One of the most significant purchases you’ll make in your lifetime, an engagement ring symbolizes an eternal promise and commitment to your partner. Understanding the 4 Cs of diamond quality and additional factors like shape, setting, ethical sourcing and budget can help you find the perfect diamond to complete your bridal ensemble.
1. Carat Weight
A diamond’s carat weight is a measure of its size. A round diamond of one carat will weigh approximately 0.2 grams. However, carat weight alone doesn’t always correlate with a diamond’s appearance, as some diamond shapes appear larger than others for the same carat weight, according to Jewelers of America. For instance, ovals, emeralds, and pear shapes appear largest for their weight while cushion cut diamonds look smallest.
When you’re deciding on a carat weight, consider your partner’s preferences and budget. If she wants a big diamond, you’ll need to be prepared for a larger price tag. On the other hand, if your partner has her heart set on a smaller diamond, you can save money by balancing the other Cs (color, clarity, and cut) carefully.
While the size of a diamond can affect its value, you should also think about how your partner will wear her ring. Does she prefer a modern, sleek design or a more traditional look? Also, does she tend to wear more silver or gold jewelry? These factors can impact how big a diamond will feel on her finger and how she’ll perceive its size.
Once you’ve established a target carat weight, you can start to whittle down your options by adjusting the other Cs. For example, if you want a bright white diamond but don’t have the budget for a full carat, try dropping down to VS2 clarity or even SI1 if you’re willing to accept visible inclusions.
Also, consider a diamond’s cut grade, which will be listed on its GIA grading report. Diamonds with a deeper cut can often be larger than those with shallower cuts, which means you’ll get more bang for your buck without sacrificing quality.
The next important factor when selecting a diamond for your engagement ring is its shape. This may seem a little obvious but there are many factors that come into play when choosing a diamond shape. The shape of a diamond can reveal a lot about the wearer, their culture, and their style. If you’re extremely particular about this, Kush diamonds are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.
There are a number of different diamond shapes to choose from, each with their own unique look. Round diamonds are a popular choice because of their stunning sparkle and ability to accommodate almost any ring setting. They also hide warmth and inclusions better than other shapes, allowing you to choose a higher carat weight without sacrificing clarity or color.
Oval diamonds are another beautiful choice, balancing both modern and classic styles with their elongated design. They can highlight a long slender finger and are perfect for the woman with a flair for all things creative & individualistic.
Princess cut diamonds offer a more contemporary, geometric look with their square-cut silhouette. They are a great choice for the woman who appreciates elegance, simplicity and tradition all in one.
Emerald and Asscher shaped diamonds (also called step cut diamonds) have less brilliance than other diamond shapes but are known for their sophisticated elegance and superior strength. They are ideal for a contemporary, minimal look and are great in a halo diamond ring.
Heart shaped diamonds are a symbol of love and romance, making them a popular choice for romantic couples. However, they make up a very small percentage of the overall diamond sales market and are difficult to find in larger sizes. If you decide to go with a heart-shaped diamond, make sure to prioritize the quality of the cut as this can significantly impact the diamond’s visual appearance.
Choosing the perfect diamond is about more than just picking out a sparkler. The Four C’s, or carat weight, color, clarity and cut, are critical elements to understand as you begin the search for your engagement ring.
While some shoppers will value one of these characteristics over the others, it’s really up to you and your partner to decide what is most important to you. For example, some people prefer near-colorless diamonds and would be willing to compromise on other aspects of the ring in order to get this look.
When deciding on the color of your diamond, it’s also important to consider the ring setting. Because a diamond is a crystal, it naturally picks up the color of its surroundings. This means that a diamond in a yellow gold band will have a slightly warmer tone than if it were set in white metal. Because of this, it is generally a good idea to select a lower color grade for a diamond in a yellow gold setting.
Diamond shape and facet style are also important to consider. Round brilliant diamonds are the most popular, but there are many other styles and shapes available, including fancy cuts like marquise, pear, oval, emerald and radiant. Fancy shapes have longer facets that can create an amazing mix of brilliance and fire. The cut of the diamond will also have a big impact on its color, with some shapes having more traditional sparkle than others.
Many of our clients also choose to add side stones to their ring design. These can be used to add extra sparkle, symbolism or even birthstones. We recommend selecting side stones that have a clarity grade similar to the diamond you’re choosing for your center stone.
Clarity describes the number and size of inclusions or blemishes in a diamond. It’s the hardest of the 4 C’s to determine without a magnifying glass.
As with color, some diamond shapes hide inclusions better than others. For example, brilliant-cut diamonds (round, princess, cushion, oval, pear, and marquise) and step cut diamonds (emerald, Asscher, and baguette) hide inclusions better than fancy shape diamonds.
If you’re looking for a truly eye-clean stone, choose a VS2 or SI1 for a round brilliant-cut diamond under 1 carat. These grades are considered “eye-clean” by GIA standards. For step-cut diamonds, you may want to move up one clarity grade, depending on the size and location of the inclusions, which are more visible than those in brilliant-cut diamonds.
You can also add extra sparkle to your diamond with a halo setting. This is where small diamonds are arranged around your center diamond, creating the illusion of a larger, more sparkly stone.
The most important thing to remember when shopping for a diamond is that no one-size-fits-all solution exists. Set your budget and carat weight minimums based on the recipient’s preferences, and then look for a diamond that meets those specifications in your price range. Then, decide whether you want to invest more in the other 3Cs or allocate some of that budget toward a bigger diamond, if possible.
If you find yourself in a position where the only way to meet your budget is to sacrifice some of the other C’s, try not to panic. Just remember that a less than flawless diamond is still gorgeous and will make your loved one proud to wear it forever. You might even be able to afford a higher carat weight if you make this concession.
The setting, or band, of an engagement ring can have just as much impact on the diamond’s overall appearance as its size. The type of ring will also affect how well it “sits” on the finger, which can be an important factor in some cases.
If she wants a big, bold look, but you can’t afford to go up in carat weight sizes, a jeweler can use a strategic setting to make the diamond appear larger to the eye. A halo setting with small accent stones, for example, can accentuate the size of a smaller center stone. Other settings can also amplify a diamond’s look, including any style with multiple side stones (like a three-stone ring, a la Meghan Markle).
Besides affecting the visual appearance of a diamond, the setting can also impact the color of the diamond. This is because the ring’s metal will reflect some of the diamond’s body color. This is especially true for yellow gold and rose gold settings, which can make a white diamond look a bit warmer.
Once you’ve figured out the diamond shape and quality your fiancee wants, it’s time to consider the ring’s setting. It should be an extension of her personality and style, and it should complement the center diamond she loves. The ring should also make a statement about your relationship and your shared values. If you’re worried about cost, don’t let the old rule that you should spend two months’ salary on a diamond guide your decision. Instead, make a budget based on your own priorities and decide how to allocate the rest of your funds to other important life goals. You can even ask your jeweler to work with you on a payment plan.