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How to Buy a Diamond: Looking at the 4 C's

You don’t need a degree in gemology to find that perfect diamond for the love of your life, although that would probably make your quest for this holy grail a snap!  Your mission is not rocket science, but it’s not a piece of cake either.  You want to get the best you can afford, and not sound like a total doofus talking to the sales rep.  The question is: what is the best?

A pricey (will she say “Yes”?) type of purchase like this needs some prior research.  And that’s what we’re here for.  So, ready to be enlightened?

The good news is that there is an actual system for diamond evaluation – it’s called the 4 Cs.  Each C refers to one of the diamond’s four most important characteristics—Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat—and each one’s quality is expressed in numerical and graded ratings.   The final value of a diamond is based on the combination of all four grading’s.  That makes sense, no?  A bit like your average student performance rating back in school....

 

C 1:  Color

Colorless diamonds are the most expensive because they are rare.  As with anything, rarity and demand carries a high price tag.

Most diamonds have tints of yellow or brown, and the color category is rated based on how much tint is present in the gem.   

Grades D-F:  diamond is colorless

Grades G-J:  diamond is near-colorless

Grades K-M:  diamond has some faint yellow tint

Grades N-R:  diamond has a very light yellow tint

Grades S-Z:  diamond is light yellow

Subtle differences in color can dramatically affect a diamond’s value. Two diamonds of the same clarity, weight, and cut can differ in value based on color alone. Even the slightest hint of color can make a dramatic difference in value.

Most stones in the D-G range will likely look very similar to you, but you may start to see a very slight tint at around the H grade.  

C2:  Clarity

I know you want to get a perfect diamond for your chosen one, but flawless diamonds are generally seen only in the movies or on the fingers of multi-billionaires.  Most diamonds have internal and external flaws (referred to as inclusions and blemishes) to one degree or another, which affect their clarity.  And it’s this degree that drives the rating of its characteristic.

 

The Centenary diamond is famous for being a perfect flawless diamond, both internally and externally

What are these flaws?  Well, blemishes include scratches and nicks on a diamond’s surface, and inclusions are whatever is trapped inside of the gem, such as another tiny diamond (and no, that’s not a value-added bonus), or other mineral crystals.   

Clarity grading is done under 10-power (10x) magnification.

FL — IF = Flawless 

(Only Oprah can probably afford a diamond of this grade.)

VVS1 — VVS2 = Very, Very Slightly Included. 

Internal flaws (inclusions) are very difficult to see by a professional grader under magnification.

VS1 — VS2 = Very Slightly Included. 

Diamonds have minor inclusions that are difficult to somewhat easy for a grader to see when viewed under 10x magnification. 

SI1 - SI2 = Slightly Included

Most SI2s are eye clean while almost all SI1s are eye clean. 

I1- I3 = Included

Inclusions easily visible to the naked eye.

The lower grade stones may not be the prettiest, but they can still morph into a dazzling rock under the fingers of a talented craftsman.  And that brings us to probably the most important characteristic of the diamond:  the Cut.

 

C3:  The Cut

The cut refers to how the diamond is shaped to allow for light to go through it and reflect back.  Basically, it’s the way light enters and exits a diamond. That light path is what gives the diamond its brilliance and dazzle – or as your sales rep will refer to as “fire.”  With a masterful cut even a yellow “frozen spit” rock can give off fire like Rihanna's diamond!  

In a well-cut diamond, light enters the top and exits the top, absorbing light and reflecting it back in “fireworks”. When a diamond is cut too shallow or too deep, the light disperses from the bottom and sides, making it look duller, darker and smaller. Yet, keep in mind that cut grades only apply to round diamonds.

We’re not going to get bogged down by the many mathematical algorithms that go into the proper precisions of the cut.  For your purposes, the grading certification for the cut should say “Ideal”, “Excellent” or “Very Good.”.  Or you can just rely on your eyes:  Does the diamond sparkle less than the others on the display? Does it look dark when you look into it?  Does it give off a “lifeless” impression?  Then it’s best to keep on searching.

