cover_4Cs-of-Diamonds-Diamond-Quality-Grading-Guide_V2

How To Buy An Engagement Ring Using The 4Cs

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

Engagement rings

What Are The 4Cs?

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

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 4Cs 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 4Cs 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 4Cs: Clarity, Color, and Cut. It’s important to remember that a diamond’s value is determined using all of the 4Cs, not just carat weight.

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

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

Once you fully understand the 4Cs, 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 4Cs 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 4C’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!

Rachel Glassman

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

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royal-wedding-cover-matching-wedding-rings

The Royal Wedding: Matching Rings Made in Heaven

With the royal wedding almost upon us, we’ve taken the liberty of picking out matching wedding rings for Markle’s sparkle.

royal wedding matching wedding rings

The big news out of Kensington Palace last year was Prince Harry’s engagement to Meghan Markle. Oh, and that ring. You probably don’t need reminding that he popped the question with a classic three-stone sparkler, complete with a cushion cut center diamond. Or that the two round cut side stones came from Princess Di’s personal collection. But just in case you do, here’s a more affordable James Allen lookalike ring to jog your memory:

14K Yellow Gold Three Stone Diamond Engagement Ring With Scroll Undergallery

Feeling nostalgic? Get Inspired by Meghan Markle’s Engagement Ring all over again!

In honor of the upcoming royal nuptials, we’ve rounded up some Insta-worthy wedding rings that would look perfect alongside Ms. Markle’s stunner. Think of them as the stylish yin to her sparkling yang.

BROWSE WEDDING RINGS

The Royal Wedding: Ringin’ in the Reign

The future royal has described her style as “classic with a modern twist”. This is evident in Harry’s choice of engagement ring, which features an intricate floral-like motif. She would do well to pair it with an understated wedding ring that doesn’t draw attention away from that magnificent diamond trio.

14K Yellow Gold 3mm Bezel Set Diamond Wedding Ring
Bezel Set Diamond Wedding Ring

This eternity ring has that classic style, but the surrounding diamonds give it an added je ne sais quoi.

14K Yellow Gold Baguette Wedding Ring
Baguette Diamond Wedding Ring

Classic meets contemporary in this sleek and sophisticated design.

The Royal Wedding: Your Other Other Half

One of the nice things about three stone engagement rings is how truly versatile they are. They can be paired with most wedding ring styles and metal types, so you’re bound to find something that suits your taste and “royal” wedding budget!

Double or Nothing

Pavé bands are the obvious choice if you want to accentuate your diamonds, as they essentially double the amount of sparkle.

14K White Gold Matching Wedding Band
Overlapping Single Row Pavé Wedding Ring

14K White Gold 0.20CTW. Pavé Diamond Wedding Ring
Pavé Diamond Wedding Ring

A Shine of the Times

14K White Gold Round And Baguette Milgrain Diamond Wedding Ring
Round and Baguette Milgrain Diamond Wedding Ring

Ever feel like you were born into the wrong era? Then you’ll dig the vintage stylings of this art deco charmer. Seriously, rings this regal should be illegal!

14K White Gold Blue Sapphire And Diamond Ring
Sapphire and Diamond Rope Style Wedding Ring

If you have a penchant for a more modern aesthetic, you may appreciate the smooth contours of this rope-style wedding ring. Its pavé diamonds are interwoven with blue sapphires, delivering a refreshing pop of color.

Mix or Match

Matching metals bring harmony to the wearer’s hand, while mixed metals lend a decidedly eclectic look. Demand for these sexy stackables is piling up!

14K White Gold Thin French-Cut Pavé Set Diamond Eternity Wedding Ring
French Cut Diamond Eternity Wedding Ring

14K Rose Gold Thin French-Cut Pavé Set Diamond Eternity Wedding Ring
French Cut Diamond Eternity Wedding Ring

The Royal Wedding: Princess Charming

For more classy combos, read up on How to Match Your Wedding Ring and Engagement Ring. Tell us which crowning jewel gets your royal seal of approval on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below.

Pin this image to save your royal wedding ring inspo:

royal wedding pinterest pin

Subscribe to our email list for access to secret sales, practical ring-buying tips, and $100 off your first order!

Jonny Hart

Jonny is passionate about puns, adores alliteration, and finds diamonds positively facet-nating! Since joining James Allen, he has written the word 'sparkle’ 9,732 times and counting.

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