The Four C’s

When looking for your “ideal” diamond, it is paramount that you first familiarize yourself with the four essential characteristics of all diamonds.  Despite some websites confusing matters with additional “C’s” and nifty sales pitches, it is our hope that the information presented on our website will be concise and helpful, with no unnecessary fluff. We also understand that a lot goes into picking that perfect stone – quality, budget, value, ego, romance, etc., are just a few of the issues.  We understand! The 4 C’s that we want you to focus on are: Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat.


What you need to know...

Cut is not shape and this should not be misconstrued.  Once you pick a shape, such as round, princess, or pear, you then want to ensure that you are getting a stone with the best measurements and specifications that your budget will allow.  A diamond’s proportions and how it was cut will greatly enhance or diminish its sparkle.


Shallow Cut


Ideal Cut


Deep Cut

Color is another factor that will greatly affect your stone’s brilliance.  The whiter and more “colorless” the diamond, the greater it will capture light (and cost): this will be perceived by viewers as sparkle, glimmer, shine…
Stones with poorer color grades can appear yellowish, especially when up against pure white diamonds. However, stones with really interesting and vibrant intrinsic colors – otherwise known as “Fancy” stones – are sometimes sought after for different purposes or personal preference.


Clarity is important when trying to balance the budget, and requires particular attention depending on the shape and size of the diamond you choose. This “C” has to do with the internal flaws of the stone.  Flawless stones are rare and exorbitantly priced. They are also not necessary for a finger or earlobe(s).  With that said, heavily included stones may look good in a pendant, especially if the flaws can be concealed, but are probably not what you want for daily viewing. Rule of thumb = Be sensible. These are hunks of carbon, produced by nature. You can find great value in VS and SI stones (see Clarity diagram) that have flaws only a gemologist would see under 10X magnification.

In short: you’ll never see the flaw.


Carat is simply the weight of the diamond, not necessarily the “size”.  With that said, heavier diamonds are usually larger.  But remember, a very wide stone can look large, but be the same weight (carat) as a deep stone.  The balance between width and depth (cut) will affect the diamonds shine (“fire”) more than anything else. So use this “C” with caution!


So what about diamond shape?

Round Brilliant Cut

The round brilliant diamond is the most popular diamond shape; having the most brilliance of all the cuts, and accounting for more than 75% of diamonds sold in today’s market. Due to the laws of supply and demand, round brilliant diamonds are generally the most expensive. In order to optimize the brilliance of a traditional round diamond, it is recommended that one selects a diamond that has one of the two highest cut grades (Ideal or Very Good), and high polish and symmetry grades (Ideal, Excellent, or Very Good).


Princess Cut


The princess diamond is the most popular non-round diamond cut, which was most recently reintroduced to the spotlight after being featured on the fashionable television show “Sex and the City”. It is traditionally square in shape with sharp, pointed, uncut corners. However, princess cut diamonds can greatly vary in shape, ranging from square dimensions to those that are more rectangular. The dimension of the princess cut can be determined by calculating the L-W ratio (L-W = Length-to-width ratio), with square-shaped ratios ranging between 1 and 1.05, and rectangular-shaped ratios being those that are greater than 1.10.


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Oval Cut


Based on the modifications made to the round brilliant configuration and the resulting shape, the oval diamond’s technical name is oval modified brilliant. Therefore, it also has a brilliance that is similar to that of the round cut diamond. As with most other elongated fancy shapes, there is a higher possibility of the oval having a bow tie – a dark area that can be found in the shape of a man’s bow tie as a result of less than optimally cut angles, detracting from the diamond’s brilliance. Seek minimal bow tie effects by selecting diamonds with optimal cuts. The most traditional and optimal of oval diamond ratios have length-to-width ratios between 1.33 and 1.66.


Interesting Factoids:

The oval shape accentuates long, slender fingers and three stone oval rings have become very popular as anniversary gifts. 


