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How To Buy An Engagement Ring Using The 4 Cs

Have you heard of the 4 Cs? Wondering what they are? Let’s break it down!

Engagement rings

What Are The 4 Cs?

A diamond’s quality is determined by the 4 Cs: 

Cut: The facets, angles, and proportions

Color: The colorlessness of the diamond

Clarity: How clear the diamond is, how free of inclusions it is

Carat: The weight/size of the diamond

The Characteristics of Diamonds

Diamonds come in a variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and styles.

Because of their individuality, the Gemology Institution of America developed a grading system that enables the evaluation and weighing of diamond characteristics. A diamond’s scores directly alters both its cost and shine- that’s why the 4 Cs are so important! 

Let’s go more in-depth into what the 4Cs represent… 

4 sections describing the 4 cs: Cut, Clarity, Carat Weight, and Color

Cut
We often associate a diamond’s cut only with its shape, whether it be a heart, pear, or oval. But, really, a diamond’s cut is far more complicated than that. Evaluating a diamond’s Cut is all about observing how well it interacts with light.

A lapidary (a person who cuts diamonds and gems) needs to employ incredible precision and artistry to make a diamond as bright as possible. The diamond’s proportions, facets, symmetry, and polish all have a role in its return to light. 

Because of this, Cut is the hardest of the 4 Cs to evaluate.

The 4C's Diamond

Color
Despite the name, when one is grading a diamond’s color, they are actually looking for the absence of color. The perfect diamond will ideally have no hue whatsoever- almost like a drop of water. The clearer the diamond, the higher the value. 

The GIA developed a color grading scale that is now widely accepted throughout the industry. The highest-value diamond will have a D, meaning colorless, and the lowest-value diamond will have a Z, meaning full of color. 

The color of a diamond is carefully measured using controlled light and comparison tools. 

Diamond  color chart

Clarity
We tend to forget that diamonds are actually the result of an intricate geological process. This process may certainly leave diamonds with inclusions and blemishes. 

A diamond’s quality is determined by noting the number, size, placement, and type of such blemishes. The fewer the blemishes, the higher the value!

A diamond’s clarity is evaluated using a specific rating system:

Carat
A diamond’s carat weight is measured by how much it weighs. 1 carat is 200 milligrams. Large diamonds are incredibly rare and highly sought after. The heavier the diamond, the higher the price.

Diamond Size Chart, from 0.5 carats to 2 carats

Keep in mind that two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different values (and prices) depending on three other factors within the 4 Cs: Clarity, Color, and Cut. It’s important to remember that a diamond’s value is determined using all of the 4 Cs, not just carat weight.

How To Buy An Engagement Ring Using The 4 C’s

Remember that the 4 Cs are a guideline, not a straightforward good-or-bad scale. Keep this in mind when using the 4 Cs as you shop for your engagement ring!

Once you fully understand the 4 Cs, you can figure out which aspects to prioritize so you find the perfect ring within your budget!

Cut

Cut doesn’t just mean looking at a diamond’s shape and polish. Cut is directly related to the shine of the diamond, as well. Take a look at how the diamond reflects light; in an ideal diamond, there should literally be sparkles! When you find a diamond that shines brilliantly, make sure you are also happy with its shape. In addition to its light and shine, ask if it is appealing to you.

Color

An absolutely colorless diamond is extremely rare and shouldn’t necessarily be your top priority. Remember that even G-I rated diamonds have no discernible color and have great value for their quality.

K rated diamonds are a budget-friendly option. Even though these diamonds may be faintly colored, they pair nicely with yellow gold metals. Keep in mind that there is always a way to make a less expensive diamond look gorgeous.

Clarity

No diamond is perfect. Under the naked eye, a stone may appear free of blemishes and inclusions- but upon further inspection that may not be the case. When shopping for your engagement ring it is important to have a professional evaluate it. Getting a professional opinion will ensure that you get your money’s worth!

Carat Weight

Now that we know that value is directly tied to weight, it can be easy to get caught up in the carat of your diamond. But it’s important to remember that while carat is meaningful, the value of your diamond comes from all its Cs.

Two diamonds of the same carat weight may have completely different values! When choosing a diamond for your engagement ring, look at the piece as a whole, not simply for its weight. Take all factors into consideration, and you’ll make the perfect choice!

The Fifth C Of Diamonds: Conflict Free

Conflict free or ethical diamonds are any diamonds that were produced under ethical conditions. This can mean several things: the diamonds did not finance civil wars, they were mined and shipped under safe working conditions, miners were paid fair wages, and there were no human rights abuses during the production of the diamonds.

If you want to guarantee that your diamond is 100% conflict free, purchase a lab grown diamond. Lab-grown diamonds have no discernible differences from earth-grown diamonds and are friendlier on the pocket.

FAQs

1. Which of the 4Cs is most important?

Experts say that Cut is the most important of the 4Cs. This is because when a diamond is poorly cut, no amount of clarity, color, or carat can make up for it. When well cut, it can present its other qualities in full force.

Diamond cuts

2. What Are The Best 4 Cs For A Diamond?

Remember, the most important of the 4Cs is Cut. This is followed by Color, Clarity, and Carat Weight. Keep this order in mind when deciding on what you want to prioritize!

Need More Help on The 4 C’s?

James Allen understands that shopping for the perfect diamond can be overwhelming! If you’re still unsure about the 4Cs, take advantage of our free diamond consultation and inspection services. We’re here to help make the diamond shopping process as smooth as possible!

And don’t forget to subscribe to our email list for access to secret sales, practical ring-buying tips, and $100 off your first purchase!

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Rachel is fond of the written word and the moving image- and will talk about both with anyone who will listen!