Engagement rings are a symbol of love and commitment. But if you’re like most people, it can be hard to know what to look for when shopping for an engagement ring. That said, when looking for an engagement ring, one of the first things you need to consider is the diamond.
Diamond engagement rings are incredibly popular for many reasons. They’re beautiful, timeless and practical.
But how do you know which diamond to get for your engagement rings? If you’re not familiar with how diamonds are graded, the process can seem overwhelming. But no worries — we’ve got your back.
The four C’s are the key factors that determine the quality and value of a diamond: cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. When buying an engagement ring, it’s important to understand these concepts so you can make sure that you get the best deal possible on your new ring.
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Cut refers to how the diamond has been shaped, or cut. The cut can add or detract from the diamond’s overall appearance and value.
A diamond’s cut is determined by the proportions of its shape, which is determined by the size, depth, and angle of its facets. The main reason for differentiating between the various types of cuts is to allow jewelers to describe a diamond’s overall appearance in a way that can be easily compared with other diamonds.
The most common diamond shapes are round, princess, square and emerald. A round diamond has 58 faces (42 on each side), while princess diamonds have 56 faces (40 on each side). Square diamonds have 61 faces (39 on each side), while emerald cuts have 66 faces (42 on each side). The depth-to-width ratio determines how fat or thin your diamond appears when viewed from the top or bottom.
“Ideal” Cut Diamonds
An ideal cut is one that maximizes brilliance and scintillation – two qualities that determine how much light gets reflected back out of a gemstone. This means that an ideal cut will reflect more light than other types of cuts would allow it to do so.
The cut grade that you see on most diamonds is from the GIA (Gemological Institute of America), which grades diamonds from Excellent to Poor. This grading system takes into account three main factors:
- Brightness: Is reflected from the surface of the diamond when viewed from different angles under natural lighting conditions
- Scintillation: Refers to how much movement there is within a stone — basically whether its facets catch the light and bounce it around inside the diamond
- Fire: Ability to break white light into all the colors of the rainbow
Clarity refers to the number, size, and color of internal flaws in a diamond. Flaws can include tiny cracks and clouds, which are cloud-like areas in the stone.
It’s important to know that there is no industry standard for grading clarity. The GIA has its own system, and so do other labs. So when you’re buying a diamond, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples!
The most common lab-created diamond grades are FL and IF, which stand for “flawless” and “internally flawless,” respectively. These diamonds have no inclusions or blemishes that can be seen by the naked eye (you need special magnification devices to see them). They also have no blemishes on their surfaces, which is why they are very rare (only about 1% of diamonds are FL or IF).
Other common grades include VVS1-VVS2 (very, very slight inclusions), VS1-VS2 (very small inclusions), SI1-SI2 (small inclusions), I1-I2 (inclusions visible with the unaided eye), and I3-I4 (inclusions easily visible with the unaided eye).
The color of a diamond is an indicator of its purity. A diamond’s color ranges from colorless (D,E) to light yellow (F,G). The more color in a diamond, the lower its grade. Diamonds with less than 01% inclusion or visible impurities are considered to be D-F color diamonds.
This is known as the “white” range of the diamond and comprises about 95% of all diamonds mined. However, the majority of these will have some degree of a yellow tint, which makes them unsuitable for use in engagement rings. Only about 4% of diamonds mined are considered to be truly “white” and are graded G-J in terms of their clarity and transparency.
4. Carat Weight
The carat weight of a diamond is the most common way to judge the size of a stone. One carat is 200 milligrams (0.007 ounces), or about the weight of a paper clip. The word “carat” comes from the Greek word keration, which was used to describe seeds of certain plants like carob and tamarind. In Arabic, it means “horn.”
Diamonds are sold by their weight in carats. A 1-carat diamond weighs 200 milligrams, while a 2-carat diamond weighs 400 milligrams and so on. A 1-carat diamond is equivalent in size to a 5-cent piece or 8 grams.
Carat weights are commonly rounded off to two decimal places, so you’ll see diamonds advertised as 0.70 ct., 0.75 ct., 0.90 ct., and so on. These numbers can be confusing because the actual weight of stones can vary slightly from what’s advertised on their certificates, but this is a good rule of thumb for estimating how big your ring will appear in person based on its advertised weight alone.
The Final Word
Diamonds are the most popular gemstone in the world, and they come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. This makes diamond engagement rings a very big deal. They’re symbols of love, commitment and—if you choose the right ring—a pretty large financial investment.
If you’re looking to purchase a diamond engagement ring, there are some important things to know before you go shopping. The “4 C’s” of diamonds as listed above is a great place to start and these characteristics are used to determine the value of any given stone.
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with them, you can be sure that you will make a much more informed decision when buying a diamond ring for your loved one.