Perhaps you and your partner have finally stumbled upon the perfect engagement ring design after stalking each other’s Pinterest boards or subtly prising style preferences out of family and friends. Or maybe you’ve both collaborated on it. The next step is to master the engagement ring 4Cs and figure out how to maximize value for money when purchasing your diamond engagement ring.
The 4Cs stand for Color, Clarity, Carat, and Cut. They are a grading system used to determine the quality and price of a diamond. It is important to note that this grading system is more of a guideline than a “good” to “bad” scale. The diamond that hits the top of every scale will naturally cost the most, but that does not necessarily make it any more beautiful than one that costs less. When calculating the diamond’s value, all four of the Cs are considered together, not just individually.
To make your diamond search easier, we broke down the specifics of the engagement ring 4Cs and provide helpful tips on how to make the most of each component financially.
The color of a diamond can be classified on a scale of D-Z, with D meaning that it is completely colorless (and the most expensive), and Z meaning it has a yellow hue. When picking your diamond, keep in mind that diamond color is essentially a personal preference – what matters most is how you feel about the diamond and its natural appearance.
Buying tip: Round brilliant diamonds hide color impressively well, meaning you can go further down the scale without seeing any yellowing. Longer diamond shapes, like oval and radiant, reveal color much easier.
Diamond clarity refers to the absence of inclusions and blemishes. Clarity grades run from ‘Flawless,’ with virtually no imperfections, to ‘Included,’ which contains a significant number of imperfections. The size, position, and visibility of inclusions can have a significant impact on diamond clarity. Many inclusions and blemishes are too tiny to be seen by anyone other than a trained diamond grader, which is why it is important to get an expert and an accurate assessment of diamond clarity.
Carats are measurements of diamond weight. According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), one carat weighs 0.2 grams, which is roughly the same weight as a paper clip. Naturally, a diamond with a larger carat will cost more. Since no two diamonds are identical, carat only identifies the weight of the stone rather than its
actual size, so it should only be used as a guideline.
Buying tip: If you are focused on getting a larger carat size but you’re working with a budget, choose a diamond shape with a larger face, such as a round brilliant shape. Round brilliant shape looks the largest among diamond shapes due to weight distribution.
Per the GIA system, diamond cuts are graded as Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. Diamond cuts refer to a diamond’s proportions, symmetry, and polish, not its shape (e.g. round, oval, pear). Cut is more important than any other factor in determining a diamond’s beauty.
Diamond cut affects diamond appearance in three main ways: brilliance (the brightness created by the combination of all light reflections on the diamond’s surface and inside), fire (the dispersion of light into the colors of the visible spectrum, visible as flashes of color), and scintillation (the flash of light and dark, or sparkle, when a diamond or light source moves).
Buying tip: Diamonds will appear dull even if they are excellently clear and colored if they are poorly cut, which is why cut grade plays an important role in determining their overall appearance. Due to its superior ability to create sparkle and brilliance, well cut diamonds can look quite beautiful even with slightly lower color (G-H) or clarity (SI1- SI2).
To sum up: a diamond purchase depends on a variety of personal factors and is a very personal choice. If you don’t know what “X” amount will buy you, it is hard to decide on a budget. Our advice is to do very high level, preliminary research. Look up the average diamond expenditure. Determine if that’s within your budget. If you would like to spend more, then increase one of the 4Cs. If this is out of your price range, then start trimming the 4Cs. This will help you narrow down your budget.
If your budget isn’t set before you start narrowing diamond options, you’ll find yourself changing your mind often and the whole purchasing process might turn into a moving target. Determine your budget before diamond shopping becomes frustrating and annoying.
The goal is to make the perfect diamond finding process a fun, happy experience because you’re about to begin the happiest moment of your life with your diamond.
If you have any questions or need a hand with recommendations, do not hesitate to contact us. We are happy to share our expertise to help you find your perfect diamond!