 

C4:  Carat

Most people think that carat signifies the diamond’s brilliance and power as a gem, but it actually refers to its weight.  Carat is a unit of weight measurement. One carat weighs one-fifth of a gram (.20g) – about the weight of a paper clip.  Popular carat weights are ½ ct, ¾ ct, 1 ct., etc.

This category is a bit tricky, because you’d think that the bigger the carat the more valuable the diamond, right?  But that’s not always the case.  A big diamond poorly cut and with cloudy appearance will be less attractive and therefore less valuable than a small, well-cut diamond with very good clarity.  So “bigger is better” is not necessarily true in a diamond selection.  Still, given equal quality cut and clarity, a bigger diamond will certainly be more valuable.  It’s all relative.

 

In the end, the combination of all 4 Cs is what will determine the unofficial 5th C:  the cost. One more piece of advice.  The sales rep needs to show you documents showing the diamond’s authenticity and gradings.  Just remember, color tells you how close to the flawless standard the diamond is, clarity tells you how many imperfections it has, and carat tells you how big it is.  But, pay most attention to the “cut” – that is the deal-breaker!

The Bling and The Bling-less

Taking a look at the Good and Ugly World of Celebrity Engagement Rings.

 

Ring

 

Just because they spend the dollars, doesn’t mean that it’s on point. The engagement ring game is a competitive one in Hollywood as the gentlemen all want to out-bling their Hollywood counterparts.  We look at the best and worst rings sported on the most glamorous A list ladies in the biz.

 

Thumbs up: Simplicity works

Julia Stiles

Keep it simple, right? Not in Hollywood, but in the case of Julia Stiles, we stand corrected. This is why the simplicity of Julia Stiles’ ring makes it a big thumbs-up. The “Ten Things I Hate About You” starlet, hasn’t been able to take her eyes off of her cameraman beau, Preston Cook. The two announced their engagement early in 2016; Cook proposed on Christmas Eve and presented Stiles with a stunning and modest sign of his love.

Julia Stiles

The couple went sweet and simple with a diamond on a rose gold band with a bezel setting. Elegant. No fuss. And what’s really important, is that Stiles loved it. “Best Christmas Ever” she captioned the shot of the ring on her Instagram.

 

Thumbs up: Perfection is possible

Rosie Huntington-Whitley

Who can say no to Jason Statham, the smooth-talking action movie star? He sealed the deal with his long-time girlfriend, Rosie Huntington-Whitley, former Victoria Secret Model this past summer 2016.

Rosie Huntington-Whitley 

The ring features a round, early 20th century flawless diamond. It’s classic and elegant and the stone is out of a fairy tale. According to PEOPLE, Jason wanted something perfect and flawless and he kept coming back to this one. He knew it was the one.

 

Thumbs up: Big, bold and beautiful

Ciara Wilson

This songstress flaunted her show-stopping rock after her beau, Russell Wilson proposed during a romantic tropical vacation. "She said Yes!!! Since Day 1 knew you were the one. No Greater feeling… #TrueLove," Wilson, 27, wrote on his Instagram video.  

 Ciara Wilson

The ring is a vision of beauty, featuring a 16-carat diamond and surrounding stones. In Ciara’s case, bigger is better.

 

Fail: Bad romance… and ring

Lady Gaga

They might be a girl’s best friend, but even diamonds can overstay their welcome. Just like those creepy Instagrammers who keep liking your photos, some forms of flattery just need to go! Gaga’s heart shaped diamond is one of those must-ditch things. It has cheese written all over it, reminding us of those embarrassing days of kiddy makeup kits and jelly sandals… basically, this ring falls under the category of things better left in the past. 

 Lady Gaga

On the flip side, Gaga got rid of the ring and the guy. She since split from Taylor Kinney and is now rumored to be dating Goodfella, Ray Liotta.

 

Fail: The little rock in the sea

Alyson Hannigan

In the real world, this ring’s not too shabby, but according to Hollywood standards, Alyson’s ring is teeny weeny. The two neighboring diamonds along the band compete in size with the main rock, making it a small tale to tell.

Alyson Hannigan

It’s a story that says the couple’s romance and their obvious devotion to each other is much more important to them than some sparkly jewelry, clearly. And while that’s wonderfully adorable, it makes us press the snooze button on our buzzfeed of coolest celebrity couples.