Tag Archives: 4Cs of diamonds

GQ’s 7 Essential Tips for Buying a Diamond Engagement Ring

how to buy an engagement ring
Photo Source: artofmanliness.com

Courtesy of GQ, author John Jannuzzi straight talks from the hip, and shares that there is a lot more to a diamond than meets the eye. From man to man, this article walks you through some basic knowledge of the diamond engagement ring world.

Check out GQ’s 7 Essential Tips for Buying a Diamond Engagement Ring below, and read the full article here.

1. You don’t have to go this alone. 
There’s a lot of pressure put on this tiny stone, which is appropriate because diamonds are formed when carbon is exposed to earth-crushing pressure. I’d suggest bringing in reinforcements to help you decide on the exact right ring. By now, you’ve hopefully met your companion’s friends and family. Should you want some guidance, they’re an excellent place to start. It’s also fairly common to make the ring decision together these days. I know plenty of married couples who did some joint ring shopping, ensuring that everybody winds up happy.

2. Sneak a peak at her jewelry box.
Before we start on about carats and what not, figure out her style and what kind of metal she wears. Does your intended have a lot of platinum jewelry? Have they mentioned a disgust for all things gold, especially rose gold? Hopefully by now you’ve learned enough of their taste to make a very well-educated decision. After deciding on the basics, you can add in the fixings like scrollwork or inscriptions. That’s again, a matter of their taste. In my honest opinion, it’s best to keep things simple, but I’m not the one wearing this ring.

3. Get rock solid, ahem, rock knowledge.
Now that you’ve figured out the band, it’s on to the rock or rocks. Most engagement rings have a diamond on them, a tradition you can thank the marketing minds at DeBeers for. Remember, after the two of you share this moment, this ring will come under the scrutiny of every single person in your network of friends. It may be blasted to instagram (please discourage at all costs) or find its way to Facebook and it will most definitely be the subject of conversation amongst all of your affianced’s brunch dates. Every diamond in the world is measured on a standard of 4 Cs. These measurements stand for color, cut, clarity and carat weight.

Color is the most obvious of the 4 Cs, because, it refers to the stone’s color. The best color rankings are D, E and F, all of which are considered colorless. The ranking basically describes how much light the stone reflects. The Rihanna lyric, “shine bright like a diamond” is probably referring to a near colorless diamond, the less color the brighter the shine. The color scale goes from D-Z, the latter meaning light yellow with a poor reflection of light. It’s nearly impossible to find a completely colorless diamond, so don’t go nuts on this end. 

4. Consider going fancy.

Exempt from the color scale are fancy diamonds. These gems are stones with strong hues like yellow, blue, pink or red. Fancy diamonds are considered more rare, are more expensive and are exempt from the D-Z scale. The ring that loosely bonded Bennifer together all those years ago was a fancy diamond, but even then, she’s was still Jenny from the block. If you’re going the fancy diamond route for your ring, I would like to be your friend so I can hang out in your mansion.

5. Choose your cut wisely.

This is very important. The cut of a diamond doesn’t refer to the shape, but to how it is sliced and diced. When you look at a diamond, I’m sure you notice the different facets, faces, and edges. These are all elements of the cut, and each detail works together to let the diamond shine at it’s maximum. So, where as color may refer to how clear and empty a stone is, cut allows the light to reflect perfectly. A poorly cut diamond won’t be quite as brilliant in the end. Although round brilliants are fairly standard, there are other options to consider: princess, cushion, heart, pear, marquise, radiant, oval, Asscher and emerald. Each of these highlight different qualities of the stone. Like all aspects of this ring, the cut will come down to personal preference, but just make sure you’re choosing one that brings out the best of the rock in question.

