When it comes to diamonds, keep the 4 C’s in mind: Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat. A ring’s value is based on those attributes, meaning the better the cut/clarity/color/carat, the more money the diamond should be worth. For example, a diamond’s color rating is based on its lack of color. The less color it has, the more it is worth. A “D” grade is the best color rating a diamond can have, and means it is virtually coloreless. A “Z” diamond is the worst rating, meaning it has a noticeable yellow color.
Clarity, on the other hand, is the measure of the number and size of microscopic imperfections in the diamond. Almost every diamond has an imperfection. However, the grading scale determines just how noticeable to the naked eye they are. VVS1, for example, is “Very Very Slightly Included,” meaning the imperfections are very difficult to see under a microscope. SI2 means the inclusions are visible under 10x magnification, and *MIGHT* be visible to the unaided eye. I1-3 means “Included,” and is generally a poorer quality diamond because the imperfections are highly visible. Carat is based on the size of the standard measure of a diamond’s weight. The larger the diamond, the more rare it is considered. A carat is made up of 100 points. So, a diamond with 65 points weighs .65 carats. You might be asking yourself: Why would a 2 carat diamond be more expensive than a 1 carat? Well, if the 1 carat has a better color/clarity rating, it is going to be worth more than the larger diamond.
The biggest question you (or your fiancé… or the both of you together!) should figure out is which of the C’s are most important to you and your budget. For example, with my engagement ring, I was most interested in color and carat. I was OK going with an SI2 diamond if it meant I could get a D color rating. The jeweler (yes, I picked out my own ring!), put it to me like this: “You can see color with the naked eye, but you can’t see the inclusions unless you’re using a microscope… are you ever going to be using a microscope?” Obviously I said no…unless I start doing some weird experiments on myself, in which case I have bigger problems.
You can get a better sense of the ratings using the charts below. Keep in mind that when you do buy a diamond engagement ring, you want to make sure it has certification from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), which is the most trusted certification source because it is nonprofit. You will also want to ask your jeweler for an appraisal. This will help when you need to get it insured, which you should do right away.