Picking the perfect gem is all about knowing your stuff—that means understanding everything there is to know about cut, clarity, and carat. These crucial properties can mean the difference between an engagement ring you love and one you can’t wait to upgrade. Learn more about the 3 Cs to guarantee that you pick the perfect gem.
Many people confuse the cut of the gem with the shape of it. But these two factors are completely different. The shape refers to round, princess, emerald, pear, oval, etc. But the cut refers to the proportions, angles, facets, and brilliance. Essentially, the cut will determine the quality and shine of the gem.
One common aspect of cut is the depth of the gem. A shallow or deep gem, for instance, won’t be able to refract as much light as one in the middle. The symmetrical facets are also an important aspect to consider.
A gem with a good cut will have better brilliance and more sparkle than a poorly cut one.
The imperfections that appear on a gem make up the clarity of it. Since gems are formed from the Earth, it’s natural for them to have small fissures, spots, or bubbles. On the inside of the gem, these imperfections are known as inclusions. On the outside, they are called blemishes.
Virtually all gems will have imperfections to some degree. And ones that don’t are extremely rare and valuable (not likely to be used in the average engagement ring). So when looking for a high-quality gem, the best way to determine quality is to look for visible imperfections.
Even though most gems have imperfections, a lot of the time those imperfections aren’t visible to the naked eye. This is known as “eye clean.” An eye-clean gem is a great option for your engagement or wedding ring.
Contrary to popular belief, carat does not refer to the size of the ring but rather the weight. Each carat is equal to 0.2 grams, so if you have a 2-carat diamond engagement ring, the diamond weighs 0.4 grams.
Keep in mind that carat is not related to karat, which is a measurement of proportion used to determine the quality of gold.
On top of the 3 Cs, you may also come across a 4th C—color. This refers to the quality or purity of the color in any given gem.