Engagement Ring 101 – Getting to know the four Cs

If you thought searching the world for your soulmate was hard, just wait until you pluck up the courage to take the next step and propose. You’ll most likely need nerves of steel to pop the question, but before you even think about getting down on one knee comes the all-too-terrifying engagement ring search. Perhaps the most daunting purchase of your entire life – but it doesn’t have to be.

While there is no such thing as a “wrong” engagement ring – a diamond is still a diamond and it signifies a commitment no matter what – there are a few things you need to be aware of before splurging. An informed decision is the best decision, after all.  And who knows, the ring might even be enough to sway someone’s decision in one direction or another. We’re just saying – anything is possible – so it’s important to know what you’re searching for.

Just like your soon-to-be fiancée, it can take some time and dedication to find the right engagement ring. You took your time getting to know the love of your life, so why should the ring that will eternally sit on her finger be any different? But have no fear, because by the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll be so confident with your engagement ring search thanks to your newfound knowledge.

There are a few things you need to know about each and every diamond. We call them “the four Cs.” Nice and easy to remember. Without overwhelming you with too much information, here is everything you need to know in a simple and not so frightening way.

Carat

Perhaps the most well-known aspect of any diamond is the carat. A common misconception is that the carat is related to the size, but it’s actually related to the weight. One carat is equal to 0.2 grams, which is about the weight of a paperclip, which is a nice trick we use when trying to estimate how heavy the diamond is.

PRO TIP: If you want to get the most out of your budget, we would recommend something known in the biz as “buying shy”. Don’t ask us why it’s called that, but stay with us. Buying shy means selecting a carat weight which is slightly below the whole and half carat sizes. Basically, it means instead of a 2.0-carat diamond, maybe look for a 1.9-carat, or instead of a 1.5, look for carats that are slightly under such as 1.35 or 1.40 for example. The difference in size is so minuscule that it’s unlikely to be noticed by the naked eye, but the difference in price could be gargantuan.

We like to consider both cut and carat together when making a decision. A larger carat teamed with a poor cut grade actually looks smaller than a smaller diamond with a higher cut grade. Which brings us onto our next C.

Cut

This is the fun bit. We use the word fun loosely of course. Your girlfriend may have already pointed out a cut she likes, which will make your decision a whole lot easier. If she hasn’t, then it’s down to you to choose a shape that you think she will love.

Round is the most popular shape if you want to play it safe, although Princess and Cushion cuts are proving very popular in this modern day as well. If you think your lady wants something that takes up more of her finger, perhaps look for an Oval or Marquise shape. Pear shapes create a slimming effect on the finger, which could also be something to think about. And of course, what true romantic would be able to resist a Heart shape?!

But it isn’t just about the shape – the actual cut is a very big deal as a poor cut could affect the sparkle and result in a dull diamond. Not what you want. Look for ‘very good’ or ‘good’ cuts if you want something sparkly yet budget friendly.

Color

This is pretty important, as it’s proven that the color – or lack thereof – is the next thing the naked eye notices after the initial sparkle. In a nutshell, you want the color grade to be as high as your budget allows. D is the rarest and highest color grade, meaning it is colorless. E-F grades are virtually colorless, and are also regarded as extremely high grades. G-H are also pretty impressive, with hints of color only really detectable under close inspection by an expert, usually when paired alongside a higher grade diamond. I-J are referred to as “near colorless” and have very slight warmer tones to the color. K-Z is referred to as having “noticeable color”, with more yellow appearing the further down you go.

Clarity

Clarity is probably the least important C as it refers to the minor imperfections found in the individual diamond. However, they’re so minuscule and in most cases not even visible to the naked eye, hence why it’s not as important as the other Cs. Here are the letters and numbers you need to know about:

Flawless and internally flawless

FL: No visible blemishes (only 1% of diamonds come under this category.)

IF: Very slight blemishes (again, very rare, with only 3% of diamonds falling under this.)

Very very slightly included

VVS1: Few minuscule inclusions

VVS2: Slightly more minuscule inclusions .

Very slightly included

VS1: Very difficult for the naked eye to see minor inclusions

VS2: Difficult for the naked eye to see minor inclusions, in most cases.

Slightly included

SI1: Inclusions may occasionally be visible to the naked eye

SI2: Inclusions likely to be seen by the naked eye upon close inspection.

And there you go. Not so scary now, is it?

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