Choosing the right lab diamond engagement ring based on the 4 Cs can seem like a daunting task. After all, how do you know the quality that’s right for your visual preference and budget?
When it comes to choosing a grade in each of the 4 Cs, there are some characteristics that are more important than others.
We put together a guide to choosing the right ring with the 4 Cs of Diamonds. From diamond cut grade to color, carat to clarity, you’ll understand each diamond characteristic in-depth to make an informed decision for your forever adornment.
What Are the 4 Cs of Diamonds?
A diamond’s quality is determined by the 4 Cs. These characteristics help to gauge the rarity of a diamond, informing the price point and choosing the right ladies’ wedding band.
- Cut: The quality of a diamond’s angles, proportions, symmetrical facets, brilliance, fire, scintillation and finishing details.
- Color: Refers to the lack of color present.
- Clarity: Evaluates how clean a diamond is from both inclusions and blemishes.
- Carat: Measures the weight of a diamond in grams.
These qualities are the key components that impact the look and feel of a diamond. While each is important in its own right, there is a difference between important and most important.
The 4 Cs of Diamond By Order of Importance
Before digging into which of the 4 Cs is most important, you first need to understand what each one stands for. Let’s dive into each of these so you have a better understanding of each and how they affect the look of wearing a ladies’ wedding band.
Diamond cut refers to the symmetry of how it is cut, specifically 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 Gemological Institute of America (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 is the most important of the 4 Cs grading scale as it affects the overall appearance of a diamond and how it reflects and refracts light.
Diamond color refers to the lack of color present. 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 GIA color scale ranges from D to Z, with D being colorless, and Z containing noticeable brown or yellow tint.
Colorless diamonds below Z are considered a fancy color. The price of a diamond is weighed heavily on how rare the color is. While a Z color diamond will be much more affordable than a D, fancy color diamonds begin to rise in price after Z.
Color grade is the second most important of the 4 Cs as color can impact the look of a diamond.
Diamond clarity evaluates how clean a diamond is from both inclusions and blemishes. Diamond clarity is graded by the GIA using the following scale:
- Flawless (FL): No inclusions and no 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.
Diamond clarity grade is the third most important 4 C. This is because minor imperfects, while at times visible, impact the appearance less than cut and color.
Diamond carat weight measures the weight of a diamond—commonly confused with size. A diamond is weighed in grams. For example, a 1-carat diamond equals 0.2 grams.
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.
Diamond carat weight is the fourth most important as it focuses on personal preference. While the average diamond is around 1-carat, a smaller or larger carat weight will look just as stunning and won’t impact the quality.
How the 4 Cs Work Together
While looking at the 4 Cs in order of importance is helpful when prioritizing the characteristics that impact quality, it’s also important to understand how they work together—especially when shopping for a diamond engagement ring.
Though they all include aspects that are important on an individual level, they also work together to make up overall quality. For example, while a Flawless diamond will have no imperfections and be inclusion-free, a Flawless diamond with a K color will appear yellow. This is why many couples choose a middle-of-the-line diamond in all 4 Cs instead of a perfect grade in one area and a low grade in another.
Here are some tips to consider when evaluating all of the 4 Cs and choosing a diamond based on overall quality.
- Choose an Excellent, Very Good, or Good cut grade: With cut being the most important of the 4 Cs, it’s crucial to opt for a good grade. An Excellent, Very Good and Good cut, while not perfect, will offer you the quality you’re looking for at a slightly lower cost than Ideal.
- Choose a slightly higher color grade than clarity: Since color is more important than clarity, many couples opt for a slightly higher color grade and compromise slightly on clarity. This is because color is more easily seen to the naked eye than imperfections.
- Choose the carat weight last: When prioritizing quality over size, it’s important you decide on the other 4 Cs before deciding on carat weight. This will ensure the quality of the diamond is up to your standards, and you can then choose the carat based on how your budget measures up to the quality of your choice.
Which 4 C Is Most Important to You?
Though most jewelers would agree on the order of importance when it comes to the 4 Cs, it all comes down to your preference when shopping for an engagement ring. To some, carat weight might be most important. To others, it could be clarity.
The most crucial thing to consider when searching for the best diamond for a halo engagement ring or eternity band is your personal opinion. After all, you or your significant other will be the one wearing it every day. It’s essential you both feel confident in your purchase and the features that are most important to you.