Finding the right engagement ring for your bride-to-be is the hardest part of planning a proposal. Diamonds come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors, so there are countless options to choose from. Don’t simply select the first diamond you lay eyes on—take the time to search for the best diamond you can find. What should you look for? Here’s how to choose a quality diamond:
What to Keep in Mind While Shopping For A Quality Diamond
Before learning how to choose a quality diamond, it’s important to note that there are several factors to keep in mind while searching for the best diamond, including:
- Personal Style
- Bride-to-Be’s Preference
High quality diamonds come at a price. You don’t need to break the bank in order to purchase the best diamond available. The goal is not to look for the highest quality diamond in the world, but rather the highest quality diamond that is within your budget.
Buyers should have their budget determined before shopping. Knowing your budget is the most important factor because that flawless five-carat Asscher cut may be the diamond you really want, but the price point may say otherwise.
Don’t ever push the budget beyond your personal comfort zone. While financing is always available to make a purchase less intimidating, those monthly payments must be manageable, and they shouldn’t top your car payment or mortgage.
Once you’ve figured out how much you want to spend, picking a diamond becomes a fun treasure hunt.
Buying the right diamond means selecting the highest quality stone in a shape and style that reflects your bride-to-be’s personality. Don’t choose a diamond—no matter how high quality it is—unless it reflects your bride-to-be’s style.
Has your bride-to-be ever mentioned what diamond shapes she likes the best? If not, you may want to ask her friends or family members or see if she has a secret Pinterest board where she saves photos of her favorite rings. Doing this detective work will ensure you choose the right diamond for her.
Now, you’re ready to learn how to assess a diamond’s value and find the highest quality diamond for your bride-to-be.
Let the Four C’s Guide You During Your Search
A basic understanding of the Four C’s (cut, color, clarity, and carat) is the key to finding the perfect diamond. Why? You can learn a lot about the quality of a diamond by analyzing its cut, color, carat, and clarity.
The cut of a diamond is essentially its shape, proportions, symmetry, and facet placement. The color refers to the absence of color within the diamond, whereas the clarity describes the presence of internal and external flaws. Finally, the carat is a unit of measurement that describes the diamond’s weight.
Each of these four factors can affect the quality and value of a diamond. You don’t need to look for a diamond that has the best cut, color, and clarity and the largest carat weight. Instead, it’s best to learn which of these factors you should prioritize so you can get the highest quality diamond within your budget.
What’s more important—the color, clarity, cut, or carat? The answer to this question varies depending on the shape of the diamond. Use these helpful shape guides to narrow down your options and find the perfect diamond:
The Classic Cuts: Round Brilliant and Princess
Round brilliant and princess shapes are the most popular shapes for diamonds. In fact, the round brilliant diamond accounts for over 75% of all diamonds sold in the world. The perfect circle of the round brilliant is cut in a way that allows the diamond to reflect the most light to elicit that ideal sparkle.
Princess cuts are also cut to reflect optimum brilliance and fire, but they are square-shaped with well-defined corners and a flat top.
If you’re shopping for one of these classic cuts, here’s what you should look for when it comes to the Four C’s:
- Clarity. These particular shapes disguise internal flaws better than other diamond shapes. Perfect IF (or internally flawless) clarities are not necessary for round and princess cuts. Opt for VS1 or VS2 (which stands for Very Slightly Included) if you need to downgrade on clarity. Avoid “I” grade stones, which have inclusions that may be seen with the naked eye.
- Color. Round brilliant and princess cut shapes hide hints of yellow or brown better than other shapes. For this reason, lower color grades are less noticeable on round or princess shapes and may be completely masked when set within yellow gold. If the budget allows, however, aim for mid-range color grades (G or H).
- Cut. The best feature of these shapes is their brilliance, and the cut plays an important role in creating this intense sparkle. If the cut is too deep or too shallow, the light won’t reflect as well. Pay attention to dimension and depth measurements so you can choose a blindingly beautiful round brilliant or princess cut.
- Carat. Round and princess cuts look beautiful in all carat sizes. Understand that while the difference between a three-quarter carat and a full-carat is quite minimal, the price point between the two is quite substantial. Princess cuts are typically priced lower per carat than most other shapes, so if size is important, you can maximize your money by choosing this shape.
