Diamond Education

Your simple guide for the four Cs of diamonds: cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. After reading through this guide, you'll be ready to understand the diamond report issued by the DGS lab or any other gem lab.


The cut of a diamond: its roundness, its depth and width, the uniformity of the facets: all determine a diamond's brilliance. Many gemologists consider cut the most important diamond characteristic because even if a diamond has perfect color and clarity, a diamond with a poor cut will have dulled brilliance.

The width and depth have the greatest effect on how light travels within the diamond, and how it exits in the form of brilliance.

Too Shallow: Light is lost out the bottom causing the diamond to lose brilliance.
Too Deep: Light escapes out the sides causing the diamond to appear dark and dull.

The diamond's proportions, specifically the depth compared to the diameter, and the diameter of the table compared to the diameter of the diamond, determine how well light will reflect and refract within the diamond.

Diameter The width of the diamond as measured through the girdle
Table The largest facet of a gemstone
Crown The top portion of a diamond extending from the girdle to the table
Girdle The narrow band around the widest part of a diamond
Pavilion The bottom portion of a diamond, extending from the girdle to the culet
Culet The facet at the tip of a gemstone. The preferred culet is not visible with the unaided eye (graded "small" or "none")
Depth The height of a gemstone measured from the culet to the table

Polish & Symmetry

Polish and symmetry are two important aspects of the cutting process. The polish grade describes the smoothness of the diamond's facets, and the symmetry grade refers to alignment of the facets. With poor polish, the surface of a facet can be dulled, and may create blurred or dulled sparkle. With poor symmetry, light can be misdirected as it enters and exits the diamond. The polish and symmetry grades are clearly listed in each diamond detail page and within the DGS diamond grading report. For the most beautiful diamond, look for a symmetry grade of ideal (ID), excellent (EX), very good (VG), good (G)  or fair (F).

Diamond measurements are calculated and applied to a cut grading scale that makes it easy to understand how well each reflect light.


A diamond, acting as a prism, divides light into a spectrum of colors and reflect this light as colorful flashes called fire. Just as when looking through colored glass, color in a diamond will act as a filter, and will diminish the spectrum of color emitted. The less color in a diamond, the more colorful the fire, and the better the color grade.

To determine the correct color, all submitted diamonds are compared to an internationally accepted master set of stones, the color of which ranges from D, or colorless (the most sought after) to Z, the yellowest.

Other colors occur in diamonds such as brown, orange, pink, blue, etc. The most intense of these shades are determined as "Fancy" colors and referenced on the DGS Diamond Report.

D Absolutely colorless The highest color grade, which is extremely rare
E Colorless Only minute traces of color can be detected by an expert gemologist. A rare diamond.
F Colorless Slight color detected by an expert gemologist, but still considered a "colorless" grade. A high-quality diamond
G-H Near-colorless Color noticeable when compared to diamonds of better grades, but these grades offer excellent value
I-J Near-colorless Color slightly detectable. An excellent value
K-M Faint yellow or brown  
N-R Very light yellow  
S-Z Light Yellow  


The visible effects of fluorescence grades of faint, inert, negligible, and medium, can only be detected by a trained gemologist. A fluorescence grade of strong or very strong can make a diamond with a near-colorless grade look even whiter yet in some instances give the diamond a slight hazy or oily appearance. Some people seek diamonds that produce this unique effect, while others definitely avoid it. The visible effects of fluorescence grades of faint, and medium, can only be detected by a trained gemologist. A fluorescence grade of strong or very strong can make a diamond with a near-colorless grade look even whiter yet in some instances give the diamond a slight hazy or oily appearance. Diamonds with a strong or very strong fluorescence are priced slightly lower than other diamonds.


Every diamond is unique. With a distinctive pattern of internal and external identifying characteristics. The skilled diamond grader takes into consideration the size, nature, location, and number of these characteristics to assign each diamond its proper grade.

Flawless Grade (FL)

Diamonds in which a skilled observer, under favorable lighting conditions, cannot see any inclusions or surface blemishes after thorough examination with a binocular microscope at 10 power magnification or with a 10 power corrected loupe. Small extra facets on the pavilion near the girdle, not visible when viewed from above, are permitted as are small naturals when they are confined to the girdle and do not flatten the girdle outline. Internal graining is permitted provided it does not draw any color or texture and is not observable through the crown.

Internally Flawless Grade (IF)

Diamonds which have no internal characteristics observable under the same conditions as described above, but which have minor surface blemishes that are confined to the surface. Grain lines are permitted provided they are not thick or numerous and do not detract from the beauty of the stone. Internal graining is permitted, provided it does not draw color or texture.

VVS Grades (Very Very Slightly Included)

Diamonds which have very, very small inclusions which are difficult for a skilled observer to see under the conditions as described previously. Colored or textured graining is permitted, provided it is not observable through the crown.

VS Grade (Very Slightly Included)

Diamonds with very small inclusions ranging from difficult to somewhat easy to observe under 10 power magnification and favorable lighting conditions.

SI Grades (Slightly Included)

Stones with small inclusions which are easy or very easy to see under 10 power magnification and proper lighting. Occasionally, inclusions in the SI category are visible to the unaided eye.

I Grades (Included)

Stones with medium or large inclusions which are usually obvious to the unaided eye under favorable lighting conditions.


The weight of a diamond is measured in carats (ct.). It does not measure size; nor should it be confused with "karat," a measure of gold purity. A carat is 0.2 grams and there are 100 points (or 200 milligrams) per carat. With an accuracy of 1/100,000 ct, the DGS scales provide a highly precise diamond weight and this weight is specified on the Diamond Report to two decimal points.

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