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How To Choose The Perfect Diamond Ring

Updated on July 13, 2012
Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom is a keen observer of life. She shares her personal experiences and opinions in helpful and often amusing ways.

Create A Ring as Individual As She Is

First Step: Romancing the Stone

So you're ready to pop the big question. Now comes a key test of how well you know your bride to be. Is your fiancee's taste more traditional, old-fashioned, avant-garde or modern? What shape diamond does she prefer? What size diamond can you afford? Are you willing to pay for qualities that increase the stone's value, even if you can't see them?

If' I've already lost you, I'm sorry. Diamonds are a girl's best friend (or so the song and movie tell us). But it's understandable that you know little to nothing about the many facets of this eternal symbol of love. Like it or not, these questions must all be answered as you search for the perfect diamond engagement ring for your true love.

In this hub we will be talking specifically about the 4 "Cs" of diamonds: Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat. Associated with these 4 Cs are a whole bunch of other letters and numbers (in other words, a veritable alphabet soup of grades on different scales).

Not to worry! You'll soon be an expert, ready to approach any jewelry store of diamond merchant with confidence!

Brilliant Cut Round

Emerald Cut Diamond

Pear Shaped Diamond

The" Four Cs" of Diamonds

The most obvious aspects of any diamond are its shape and its brilliance. While many people (including some jewelers!) confuse the terms "cut" and "shape" they are not the same thing. However, they are intimately related. And the majority of people (more than likely your fiance/fiancée included) use the term "cut of diamond" to define its shape.

Here are some of the most popular diamond shapes (aka cut):









Marquis Shaped Diamond

Princess Cut Diamond

Diamond Shapes

A Bit More About Diamond Shapes

Diamond Cut

First C: Cut

The actual cut of the diamond directly affects its brilliance (ability to bounce back or reflect light). Brilliance is an essential quality that can make your diamond worth more or worth less. More reflection = shinier (also known as having more "fire") = desirable. Cutting too steep or shallow sends the light in a different direction like a distorted mirror.

A diamond's cut is graded using the following scale:

  • Ideal-- highest quality, applies only to round diamonds, for those who demand the best (and are willing to pay for the best)
  • Premium -- also for the discerning diamond buyer who wants the best (but for a little less)
  • Very Good -- high brilliance but the jeweler varies the cut to achieve a bigger sized stone
  • Good -- provides excellent cost-savings without sacrificing quality or beauty
  • Fair & Poor-- much less brilliant, these diamonds are cut to maximize the carat weight (size) over other considerations

Second C: Clarity

Measuring the Stone's Flaws

Clarity is the presence or absence of flaws or imperfections in the diamond. The jeweler looks at the stone under 10x magnification to discover any Inclusions (flaws) that are not visible to the naked eye. Grades range from Flawless (completely free of inclusions and blemishes), to Included 3 (diamonds with large, heavy blemishes and inclusions that are visible to the naked eye). Diamonds with no or very few inclusions and blemishes are more highly valued because they have more clarity.

For grading purposes all flaws (both inclusions and blemishes) are called "inclusions." These can be internal flaws and/or surface flaws. Internal inclusions could result from air bubbles, cracks, and non-diamond minerals found in the diamond. Surface flaws or blemishes include scratches, pits, and chips

Diamond Clarity Grading System

  • F
    Flawless: No internal or external flaws. Extremely rare.
  • IF
    Internally Flawless: No internal flaws, but some surface flaws. Very rare.
  • VVS1-VVS2
    Very Very Slightly Included (two grades). Minute inclusions very difficult to detect under 10x magnification by a trained gemologist.
  • VS1-VS2
    Very Slightly Included (two grades). Minute inclusions seen only with difficulty under 10x magnification.
  • SI1-SI2
    Slightly Included (two grades). Minute inclusions more easily detected under 10x magnification.
  • I1-I2-I3
    Included (three grades). Inclusions visible under 10x magnification AS WELL AS to the human eye. Typically it is not recommend to buy diamonds in any of these last three grades.

Diamond Clarity Chart

Third C: Color

Color in a diamond refers to the presence (or absence) of natural coloration inherent in the stone. The most pure diamonds are super bright white or colorles.

Color is measured on a different scale than clarity, using GIA's (Gemological Institute of America) professional color scale.

GIA Color Scale

D, E, F are considered colorless

G, H, I, J nearly colorless

K, L, M faint yellow

N, O, P, Q, R very light yellow

S, T, U, V, W light yellow/ brownish

Obviously, the closer to white/colorless the diamond is graded, the more desirable and expensive the stone. Bear in mind, however, you don't have to pay a premium price for a beautiful stone. Even stones graded "I" are colorless enough that you won't detect any yellowing with the naked eye.

Another thought when evaluating a diamond based on its color: You can minimize color imperfections by choosing the right setting/jewelry to mount your stone in.

And, while I don't recommend trying to pass off an inferior stone on your fiancée, some people do prefer warmer-hued vs fiery white diamonds.

You'll Probably Want to Stay Within D- M

Fourth C: Carat

When viewing a newly engaged woman's ring, what's the first question people ask? It isn't about the diamond's clarity or color rating. Oh, no. They ask "How many carats is it?"

Unless you hang around with jewelers, chances are good that's the one and only question people will ask. It's not that the three other Cs don't matter -- they do. But size is the #1 visible gauge of the ring's worth or value.

So, besides the obvious (i.e., does she need a wheelbarrow to carry her diamond-bedecked finger around), here are some things to know about carats (not to be confused with carrots, the vegetable, or karats, the measure of purity in gold).

