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Picking the perfect gem is all about knowing your stuff—that means understanding everything there is to know about cut, clarity, carat, and color. These crucial properties can mean the difference between an engagement ring you love and one you can’t wait to upgrade

Here’s what you need to know about the four Cs to guarantee that you pick the perfect gem.

1. Cut

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 gem or deep gem, for instance, won’t be able to refract as much light as one that’s in between. Symmetrical facets, or flat surfaces of the gem, are also an important aspect to consider.

A gem with a good cut will have better brilliance than a poorly cut one.

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2. Clarity

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.

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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 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.

3. Carat

Contrary to popular belief, carat does not refer strictly to the size of the gem but rather the weight. Each carat is equal to 0.2 grams, so if you have a 2 carat diamond ring, the diamond weighs 0.4 grams. Depending on the cut, a larger carat often means a bigger visible surface on the gem.

Keep in mind that carat is not related to karat, which is a measurement used to determine the quality of gold.

4. Color

Color refers to the quality or purity of color in any given gem. While many assume that diamonds are clear or white, not all diamonds meet that standard. In fact, diamonds are given a grade of D–Z with D being absolutely colorless and Z having noticeable color.

Even though D is considered the best color quality, gems that are labeled as colorless or near colorless are also excellent options (D–J). These gems have either untraceable amounts of color or color that would only be noticeable when the gem is held next to a colorless gem. Grades K–Z have much more noticeable traces of yellow, brown, or gray.

Of course, some diamonds come in colored varieties like blue, pink, or yellow, which means their color grade would be different than the colorless scale.

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The four Cs are the best way to make sure you get the perfect gem for your style and budget. If you have any more questions about choosing diamonds, get in touch with us today.