond

Ideal +

Very Good +

Good +

Poor +


Put Priority on Cut Grade

Given that cut has the most impact on a diamond’s overall appearance, we recommend you put the greatest priority on finding a high quality cut grade. The diamond’s clarity and color should be considered secondary. We do not recommend purchasing a larger (higher carat) diamond if it means sacrificing the quality of the cut.

Round vs Fancy Shaped Diamonds

All diamonds that are not the classic round shape are categorized as “fancy shapes”. Due to the alignment of its facets, only a classic round diamond can earn the Ideal cut grade. This is not to say fancy shaped diamonds are less desirable — far from it. They are graded differently though; if you are seeking a fancy diamond shape such as princess, cushion or radiant, the cut grades to look for are Very Good or Good.

Oscar's Head

Buying tip:

Cut grade is especially important for square and rectangular diamonds, such as princess, Asscher, radiant and emerald shapes. With these shapes, a Very Good cut grade will ensure a consistent, stunning sparkle and an even distribution of carat weight.



#2 Clarity

Clarity refers to a diamond’s natural inclusions, or lack thereof. While small marks within a diamond are natural, their appearance can leave something to be desired if they are visible to the unaided eye.

The shape of a diamond can affect the importance of its clarity grade. The facet patterns of the brilliant-cut diamond shapes such as round and princess can hide certain imperfections, but step-cut shapes such as emerald and Asscher have large, open tables that make inclusions more obvious.

The lowest clarity grade within the Ritani diamond inventory is SI2. These diamonds may have small visible inclusions. If you are searching for a step-cut diamond, we suggest a minimum clarity grade of VS2.

If you want to rest assured that your diamond will display a clean and stunning brilliance, a clarity grade of VVS2 or higher is recommended for all diamond shapes.

Flawless Clarity Diamond

Representative diamond under 10X magnification


No surface imperfections or inclusions; the rarest of all diamonds.

See all Flawless diamonds.


#3 Color

Though it may seem counterintuitive, a diamond’s color grade actually measures how little color it reflects.

The diamond color grading scale begins with “D” and ranges down to “Z”. A diamond assigned a grade of “D” has absolutely no color -- it looks pure white, even to a gemologist inspecting it carefully under 10X magnification. On the other hand, a diamond assigned a grade of “Z” looks yellow or brownish.

Colorless D Diamond

Colorless D

Colorless; appears completely white under 10 times magnification and pairs well with platinum, palladium, and white gold.

Oscar's Head

Buying tip:

While diamonds in the “colorless” category reflect the purest white light, it is hard for most consumers to see any color in the “near colorless” category. That’s why a “near colorless” diamond is a safe bet if you plan to set it in yellow or rose gold jewelry, since the warm color of the metal makes any yellowness in the diamond less noticeable. But if you want the purest white diamond, select one that’s “colorless” and set it in white gold or platinum.

#4 Carat

Carat is the measure of how much a diamond weighs. Carat is also related to size (how big a diamond looks), although it’s not the only factor that determines size. Depending on shape, weight distribution and cut quality, two diamonds with the same carat weight can be different sizes.

It’s worth noting that some diamonds are cut solely with an emphasis on weight. These gems can sacrifice brilliance and symmetry in favor of delivering a larger carat figure. At Ritani, we recommend seeking a balance between cut and carat weight in order to ensure a symmetrical, brilliantly sparkling diamond.


Focus on finding a cut grade of Very Good or Ideal for a brilliantly sparkling diamond.

Choosing Your Carat Weight

When you’re ready to choose a carat weight for your diamond, remember that size is not everything – cut grade strongly affects the quality and beauty of your diamond; color and clarity grades do so too (though to a lesser degree).

For the best value, consider diamonds slightly lighter than the carat weight you initially had in mind. For example, if you are thinking about purchasing a 1 carat diamond, consider diamonds at 0.95 to 0.99 carats as well. The difference in visual size will be negligible, but the savings can be significant. You can use those savings to invest in a higher cut grade or a more lavish ring setting.

Oscar's Head

Buying tip:

Every diamond within Ritani’s inventory is listed with its 4 C specifications as well as polish, symmetry and fluorescence details within its profile.