6. Clarity counts, but don’t get hung up on it.
As you can see, there’s a lot more to a diamond than meets the eye. In fact, what doesn’t meet the eye is usually what makes a diamond more expensive. The third C, clarity, is a measure of how flawed a diamond is. The ideal here is the “FL” grade, meaning completely flawless. This just means that when viewed under a microscope, there are no blemishes or inclusions, which are marks of impurity within the stone. Much like the legendary D diamonds, FL diamonds are extremely rare. Don’t get hung up on buying an FL. The next grade down from FL is IF, or internally flawless. The scale continues to “very very slightly included all the way to just straight up “included.” Stick as close to the top as you can.

7. Bigger isn’t always better.
The last of the 4 Cs is the one you’re probably familiar with: carat weight. The higher the carats, the bigger the stone. Simple. The Hope Diamond, which you saw on your middle school field trip to The Smithsonian, for example, clocks in at 45.52 carats. Damn. That’s one big rock. A lot of guys I know think that bigger is better here, but consider who you’re giving this to. Big diamonds can be ostentatious, and that may be totally fine for the receiver, but just give it a second thought.

Guys like Spence too…

We get it… Most guys would rather get a root canal than walk into a jewellery store. They’re uncomfortable, they’re overpriced and they’re intimidating. Spence, on the other hand, is guy-friendly. You can’t make a mistake shopping with us.

You get to browse thousands of rings designs in open showcases, uninterrupted. Each design has a price tag. You can use real gem-lab instruments to peer into your diamond while brushing up on your diamond education.

You got this, and Spence has your back. We’re here for you whenever you’re ready to get started on a ring that will far exceed her expectations. See you soon.

The 4Cs Spotlight – Colour


Coloured Diamond Engagement Rings - Diamond Color
Photo Source: Forbes.com


Blue, green, yellow, orange, purple, brown, pink, grey and violet – colours of the rainbow? Yes – and also the many possible colours of diamonds!

Many are surprised to hear this, as the majority of diamonds sought after in today’s market, range from near colourless to light yellow. The same unique factors that create most of a diamond’s beauty – being chemistry and structure – also create this wide range of diamond colours.

The natural creation of a diamond by Mother Nature not only results in each diamond having unique clarity characteristics, it is also contributes to the unique natural colour of each diamond.

It is not yet fully understood what exactly causes a diamond’s unique colour; however, it is agreed that various combinations of trace elements and crystal distortion create a wide spectrum of colours.

Given a diamond is composed of mostly pure carbon, when the arrangement of atoms is close to perfectly symmetrical (the chemical composition and crystal structure are close to pure – aka. perfect) a diamond will be completely colourless.

Diamonds are typically graded on the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) Colour Grade Scale from D (colourless) to Z (light yellow). The GIA Colour Grade Scale consists of 23 letter grades. It is interesting to see that the GIA Colour Grade Scale does not indicate one specific colour grade – it is uses closely defined ranges to determine a diamond’s colour. Like a rainbow, diamond colours form a continuous colour spectrum.

Keep in mind, coloured diamonds are not graded on the GIA Grade Scale from D to Z, as they are considered fancy colours.

What does this all mean? Generally speaking, the whiter the diamond, the more valuable it is. A premium is paid at both ends of the colour scale because of the rarity, not necessarily because of the beauty of the diamond. This is similar to the two other C’s – clarity & carat weight. Colour’s impact on value is linked to rarity.

Here at Spence, we use a certified GIA DiamondLite to show you your diamond’s true colour. Under proper lighting conditions and compared to master stones, we are committed to helping you find your special diamond in the exact colour you desire.


Diamond Color - GIA Diamond Color Scale


Interpreting the Gemological Institute of America Colour Grade Scale above:

  • D grade is absolutely colourless.
  • E & F grades are essentially colourless. The differences between D, E & F are minute.
  • G,H,I & J grades are considered near colourless.
  • K,L & M grades are considered faintly tinted.
  • Grades N through Z the light tint colouring becomes more visible.
  • Diamonds darker than Z or coloured diamonds are considered fancy colours, and are not graded on the GIA Colour Grade Scale above.

