Home DM News The 4 Cs of Diamond Jewellery

Exploring the 4 Cs of Diamond Jewellery with David Morris

To simplify the matter of diamond grading, the 4 Cs refer to cut, colour, clarity and carat, a global language that are combined to determine a diamond`s rarity and value. The 4 Cs interact within the diamond, making up how the diamond appears and its overall quality. For instance, the diamond’s power to reflect light back to your eyes hinges primarily on cut quality but also the colour and clarity. The four-diamond elements are graded by specialists on a consistent scale and give a clear insight into the quality of the piece. Finding the perfect balance between the 4 Cs will guide beauty and value when looking for a diamond or designing your engagement ring, whether that be a white diamond ring or a wedding band for your life partner.

The history of the 4 Cs

The 4Cs were developed in the 1940s by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and GIA founder Robert M. Shipley, as a means of standardising the grading of diamonds in terms of Cut, Colour, Clarity and Carat.

In the early 20th century, Robert M. Shipley, a former jeweller, embarked on the task of professionalising the American jewellery sector which he established GIA in 193. GIA was used to provide formal gemological training to future jewellers. Shipley also launched the American Gem Society (AGS), a professional guild whose members were GIA graduates. Over the next few years, Shipley standardized the diamond value terms to colour, clarity, cut and carat weight and called them the 4Cs, a mnemonic device to help students and jewellers learn about, remember and explain the factors that determine a diamond’s value.

Throughout time, diamond merchants used a variety of terms for these four elements including river or water ( used to describe diamonds that were the most colourless ), and the word cape, assigned to pale yellow diamonds from South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope region. To represent clarity, they described diamonds as being “without flaws” or “with imperfections” whilst cut was defined as “made well” or “made poorly.” As a result, it was rather challenging for jewellers to communicate with their customers and for customers to understand the diamonds they were purchasing. Only the word carat, which describes weight, has been used consistently since the 1500s.

Under Shipley’s leadership, the 4 Cs became recognised through advertising campaigns, lectures and educational courses. Within decades, they were integrated into the international nomenclature and became paramount for those purchasing engagement rings, wedding bands or wedding guest jewellery or jewellery sets.

Over time, Shipley and his team extended their work which included not only the development of the now famous GIA D-to-Z Color Scale and GIA Clarity Scale for diamonds but also the scientific side and intricate procedures involved in the practice. Today, the 4Cs of Diamond Quality are the universal method for evaluating the quality of a diamond and are recognised by jewellers, scientistic, museums, royalty and customers from across the globe!

Pink white diamond ring high jewellery from david morris


The master craftsmen of our New Bond Street atelier, where all David Morris jewellery is made, are amongst the world’s most accomplished in amplifying a diamond’s beauty. The way in which a stone is cut is paramount to its final appearance and value; each precise facet determines how it will interact with light and produce the scintillating shine that only a white diamond can. This specific detail is central for those looking for the shiniest jewels on the shelf and want to make a statement.


Colour, or a complete lack thereof, is an all-important attribute when searching for an exceptional diamond. The most prized white diamonds are completely colourless, or very close to it, and are graded from D at the top of the scale, to Z. With each diamond hand-selected by Jeremy Morris, the majority of our diamonds range from grades D to F – the highest standard.

We also craft rare coloured diamonds for those looking for a unique style, turning a jewel into a more personalised, prominent statement.

Cut from david morris
Colour from david morris


With diamonds exposed to intense heat and pressure during formation, it is incredible that any should emerge flawless. Yet, at the House of David Morris, we are adept at sourcing them.

The majority of our diamonds are graded ‘Flawless’as they possess no inclusions and blemishes, even when scrutinised under magnification. But we may also select diamonds with minute inclusions that are undetectable to the naked eye as their clarity remains of high quality and pure beauty.


The term carat indicates how much a diamond weighs, and therefore its apparent size. The value of a diamond varies according to its number of carats and its rarity, as well as taking into account how it is graded in relation to the remaining of the 4Cs. Have a read through our guide on diamond carat here.

For David Morris engagement rings we select diamonds of 0.50 carats and above. As a guide, one carat is the equivalent of 0.2g. For professional advice on choosing an engagement ring, explore the David Morris guide to finding the perfect engagement ring.

Text 4 7 from david morris
Clarity 1 from david morris
Carat from david morris

The Fifth C by David Morris – Certification

The fifth ‘C’, and one that the House of David Morris is proud to offer, is Certification. All David Morris diamonds are GIA certified, affording the buyer complete peace of mind.

A GIA Certificate is the ‘blueprint’ of a diamond, documenting exact measurements and weight, as well as details of its cut and quality, and it precisely records all the unique characteristics of the stone. The unique sparkle of white diamond jewellery is a constant inspiration for our precious creations, with the House of David Morris selecting only the rarest, purest and clearest to be cut.

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