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The 4 C’s and Why They Matter When Buying a Diamond Engagement Ring

Oct 5, 2020

Congratulations! You’ve found the perfect partner and you’re ready to take the next step into building your lives together. At Samuelson’s Diamonds, we are here to help you understand your choices, learn about diamonds, and work within your budget to find a truly spectacular diamond engagement ring.

When looking at diamonds, there are four qualities to consider for the diamond itself: cut, color, clarity, and carat. By using these four factors, gemologists around the world have been able to use an international language to describe and evaluate individual diamonds systematically. This also allows jewelers to determine a universal fair market value for diamonds.

Here’s a breakdown of the four C’s as we call it in the business, and why they matter:

CUT

The cut is often the most important detail, because a diamond’s proportions can determine how light reflects through the diamond. While many take cut to mean the shape of the diamond, when jewelers refer to the cut, they’re actually referring to how well the diamond interacts with light. They’re looking at depth, polish, thickness, brilliance, fire, and scintillation – or sparkle! As a rule of thumb, the higher the cut grade, the brighter the diamond.

Within the diamond industry, it has been established that certain proportions – or shapes – can make light perform better than others and maximize brilliance, fire, and sparkle. Beyond the typical round diamond, shapes such as cushion, emerald, radiant, pear, princess, oval, heart, trilliant, asscher, and marquise are popular among buyers of diamond engagement rings. 

COLOR

When it comes to buying a traditional diamond, the goal is to find one as close to colorless as possible. Most diamonds have tints of yellow or brown, and the deeper the saturation, the lower the per-carat price. While colored diamonds do exist and have their own grading process, the standard bearer for a diamond engagement ring is one that contains as little color as your budget allows. Keep in mind that colorless diamonds are scarce, which is why they are able to command a higher price per-carat. Grading for diamond color is done on GIA’s D-Z scale, with each letter representing a range of color based on the diamond’s tone and saturation.

CLARITY

Few things in nature are absolutely perfect – and the same holds true of diamonds. Natural diamonds contain internal features called inclusions, such as natural crystals trapped under the diamond’s surface; and surface features called blemishes, such as scratches and nicks on the diamond’s surface. Clarity is judged by the relative absence of inclusions and blemishes – keeping in mind that it is exceptionally rare to see a natural diamond without either. In fact, the grading scale for clarity is based on at what magnification the inclusions can be. In total, there are 11 clarity grades in the GIA clarity grading system, with the bulk of the retail market made up by stones in the middle range.

CARAT

Not to be mistaken for karat (the weight of pure gold in an alloy), carats measure the weight of a diamond. For a true sense of scale, consider that a small paper clip is equal to the weight of a single diamond carat. That’s why fractions of a carat can mean price differences of hundreds—even thousands—of dollars. Large diamonds are rarer, and therefore will always be worth more. However, diamonds come in a variety of sizes, and a lower carat weight can still be valued at a higher price depending on the cut, color, and clarity than one with a higher carat weight with poorer cut, color, and clarity.

When shopping for a diamond engagement ring, it’s best to work with a jeweler who can help you navigate the four C’s to find the right ring for you. In addition to the diamond itself, it’s important to consider the design of the ring, the metals, and whether or not you want something custom-made versus something already designed.

To schedule your private consultation, you can fill out our online form or give us a call at (410) 837-0290. If you want to bring your partner in, we have many couples who choose to do that as well. Ultimately, we want you to have a wonderful, one-of-a-kind experience in buying a diamond engagement ring and we are absolutely here to help you find the perfect ring to express your commitment to love.

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