Diamond Education

Guide to Diamonds

Finding the perfect-for-you diamond is an important decision.

The “4 C’s” (cut, color, clarity and carat weight…we also like to include shape!) are the main factors in the pricing of a diamond and our experienced staff is here to help. Whether you are looking for an antique diamond ring or a custom design with a modern stone, we will help you find the diamond ring that is as unique as its recipient and fits in your budget.


The 4+ C's of Diamonds


While not technically one of the 4 C’s, we think shape plays an important role in choosing a diamond! Every diamond shape has its own character and says a lot about the style of its owner. Popular shapes fall into two categories: brilliant cuts and step cuts.

The brilliant cut was designed to reflect as much light as possible from the bottom of the stone through the top. Brilliant cuts are known for captivating us with their twinkling sparkle.

The step cut features a series of graduated parallel facets and the table is usually square or rectangular, often with chamfered corners. Step cuts are elegant and refined, often used on large diamonds and exceptionally colored gemstones.

  • Round Brilliant Cut: The most popular cut of diamond, developed in the early part of the 20th century and still used today. Its facet arrangement and proportion have been mathematically perfected to maximize the brilliance of a diamond. Round brilliants have a circular girdle and 58 facets, with a large table and shallow crown. Today, they are precision-cut with lasers. Round brilliants are the classic beauty of diamond cuts!
  • Old Mine Cut: The earliest form of the brilliant cut, and a predecessor to the modern round brilliant. It has a cushion-shaped girdle, large open culet, small table and high crown. Because Old Mine cut stones were cut by hand, the facets tend to be slightly irregular. These have an understated elegance, and are sometimes referred to as antique cushion cuts.
  • Old European Cut: A predecessor to the modern round brilliant cut which was developed in the late 19th century as cutting technology allowed for more precise cutting. It has a round girdle and the same number of facets as modern round brilliant, but with a higher crown and smaller table, as well as an open culet. The proportions of the stone give it a slightly smaller footprint than the modern round brilliant cut, but refract the light to enhance the rainbow sparkle: what we like to call the “disco ball effect”. The Old European cut began to transition into the round brilliant cut in the 1920s.
  • Cushion Cut: The cushion cut is square or rectangular and has rounded corners, similar in shape to a pillow. The facets usually follow the standard arrangement for those of the brilliant cut. Cushion cuts are an unusual cut and have an enduringly romantic appeal.
  • Emerald Cut: A rectangular cut with chamfered corners and step-cut sides. Long lines and dramatic sparkle give this cut a glamourous elegance. Because of the deep, mirrored sparkle of this cut, it is often used for diamonds with high clarity.
  • Asscher Cut: A cut developed in 1902 by the Asscher Brothers of Holland. It is a wide-stepped square cut with chamfered corners that give the stone an octagonal appearance. They are similar in shape to a square emerald-cut, but have a higher crown and a smaller table, which gives them more brilliance. Older Asscher cuts have fewer facets, a smaller table and larger corners than modern stones and are quite rare. The striking beauty of this cut gives it a timeless sophistication.
  • Oval Cut: The oval cut is an elongated version of the brilliant cut. Ovals are a wonderful choice for someone who loves the sparkle of a round cut but desires a more unusual shape.
  • Princess Cut: A cut developed in the 1960s that is square in shape with pointed corners and modified brilliant-cut facets. This allows for a clean shape with a dazzling sparkle. This cut has a ladylike appeal that lives up to its name.
  • Radiant Cut: The radiant cut is a rectangular shape with chamfered corners and brilliant-cut facets on both the crown and the pavilion. The shape marries the glamour of the emerald cut with the lively sparkle of a cushion cut. A perfect choice for someone who likes a bit of understated drama.


The cut of a diamond refers to how it well it is cut and thus how it interacts with light. Light enters a diamond through the top facets. In a well-cut diamond, it then bounces around inside the diamond and, in a similar fashion to a prism, returns out through the top facets as white brilliance and a reflection of a rainbow of colors. In poorly-cut diamond, the light goes through the lower facets and does not return through the top as the beautiful sparkle we know and love.

This premise hold true for all shapes of diamonds, from the hand-cut antique diamonds to modern precision-cut diamonds. However, the shape of the diamond will change the type of sparkle that you get. The broad, flat facets of an emerald-cut create more of a “flash”, while the smaller facets of a round stone create more of a “twinkle”.


Most diamonds naturally have a degree of color to them, ranging from the more common yellow and brown to the very rare pink, blue and green. However, it is the colorless or white diamond that acts as a prism and allows light to effortlessly pass through and be broken into a rainbow of colors.

Gemologists grade the color of a diamond on a scale that begins with D and ends at Z. Diamonds with higher color than a Z grade are considered Fancy color diamonds. Colorless and Fancy color diamonds are very rare, which increases their value significantly.

  • Colorless D, E, F: Diamonds are the whitest and most rare.
  • Near Colorless G, H, I, J: Diamonds contain a slight shade of color, but is hard for the untrained eye to notice and looks relatively colorless when mounted.
  • Faint Color K, L, M: Color becomes more visible in these diamonds.
  • Very Light Color N – R: Diamonds have a heavier presence of color.
  • Light Color S – Z: Diamonds have very visible color compared to other ranges.

The beauty of diamonds is that there is a stone for everyone! Some people value the rarity and purity of sparkle of the whitest diamonds, while others appreciate the character of a stone with some color. In fact, we have found that diamonds with the faintest hint of color are often the most flattering against the skin. In antique cuts, the “disco ball” rainbow sparkle often masks the color of the stone. Because every diamond is different, we encourage our customers to look past the color grade and go for the ring that captures your heart!



Clarity refers to the amount, degree and placement of inclusions within a diamond, as viewed under 10x magnification. Because diamonds are formed inside the earth under high heat and pressure, very few are naturally flawless. The closer a diamond is to flawless, the more rare and expensive it is.

  • Flawless (FL): Free from all inclusions or blemishes, at 10x magnification.
  • Internally Flawless (IF): No inclusions at 10x; insignificant surface blemishes only. Note: Once a Flawless stone has been mounted, it can only be graded as Internally Flawless
  • Very Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2): Contain minute inclusions, that are difficult for even a skilled grader to locate under 10x. In VVS1 stones, they can usually only be seen through the pavilion.
  • Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2): Contain minor inclusions ranging from difficult (VS1) to somewhat easy (VS2) for a trained grader to see under 10x. Small included crystals, feathers and clouds are typical.
  • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2): Contain noticeable inclusions ranging from easy (SI1) or very easy (SI2) to see under 10x. Most inclusions are not visible to the unaided eye, but some may be visible through the pavilion.
  • Included (I1, I2, I3): Contain obvious inclusions to a trained grader at 10x, can often be seen face-up with the unaided eye, seriously affect the stone’s durability, or are so numerous they affect transparency and brilliance. In I1 stones, the appearance or durability is moderately affected, in I2 stones, the appearance or durability is severely affected, and in I3 stones, the appearance and durability are severely affected.


Carat Weight

Carat is the simplest of the 4C’s! It refers to the unit of weight of a gemstone, and thus how big it is. The larger a diamond, the more rare it is.