Designing Your Own Engagement Ring – Understanding The Diamond

Designing Your Own Engagement Ring – Understanding The Diamond

If you are going to design your own engagement ring, you need to understand the fundamentals of diamonds and of other precious gems if you’re considering something less traditional. Although there are several other elements that go into a diamond engagement ring that the bride will love and the groom will love giving, the rock is one of the most important. The most important aspects of a diamond are the four C’s – carat, color, clarity, and cut – as well as some other basics like source and certification.

Source and Grading / Certification

Most people prefer “conflict free” diamonds, meaning they don’t come from a region or area where the human impact of extraction adverse in other ways. If this is important to you, you should only buy from a seller that can tell you the geographic origin of their diamonds and which adheres to the Kimberley Process.

Grading and certification mean the diamond has been reviewed by one of the main independent laboratories to verify that it is not a synthetic and to obtain its grading. You usually only want to buy a ring when the stone has been certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), European Gemological Laboratory (EGL) or the American Gem Society (AGS) and the seller can show you the certificate (or a scan of it) before you purchase.


Carat weight, abbreviated “ct” is a measure of the stone’s weight and thus size. The bigger, the more expensive. Five carats equals one gram of diamond. However, the cut of the diamond impacts how big it “shows,” so two stones of the exact same carat weight and quality but of different cuts might not look the same.


Color ranges from absolutely colorless, being the most expensive, to yellow, the least expensive. AGS rates color numerically from 0.0 (colorless) to 10.0 (yellow), while GIA uses letters, ranging from “D” for perfect to “Z” for nearly yellow. The differences between each individual grade are very small and most laypeople can’t tell the difference between two stones several marks apart, especially with the naked eye.


Clarity refers to how murky or clear the stone is and how many imperfections, inclusions, and “blemishes” are present inside the stone. From perfect to clear inclusions, clarity is graded from 0 to 10 by AGS and on a unique scale by GIA: Flawless/IF, VVS1, VVS2, VS1, VS2, SI1, SI2, and I1, I2, and I3. These refer to “very very slightly included,” “very slightly included,” “slightly included,” and “included.” Many inclusions are only visible with a jeweler’s loop, and better gem-cutters will work in such a way that the inclusions are very hard to spot unless you are a professional. However, a murky or cloudy diamond is very obvious, especially next to a VVS1 or 2.


Some say cut is the most important characteristic of a diamond because it has the biggest influence on the diamond’s sparkle. The cut can be shallow, ideal, or deep, with the ideal cut for each shape obviously maximizing a diamond’s potential. Cut is graded from ideal to poor. This grading accounts for dimensions as well as a number of other factors including symmetry, culet, and girdle. Some abnormal shapes like hearts also increase the cost of the diamond relative to its weight because of the bits that the gemcutter removes and discards to create the shape.

If you want to design your own, personalized engagement ring, understanding what these ratings mean and how they impact the price and quality of the final ring is essential.


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