Emerald Cut


As the names suggests, the emerald cut was originally designed for emeralds. The stunning emerald cut diamond has rectangular facets with long orderly lines and cropped corners, giving it an air of sophistication and elegance. As a result of its long lines, it tends to have less fire than that of a round brilliant cut diamond; however, its flashes of light tend to be broader and much more dramatic. When selecting an emerald cut diamond, it is important to opt for one of highest quality, due to the “openness” of the cut that allows flaws, poor cut, or color weaknesses to become more apparent to the naked eye. The benefits of the emerald cut diamond are that they are less trendy than princess cut and not as traditional as the round, making them economically priced in comparison. The classic emerald shape has a length-to-width ratio between 1.30 and 1.40.


If you would prefer an emerald cut diamond with a more squared look, opt for an Asscher cut.  


Asscher Cut


The Asscher cut, named after the Asscher brothers in Holland, is an elegant variation of the classic emerald cut. The cut has recently become popular with celebrities. Its uniqueness is in its geometric appeal, sometimes appearing octagonal. It is particularly important to note the clarity with this cut, and the location of any inclusion. Similarly, when choosing color, consider that lower grades may have visible color in the corners. Ideal cut Asscher diamonds should appear square, with length-to-width ratios between 1.00 and 1.05. Asscher diamonds are beautiful as a simple solitaire or in a setting with simple geometric lines or side stones (i.e., baguettes). The setting should not hide this cut’s unique blocked corners.


Radiant Cut

The radiant cut diamond is known for its trimmed corners. For those who want the fire of the round brilliant cut but love the squared-off shape and cropped corners of the less fiery asscher and emerald cuts, the radiant cut diamond is a blend of both.  Most square and rectangular cuts do not compare to the brilliance of the round brilliant cut diamond, but the radiant cut was designed to acquire maximum brilliance. Whereas the emerald cut diamond has long trim lines, the triangular facets of the radiant cut diamond optimally reflect fire.


The heart has long prevailed as the ultimate symbol representing love. Though not the traditional choice, heart-shaped diamonds can be a sentimental and symbolic choice for engagement rings. The heart-shaped diamond can be set as a solitaire, or with accent stones. Traditional heart-shaped diamonds have length-to-width ratios between .90 and 1.10. However, proportions are subject to personal taste, and one can choose a heart shape that is wider or narrower in appearance.


Pear Cut


The pear cut diamond is sometimes also referred to as a teardrop due to its one rounded end that curves to form a single point – a combination of the round brilliant and marquise cuts. The pear shape has a unique look with a dramatic flair that makes it a popular choice for earrings and pendants. Pear cut diamonds are prone to bow-tie effects (a dark area that can be found in the shape of a man’s bow tie as a result of less than optimally cut angles, detracting from the diamond’s brilliance) and uneven or high shoulders (unevenness at the rounded end of the pear that decreases the value of the diamond, and therefore should be avoided). Seek minimal bow tie effects and uneven shoulders by selecting diamonds with optimal cuts. The most traditional and optimal of pear diamond ratios are length-to-width ratios between 1.45 and 1.75.


Bow-tie Effects
Uneven or High Shoulders

 Interesting factoids:

Selecting an elongated pear shape creates a delicate slimming effect on fingers.


Marquise Cut


The marquise cut is regal, often prized for making the fingers appear longer and more slender. It has an elongated shape with tapering points at both ends. Symmetry and length-to-width ratio should be considered when choosing this cut. A ratio of around 2:1 (length is 2 times the width) is preferred; however, as with all “fancy” shapes, personal preference is inevitably the most important. Marquise diamonds can sit beautifully in a solitaire setting or work well with round, pear, baguette, or trillion side stones. It is usually mounted with 6 prongs.


Trillion Cut


The trillion or trilliant cut is novel and dramatic, often making a bold statement. It was developed in the 1970′s by combining step-cutting and brilliant faceting. It is often used as side stones, so larger stones for solitaire settings are difficult to find. This diamond cut requires a special setting with V-shaped prongs to protect the corners.