Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend: 4C's Refresher

I am more than sure you have heard about the 4C’s of a diamond.   The cut, clarity, color and carat of a diamond all comprise specific details that culminate the beauty of the stone.  As much as we love to look at these pretty and sparkly jewels, how many of us know the details behind each ‘C’?  If diamonds are a girl’s best friend then we should know every little element the makes our friend so special.  Last weekend I took a trip to do some research at a few jewelry stores to learn about diamond engagement rings.  When doing research I always say start at the top and work your way down.  I spent time in Tiffany & Co. and Cartier learning what makes their diamonds unique compared to all the others on the market.  I learned why they are worth their price tag even if in the end you a portion of the cost will be paying for the name.  Let’s blend beauty and brains and learn a few major points that can help when shopping for a diamond.

Let’s review the 4C’s

Cut, clarity, color and carat (weight) as a whole affect the magnificence of a diamond. At Tiffany the 4C’s are considered ‘the presence’ of the diamond.

A rule to remember here is that “bigger is not always better.”   The cut is one of the most important factors in determining the worth of a diamond. The cut defines the symmetry and balance of the diamond.  When a stone is cut to maximize brilliance and light dispersion it usually loses size. This is because the facets cut into the diamond determines the beauty of the stone. This always works conversely so if a stone is cut larger you may lose some of the brilliance and beauty.

Tiffany diamonds have no more than 57 to 58 facets to maximize the return of light. More facets than this tends to take away from the affect so be wary if someone tries to talk you into believing otherwise. 

Clarity measures the flawlessness of a diamond. A diamond’s clarity rating has a direct effect on a diamond’s beauty and price. All diamonds have imperfections called inclusions and blemishes.  A stone is considered ‘flawless’ if under certain magnification no internal or external imperfections are visible.  Flawless diamonds are very rare and priced accordingly.  

The rating scale used at more upscale stores is the GIA scale.  At places such at departments stores like Macy’s you may find a different scale.  See full GIA scale here. Higher end jewelry stores usually on take diamonds of a VS1 (slight inclusions) to FL (flawless).


The term color is a bit misleading because diamonds are characterized for their lack of color.  Any color found in a diamond is seen as an impurity and decreases the value of the stone.  Color scales rate from levels “D” (colorless) to “Z”.  Tiffany only accepts diamonds with a rating of I or better while Cartier is more exclusive only accepting those grading “D” to “H”.  The scale below gives more detail.

We all know this one!!  The weight of a diamond is measured in carats.  A carat is equal to .20 grams.  Again, remember what we learned about the cut BIGGER IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER.  Carat weight alone does not determine the stones value.  All of the 4Cs determines this.  A smaller diamond that meets all the standards of the 4C’s can easily cost more than a larger diamond with inferior standards.

Tiffany measures diamonds to 1/1000th of a carat.  I researched and calculated but the most this means to me is that 1 carat equals 1/5000 grams or .0001 carat.

Even with such beautiful things as diamonds there is a dark side.  Unfortunately, not all diamonds are mined in fair and safe {as safe as a mine can be} conditions.  Any diamond you buy should be certified and you will receive a certificate.  If there is no certificate there is a chance that the diamond could have come from the black market or be what is known as a blood diamond.  Just be very careful as no one wants to help profit an industry that endangers others.   The certificate also ensures your warranty.  Read it thoroughly and carefully.  Make sure every aspect is understood. 

There is an app for that!
Tiffany has an engagement ring finder.  You can browser rings, determine your ring size, and view carats in actual size.  Look up the Tiffany & Co. engagement ring finder in the app store.  It’s pretty cool!

One piece of advice I would give is stay open minded!  There were rings that I saw online and was not drawn to the style, but when I tried them on they looked great on my hand.  It does not cost a thing to try on a ring.  Try as many as you like until you find the one that speaks to you.


  1. i like that article so much..because i can find more about diamond for my rings..thanks

  2. Really helpful and informative post! My husband used to work in a jewelry store in high school, so I was pretty lucky to have an educated buyer :) With such a big purchase, it's important that guys know what they're buying!