Choosing an engagement ring is an exciting yet daunting task, however, once you understand the industry terms, you’ll be well on your way toward making the perfect ring choice. From clarity to setting styles, the industry lingo relating to different rings translates into big differences in ring quality.
What are the four C’s: Carat, cut, clarity and colour?
The price of a diamond is calculated based on a number of factors, but mostly by considering the four C’s.
The term ‘carat’ refers to the weight, not the size of a diamond. One carat weighs 0.2 grams, and calculating the number of carats is based on a points system, where 100 points equals one carat. This specific calculation allows jewellers to very precisely weigh diamonds.
Three quarters of a carat is the ‘magic size’ for an engagement ring diamond, making diamonds weighing 3/4 carat visibly more expensive than diamonds weighing in just below this weight. Strangely though, there is no visible difference between a 0.7 carat and a 0.75 carat diamond, the only significant difference is the price!
Understanding diamond clarity
The Official GIA Diamond Clarity Scale is the standard scale used by jewellers worldwide, and contains 11 grades. It ranges from ‘Flawless’ to ‘Included,’ and evaluates a diamond’s relative lack of blemishes under 10x magnification.
Almost no diamonds are absolutely perfect under 10x magnification, except a handful graded as ‘Flawless,’ but they’re so rare most diamond jewellers have never even seen one!
Understanding diamond cut
Cut refers to the way a diamond is shaped, including the shaping of the edges of the stone. There are countless cut options, but the most popular these days is the Round Brilliant cut which is usually the shape of a stone placed in the centre of a plain engagement ring band. Princess cut (square) and Cushion cut (rounded-edged square) are also very popular choices in the modern world. Pear cuts and Emerald cuts were popular a few decades ago, so you’ll see more of them in antique and heirloom rings.
Understanding diamond colour
White diamonds are the most sought after diamonds for engagement rings, and range in colour from mostly clear through to light yellow or brown. The GIA’s colour grading scale is the international standard, and starts with D (colourless) through to Z (brown).
The exception to this rule are pink diamonds, which are very rare and fetch a higher price per carat than white diamonds. For example, the certified natural Fancy Vivid pink diamonds are the most expensive diamonds on the market, and sell for 20 times the price of white diamonds!
Engagement ring settings
There are a huge number of engagement ring settings to choose from, but here are the most popular settings in today’s market:
The most popular ring setting today, the Solitaire features a centre stone held onto a plain band by a prong setting. This setting is popular thanks to its chic simplicity, and the way it enables light to pass through the stone to enhance its brilliance.
2. Three Stone
Popular due to its symbolism, and the extra extravagance of having three stones on one band, the Three Stone setting is now very popular. Symbolising the past, present and future, the three stone engagement ring is romantic in its meaning while looking lavish due to the number of stones used.
Many different ring cuts can be used for the halo setting, which features a large centre stone highlighted by smaller diamonds around it. This setting can become as lavish as you like by using a pavé band (decorated with small diamonds) for a truly exquisite engagement ring.
When choosing an engagement ring, remember bigger isn’t better: quality comes down to many aspects from the four c’s to the setting style. Consider these elements and you’ll have an overall picture of the quality of your ideal engagement ring.