A diamond engagement ring is usually the most expensive item in a woman’s jewelry box. Because diamonds are such an investment, most modern couples discuss ring styles ahead of the actual proposal to avoid having an awkward, does-he-even-know-me moment. If you are on the cusp of getting engaged, make sure you really know what you want. To help, we enlisted Jerry Ehrenwald, the President and CEO of the International Gemological Institute. Using his expertise, along with rings from our favorite jewelry designers, we dive deep into the 4 Cs: cut, carat, clarity and color. By the time we’re done, you’ll be 100-percent positive which ring style best suits you. (Don’t worry, we too met our spirit diamond before our soul mate.)
Your Guide To Buying Diamonds
2.02 Carat Round Cut Diamond, Turquoise & Platinum Ring
Cut refers to the shape of a diamond and describes the design of the facets. According to our expert, cut is a major factor in cost. "Round brilliant diamonds have 58 facets and are generally the most expensive because of high demand," he says, "and because more rough stone is lost when cutting a round diamond."
1.13 Carat Emerald Cut Diamond & Platinum Ring
1.75 Carat Rose Cut Diamond & Platinum Ring
Linda Lee Johnson
0.25 Carat Pear Cut Diamond & 14K White Gold Ring
1.02 Carat Radiant Cut Diamond & 14K Yellow Gold Ring
11.22 Carat Cushion Cut Diamond & Platinum Ring, Price Upon Request
Tiffany & Co.
0.74 Carat Marquis Cut Diamond & 18K Yellow Gold Ring
3.01 Carat Asscher Cut Diamond & Platinum Ring
.98 Carat Oval Cut Diamond & 18K White Gold Ring
Bigger is not always better. Prices vary dramatically for diamonds of the same carat weight based on clarity and color. "It depends how you define perfect. For example, according to the Rapaport Diamond Report, a round brilliant cut, D color (totally colorless), internally flawless (IF), 1 carat diamond is approximately $24,200," says Ehrenwald. "As a second example, according to the same report, a round brilliant cut, F color (still top range of colorlessness), VVS2 clarity (very very slightly included), 1 carat diamond is approximately $10,700."
0.5 Carat Round Cut Diamond & Platinum Ring
1 Carat Round Cut Diamond & 18K White Gold Ring
1.5 Carat Round Cut Diamond & 14K White Gold Ring
Clarity addresses the stone's imperfections, otherwise known as inclusions. The rating system goes from IF (internally flawless) to VVS1-VVS2 (very, very slightly included), scaling all the way down to P1-P3, which is the rating for a flawed, imperfect diamond. "A slightly included diamond is typically much less expensive than an internally flawless diamond," says Ehrenwald. "Theoretically, in a SI1 (slightly included 1) clarity diamond the inclusions cannot be detected by the naked eye, however with a SI2 clarity (slightly included 2) inclusions can be seen."
0.5 Carat Brilliant Cut Diamond & Platinum Ring, Starting At $8850
1 Carat Round Cut Diamond & Platinum Ring
Tiffany & Co.
0.88 Carat Round Cut Diamond & Platinum Ring
While a white diamond is the most common, colored stones (referred to as "fancy"—yes, that's a technical term) can actually be even more luxe. "Colorlessness is represented on a D-Z scale, with D being the most colorless diamond," says Ehrenwald. "Among fancy-colored diamonds, the rarest colors—in order—are vivid blues, pinks and yellows. Given the high price and rarity of fancy-colored diamonds, yellows are by far the most popular among consumers, followed by pink."
5.31 Carat Round Cut Diamond, Fancy Vivid Pink Diamonds & 18K Rose Gold & Platinum Ring, Price Upon Request
Tiffany & Co.
1.02 Carat Oval Cut Fancy Yellow Diamond & Platinum Ring
3.16 Carat Pear Cut Blue Diamond & 14K White Gold Ring