When it comes to finding the perfect stone, all the 4Cs of diamonds are important; and therein lies the challenge. I have a feeling that you, like countless other soon to be fiances, are overwhelmed with the complexities of such a little stone.
"How can that tiny rock have so much going on!?!"
It truly is a daunting task to find a stone that will take her breath away at a price you can afford. Therefore, before you begin researching the 4cs of diamonds or doing any form of shopping, I believe it is important to have a basic understanding of the importance of the 4Cs and why you need to include all of them in your search:
What is Carat?
While many think of Carat as the physical dimensions of the diamond, it actually describes the weight of the stone. Granted, because there are such tight parameters for cutting diamond, there is a close connection between a diamond's weight and it's dimensions.
How does Carat affect the diamond?
While all the 4C's play a role in the cost of a diamond, one of the biggest pricing factors is the weight of the stone. This is because diamond are priced on a price per carat system, with pricing tiers that cover a range of carats. As the carat size grows larger the price per carat increases. This is because the larger the diamond the bigger the piece of rough diamond is needed; and rough diamonds become more rare as the size increases. Therefore, the smaller the diamond, the more affordable the price per carat.
How important is Carat?
Certainly, if there is a size that she has in mind you will want take that into consideration. However, that does not mean you can ignore the other 4C's. If you don't take the other characteristics into consideration, you will just end up with a big ugly stone. In which case, she probably would have rather you bought a smaller but nicer looking diamond. Remember, no bride has ever said "Wow! look at my big ugly diamond!" For her sake and yours, keep all the C's balanced!
What is Color?
Color describes the amount of color present in a stone; the less the color, the higher the quality. This is different from fancy colored diamonds such as yellow or blue, which are extremely rare and valuable.
How does Color affect the diamond?
The presence of color in a diamond makes the stone look muddy and dirty, which takes away from the stone's brilliance. However, that does not mean that all color is visible to the naked eye, especially to an untrained eye (which is most of us). Therefore, if you pick a diamond that is relatively absent in color, your savings will be significant, allowing you spend more on carat, cut, and clarity or the mounting.
How important is Color?
Simple. The more color present, the less brilliant the stone. The less brilliant the stone, the less attractive the stone.
What is Clarity?
Clarity describes the purity and structural integrity of the stone. It looks for the presence of:
The larger and more concentrated these impurities become, the lower the clarity.
How does Clarity affect the diamond?
As with all the Cs, there is a scale for judging the clarity of a stone, from excellent to poor. However, as we have discussed with the other Cs, not all flaws are visible. This is because diamond grading is done under extreme magnification that are far more powerful than the naked eye. If you are trying to stay within your budget, make sure you look for a diamond that is what we call eye clean; meaning it may have inclusions, but you can not see them with your eye.
How important is Clarity?
When a stone has flaws, the flaws can inhibit light from passing through the stone. The less light that passes through the stone, the darker and murkier the stone will look...NOT very attractive! Finding an 'eye clean' stone will give you a beautiful diamond that she will be thrilled with, at a price your budget will love!
SPECAIL NOTE: On a side note, be aware of anyone trying to sell you a "Clarity Enhanced" diamond (AKA fracture filled). This is a technique that injects the fractures of a diamond with material to fill the gap(s), giving the stone the 'look' of increased clarity. However, the material used to fill the fractures is susceptible to a variety treatments that are used during the setting process including heat, caustic materials, etc. These elements may cause the material to shatter the stone from within.
What is Cut?
As I am sure you are aware, all diamonds start out in their rough form and must be expertly cut, using precise measurements to bring out the natural brilliance of the stone. The precision of the cuts, or facets, is described using a scale that ranges from excellent to poor. Likewise, the cut also describes the type of faceting needed to create a specific diamond shape, including round, princess, emerald, marquis, pear, cushion, etc.
How does Cut affect the diamond?
If a diamonds cuts are not precise, then light can not properly through the stone, making it dark an murky.
How important is Cut?
When you are shopping for a diamond, you want a diamond that is filled with life, crisp facets, and very sparkly! However, if you have a poorly cut diamond, none of this will be visible. Rather, you will have a dark and murky stone.
As you can see, every one of the diamond 4Cs plays a major role in finding the perfect diamond. Hopefully, this will give you a renewed perspective on buying diamonds so you can learn the 4Cs diamonds with greater objectivity and understanding. I have a great guide that can get you started; it's thorough, easy to understand, and will help you find your perfect stone.