If you’ve been shopping for a diamond engagement ring, chances are you’ve encountered a handful of diamond abbreviations and terms that you might not understand.
Sometimes it might even seem like the jeweler is speaking in code! But don’t worry—we’ve got you covered.
This article will teach you everything you need to know about the most common diamond abbreviations and terms.
It’s definitely the case that diamond shopping is both complicated and expensive. If you want a simpler, more affordable alternative without sacrificing quality, why not browse our collection of gorgeous rings?
Joyce Layered Stack Ring
Charisse Vintage Ring
Midi Knuckle 2-Ring Set
Diamond grading system
You’ve probably heard of the 4Cs, but do you know what they are? The Gemological Institute of America invented the most-used grading system for diamonds, and the 4Cs are the four major factors involved.
The 4Cs are carat weight, clarity, color, and cut. Below, we will describe what each of these terms means and the diamond abbreviations you might find associated with them.
Carat (also known as carat weight) is the unit used to measure the total weight of a diamond. One carat weight is exactly 200 milligrams. Carat weight is an internationally recognized number, so every diamond should have the same standardized measurement for diamond carats.
Diamond carat can be abbreviated as “ct” or “cw” (short for carat weight). Another abbreviation less often used is “dw,” referring to diamond carat weight.
But—there is a difference between diamond carat weight and total carat weight.
What’s the difference between carat weight and total carat weight?
Diamond carat weight refers to the total carat weight of a single diamond. But total carat weight refers to the combined carat weight of every diamond in a piece of diamond jewelry. Total weight is usually abbreviated as “ctw” or “dtw.”
For example, you may see a diamond engagement ring with a larger diamond center stone and two smaller diamond accents. If the larger center stone has a 0.5-carat weight, and the two smaller diamond accents each have a 0.2-carat weight, then the total weight will be all of them added together, or 0.9 carats.
Diamond clarity is one of the more complicated aspects of diamond grading. The clarity describes how clear the diamond is. A diamond is very rarely flawless—the highest clarity. Pretty much every diamond has flaws, which are called “inclusions,” which affect its clarity.
Usually, these inclusions are not visible to the naked eye (unless the clarity grade is very low). This is why a jeweler or expert gemologist will view the stone under a magnifying glass to grade the stone’s clarity.
These are the abbreviations used by the Gemological Institute of America to describe clarity grade:
F – Flawless; no inclusions or blemishes are visible at 10x magnification
IF– Internally Flawless; only blemishes are noticeable at 10x magnification (no inclusions)
VVS1 – Very Very Slightly Included; inclusions are difficult to see at 10x magnification
VVS2 – Very Very Slightly Included; inclusions are difficult to see at 10x magnification
VS1 – Very Slightly Included; minor inclusions visible at 10x magnification
VS2 – Very Slightly Included; minor inclusions visible at 10x magnification
SI1– Slightly Included; inclusions noticeable at 10x magnification
SI2 – Slightly Included; inclusions noticeable at 10x magnification
I1 – Included; inclusions visible to the naked eye
I2 – Included; inclusions easily visible to the naked eye
I3 – Included; inclusions are very noticeable to the naked eye and can affect the beauty of the diamond
When it comes to diamond color, the more colorless the diamond, the better (and the more expensive!). Diamond color can range from perfectly colorless to hues of yellow and even brown.
Color matters because it can affect how a diamond looks in a ring or other jewelry (especially when the ring is made out of white gold).
The Gemological Institute defines color grade in an alphabetic scale from D to Z, as follows:
D to F – Completely colorless
G to J – Nearly colorless
K to M – Very faint yellow color (very hard to notice with the naked eye)
N to R – Light yellow color (noticeable in a larger stone)
S to Z – Noticeable yellow color
The final of the 4Cs, diamond cut, refers to the diamond shape that it’s cut into. The shapes themselves don’t have abbreviations (for instance, a round-cut diamond). But the Gemological Institute does have a system to define the cut grade of a diamond, as follows:
Generally speaking, the higher the cut grade, the more fiery and brilliant the diamond is.