When it comes to choosing the right ring for you or your loved one, it’s important to understand the 4 Cs of Diamond Quality.
The 4 Cs are a method of analyzing the most important qualities of a diamond. This helps buyers choose the right quality for their price point, and jewelers price their inventory correctly.
If you’re in the market for a lab diamond engagement ring or are curious about how it all works, we put together an ultimate guide to choosing the right ring based on which of the 4 Cs of Diamonds is most important. Ready to dive in?
What Are the 4 Cs of Diamonds?
First things first, let’s go over what exactly the 4 Cs of Diamonds are. The 4 Cs include cut, color, clarity and carat weight. All of which are important to the look and overall quality of a diamond.
It’s important to note that both mined diamonds and lab created diamonds are unique in every way. Meaning, no two are alike. For example, a diamond halo cut engagement ring will be completely different from a diamond eternity band. This means both types of diamonds will differ when it comes to inclusions, color and size.
Whatever you prefer, let’s dig deeper into each of the 4 Cs to give you a better understanding of what to look out for when shopping for a stunning diamond.
Diamond cut is one of the most important 4 Cs. While often confused with shape, a diamond’s cut actually has to do with the symmetry of how it was cut. Diamond cut specifically refers to the quality of a diamond’s angles, proportions, symmetrical facets, brilliance, fire, scintillation and finishing details. This affects the way the light emits from the diamond, meaning the way in which it sparkles.
The GIA quality chart grades diamond cut on the scale of Ideal, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair and Poor. The Ideal cut, depending on the shape, represents the best possible proportions and angles for maximum brilliance and fire.
Diamond cut differs significantly from jeweler to jeweler. That’s because the process of grading diamonds differs so significantly with multiple different grading organizations out there. While one organization may grade more strictly resulting in an Excellent cut over Ideal, another may grade less harshly resulting in an Excellent cut being Ideal. As you can see, there is potential for discrepancies depending on the grader and jeweler you select when choosing the right ladies’ wedding band. That’s why at 12FIFTEEN, we’ve created our own stringent grading scale to be as transparent as possible. This means you can be confident that your diamond is the cut we say it is.
Next up is diamond color. While diamonds are most commonly referred to as colorless, there are actually a range of hues and even fancy colors that diamonds come in.
The diamond color scale grades diamonds on their lack of color. The GIA color scale ranges from D to Z, with D being colorless, and Z containing noticeable brown or yellow tint. Any color below Z is considered a fancy color. The price of a diamond is weighed heavily on color. While a Z color diamond will be much more affordable than a D, fancy color diamonds begin to rise in price after Z. This is because many prefer the unique color of a fancy diamond, raising the demand.
A diamond’s clarity grade evaluates how clean a diamond is from both inclusions and blemishes. Since some inclusions can be seen to the naked eye, clarity is another most important 4 C.
Diamond clarity is graded by the GIA using the following chart:
- Flawless (FL): No inclusions or blemishes visible under 10x magnification.
- Internally Flawless (IF): No inclusions visible under 10x magnification.
- Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2): Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification.
- Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2): Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification but can be characterized as minor.
- Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2): Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification.
- Included (I1, I2, and I3): Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance.
Many shoppers aim for a grade between Slightly Included to Very Slightly Included. This is because some inclusions significantly lower the cost of a diamond without impacting the visual appearance. For example, if you choose a Very Slightly Included diamond with imperfections hidden by the ring setting of your choice, you’ll pay significantly less than opting for a Flawless diamond.
Diamond Carat Weight
Lastly, diamond carat weight measures the weight of a diamond. This is different from size, which is key to note as many shoppers believe carat weight refers to the size of a diamond. A 1-carat diamond equals 200 milligrams, or 0.2 grams, and weighs about the same as a quarter of a raisin.
While carat weight is a focal point for many couples, the appearance and brilliance should carry more importance. This is because cut, clarity and color play an important role in quality while carat weight doesn’t.
The average diamond is around 1-carat, though there are some tips to getting the most bang for your buck. For example, price increases drastically for each quarter carat weight. This means a .99 carat diamond will be much more affordable than a 1-carat diamond without appearing any different.
Choosing Diamond Quality Using the 4 C’S
Now that you know the 4 Cs of Diamond Quality, you may be wondering how exactly you go about deciding which diamond is right for you. Along with understanding the 4 Cs, you should also know how to use them together to find your perfect diamond.
Here are some tips to consider when choosing the right diamond based on the 4 Cs:
- Choose lab grown diamonds: Lab grown diamonds are carbon diamonds that have been grown in a laboratory, much like flowers grown in a greenhouse. They’re exactly the same optically, chemically and physically, but cost a significant amount less. Plus, they’re better for the environment and people compared to mined diamonds. Choosing lab just makes sense.
- Opt for just below a 1 or 1.5-carat diamond: To save on the cost of your diamond choose a carat weight just below a 1-carat or 1.5-carats. You can also choose just below a quarter carat weight, though the savings won’t be as large. The key is to choose a slightly lower carat weight without compromising on the visual size.
- Choose Very, Very Slightly, or Very Slightly Included: When looking to get the best quality at the most affordable price, consider choosing a Very Slightly Included diamond. A VVS or VS diamond will have inclusions that will most likely be unnoticeable to the untrained eye, meaning you can get the look and quality you want for less. In some cases, you may even be able to opt for a SI diamond without inclusions being visible.
- Opt for a G or H color: Similar to choosing a Slightly Included diamond, opting for a very slight color can save you money without it being visible. A, G or H color is just below a colorless diamond, saving you money without the yellow tint being visible to the eye.
Each of these tips can help you choose the best diamond quality at the best possible price point. Keep in mind that diamond quality is all about preference, especially when considering how to properly wear a ladies’ wedding band. While some couples might want to opt for spending more on the absolute perfect diamond, many are willing to slightly adjust their quality preferences to save a little on the overall cost. The choice is yours to make.