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The 5 C’s Diamonds : The real truth about buying a diamond

5 C's of diamonds

Buying a diamondis confusing. There. I said it. I said what everyone is thinking. Well, let me help you out and give you some useful tips on the 5 C’s of buying a diamond and what you REALLY need to know.

 The 5 C’s are Cut, Color, Clarity, Carat Weight & Certification. I will let you in on a little secret. They do not all have to be the very highest on the scale, which is what all of you nervous about, but they all have to work together. The key is picking out the right diamond that works well with YOUR ring.

 In other words if your bride-to-be wants a white gold setting a diamond with a more yellowish tint won’t work very well but may very well be perfect with a yellow gold setting. See where I am going with this.

 So let’s go through them all and then go over how they need to all work in harmony.

Romantic Beautiful Vintage Inspired Engagement Ring


What are the 5C's of Buying a Diamond? The real story


What is the clarity of a diamond


This one is important. The way a diamond is graded for cut depends on its angles and proportions. In other words is it shallow cut, ideal cut or deep cut? How a diamond is cut will determine if the diamond has sparkle, fire and brilliance. Pretty much all of the things we think of when we think of a diamond. Is it going to sparkle and shine from across the room?

 Cuts are graded from Ideal, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair & Poor.

 Often a diamond cutter will try to get a larger carat weight out of a stone and cut it shallow or deep, hoping that it will sell for more money because of the weight. This is not a trade off I would personally recommend.

 I prefer to stay above a Very Good grade when looking at cut. The reason being that a poorly cut diamond can appear very lifeless and dull. What this means is that if you are paying up for carat weight, clarity and color but skimping on the cut then you really won’t reap the benefits. At all. Remember, we want rainbows and vibrant sparkle.

 So this one is pretty important and I rank it highly.



Color grading of diamond


 Diamonds are also ranked on a color scale from what they call “colorless” or white to yellow.

 D, E F- Colorless

G, H – Near Colorless

I, J- Near Colorless, Slightly Tinted

K, M- Faint Yellow

 So, which color is the best choice AND the most budget friendly?

 In my humble opinion I absolutely adore G/H colored diamonds. They often are a wonderful value and they also pair so beautifully with our vintage inspired rings. I love their slightly warm hue and they glow as if by candlelight. That being said they work best with 14k rose gold or 14k yellow gold. 

If you beloved is interested in a 14k white gold ring I would go with a G or F color. They work wonderfully with white gold, and you can still keep it budget friendly.

 The only reason to go with a E or D is that if money is no object or if you are really set on buying a colorless diamond for some reason. And some people are. But keep in mind you will be paying quite a premium for it and it is not really necessary.


Clarity of a Diamond


 This is a tricky one. But I will let you in on a little secret. A lower clarity diamond that is “eye-clean” can look the same or pretty darn similar (if not the same) to one that is flawless. What? How is that even possible?

 The clarity grading is based on how included the diamond is. Inclusions can vary enormously. A lot of it depends on where the inclusion is located and what the inclusion is. Is it a big black inclusion in the center of the table or is it a slight cloud on the girdle, which no one will see and most likely will be covered up by prongs or a setting. They are two totally different things yet they may both be graded as a SI1. Clarity grading usually just takes into account the size of the inclusions. It doesn’t take into account the color (black or transparent) or where it is located.

And this, my friends, is where working with me to create your engagement ring can save you money.

 When I choose diamonds for my client I am looking for very specific things in regards to clarity.

 How does it look face up? When the diamond is facing up (which is how it will look when it is set and worn) is it “eye clean”? Which means are any of the flaws visible to the naked eye.

How does it look under 10x magnification? You know those goofy cone glasses you see jewelers wearing. These are your friend when it comes to picking a diamond. If I cannot make out the flaws with my magnifiers on or if they are very difficult to make out this diamond is pretty much a winner.

How big are the inclusions? Or they clear and barely visible? Transparent? Light feathering? Or big black chunks.

Where are the inclusions? Again, noticeable inclusions directly in the center of the table are not very desirable. I prefer inclusions that are not noticeable or that are off to the sides.

 I can usually am able to find perfectly lovely diamonds for my clients that are in the SI1/SI2 range and are “eye clean”. This usually saves them a substantial amount of money off a VS1 or VVS1 diamond.

 IF/FL- Internally Flawless- Flawless

VVS1/ VVS2- Very, Very Slightly Included

VS1/ VS2- Very Slightly Included

SI1 / SI2- Slightly Included

I1/ I2/ I3- Included



 Everyone knows this one but it could use some more in depth explanation.

 When I ask a client how big they want their diamond to be, their usual answer is “oh, at least 1ct”. It seems to be a common size in that it is not to big and not to small. I whole-heartedly agree with this, I think a 1ct stone is a wonderful size to work with. I adore 1 ct. diamonds.

 But I am going to spill the beans on another little secret. Anyone, even a jeweler, would be hard pressed to tell the difference between a 1ct. diamond and a .91 ct. diamond, especially after it has been set. But in some cases, depending on the shape and other C’s, the cost can vary up to $1000. Let me say that again. It can be $1000 difference in price for something you may not even be able to notice.

 So regardless of if you are looking for a 1/2ct. diamond or 3ct diamond it really pays to have a knowledgeable & honest jeweler do the looking for you. I have forged relationships with diamond dealers around the country and I will always go out of my way to find you the best possible diamond for the best price. I am not looking to up-sell you or scare you into buying more than you need.

 So as far as Carat Weight is concerned you can certainly save money here by shaving just a hair off (ie .10 of a carat) a round number. The cost doesn’t go up evenly between a .75 ct and a 1 ct. The bigger and rounder the number, the cost multiplies.



 We like to only work with diamonds that are certified. Unless of course they are heirloom diamonds in which case the customer is providing them.

 What this means is that an independent diamond laboratory of certified gemologists certifies your diamond. They grade and issue a grading certificate that we will pass along to you. They are a third party, which means they have no stake in the sale. None. Zero. Nada. They get paid the same to grade a 1ct diamond as they do a 1.5ct diamond.

 And thus have nothing to gain by ranking a diamond higher on the scale that it really ought to be. This ensures you that the diamond is exactly what you expect it to be and gives you confidence in your purchase. It will state the 4 C’s that we just covered: Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat Weight. 


Whats the best way to buy a Diamond & the 5 C'S?

So there you have it. The honest, real truth about the 5 C’s of diamond buying.

My main objective is to help you find the diamond that best fits the design of your ring and also your budget. As an artist up-selling is not really in my bones. I just want to make it beautiful. And I want it to be loved by your beloved for ever after.

If you would like to learn more about working with me to create your engagement ring please drop me a line and we can chat. I would love to help you find the perfect forever diamond for you.


Heather Charlick

Heather Charlick

Hello There! I'm Heather-a jewelry artist living with my beloved husband & horses in the rolling hills of Tennessee. I make vintage inspired engagement rings for the romantic bride. I would love to help you custom design your dream ring, so feel free to contact me anytime.