A few photos of “Diamond Divas” flaunting coloured rocks:

Coloured Diamond Engagement Rings - Diamond Color

Coloured Diamond Engagement Rings - Diamond Color

Coloured Diamond Engagement Rings - Diamond Color

Coloured Diamond Engagement Rings - Diamond Color


The 4Cs Spotlight – Carat Weight

ImageCarat weight of a diamond is often viewed as the easiest to understand amongst the 4Cs of grading diamonds. Many are aware of the varying carat sizes of diamonds given the ability to actually view the difference in plain sight.

The standard unit of weight for diamonds is the metric carat (abbreviated mct or ct), and one carat equals 0.200 gram or 1/5 gram. Given the preciousness of diamonds, even the smallest fraction difference of a carat can represent hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Therefore, the carat is subdivided into 100 equal parts called points. One point equals 0.01 carat or 1/100 carat. A helpful way to think about this is that 100 points add up to one carat, just like 100 pennies add up to one dollar.

In today’s commodity world, it can be tough for some to understand that diamonds are not valued like fruits, meats and other weighable commodities. In addition to diamonds, gold, silver and platinum are all also priced based on the rarity of the weight, versus being determined solely by weight.

Keep in mind that carat weight, clarity and color’s influence on the value of a diamond is based on rarity. Many are surprised to hear that carat weight is NOT a reliable indicator of size. This is due to the 4th C – cut.

When a diamond is cut too deep, the diamond will look smaller from a bird’s eye view, and light will leak out the bottom resulting in a black middle. If a diamond is cut too shallow, it will look quite large when viewed from the top, however, light will leak out the sides causing a watery appearance. Sadly, most diamonds are cut to whatever profile that will yield the heaviest weight from the rough crystal. Cut determines a diamond’s beauty and brilliance, and is viewed as the most important of the 4Cs.

When having your diamond weighed, be sure that your diamond is unset (meaning a loose diamond, out of the ring setting). At Spence, we have electronic gem scales on hand to accurately weigh your diamond to a tenth of a point (0.001 ct).

Remember bigger is not always better when it comes to diamonds. Cut determines a diamond’s beauty & brilliance!


Note: Image size may vary depending on your browser and computer display. Thus, may not reflect actual carat size.

The 4Cs Spotlight – Cut


Most people are surprised to hear that a diamond’s carat weight is not a reliable indicator of a diamond’s apparent size. This is due to the most important of the 4Cs – a diamond’s cut.

The cut of a diamond determines it’s beauty and brilliance. Diamonds of exceptional cut are very hard to find, given most diamonds are cut to whatever profile will yield the heaviest weight from the rough crystal. As a result, very few diamonds actually sparkle like they should.

A correctly cut diamond looks like it has mirrors on the bottom – light comes in through the top of a diamond, bounces off all its tiny mirrors, then explodes through the upper surface – showcasing the true beauty of an exceptionally cut diamond.


In the diagram above, we compare the side views of a properly cut diamond, against two diamonds with poor cuts. When a diamond is cut too deep, the light leaks out the bottom resulting in a black middle. If a diamond is cut too shallow, light will leak out the side causing a watery appearance called a fish-eye.

Here at Spence, EVERY diamond is cut correctly and this simply is our non-negotiable standard. We use a round diamond Gemological Institute of America (GIA) Facetware report to provide an independent verification that your diamond was cut for maximum brilliance. This GIA software compares measurements of your diamond against 38.5 million GIA diamond proportion sets to determine the grade of its cut. This report provides all customers with the reassurance that their diamond is cut for maximum brilliance.

A diamond’s beauty depends primarily on:

1. Brilliance = the total intensity or amount of white light that’s reflected from the diamond’s surface and interior; aka. a diamond’s superior brightness and radiance
2. Dispersion = aka. fire, is the multi-colored display that resonates from the diamond’s body; it is the rainbow effect you see when light passes through the diamond
3. Scintillation = aka. sparkle, is the dance of bright reflections you see as the diamond, the light source, or you move

If we know one thing in the world, it’s diamonds. We are passionate about taking the mystery out of your diamond hunt – and we are committed to helping you find just the right diamond. When you’re finished at Spence, you’ll know diamonds too.