Diamonds are measured by weight. Weight is expressed in carats. One carat is equal to 200 milligrams, or 0.2 grams. (Great bit of trivia, but who cares, right?)

Basically, when we're talking about the carat weight of the stone, we're talking about its size. Size is far and a way the biggest criteria (next to shape) buyers use when selecting a diamond. engagement ring.

Carat weight takes into account the weight of each stone in the ring, as well as the overall weight of all stones. For example, you might have a 1-carat solitaire (that is, a single diamond). Or you might have a three-stone ring with a .75-carat diamond surrounded by two .25 carat stones. In that case the total carat weight would be 1.25 carats.

Carat Chart

The 4 Cs of Diamond Quality

In Summary

Like it or not, there's a lot more to diamonds than what you see on the surface! To get the best value for your engagement ring investment, it's worth taking the time to understand how diamond quality is assessed. Look beyond the shape and size and ask the jeweler to grade your selection's cut, clarity and color as well.

In the end, you'll probably have to make some trade-offs to get a high quality, large diamond that's still within your budget.But now you understand how the four Cs integrate to determine value.

Happy diamond hunting, and stay tuned. In the next hub we will be talking about the perfect setting for your perfect diamond.


What Kind of Diamond Says "You"?

Which shape (cut) is your favorite?

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    • profile image 

      2 years ago

      Interesting article. Thank you for sharing this content. They are my thanks.

    • Weldon Jewellers profile image

      Weldon Jewellers 

      6 years ago from Ireland

      good hub! i always tell people that the last thing to consider is love - you will wear this ring for a long time, so it's worth waiting till you find a ring you adore!

    • profile image

      ry b 

      7 years ago

      great blog. amazing details. too many consumers have no idea what makes a diamond valuable and only listens to the retailer or local jeweler. the price of diamonds varies on so many factors. thanks for the valuable insight.

    • SEO Expert Kerala profile image

      SEO Expert Kerala 

      8 years ago from KERALA

      mighty mom, to choose engagement ring is a very precious thing to do in ones life, as the aspects of engagement ring is too much in everyone's life so how to select that ring described very fantastically by you in this hub.

    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      8 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hello Jalene Rose,

      Good for you! Diamond earrings are nice bling, but there's something special about buying your own tires, isn't there?

      I hope that if/when love finds you again and you're in the market for an engagement ring, that you get EXACTLY what you want! MM

    • Jalene Rose profile image

      Jalene Rose 

      8 years ago from ~the center~

      Dear Mighty Mom,

      "Diamonds are a girls best friend" so the song goes.I once sold a pair of half carat earrings to a broker when I first became a single parent.Yup,the 'ex' gave 'em to me.I used the money to buy new tires for my ailing vehicle.And I've never regretted it yet.I loved that car ;)Off with the old,in with the new.More are right around the corner,I'm sure.

      I especially appreciate the diagrams beside the pictures of all the cuts.And value table you have included also.Thanks sincerely,

      ~Jalene Rose~

    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      8 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Aw. Is some beautiful lady getting an engagement ring for Christmas? Shhh. I won't tell! If I'm right, I do hope you will hub about it, DG! MM

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 

      8 years ago from UK

      Now this was helpful :-)

    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      8 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hello dear friend Cags. My sister has a pear shaped diamond and it is really distinctive and lovely. She has small fingers so it looks even bigger than it is.

      My next hub will be on the settings -- whether it's best to buy the ring "ready-made" or buy the stone(s) and setting separately. That's what my hubby did and he said it was a much better experience going through an independent jeweler than a mall store.

      But I know what you mean about the allure of diamonds.

      If you find someone worthy of you, that you feel is a complement to your life, then I hope you will find the perfect diamond for her! And of course chronicle the entire "affair" in hubs!

      Cheers and happy diamond hunting! MM

    • Cagsil profile image


      8 years ago from USA or America

      Hey Mighty Mom, that is the single most detailed hub I've seen about Diamonds. You certainly out-did yourself with this one. I like the "pear" shape Diamonds, because they are shaped like a tear-drop. I'm forever looking at Diamond rings whenever I'm in the Malls just browsing. The sparkle of them is awesome and really rare. Thank you for such a great hub. Thumbs up! :) I've bookmarked it, just in case, I come into the market to get one. :)

    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      8 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      I'm so glad you HAVE a Truelove (what a lovely term - I like that!). Eternity rings rock! Congrats and I hope you get everything you deserve, acaetnna! MM

    • acaetnna profile image


      8 years ago from Guildford

      Gosh this is amazing and so detailed, thanks Mighty Mum. Now to let my Truelove read your hub!! Another eternity ring may be on the cards!!!

    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      8 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hey Granny's House! I guess now we understand more about why they cost so darned much, eh?

      Thanks for visiting, friend. MM

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 

      8 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      Great hub! Well done. I have learned a lot about picking diamonds

    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      8 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Well that's subtle:-). But I hope it works and that you will soon be writing about your one-of-a-kind engagement! Thanks for visiting and commenting. MM

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      8 years ago

      Great hub! I'm going to forward his hub to my bf...just to give him a hint ;)

    • Mighty Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Reid 

      8 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hello jasper420. I hope you will, also. Good that you're getting started on your education so when the time comes you will know exactly what you want! Good luck and thanks for commenting. MM

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      very intresting topic love it hope some day ill have a dimond much like the ones shown here


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