Get to Know the Four Cs

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Chemists know what all those abbreviations mean, airline pilots have their own jargon in their jobs… every profession has its technical terms. Normally, this doesn’t matter unless you want to go into these fields. But sometimes, the common person has to familiarize themselves with those terms if they have any hope of getting something done.

And nowhere is this more true than in the world of diamond engagement rings — specifically, the mysterious “Four Cs”. If you’ve come up against this mystifying term, worry no more. Here is a quick breakdown of each C, and how they can help you find that perfect ring, whether in the store or online.

Carat. This simply refers to the weight of a diamond. A single carat equals 200 milligrams, so a 2.5-carat ring would weigh 500 milligrams. To avoid too much decimal-point confusion, smaller diamonds sometimes reference a point system, where 100 points equals a single carat (e.g. “0.05 carats” would more easily be expressed as 10 points).

Cut. Cut is the shape of the diamond — round, square, pear-shaped, etc. These cuts generally have industry-specific names: “classic” is round and “princess” is square, to name a few. But some are variations within a given shape. Both an “emerald” cut and a “baguette” cut are rectangular, but with differences in the corners and the internal reflective patterns.

Color. The grade of color refers only to how “clear” or “white” a diamond is (not to be confused with “fancy” diamonds, which can occur in shades of blue, pink, green, and even black). The whiter the diamond, the higher the color grade, while lower grades will tend to be more yellowish or straw-colored.

Clarity. All diamonds contain imperfections, or tiny flaws within their crystal structure. Clarity refers to how visible those flaws are to a jewelers’ loupe (providing 10x magnification). Important note: Flaws or inclusions that are visible to the naked eye are graded “I1” through “I3”, and are at the extreme end of the clarity grading scale.

Each of these characteristics have vast impacts on various settings of various engagement rings, and it would be impossible to list all the variations and permutations in a single article. But hopefully you now have a better understanding of some key terms in the jewelry world, and you’ll feel more confident and capable on your next trip to the jewelry store. Find more on this topic here:

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