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For the majority of people the first diamond they ever buy a diamond will be in an engagement ring, which is SO EXCITING but it can also be intimidating. With so many different places to look and things to consider it can be overwhelming trying to understand all the terminology. Since diamonds are a higher value item, you’ll want to know what to look for. One of the things you’ll hear most when shopping for a diamond is the “4 C’sâ€. What exactly does that mean? Let’s dive in: 

The 4 C’s, created by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), is the worldwide standard scale for determining the quality characteristics of a diamond. Each of the C’s refers to a different factor present in a specific diamond. Each factor will impact price and beauty, so you’ll want to know what you’re getting into. 

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Diamond Cut

The first C stands for Diamond CUT. People often think that a diamond’s “cut†is referring to its shape (round, princess, oval, marquise, pear), but a diamond’s cut grade is actually a measurement of how well the diamond refracts light. The better the cut grade, the more bright and sparkly your diamond will be. It takes incredible skill to fashion a diamond with precise symmetry, polish, and proportions which gives a diamond brilliance unmatched by any other gemstone.

The Cut scale ranges from Excellent to Poor taking into account the craftsmanship and design of each unique stone. This includes components like how well light is reflected off your diamond, how well colors of the rainbow are transmitted from your diamond, and the sparkle (or patterns of light) reflected off your diamond. The ability to correctly distinguish a well cut diamond from an averagely cut diamond is difficult and comes with years of practice and education. It’s important to work with a diamond specialist who is educated about cut grade so you can feel confident in your decision. Understanding cut grade is essential to getting the best value in your diamond since cut grade can make up to 40% of your diamond’s cost!  

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Diamond Color

The next C stands for Diamond COLOR. What this most often refers to is LACK of COLOR. One of the stand out characteristics of diamonds is how clear and reflective they are, but not all diamonds have that same transparency naturally. A pure and well structured diamond has no hue, which means light is able to pass through it more easily. Because brilliance and shine are so clear and reflective, they have a higher value. In other words—the less color the more reflective (brilliant) your diamond may be. However; the other C’s will play a part in your diamond’s brilliance as well so don’t base your decision solely on color.  You’ll want to look for a combination of factors to decide the best diamond for you and your budget. 

When shopping for a diamond, the colors are graded on a scale from D to Z. This scale measures the lack of color present in each stone by comparing them under controlled viewing conditions like specific lighting. To the untrained eye, these subtle differences are hard to distinguish, but these small factors can make a big difference in the  quality as well as price. Asking whether the diamond in question has a third party report from GIA or IGI is a great way to confirm the details of your diamond. It’s important to work with a diamond specialist when buying diamonds who will be completely transparent with you so you know the color you’re looking for is exactly what you’re going to get! 

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Diamond Clarity

The next C stands for Diamond CLARITY. This is a term that refers to the absence of any imperfections in the diamond, like blemishes or inclusions.  Diamonds are formed under immense pressure over long periods of time which commonly results in imperfections in the structure of the crystal. Internal imperfections are referred to as “inclusionsâ€, while external imperfections are called blemishes. 

To determine a diamond’s clarity, the inclusions and blemishes are assessed based on  their size, location, and position.The clarity scale is ranked from FL (meaning flawless) down to I (which stands for included) and can be determined by a gem expert. This scale again can have a great bearing on the appearance and value of your diamond. Although no diamond is completely perfect, the more flawless they are the better they’ll look in a setting.  

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Diamond Carat Weight

The last C stands for Diamond CARAT weight. Simply put, this means how much each diamond weighs. One carat is defined as 200 milligrams, which is then divided even smaller into points. As a diamond’s weight increases, the value increases because larger diamonds are more rare and harder to mine without damaging. However, weight is only one factor in determining value. Two separate diamonds of equal weight could have very different values based on their color, cut, and clarity. 

Depending on the diamond shape, a one carat diamond can vary in length and depth. For example, a one carat oval shaped diamond can appear different in size than a one carat princess shaped diamond. The depth of a diamond can hold much of it’s carat weight which isn’t always visible to the untrained eye. Working with a seasoned diamond specialist can ensure you will find the perfect size stone for a good value while staying within your budget! 

When each of the 4 C’s is broken down, they’re much simpler to understand. Each of the 4 C’s is put in place with specific scales to make sure you  know exactly what you’re getting and exactly what you’re paying for. With thousands of 4 C’s combinations to choose from, having the guidance of a friendly specialist can ensure you get a diamond that fits your personality and budget. You’ll feel confident knowing you picked a diamond as unique as you!

For more information about Diamond CUT, COLOR, CLARITY, or CARAT WEIGHT, visit our website or check out this video!


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