How to Choose A Diamond: The 4 (Now 5) C's
We get it—finding what to prioritize in an engagement ring or larger diamond piece is an overwhelming process, full of intimidating jargon and technical terms. So we’re here to break it down, delving into the details of aboveground diamonds and simplifying the 4C’s that create a diamond’s value: cut, color, carat, and clarity, as well as bringing a fifth "C" to your attention.
A Diamond’s Symmetry, Proportion and Polish
The cut makes up a diamond’s symmetry, proportion and polish, with the quality of the cut directly corresponding to a diamond’s brilliance. Our Diamond Foundry cuts are graded on a scale from Signature Ideal, the highest grade (that’s “Excellent” by GIA standards), to Poor, the lowest grade. Whereas a good cut leads to maximum light return (a.k.a. what makes your stone reflect and shine), in a poorly cut diamond, light tends to go out through the bottom of the stone, leading to a duller appearance. While not one of the 4C’s, the diamond shape will impact the cut’s brilliance, so we recommend keeping the shape in mind when considering the cut.
Graded on the Absence of Color
This “C” is based on the absence of color within the diamond. A diamond’s value is based on a color scale ranging from D (perfectly transparent) to Z (pale yellow). To a naked or untrained eye, colorless to near colorless will show as clear— on the scale, that’s D through J. The D-F stones, however, are extremely rare, with nearly all diamonds on the market ranging from G-I. As such, our selection features diamonds I and above— offering only colorless and near colorless stones.
The Measurement of Diamond Weight
The most well-known “C” is slightly misunderstood—carat refers to a diamond’s weight, not size. The term comes from the word “carob”, the type of seeds historically used by diamond traders to measure diamond weight. For reference, one carat is about 0.2 grams, or the weight of a paper clip.
A Diamond’s Unique Imperfections
Clarity, determined by the number of inclusions (imperfections) in the stone, is more difficult for you to notice without the help of a magnifier. Flawless diamonds without any inclusions are extremely rare, which is why we suggest seeking diamonds graded SI1 and above with a higher clarity grading to deliver more brilliance, as internal spots and lines can affect how light passes through the stone.
5. Conflict-Free Origin
Aboveground Diamond Source
We like to consider the conflict-free origin of our diamonds the fifth ‘C,’ as the diamond source is just as important as the other grading techniques. Conflict-free diamonds are defined as those that have not fueled or financed war or violence. We eliminate any uncertainty by removing the mining process from the equation, using aboveground diamonds to ensure complete traceability on the human and environmental toll of sourcing.
Our Diamond Foundry diamonds are sustainably grown in California, chemically and compositionally equal to traditionally-mined diamonds, with the same one-of-a-kind inclusions, color scales and unique growth patterns. Individually graded on the 4C’s by a certified gemologist, you can feel good wearing our diamond designs as a symbol for a more ethical and sustainable future. Read more about the benefits of the fifth “C”’s here.
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How to Choose The Perfect Engagement Ring
Because the diamond is typically the most expensive part of an engagement ring purchase, it's easy to spend all your time finding the right diamond, causing the design of your ring to become an afterthought.
We believe the design and the diamond are equally important, so we also walk you through the engagement ring process in our How to Choose The Perfect Engagement Ring article. With this new knowledge in hand, you don’t have to get lost in the specs of the 4C’s, and can focus on crafting the perfect ring—we’re sure your partner will agree.