The Bottom Line: Prioritize cut over color and clarity to get the most beautifully brilliant round or princess cut diamond for your bride-to-be.
The Fancy Shapes: Oval, Radiant, & Heart
Oval, pear, radiant, and heart-shaped diamonds are known as fancy shapes due to their whimsical and fun designs. These shapes are perfect for women who want to wear a unique diamond that makes a bold statement.
Minding the 4Cs is crucial when shopping for one of these fancy shaped diamonds. Here’s what to look for:
- Clarity. Fancy-shaped diamonds can hide inclusions and blemishes fairly well, so there’s no need to break your budget on a flawless diamond. You can go slightly lower on the clarity scale as long as you stay away from diamonds with visible inclusions.
- Color. Fancy-shaped diamonds will not hide color as well as classic cut diamonds. Slight hints of yellow may not be visible, but if you go too low on the color scale, the diamond will start to look warmer in color. For light metal settings such as white gold or platinum, opt for whiter color grades.
- Cut. The dimensions of the cut matter for all fancy shapes. If cut too long, the shapes look too thin. When the width overwhelms the length, the shapes distort. Pay close attention to the length-to-width ratios so you can choose the perfect shape. Symmetry is important as well, so look for a diamond that is perfectly symmetrical.
- Carat. Fine details of the shapes are lost on smaller-sized diamonds. For example, it is hard to see the unique outline of a heart shape if the diamond is too small. Make sure your fancy shaped diamond is on display by opting for at least half a carat.
The Bottom Line: The cut and carat weight are key on fancy-shaped diamonds. Color is somewhat important, but you don’t need to prioritize clarity.
The Vintage Shapes: Asscher, Cushion, Emerald, Marquise, & Pear
Vintage shapes like the Asscher, Cushion and Emerald provide throwback nostalgia to Art Deco opulence, while shapes like the Pear and Marquise go even further back in history. Think Gatsby’s parties, flappers and the Jazz Age or the height of the British and French Empires. These diamonds are elegant, wearable art. However, the shapes can be fastidious. Here’s what buyers must pay attention to when it comes to the Four Cs:
- Clarity. Most vintage cuts have large facets that make internal flaws very visible. For this reason, buyers should go as close to perfect as possible. Stay away from clarity grades lower than VS2.
- Color also becomes more obvious in these clear cut stones. Tinges of yellow will be much more obvious, no matter which color metal surrounds them. Opt for high color grades to keep diamonds as white as possible.
- Cut. The cut is another important factor to keep in mind when shopping for a vintage-shaped diamond since these shapes are known for their clean lines. Be mindful of the diamond’s proportions, and avoid diamonds that are too long or too short. Symmetry is very important, too. The facets should be parallel and the two sides of the diamond should be mirror images of one another.
- Carat. The beautiful shape of these diamonds will stand out even on smaller stones, so you don’t need to break your budget on a larger carat weight. Sacrifice heavy carats to keep the other areas close to ideal and within your price range.
The Bottom Line: Move carat to the bottom of your list of priorities and focus on clarity, cut, and color.
How to Verify the Four C’s of A Diamond
You can’t assess a diamond’s cut, color, clarity, or carat just by looking at the stone. Don’t rely on your eyes to determine the value of a diamond—ask the retailer to see a copy of the diamond’s Gemological Institute of America (GIA) certification instead.
The GIA is an independent third party that evaluates each diamond and prepares a report with a summary of its characteristics. This certification report provides information on the diamond’s cut, color, clarity, carat weight, and more. It even contains a diagram of the diamond so you can see the exact proportions, measurements, and the location of inclusions and blemishes. Having this information makes it easy to quickly assess the quality of a diamond.
Taking a look at this report also helps you verify that what the retailer is telling you about the diamond is true. Don’t purchase a diamond without asking to see its certification report first.
Start Your Search For the Best Diamond
Don’t let the process of searching for the best diamond overwhelm you. Look at it as an adventure instead. After all, finding the perfect diamond for your bride-to-be will be the most exciting treasure hunt of your lifetime.
To begin, simply use the loose diamond tool to see the wide selection of Brilliance’s highest quality diamonds. You can quickly find the type of diamond you’re looking for by filtering by cut, color, shape, clarity, carat, or price. After selecting a diamond, follow the steps to choose the perfect setting to complete your ring. Have fun discovering the best diamonds at Brilliance!