When it comes time to choose an engagement ring, the things that everyone talks about are the four C’s of diamond quality. Learning them is a crucial step before you purchase and engagement ring.
The cut of a diamond is the most important aspect and the single largest contributor to the cost of a diamond. When a diamond arrives from the mine it’s a rough unattractive gemstone. A skilled diamond cutter will examine the gemstone carefully before making any cuts, he has two goals in mind, the first getting the largest quality diamond possible from the rough stone, and secondly to get as many smaller diamonds as possible out of the remaining crystal. The final shape of the diamond will determine how many sides or facets the diamond will have. A round or brilliant cut diamond will have 58 facets. The exact proportion of the facets and angles at which they are cut are predetermined to give the stone it maximum light reflection. This ability of a diamond to reflect light is known as brilliance. Diamond which are cut to deep won’t reflect any light, those that are cut to shallow will reflect the light at odd angles.
When diamonds are created deep in the earth any small dirt, dust or other imperfections will show up in the final stone as imperfections. These imperfections are known as inclusions or feathers, and stop reflected light from passing through the diamond, making it look dull. While many diamond retailers are vague about inclusions the Gemological Institute of America or GIA has determined a standard for grading diamond clarity. The most sought after stones are flawless (graded FL) or internally flawless (graded (IF). The next step down is Very Very Slight Inclusions (graded VVS1 or VVS2). Inclusions on diamonds graded FL through VVS2 are only visible under a microscope or through a jewelers loupe, you will not be able to spot them with the naked eye. The next grade is Very Slight Inclusions (VS1 or VS2) followed by slight inclusions (graded S1 or S2). These of imperfections can be seen with the naked eye. Diamonds with major imperfections are graded I1 through I3 and aren’t used in engagement rings. At each major step up in quality expect the price to jump dramatically. A diamond with a VVS2 that is the same size, shape and weight as a VS1 may cost nearly twice as much.
Color refers to the internal color of diamond not the colors made by reflected light. The GIA grades diamonds on a scale of D through Z. Diamonds which have a D color are pure white with no shades of color. Diamonds K through M will have a slight yellow tint to them. Diamonds graded N through R will have a noticeable yellow tint. Diamonds graded S through Z have a distinct dull yellow color to them. The closer a diamond is to a D grading the more expensive it is. There are also specialty diamond colors which are on a different scale they come in blues, pinks, yellows and even black or gray. Theses colored diamonds are considered fancy colors which are very bright, clear or translucent, compared to lower diamonds of lower quality colors which appear dark and smoky. Fancy colored diamonds are very rare and have a price tag that reflects their scarcity.
Carat is the last of the four C’s and refers to the weight of the diamond. One carat is 1/142 of an ounce or 1/5 of a gram. 1 carat is divided up into 100 points, so a diamond with 75 points will have 0.75 carats. As diamonds approach the 1 carat mark they make a dramatic price increases.
Most people who shop for engagement ring look at the fifth C or cost. While it was typical to spend two months salary on diamond many years ago, the world of finance has made some changes since then. Today the average couple who are getting married for the first time will spend only one month’s salary on an engagement ring. You and you fiancÃ© should discuss how much you can reasonably afford to spend on an engagement ring before you go shopping.