The History Behind the 4C's

Posted on Thursday, October 12th, 2017 at 11:51 am by Administrator

Prior to 1940, the jewelry industry lacked a common language to describe the rarity of a diamond. Enter the 4Cs, courtesy of Robert Shipley, founder of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Gem Society (AGS).

There was a true need to give consistency to the language that was being used to describe the attributes of a diamond. Descriptions like “top white”, “with flaws” and “made poorly” were far too subjective to be of any real use in the diamond industry, let alone for the benefit of the average consumer.

The 4Cs gave a standardization to the descriptions and terminology assigned to each diamond, based on their grading results. It is important to remember, however, that this grading platform was only intended to give the diamond industry consistency and terminology. It was not intended to be the decision maker for consumers in the diamond buying process.

Why not?

There are many reasons. Understanding the rarity of a diamond will not tell you if that diamond does what you want it to do. Just because a diamond is at the upper end of the grading scales in each category does not guarantee that it will sparkle across the room, or glimmer under the moonlight.

Why not?

These criteria simply tell you what that diamond is… not what that diamond does. How a diamond performs is primarily determined by its cut quality. Cut quality is primarily determined by things such as optical purity, fluorescence and the actual graining of the diamond. These criteria are immensely important because with the exception of fluorescence, they won’t be graded or even mentioned on a diamond report.

Why not?

Because the diamond grading laboratories simply don’t care about those criteria. Optical purity and diamond graining are difficult to measure and don’t impact assigning a grade to the diamond. The grading lab is only concerned with rarity and assigning grades—not the beauty of the diamond.

Not to mention, not all laboratories are equal. Even if these laboratories could somehow accomplish putting a “beauty grade” on the report, the grading is far too subjective to be useful.

What does that mean?

Although every diamond grading laboratory uses the same 4Cs grading language created by the GIA, most labs don’t use the same strict standards that the GIA based the grades on.

The same diamond may receive an SI1 grade at one lab and a VS1 grade at another.

Unfortunately, this is the very problem that renders most grading reports useless and misleading for consumers. It’s a problem within the industry.

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it a thousand more times. Keep it simple. The beauty is found in the diamond and the moment… not in the rarity and especially not in the diamond report.

Contribution by Joshua Fetterolf