What Do the Four Cs of Gemstones Mean?

June 23, 2017

The four Cs of gemstone qualification are commonly heard, yet rarely understood. Carat, cut, clarity, and color are all determining factors in a gemstone’s value, so it is important to learn their meanings. Read on for more information.


A gemstone’s weight is expressed with the carat measurement. One carat is equal to 200 milligrams. Gemstones may have different levels of density, which can affect their weight in proportion to their size. It is possible to see gemstones of different sizes have the same carat weight. Typically, higher carat weights will command a higher price over the actual dimension of a gemstone.


Cut is one of the most important factors in determining a gemstone’s quality. A gemstone’s cut refers to the silhouette—such as square, round, or emerald cuts—and the quality of the cutting. If a gemstone has been well-cut, then its color and carat weight are of the best quality. These qualities make jewelry pieces look more attractive, because the different facets of color are easier to showcase.


Clarity can be a subjective form of determining a gemstone’s purity. Clarity refers to the different inclusions and defects that form inside a gem and on its surface. Precious gems, such as diamonds and rubies, should have a high amount of clarity. This means that there are very few flaws and inclusions within the stone. However, some gemstones, such as emeralds, are considered more valuable with a low clarity rating. Many people may not care as much about clarity, because the inclusions can make a gemstone look more interesting.


Color is considered one of the most subjective forms of gemstone qualification. The color of a gemstone is determined by the absorption and reflection of light through the gemstone. It is then described by hue, saturation, and tone. However, everyone perceives and appreciates colors differently, so color is not very important during gemstone qualification.

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