Know Your Diamonds: Cut, Color and Clarity

You’ve probably heard of the 4Cs of diamonds: carats, cut, color, and clarity. And when you’re shopping for an engagement ring or other piece of diamond jewelry, it’s easy to compare carats, which represent the weight of the diamonds. For example, a smaller diamond might weigh .5 carats, and a larger one might weigh 1 or more carats. If you pay attention only to the carat weight, however, you’re missing the other 3 important cs: cut, color, and clarity. It’s these 3 attributes that affect a diamond’s quality.

The following explains more about cut, color, and clarity and how they affect a diamond’s appearance and value:


One of the most important and impressive qualities of a diamond is its sparkle and brilliance. This is affected by a diamond’s cut, which refers to how well proportioned its dimensions are and how well its surfaces – also known as facets – interact with light.

The following are some of the factors that help determine the quality of a diamond’s cut:

  • Brightness – Also called brilliance, brightness refers to the internal and external white light that’s reflected from the gem’s facets to the viewer’s eyes.
  • Fire – This occurs when white light scatters into a rainbow of colors, including red, blue, orange, or yellow flashes.
  • Scintillation – This combines sparkle (the spots of light you’ll see from the diamond when you, it, or the light source moves) and pattern (the contrast between bright and dark areas).

Some diamonds are graded from excellent to poor for their cut quality. In addition to checking for this rating, you can also look at your diamond under different lighting as you turn it from side to side and move it in other ways. Your diamond should show sparkle and brilliance whether you’re outside, at work, at home, and elsewhere.


When you’re talking about the color of a diamond, it really refers to the absence of color rather than the presence of it. The perfect diamond would have no color at all, and this is a very rare occurrence.

The shape of a diamond as well as the metal in which its set can affect the way you perceive its color. Round brilliant diamonds and emerald shapes tend to hide color well, while opal, pear, and marquise shapes tend to show the diamond’s color more. A yellow gold or rose gold setting can help offset slight yellow tones in a diamond. On the other hand, a platinum setting can cause yellow coloring within a diamond to be more visible, so you may want a more colorless diamond if you like this type of setting.


Almost all diamonds have imperfections known as inclusions or blemishes. You may not be able to see these flaws without the help of magnification, but they can affect the way a diamond looks. Flaws can interfere with the way light passes through the gem, making it look less brilliant. They can also give it a cloudy appearance.

A diamond can be graded for clarity, and the following information about its imperfections is considered:

  • Their size and number
  • Where they’re located with the diamond
  • How they affect the diamond’s durability
  • Any noticeable contrast between the flaw and the diamond itself

Contact Doylestown Gold Exchange today to see our large selection of diamonds. You can also talk to Graduate Gemologist Greg Glemser to learn more. He has over 20 years of experience in the jewelry business and loves explaining cut, color, and clarity and helping customers to find the best diamond for them.