How to Choose a Diamond

Diamonds are symbols of love, devotion and fidelity in engagement rings today.  The diamond oozes brilliance and sparkle from every direction, and if you are looking to fascinate your partner, then that’s reason enough to invest in one. A diamond is a rare stone, which preserves its value over time; and it’s the most durable precious gemstone in the world, so choosing it for the engagement ring serves a practical purpose as well.  Its unique beauty and longevity makes it a worthy symbol of your love.

The process of shopping for a diamond, however, can sometimes be an overwhelming one.  Your questions might include: what to look for, what is a fair price, what are the pitfalls to avoid, and, simply, where to start?

As designers of your engagement ring, we want you to enjoy your experience without having to worry about overpaying or buying the wrong stone. We believe that with some guidance, diamond shopping can and should be stress-free and fun. Our complimentary diamond sourcing service will allow you to walk away from our studio feeling great about the selection that we presented to you, and confident that you have chosen the perfect stone at a very competitive price.

Start With These Steps

1) Find your ideal ring design.

Browse our portfolio of rings, or research online for ideas. Save your favorite pictures - this will be the starting point for us to determine what diamond shape and size is appropriate for your setting.

2) Set a budget.

With this number in mind, subtract the cost of the ring setting to determine your diamond budget.

3) Finally, ask yourself what your priorities are.

Is maximizing the stone size most important, or do you prefer to allocate a bigger portion of your budget towards the color or clarity? How would you describe that perfect engagement ring in less than five words?

What to Consider

By conventional standards (this excludes rough, rustic, or fancy color diamonds), we recommend that you focus on the following (in order of importance):

  • 1. Brilliance

  • 2. Size

  • 3. Clarity

  • 4. Color

We rank brilliance and size at the top because we believe they are the two most perceptible factors to the eye. Brilliance refers to how much light a diamond gives off and how lively it looks, and it is one of the main characteristics that separates a diamond from other colorless gems like white sapphires or white topaz stones. Size differences are also quite noticeable to the naked eye. Most people can successfully tell the difference between a 1.10 ct and a 1.00 ct diamond, but the same cannot always be said about differentiating a F color from a G color diamond.

For clarity, your diamond should look perfect to the naked eye (unaided by magnification tools), because a diamond that is not eye-clean will affect its brilliance. As for color, an eye-colorless diamond is the most typical request. But if you are opting for a yellow or rose gold setting, you may find that a diamond with slight warmth in color is a nice complement to the warmth of a colored metal.

Color & Clarity Charts

With these general considerations in mind, we recommend that you start with the following grades to get the most out of your budget (based on a round cut diamond):

- For natural, mined diamonds: GIA graded H color, SI1 clarity, Ex or VG cut.
- For lab grown diamonds: IGI or GCAL graded E color, VS2 clarity, Ex or VG cut.

While nothing beats seeing a stone in person, the charts pictured below will give you a sense of the visual differences between grades, and how the price changes as you move across the size, color and clarity spectrums.


  • Colorless

  • Near-Colorless

  • Faint Yellow


    • FL-IF
    • Flawless or Internally Flawless. No internal inclusions
    • VVS1-VVS2
    • Very Very Small inclusions. Very difficult to detect under 10x magnification.
    • VS1-VS2
    • Very Small inclusions. Can be seen under 10x magnification and in some cases to the naked eye.
    • SI1-SI2
    • Small inclusions. Can be seen under 10x magnification and may be visible to the naked eye.
    • I1-I2-I3
    • Imperfect. Inclusions are visible under 10x magnification and in most cases to the naked eye.

(For further reading and technical information on diamonds, the GIA website is an excellent resource.)

Looking Beyond the Report

Sometimes it’s possible to get so caught up in technical research that you forget that what ultimately matters is how the diamond looks to you.

Having worked with thousands of diamonds over the years, it is our belief that the lab report should serve only as a starting point of your search. For example, not all diamonds graded with an Excellent cut sparkle in the same way, and not all SI1s are equally included. The same principle can apply to color, and even carat weight. Excellent cuts can look dull, and VG cuts can look spectacular. The same stone graded by two different labs can yield meaningfully different results, and an SI1 clarity grade might tell you the number of inclusions within a stone, but not the type of inclusions it has, nor the location and visibility of the inclusions. For all these reasons and more, we encourage our clients to see and compare diamonds in person whenever possible. For those situations where that is not possible, we are always on hand to answer questions, provide visuals of the stones, and offer our professional opinions: not just as diamond experts, but also as the designers of your ring.

Unlike most big box diamond dealers who simply restate and repackage data points from their supplier, we at Ken & Dana hand-select and curate each stone that we present to you. Our philosophy is that we will never recommend a diamond to you that we are not happy keeping for ourselves.

Let Us Help

Even though we have recommended grades for the client who wants to leave all the decisions to us, we source diamonds of all types, grades, shapes and sizes.

Please contact us to find out how we can help.

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