Beyond The Four C's: How To Choose Loose Diamonds

Author The Diamond Team at Long's
Date Jul 14, 2014

Beyond The 4 Cs: How To Choose Loose DiamondsFinding the right diamond is anything but an exact science. Since buying loose diamonds for the first time can be a thrilling but anxious experience, how can you be sure you’re making the right decision? It all starts with the right education.

You’ve heard of the four C's – Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat. But what do they mean? And how important are they in relation to each other? If you have researched diamonds and engagement rings online, you may have noticed loose diamonds with identical 4Cs selling at prices that range by 30% or more. How can that be? The diamonds are in fact different.

Glance at the certificate and you’ll see important terms like symmetry, polish, table & depth percentage, fluorescence, girdle and culet measurements and more. These factors greatly affect the beauty and value of a diamond.

We are committed to providing you an expert diamond education and helping you get it right. Read on for a crash course in the 4Cs and our expert tips to choosing a diamond.

Step 1 of 5: Let’s start with shape

Diamonds come in a variety of shapes, ranging from traditional rounds and ovals to square princess shapes, rectangular emerald shapes, cushions, and more. Which shape is right for you? It’s purely a question of style and personal preference.

Our Advice:
Shape refers to the geometry of the diamond such as circle, square, oval, etc. Every shape is uniquely beautiful, and choosing the right shape is simply a question of style.

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Step 2 of 5: What is the right diamond size?

A diamond’s size is most commonly measured by weight in units called carats. This means that carat weight doesn’t measure the physical dimensions of the stone, so a pair of one carat stones can have very different measurements and look noticeably different depending on the cut. Diamond cutters are given the opportunity to cut a diamond as big as they can to maximize weight or as beautiful as they can to maximize performance. The trick is to find the right balance of carat weight and cut that works for you.

Our Advice:
Yes, size matters, but bigger is not always better. Picking the right diamond size depends on a number of factors such as your budget, the trade-off between the other C’s (color, clarity and cut) and the ring style you choose. That’s why you should compare diamonds side by side to judge the visual differences for yourself. Our diamond experts will help you find the right balance between size, budget and beauty.

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Step 3 of 5: What color should I choose?

Your diamond’s color was determined when it was formed millions of years ago. Diamonds with less color are rarer and therefore more valuable, but diamonds with faint color can be equally as beautiful as colorless diamonds when partnered with the right ring setting. At Long’s, our standards of color are very high and we typically carry diamonds within the D – J range on the GIA color grading scale.

Our Advice:
The difference between each color grade is very slight to the naked eye. A well-cut diamond can appear to have a higher color grade than it actually does, and the type of metal used in your ring’s setting will also affect your diamond’s true color.

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Step 4 of 5: What clarity should I choose?

Clarity represents the amount of inherent characteristics, which are called inclusions, that appear in your diamond. Increased clarity translates to increased rarity, and therefore higher value. A flawless diamond is extremely rare, but your diamond does not have to be flawless to still be stunning. In fact, diamonds with slight inclusions can be just as beautiful as a flawless diamond to the naked eye.

Our Advice:
When choosing clarity, we recommend starting by examining and comparing diamonds with your naked eye. Most inclusions are not visible unless seen under the magnification of a loupe or microscope. High-clarity diamonds hold their value very well, but lower-clarity diamonds can be just as beautiful if set correctly in a ring. It’s a question of what you value and what looks right to you.

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Step 5 of 5: Make sure to see diamonds in person.

The 4Cs give you a basic understanding of diamonds, but they are oversimplified. The 4Cs act like a compass pointing you in the right direction rather than a map leading you to the right diamond. At Long’s, we believe there is only one way to be certain about your diamond choice: to get an education that includes learning how to trust your eyes. Remember, she won’t be wearing a diamond certificate on her finger, she’ll be wearing a beautiful diamond ring.

Our Advice:
When choosing a diamond ring, the ring setting is just as important as the diamond itself. While viewing diamonds, be sure to browse our engagement ring styles from solitaires to three-stones, pave and more! Make an appointment to see diamonds in person.

…What about Cut?

Cut has the biggest impact on your diamond’s beauty. Unfortunately, the cut grade on a diamond certificate does not tell the whole story. The only way to fully understand your diamond’s cut is to see the difference in person and trust your eyes.

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…What about Price?

Price is something that is really determined by various combinations of the 4Cs. You will always be able to find a beautiful diamond in your budget, but it's important to see it in person to understand how price is affected by the diamond's characteristics.

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