Buying an engagement ring is a big enough purchase to make anyone’s hands shaky. Fortunately, whether you are buying a diamond ring in Tokyo, Los Angeles or Katmandu, the 4Cs (cut, clarity, color, and carat) are a universal standard of quality that can help you evaluate stones on a level playing field. If you are a novice buyer speaking the 4Cs can make your first foray into the world of diamonds a little more confident.
The most complex of the qualities to evaluate and describe, cut is the only feature that depends on human expertise. The cut, or faceting, is what transforms a diamond from a rough stone into a jewel. A diamond’s brilliance, fire, and reflectivity all depend on its shape. Symmetry, the precision with which the facets are created; proportion, how the facets are balanced in relation to the whole and luster are also important in highlighting the stone’s best natural qualities.
Round, oval and marquis are the three most traditional shapes for an engagement ring. Princess, emerald, asscher, radiant, pear, heart and cushion are known as “fancy” shapes and have recently gained in popularity.
Most diamonds come with tiny imperfections that are a result of the crystallization process. These can be dark or light spots, cracks or scratches. Stones are rated for clarity across five main categories. Stones with few imperfections are the most valuable.
The best color for a diamond is no color at all. During the formation process, crystals can take on color as a result of exposure to various elements as well as pressure. A scale from D, least color, to Z, most color, is used as a ranking device. Descending the scale, diamonds take on shades of yellow, gray or brown.
Diamonds are weighed in carats. There are 100 points in each carat. A diamond’s value increases with its weight. However, value also depends on how the diamond is rated in the other three categories.
An introduction to the 4Cs is a great way to get acquainted with diamonds rings. When you visit a jeweler in Los Angeles, you’ll learn even more about these fascinating stones.