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The Four Cs of Diamonds

About Diamond Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat Weight

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Several characteristics work in sync to create a diamond's overall appearance, durability and value, and four of those factors are often referred to as the Four Cs: diamond color, clarity, cut and carat weight. Each of the Four Cs is an important characteristic to consider when you buy a diamond, but there's no set recipe for the perfect gem. Work through the Four Cs in a step-by-step manner and you'll find that it doesn't take long to learn how to combine characteristics to find a diamond that suits your style, your needs and your budget.

Diamond Color

Diamond Four Cs
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Most shoppers are looking for a white diamond, in other words, a colorless diamond, but the larger the gem, the more expensive it is to buy a high quality colorless gem. Don't let that bother you, because realistically, you don't need a completely colorless diamond -- many diamond color grades are quite nice, thank you.

An understanding of diamond color helps you make important decisions, and there are some special considerations that play a part in your final choice, such as color enhancements (some are permanent, some are not). Diamond fluorescence is a characteristic that makes a diamonds shift its color in different types of light, and another factor you should consider before you shop.

About Diamond Clarity

Diamond Four Cs
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A perfect diamond with perfect clarity, or clearness, is rare, but the good news is that most flaws that exist in jewelry grade diamonds can't be seen without looking at the gemstones through a jeweler's magnifying loupe. That doesn't mean you should ignore clarity, because there are several characteristics that affect it, and a some of those can have an impact on a diamond's durability. Become familiar with diamond clarity and all of the terms associated with it so that you can ask the right questions (and understand the answers) when you shop for a loose diamond, a diamond ring or other diamond jewelry.

Diamond Cut

Diamond Four Cs
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Did you know that a diamond's cut does not refer to its shape? When gemologists say "cut," they are talking about a gemstone's proportions -- its depth and width and the uniformity of its facets -- all characteristics that control brilliance, durability and other qualities you're looking for in a diamond.

Diamond Carat Weight

Diamond Four Cs
Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images
Carat weight is another diamond characteristic that you can juggle with the rest of the Four Cs in order to get the look and quality you want. Carat weight affects a diamond's appearance and its price, making it an element you should definitely understand before you buy. As you explore the topic, you'll discover money-saving ways to make a diamond look larger than its true weight.

Fancy Color Diamonds

Diamond Four Cs
Photo by Cate Gillon / Getty Images
Fancy color diamonds have their own special set of Four Cs, and since they're a little different than the Four Cs of white diamonds, start your journey here if a colorful diamond is on your shopping list.

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