Four C's of Gemstones

The most noticeable part of jewelry, such as rings and pendants, is oftentimes the gemstones. Here, you’ll learn how to choose the right gemstone based on the Four C’s: Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat.

Cut: While there are no hard rules for cut when it comes to gemstones, the right cut will be symmetrical, minimize the gem’s inclusions, and show off the gem’s brilliant color. We look for these qualities, along with a smooth, polished finish with no scratches or nicks. If the gemstone’s color is more saturated (more on that later!), you may expect to see a shallow cut to allow more light through the stone, as opposed to a deeper cut for a gemstone with less saturation.

Clarity: Clarity refers to small, natural marks and imperfections present in all but the rarest, most expensive gems. Due to the circumstances gemstones are formed under, each gem will have inclusions or identifying marks. Since these imperfections are nearly microscopic, these unique marks don’t take anything away from the beauty of the gemstone, and many of these inclusions can be very valuable, while gemstones with few to no inclusions, are highly rare and very expensive.

Color: There’s more than what meets the eye when it comes to gemstone color. The following are the qualities we look for when assessing a gemstone’s color.

    Hue: A gemstone’s value is most discernible in its hue. Genuine gemstones are the most valuable due to their pure colors and least amount of hues of other colors, alongside their primary color.
    Tone: Ranging from black to colorless, tone depicts the depth of a gemstone’s color. The most coveted of gemstones typically have a tone that fall between medium-light and medium-dark.
    Saturation: Saturation describes the gemstone’s color purity. Tints of gray or brown hues denote a gemstone’s saturation. The gemstones with the most vivid saturation are those with little gray or brown tint, making them most valuable and desirable.

Carat: Gemstone size is measured by weight, not really by its dimensions, as two gemstones can have similar dimensions and completely different weights because of the gravity and density of the gemstone’s mineral makeup. A carat weighs about 0.2 grams and a point (another reference to weight of gemstones) equals 1/100th of a carat. For example, a 50-point gemstone is a half a carat.

Knowing about the Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat of gemstones can help you make better informed decisions when you’re shopping for bracelets, rings, and pendants for yourself or your friends and family.