The 4 C’s of Gemstones?

What are the 4C’s of gemstone rating?

The 4 C’s of  precious and semi precious gemstones. Color, Cut, Clarity, Carat are the key to buying gems of quality at a good price. There are many guides online to buying precious gemstones. The 4c’s apply to gemstones as well, in addition of a few other factors. These four features of a gem are what determines its quality and value. A properly chosen gemstone using the rules of the 4c’s will hold it’s value and over time will become more collectible, or sought by jewelry designers. The sometimes used fifth (5th) C is Cost.


The international colored gems association breaks up the color  into to three variations. Hue, Saturation, Tone, In general highest value is given to gems with good hues and deep rich colors. Value can be affected by very subtle variations make a marked difference in the price of the gemstone. A persons complexion and color of clothing can affect how one chooses a colored gemstone. The boldest colored gemstones are not the best match for every complexion.



The cut is what gives a gemstone its beauty and brilliance, by reflecting light that enters the stone. An ideal cut which reflects all the light in an even pattern without any windows (a window is a lighter of even clear area inside the stone) is considered the best. A good cut is something that may not cost more but will add to the total beauty of the stone. Colored gemstones come in lots of different cut variations,more than diamonds do. There are no fixed rules about cutting and the ultimate value of a particular stone after faceting. A skilled cutter makes careful consideration of yield and proportion. Besides, the positioning of deep inclusions always produces the best result. .

Remember, the intensity of color is always an important consideration for cutters. All gemstones become lighter as the size is reduced. The color of dark stones improves as their size is reduced while light stones become even lighter and lose some of their value as a result of cutting. Cutters frequently re-cut poorly faceted stones, using skill to select those with color and clarity and then drawing out their hidden potential, while still maximizing final weight and value.



Clarity in gemstones is an important factor to consider, next in importance to color. Colored gem stones are almost never as clean inside as diamonds are. And are not be judged by the same criteria as diamonds. The bottom line is there is no standardized grading system for clarity: it varies by gem type. With colored gemstones, if an inclusion is not showing in the face up position, it generally doesn’t matter at all. (unlike diamonds which are graded upside-down). Important stones like emeralds, rubies and sapphires are rarely clean. Clarity and transparency are definitely desirable but color is still of paramount importance. Gemstones are not the same- some are clean and some are always included. Colored gemstones that are normally found to be clean include but are not limited to amethyst, blue topaz, citrine, tanzanite Colored gemstones that normally are particularly included are emeralds and some beryls. In some cases it is the inclusions which enhance a stone’s value. Star sapphires and star rubies are usually translucent and it is the inclusions inside that reflect the light and produce the star effects.


A carat is a unit of weight used in the gem and jewelry industry to describe how much a stone weighs. A carat is equal to 1/5th of a gram and there are five carats in one gram. Larger gemstones are always rarer and per-carat prices will usually be higher than similar stones in a smaller sizes. Differences between per carat prices and sizes vary with each specific gemstone. Carat weights do not determine size. The density of gems varies from light stones like opal to especially heavier gemstones like zircon.



Cost, is sometimes called the 5th C of gemstone ratings

The finest gems are never available in the quantities that the demand is for them. Demand is always strong with some gems, buying the best, the biggest and the rarest stones can effect the prices worldwide.

Deposits are depleting and mining sometimes becomes far too expensive to make it feasible to continue operations near the surface. Deeper mining is much more expensive, and it requires more sophisticated machinery, and more time to acquire  the gems. As the depth increases, the gems become more expensive and when the price of production exceeds the market price, the mining stops.

The end result of proper application of these simple guidelines is that your choice of stones will give you better looking jewelry designs and more monetary value for your gems.