Shopping for a Diamond: Understand the Four C's

There are many factors involved in buying a diamond engagement ring, the actual setting (the cradle in which the diamond sits in) and the ring itself (white/yellow gold) is secondary to the diamond, which is the showstopper!

When talking about diamonds, most people understand that there are Four C's to consider when choosing the perfect diamond, and they are: Cut, Clarity, Color and the all important Carat! The intricacies of those guidelines can be lost if diamond shoppers don't understand the meaning behind the Four Cs. 

Below we explain these vital four C’s in hope to provide you with more information so when you are shopping for that perfect diamond you are well equipped with at least the basic information. 

The Cut:

It is important to understand a vital difference between the Cut and shape, and appreciate that they are are two very different aspects. Most people aren't aware of this crucial difference and generally pick a shape rather then the cut, often opting for shapes such as Pear shaped, Oval, Heart or Princess shaped (shown in images) and skip completely over the cut of the diamond. The cut refers to how deep or shallow the diamond is. The cut of the diamond directly references the appearance of its brilliance. 

If the diamond is long with a slim tapered point, the cut is too deep. Light will not reflect or refract correctly but leave through the pointed bottom. If the diamond is too wide at the top with a stunted point on the bottom, the light will escape through the sides. 

The perfect cut will reflect light correctly, which increases its sparkle and brilliance. This is extremely important when choosing a diamond, so it's important that shoppers understand the distinct difference between cut and shape.

The Clarity:

Clarity is not normally something that can be seen with the naked eye unless there are huge flaws in the diamond. Diamonds have minute flaws that can detract from its brilliance. Jewelers will look at the diamond under 10X magnification to see if there are flaws, as a basic principal flaws in diamonds (if pure of course) are extremely rare. There could be small flaws on the outside of the diamond. VVS1/VVS2 means there are very, very slight inclusions. They are barely detectable under 10X magnification. VS1, VS2 through SI1-SI2 mean there are flaws but they are barely visible to the naked eye. They can be seen under the magnifier. The last category of clarity is I1 through I3 which are large flaws and blemishes that can be seen without the magnifier.  

The Color:

Diamonds are graded on color (see the interactive presentation). They start at D which is the whitest or colorless diamond. D through F is exceptionally white and allows more light to pass through giving it more sparkle. G through J are rare whites to nearly colorless. At K, the diamonds have a brown or yellow hue to them. K through N have a slight yellow tinge. O through S have a very light yellow color. T through Y have a yellow to brown tinge. Z is the code for diamonds with colors like purple, yellow, pink and orange. 

The Carat:

The carat of a diamond is the size. Based on the other C’s, the carat can vary in price. A small carat FL diamond will be more expensive than a larger VVS1 diamond. A carat is 0.2 grams. 

Based on the Four C’s, choosing a diamond will vary and the budget will impact the choices. Make sure the diamond ring comes with a certification of its cut, clarity color and carat. This doesn't provide the price of the diamond but its authenticity.

Diamond images courtesy of


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