The Five Cs of Diamond Buying

Going from “confusion” to “confidence”

By: Colton Bartel

So the time has finally come! You’re nervous, but excited, and scared, but overjoyed: It’s time to pop the question to that special someone. You know exactly how you are going to get down on one knee while fireworks explode in the distance as you ask the most important question of your lives. There is only one thing standing in the way of you and your magical moment: the jewelry counter.

Very often, picking out the perfect ring to bribe your bride can be the scariest moment of your life. Everyone talks about the four Cs of diamonds:

Cut // Carat weight // Clarity // Color


Sure, you can look up the technical definitions, but do you really know what they mean to you and why? Over the years, people I have helped pick out diamonds have become more and more educated about the technical aspects of diamonds. This is fine, but they have lost the sense of the romance and the meaning of diamonds. Guys will come in with a “bachelor’s grocery list” looking for what they have been advised should be the “perfect” diamond. The four Cs are important, and there are all different aspects to each of them that I could explain in great detail – but that would move us even further from the real reason behind this purchase.

Instead, we are going to look at these “diamond” features in a different way. Let’s say, theoretically, you are shopping for a wife the same way everyone is taught to shop for diamonds. You want a girl who is 6 feet tall, with blue eyes and blonde hair, who weighs 130 pounds and is so bronze she would make a Kardashian jealous.

Now, like a diamond, we look through all the reports, or IDs, of all the available women fitting those standards. Does that guarantee she is the gorgeous woman of your dreams? No! Not to be mean, but I wouldn’t want to leave it that open to someone else’s interpretation! Diamond buying is just like finding your one true love, except odds are you might need a little help identifying what makes a diamond as attractive as the one who will wear it.

The first and most important C is cut. Many believe cut refers only to the shape of the stone, but really it’s how well those shapes are faceted. No matter what shape you want, the better the cut, the brighter the stone. Facets act like mirrors and are what make diamonds sparkle. If those “mirrors” aren’t cut right, then regardless of the shape, the stone won’t be as bright as it could be. Compare like shape stones face-up to see which is the brightest.

The easiest choice to make is carat weight. This usually is a good reference to visually how big a stone is, but different cuts will appear different sizes even though the weight is the same. The best advice here is, hint to your “soon to be” and their friends to try and get an idea what to look for, cause whether it’s admitted or not, size does matter!

OK, now it’s time for the scary parts. Clarity is one aspect that confuses almost everyone because it’s like encrypted or something with numbers and letters. All you need to know about clarity is what you want. Do you want a stone that is so clean that you could look under a microscope and swear it’s flawless like a VVS1, or is it OK for the stone to have a little personality and have a few small inclusions, but still be shiny like a SI1? The rule of thumb is, if you ask for a stone that is eye-clean, it will be SI2 or better, and the lower you are on the scale, the lower the cost. I know – music to your ears! So go for a diamond that has a little personality while it sparkles, and keep some green in your pocket.

Lastly, color – diamonds come in all colors, but let’s focus on white. Traditional white diamonds have several shades and can be slightly yellow or brown. Just like clarity, you could go for the perfect color, but really, there isn’t any reason to do that. The rule of thumb here is to look at the diamond under white light with a white background; as long as it still looks “white” to you, it will look even whiter when it’s set. Also like clarity, the lower the grade, the less expensive it will be. Honestly, the best grades to look for are those between G and J; they will be very white, but much less than stones graded higher.

Now that your fifth C is confidence, go find your dream diamond for your dream boat!

For more information, or if you would like to set up an appointment to learn more or view stones, please visit Susann’s Custom Jewelers at 4254 S. Alameda in Corpus Christi, Texas, or call 361-991-7565. You can also email Colton Bartel, GIA graduate gemologist, at

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