Choosing an engagement ring often comes with an overwhelming amount of pressure, which can make your choice more difficult than it should be. It may feel like you’re going in blind and without guidance, but there are a few simple points to consider that will make the process easier.
Find the love of your life the diamond engagement ring of their dreams by using the four C’s – cut, clarity, colour and carat – as a guideline.
Often confused for the shape, the cut of diamond engagement rings is one of the first things you should consider when shopping. It’s more to do with how the diamond reflects light than the actual shape, factoring in its proportions, symmetry and polish.
Types of cut include:
- Poor cut– Has been cut either too deep or too shallow, which has made it lose much of its light.
- Fair cut – Reflects a small amount of light, great value for money.
- Good cut– Reflects the majority of light.
- Very good cut– Similar to an ideal cut, they reflect a great majority of light but are at a more affordable price.
- Ideal or excellent cut – The best quality out there, reflects all or near all of the light that enters the diamond.
The cut is typically judged on how the light is dispersed and reflected by the diamond, as well as the sparkle. Ideal and excellent cuts are both rare, which is shown by the expensive price point. Good cuts and very good cuts are of great quality but a more affordable price.
Despite their beauty, diamonds aren’t entirely flawless. Better known as inclusions or blemishes, tiny marks are often found in diamonds, no matter how much you polish them.
The clarity grade is a guide as to how blemished the diamond is. Factors that make up this number include the amount and size of the inclusions as well as their position, colour and nature.
However, sometimes these marks can’t be seen at first glance and you’d have to inspect them closely to notice. Diamonds are naturally occurring, so there’s unique beauty in their inclusions – having them isn’t a bad thing, merely a preference.
The commonly used clarity scale is as follows:
- I1– The diamond has many obvious inclusions that can be easily spotted. This is an affordable option for those who have prioritised other factors, such as cut or carat.
- SI1& SI2 – Two different levels that signify slight inclusions that are usually visible to the eye.
- VS1& VS2– Very minor inclusions that can’t be seen with the naked eye. A very popular choice as, while they have inclusions, they can’t be seen unless magnified x10.
- VVS1&VVS2– Hardly any inclusions. If the diamond does have any blemishes, they can’t be seen without magnification.
- FL& IF– No visible flaws, even when magnified.
The ring doesn’t have to be perfect – as mentioned, some people like the natural imperfection shown on theirs.
You may have thought that all diamonds are clear, but this isn’t actually the case. Many cheaper stones have a natural yellow or brown tinge – the more visible the colour, the less the diamond is worth.
The colours are differentiated by the GIA colour scale, which groups them together into categories.
The colour scale is as follows, with D being the most colourless and Z being the least:
- Colourless – D, E, F
- Near colourless– G, H, I, J
- Faint yellow – K, L, M
- Very light yellow– N, O, P, Q, R
- Light yellow– S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z
Most people dislike the yellow effect and prefer a colourless or near colourless ring, which is why many choose any letter from D to J.
Many of us know that the higher the number of carats, the more expensive the ring is, but what does it actually refer to?
Well, a carat is a unit of mass and is used to describe the weight of the diamond.
It’s important to note that a high number of carats doesn’t necessarily mean a big diamond as, again, it only signifies the weight. The shape and cut of the diamond will be the main two things to dictate the size of the diamond, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking a higher number will necessarily equate to a bigger ring. Certain cuts will appear bigger when a heavier carat is used while in other cuts, the same carat will look smaller.
If you have no clue which carat looks best, it’s worth comparing them side by side. You can pop into a jewellery shop to do so or check out an online guide to diamond carats to get a better idea.
Once you’ve decided on which of the four C’s you want to prioritise, picking the perfect diamond engagement ring should be a lot easier. Remember to factor in your loved one’s personality as well as practical things, such as where they work, when you’re making the big decision.