Diamond Terms: Your Essential Pocket Dictionary

Just starting your diamond search? This bite-sized dictionary of the most important diamond terms is a life-saver.

2 white diamonds on a stone

Keep this list of diamond terms open on a browser tab. Diamond terminology can be a headache. But hey, you’ve got to speak the language! We’ve created a list of the diamond terminology that will be most helpful to you. As you begin to ring-shop, this is THE list.

Good luck! Let’s start it off with the MOST important diamond terms: the 4 Cs:


How well-proportioned a diamond is.

Many consider cut to be the most important C, as a well-cut diamond will give off more sparkle than a less expertly-cut diamond. A well-cut diamond also hides color and imperfections better. Cut grades range from Good to Very Good to Ideal. James Allen also carries True Hearts™, a Super Ideal cut that displays perfect internal symmetry, optimal proportions, and the highest gem grading for cut and polish. (Psssst…less than 1% of diamonds qualify for the True Hearts™ title.)

Emerald-Cut Pavé Ring

14K White Gold Three Stone Emerald And Pave Set Diamond Engagement Ring


A grading system based on a diamond’s lack of color.

In general, more colorless diamonds are more valuable. While most diamonds have some degree of color, in many cases they can only be seen under specific viewing circumstances. Additionally, metal color choice can often affect a diamond’s perceived color.

Yellow Gold Milgrain Ring

Yellow Gold Milgrain Ring


The presence or absence of imperfections (or “inclusions” in gem-speak) in a diamond.

These inclusions can be found on the surface of the diamond (like chips) or inside the diamond (like clouds or crystals). Clarity is graded on a scale from “Included” (lowest) to “Flawless” (highest). See “Eye Clean” below for additional info.

Diamond Clarity


A measurement of a diamond’s weight.

Higher carat weight often correlates with a larger size, but not always. Due to certain cuts’ specific proportions, sometimes a diamond of a higher weight can actually look smaller than one of a lower weight.

Vintage Oval Ring

14K White Gold Antique Bezel And Pave Set Engagement Ring

COST (the 5th C)

Getting the most out of your ring budget!

To many people, this is actually the most important C! There are countless ways to get the most for your money, including opting for a lower clarity graded diamond, dropping color grades in a yellow or rose gold metal, opting for a lab diamond and buying just under the desired carat weight.

Extra-credit blog reading:
Tips & tricks on how to make your diamond look bigger while staying on budget.

keeping the ring a secret hiding spot


The form in which a diamond is cut.

The most popular diamond shapes include round, princess, oval, cushion, and marquise. Don’t confuse shape (the diamond’s form) with cut (the diamond’s proportions)!

Tapered Heart-Shaped Ring


Whether or not a diamond’s imperfections are visible to the naked eye.

Higher clarity grades indicate that a diamond’s inclusions are visible only under professional magnification. These diamonds may offer good value; they’re less expensive while still lacking any visible flaws.

3 dimaonds


A diamond that may not be colorless, but which will look colorless to the naked eye in a setting.

In many cases, the color grade “I” and above will “face up white.” If you opt for a lower color-graded diamond, setting it in a warm metal will help mask its color.

Rose Gold Entwined Ring

14K Rose Gold Rope Solitaire Engagement Ring


Diamonds that have been formed in the earth’s mantle under immense heat and pressure over millions of years.

Diamond Halo Pendant


Diamonds that are created in a laboratory, but are actually chemically and optically identical to traditional diamonds.

There are two ways to make lab-created diamonds:

1) “High Pressure, High Heat” mimics the pressure and heat of the earth to create a diamond.

2) “Chemical Vapor Deposition” builds up carbon vapor into a diamond within a low-pressure vacuum chamber.  

Lab Created Diamond Pendant

14K white gold diamond solitaire pendant (mounting)

Want to make your diamond knowledge a cut above? Check out the articles below!

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Jackie is a writer who loves a good deal, especially when it comes to jewelry!