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A Modern Guide: the 4 C’s of Diamond Buying

Have you heard of the 4 C’s of Diamond Buying?

If so, I'm sharing a modern perspective on them. And, if not, here you'll learn why they may or may not matter to you when it comes to purchasing diamonds.

So, what are the 4 C’s? 



I’ve shared the traditional directives given when it comes to buying a diamond along with a new and modern perspective on the 4 C’s when it comes to purchasing non-traditional diamonds.



The precision of the cut and how the stone reflects light determines its entire look, feel, and oftentimes- its setting when one is shopping in this traditional (or antiquated) way. 


When it comes to selecting a stone and considering non-traditional stones, they can be categorized into two significant categories: brilliant cuts and rose cuts.  

BRILLIANT CUT: A brilliant cut is the modern cut and is used to maximize light and sparkle. These stones have a large pavilion, ending in a culet.  To speak simply, they are pointed at the bottom.  These stones must be set in a way to accommodate the height of the stone, thus making the ring and setting taller in profile. 

ROSE CUT:  Before stones were cut to the precision they are today, stones were cut by hand.  A rose cut is an older style that’s increasing in modern favor and one of my personal favorites - and for good reason. Rose cuts are flat on the bottom, as opposed to pointed, and they have less facets overall for a more understated sparkle. 

Because of the cut, rose cuts require a lower profile setting and generally sit lower on the hand - which are often more comfortable to wear for more active people than rings with a higher setting.  Additionally because a majority of the carat weight is held in the pavilion and culet of a traditionally cut stone, you can have a much larger footprint with a lower carat weight in a rose cut.  Overall rose cuts are revered for their unique attributes versus the often unnatural perfection that’s valued in more traditional stones. 



How clear is the diamond? The higher a clarity rating is - the more valuable a traditional diamond is considered to be. Some inclusions are visible to the naked eye, but sometimes they are not. The diamonds are rated for these imperfections which include things like blemishes (outside of the stone) and inclusions (inside of the stone). 

The GIA Diamond Clarity Scale is used and has six different categories with 11 specific grades. The clarity rating evaluates the imperfections and how they might enhance or detract from the overall appearance of the diamond.  Diamonds with the least or tiniest inclusions obtain the highest clarity ratings.


When thinking about the classic white diamond I often advocate for stones that fall into the SI category.  SI means “Slightly Included” with inclusions visible under 10x magnification.  In my opinion, if your jeweler is the only person who can see the inclusions then who cares!

However, there is a much larger trend of highlighting heavily and artfully included stones and cutting them into unique and dynamic shapes.  These “flaws” are now seen as beauty marks, making each stone truly unique and one of a kind.



Carat refers to the actual weight of the diamond. Each carat is measured by weight and there are exact weights that are considered premium when it comes to diamonds. The heavier a diamond is, the greater the carat weight will be. Higher carats will usually mean a greater expense.  Cut and clarity also contributes to determining the price.


Modern cuts including the rose cut allow you to see more of the carat weight. With brilliant cuts, a significant portion is hidden - but with a rose cut, you can see more of the stone.

This can actually make it appear bigger. So, just because something has a higher number of carats - doesn’t mean you can actually see it. Often times, the carat weight is held (and hidden) in the pavilion and culet of a traditionally cut stone.  Whereas, with a rose cut, you can have a much larger footprint with a lower carat weight. 



As white colorless diamonds are rare - they are often the most prized when individuals are sourcing gemstones in this traditional way. Diamonds are rated on a D-Z scale when it comes to color. Additionally, cuts and settings can affect the color of the stone. What made a white colorless diamond the most prized? Marketing. Read "How an Ad Campaign Invented the Diamond Engagement Ring." 


My thoughts? Buy what you love. Being near-colorless becomes much less important when setting a colorless or “white” diamond in yellow gold.  A completely colorless diamond will reflect the yellow color of the gold, masking its true color.  Truly colorless diamonds show their truest color when set in white gold or platinum.

The variety of colored and included diamonds is vast and why should these stones be chucked away just because they do not live up to these strict ideals. 

Recently, as a result of interest from customers and designers alike, gemstone cutters have been bringing a vast array of color to the market in shades of yellow, gray, brown, purple and pink.


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