While you need not be a diamond expert to buy an engagement ring, it does help to understand the basics - or the 4Cs. The components of cut, color, clarity, and carat weight all interact to give the diamond its unique beauty and durable structure. Having an understanding of what each represents will help you allocate your budget efficiently.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet of the diamond 4C’s:
Cut: The arrangement of facets in the stone, its angles and proportions. This is what will give you that sparkle–the most important C of them all!
Clarity: Indicates how many inclusions and blemishes are found in the stone. They can appear as white or black specks throughout the stone. Nearly every diamond is going to be flawed, what you’re after is a diamond that contains imperfections not visible to the naked eye. For most shapes, you can go as low as an SI1 and still have an eye perfect stone.
Color: Refers to the presence of color in a diamond. Most people want a colorless or near-colorless diamond. Diamonds are graded in color from D–being the most colorless and expensive option–all the way to Z. The closer you are to D, the more colorless the diamond is. There are certain shapes that saturate the color of the stone while others mask it very well. If you’re shopping for a shape that hides color, you can sacrifice a bit on this grade to really max out on the carat. For a natural round brilliant diamond, a H color grade or higher will give you a pretty colorless diamond. If you are going with a fancy shape like oval, or opting for a lab grown diamond, we recommend G color or better if you are after a colorless look.
Carat: The measurement of a diamond’s weight. Because every stone is cut differently, two diamonds of equal weight can appear different in size. Fancy cut diamonds vary the most in size, so be sure to compare measurements as well when shopping around.
Some make the mistake of believing that they must buy the highest quality stone. Let your eye be the judge and don’t base your opinion of a diamond solely on its paperwork.
The key is to find a balance between the 4cs. You must decide what is most important to you - the size? The color? From there, you can then evaluate what you want and what will work within your budget. Learn more at our diamond education.
Alternative gemstones: if you're not in the market for a diamond, but not sure what kind of gemstone you're interested in, check out our gemstone guide. While some gemstones like sapphires come in many colors, it helps to know what color range appeals to you most or has special meaning to you.