The 4 C's of Diamonds


Diamonds are cherished for their sparkle, in the same way that you are.

While a diamond's cut often gets mistaken for its shape (round, emerald, pear, etc.), a stone's cut grade is really about how well the facets play with and refract light.

Cut is the it is the most complex and technically difficult to analyze, because there are so many components to it. It's arguably the most important of the 4 C's as well, because it's what has the greatest influence on the diamond's sparkle.

Three of the main characteristics of a well-cut diamond are Brilliance (reflection of white light), Fire (refraction of light into the colors of the rainbow), and Scintillation (contrast between dark and light areas).

The grading of the cut is also important.  According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the gradings are as follows:

Excellent: The highest grading for round stones.  These stones provide the highest level of fire and brilliance. Because almost all of the incoming light is reflected through the stone, the diamond radiates with magnificent sparkle.

Very Good: These stones offer exceptional brilliance and fire. A large majority of the entering light reflects through the diamond’s table. To the naked eye, Very Good diamonds provide similar sparkle to those of Excellent grade.

Good: Good Cut Diamonds showcase brilliance and sparkle, with much of the light reflecting through the table to the viewer’s eye. These diamonds provide beauty at a lower price point.

Diamonds can also be graded as Fair or Poor, but unfortunately these types of stones just don't shine as brightly.  We at Tracy Hall don't offer any diamonds below a Good rating, because we believe that the sparkle of the ring is too important to compromise.  


The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) color scale is the industry standard for diamond grading, ranging from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow or brown). While color affects price, depending on the other elements of the stone and ring, you might not need a perfectly colorless diamond.  We'll help you discover which color grade is right for you.


Diamond clarity is the assessment of small imperfections on the surface and within the stone. Surface flaws are called blemishes, while internal defects are known as inclusions. In most cases, a diamond’s beauty is not affected by these in any way since most inclusions can’t be seen with the naked eye.  When referring to inclusions, gemologists often use the term “internal characteristics” instead of flaws.  We like that term better, too.

It’s also important to note that diamonds with the fewest and smallest inclusions receive the highest clarity grades—and higher price tags to reflect that.


Carat is the measurement of how much a diamond weighs. A metric "carat" is defined as 200 milligrams.  All else being equal, diamond price increases with carat weight, because larger diamonds are more rare and more desirable. But two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different values (and prices) depending on three other factors within the 4Cs: Clarity, Color, and Cut. It's important to remember that a diamond's value is determined using all of the 4Cs, not just carat weight.

Stone Shapes

Shape it up, make it yours!

Shape refers to the geometric outline and overall physical form of a diamond. Every diamond shape has its own unique personality and cut specifications, which also play a large factor in the overall impact of the stone.

Which speaks most to you?

Thanks to their exceptional sparkle and brilliance, Round shaped diamonds are the most popular. They look great in a wide range of settings, and are naturally flattering to many different hand and finger shapes. However, other shapes offer an array of beautiful style options and add an extra element of style and uniqueness to a ring.

The Princess shape allows for a square outline while still offering nearly the same brilliance as Round stones. Due to the larger yield maintained from cutting for a Princess, the price per carat is usually much lower than the Round Cut.

With the same technique originally designed for other green gemstones of the same name, the Emerald shape offers plenty of reflections through its long, straight lines or ‘steps.’  This shape shows off size better than other diamonds of the same carat weight, and is a premium choice for those wanting a bigger looking diamond for the price.

The Cushion shape gets its name from the combination of a square shape with rounded edges, making it look like a pillow or cushion. This shape has a classic luxury appeal with modern fire and flair.

With a rounded side that narrows to a distinct point, Pear shaped diamonds are an elegant, timeless choice.  This shape adds a bit of enchantment and style to a ring, hides inclusions well, and helps to elongate the finger of the wearer.

With similar brilliance and fire to round stones, Oval diamonds are an exquisite choice for those who wish to wear a unique shape. The Oval’s elongated silhouette offers a large appearance compared to other shapes of the same carat.

For a true sign of romance, the Heart shaped diamond truly stands out.  These range in slenderness and width, allowing for personal preference on the structure and fullness of the shape.

The Radiant shape is an engaging choice, due to its numerous facets found in the pavilion and crown. These features provide a high level of both brilliance and fire. Its cropped corners also make it a delightful match for pairing with rounded or square diamonds.

Similar in nature to the Emerald shape, Asscher shaped diamonds are a bit more square, with layered facets. The trimmed corners of this shape give it extra style and stability.

The Marquise’s elongated figure gives the appearance of a larger stone when compared to other shapes in the same carat. Making the fingers of the wearer look thinner and longer, the Marquise shines brightly and is usually noticed for its unique shape.

The long bar shape of the Baguette offers exceptional size even at a low carat. Its clarity and appealing symmetry make it a classic and timeless diamond.

The Trillion shape is very unique, and the sharp, pyramidal features create a daring look.  These diamonds tend to look larger for their carat weight because of their upper surface area.

Ring & Band Styles

Metal Types

Which metal is right for you?  Well, it depends on how classic, modern, romantic, or edgy you want to be!  We'll talk you through the options during our consultations, but below are the basics on each kind.

Platinum is a naturally white metal with a cool luster that showcases the brilliance and sparkle of diamonds beautifully. It’s a popular choice for engagement rings and wedding bands, and is considered the most precious of all jewelry metals.

Gold is an extremely versatile metal, and the most common choice for jewelry. The standard measurement of gold is a karat, which is divided into 24 parts. Pure gold is too soft to be used for jewelry, so it’s combined with other metal alloys to increase its strength. You’ll find 22K gold, but most often gold comes in 18K (75% gold), 14K (58% gold) and 10K (about 42% gold).

Classic yet fashionable, Yellow Gold achieves its warm patina from the red of copper and the green hue of silver. Yellow gold lost favor to white gold for a while, but has recently regained popularity.

More contemporary than Yellow Gold, White Gold gets its silvery white character from combining yellow gold with copper, zinc and nickel (or palladium). It’s plated with a hard element called rhodium (a platinum group metal), which costs about four times as much as platinum, resists scratches and tarnishing, and gives White Gold a reflective appearance.

Unique and romantic, Rose Gold has a warm, pink hue created by combining yellow gold with a copper alloy. The overall percentages of metal alloys are the same for rose gold as they are for yellow or white; it’s just a different mixture of alloys used.

Setting Styles

A ring’s setting determines how your center diamond is mounted and gives your ring its personality.  From traditional to alternative, your setting should reflect your personal style. While the options might be endless, we can help you narrow the options down to the ones that truly speak to you.   Our concierge team can also help you understand how best to pair the setting with your stone to get the most perfect ring you can imagine.

Questions about how we help you put all of these elements together?