In the same way that you check the Blue Book value of a car before you buy it or the Zagat rating of a high-end restaurant before you book a reservation, you can compare the quality and value of diamonds based on their grade.

Once you fully understand the diamond 4Cs, you can use them to your advantage, learning how to prioritize one over the other to find a beautiful diamond within your budget.

That grade is made up of four factors, often known as the 4Cs: cut, clarity, color and carat weight. Each “C” has its own grading scale for evaluating quality. Put together, the diamond 4Cs help diamond sellers determine price and compare diamonds to one another. They’re also a useful tool for shoppers — and the more you understand about them, the savvier you’ll be in choosing your diamond.