You think you’ve found the diamond of your dreams: the ring that will make your partner fall in love all over again, the earrings that she’s been pining over for years. But then… it’s lackluster. It doesn’t sparkle, shine, or dazzle as you expected. What’s the problem? Choosing quality diamonds is about more than the 4 C’s. It’s about understanding, and prioritizing, those characteristics to ensure you find the right stone. Never be disappointed: learn to weed out lesser quality diamonds.

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The 4 Cs — And The Most Important C

The 4 Cs of diamonds refer to:

  • Color. Experts typically regard color as the second most important characteristic when choosing quality diamonds. The grade chart runs from the ultra-rare “absolutely colorless” to the significantly less valuable “Noticeable Color.” For the best value, look for a “Near-Colorless,” or grades G-J. There will be no color to the naked eye. If you’re able to spend more, you will get more with a “Colorless” grade D-F. Even under magnification, no color is discernable.


  • Clarity. Diamonds contain imperfections, called “inclusions.” These can be so minute that they are virtually undetectable under 10x magnification (as in rare IF and FL grade diamonds). In other diamonds, inclusions are more noticeable at 10x magnification, or even visible to the naked eye. The best option is to choose an “eye clean” diamond with no inclusions visible to the naked eye.

  • Carat. Carat is the diamond’s weight. Obviously, the higher the weight, the higher the price. However, you can “cheat” carat a bit. If you choose a better cut, it compensates for a smaller carat. A well-cut diamond reflects light off the top, making it appear larger and more dazzling.

  • Cut. Cut is crucial. It is the most important of the Cs in terms of the quality, and enjoyment, you can expect from your diamond. While some people use “cut” and “shape” interchangeably,  they are not the same. Shape is, for example, round, oval, pear, etc. Cut refers to the symmetry, geometrical proportions, and polish. The cut is so important because it affects the dispersion of light, how light reflects, and the overall brilliance.

When a diamond cutter works with a rough stone, he must weigh the value of delivering the best cuts with getting the most carats. Often, the cutter will reduce cut quality to increase yield. Why? Because most people are willing to pay for a bigger diamond -- even if it is not cut as well. There’s a perception that bigger is better when it comes to diamonds. This is not strictly true. Melee diamonds, for example, are smaller diamonds (0.001-0.18 carats) but they are precision-cut to maximize sparkle and shine. They can serve as a stunning accompaniment to halo settings or as elegant accent pieces.

Choosing quality diamonds requires that you know the ABCs of the four Cs. Remember, cut is king. If you are seeking to maximize value within your budget, opt for a quality cut. It is truly the foundation of quality and beauty.

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