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To learn about diamonds is to learn of the four C’s: cut, carat, clarity and colour. These four categories are used to grade and value diamonds, and anyone purchasing a diamond will want to be familiar with these terms.


The Four C’s

Before we dive into the question of whether to prioritise clarity or colour, let’s quickly review each of the four categories:


“Cut” can be confusing because it’s used in two different ways in the jewellery world. You’ll often hear people using the word cut to describe the shape of a diamond, as in “emerald cut” or “princess cut.” But when it comes to grading, cut refers to a diamond’s reflective qualities. A skillfully cut diamond reflects light back to the eye, creating sparkle and shine. A diamond’s proportions are the key to its cut; not all diamonds are cut with equal skill.



A diamond’s carat refers to its weight. The word “carat” comes from carob seeds, which are so uniform in their size and weight; they were used to balance scales. One carat equals 200 milligrams (0.2 grams).



Most diamonds contain some flaws, and clarity grading can help you to make informed comparisons between diamonds. Diamond flaws are divided into two categories: inclusions and blemishes. Inclusions encompass imperfections like air bubbles, cracks and non-diamond materials found within the stone. Blemishes, such as scratches, pits and chips, could be a result of damaged caused during cutting, or they may have occurred naturally.



Because colourless diamonds allow more light to pass through them, they’re graded higher on the colour scale. Since only a few genuinely colourless diamonds are formed in nature, these diamonds are highly prized (and very expensive). When it comes down to it, though, preferences for diamond colour are highly personal, and we’ll talk more about this preference below.


Clarity or Colour: What to Prioritise?

As you shop for a diamond engagement ring, you’ll look at many, many diamonds, and each diamond should have been graded on its cut, carat, clarity and colour. Before you shop, it’s wise to consider your budget, and your budget will help you to determine what carat and cut you’re looking for.

But when it comes to clarity and colour, which attribute should you prioritise?


Clarity Considerations

Not all blemishes are created equal. Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you’re examining two different one-carat pear-shaped diamonds. They’ve both been graded VS2 (Very Slightly Included 2). In fact, their inclusions are even the same size. The difference is that in one diamond, the inclusion appears right in the middle of the table, and in the other diamond, the inclusion is tucked away near the pear’s point.

The inclusions are the same size, but one of them is much more apparent because of its placement. It’s the difference between dripping mustard on the front of your starched white dress shirt and dripping it on the underside of your sleeve. While the mustard spot is the same size, it’s much more evident in one location. When the inclusion is not apparent to the naked eye, the diamond is considered to be eye-clean. These diamonds will give you the best value.

In Australia, SI1 and SI2 are the most popular clarities.


Colour Concerns

When it comes to colour, diamonds are graded on a scale from D to Z, with D being white to colourless (or exceptional white) and Z being Black. In between D and Z are a range of yellowish tints. As mentioned earlier, colourless diamonds reflect the most light, and therefore, they’re graded highest.

Keep in mind that to the untrained eye, grades G through I show virtually no colour, and while grades J through M may appear to be slightly darker than average, their colour can be minimised by setting them in yellow or rose gold. Some people actually prefer the warmer tones of lower-graded diamonds. Take a look at diamonds across the colour spectrum to determine which colour grades you like best.


Making the Decision

When it comes down to it, you’ll likely get the best results from prioritising colour over clarity, as long as you seek out an eye-clean diamond. Hide those inclusions where they won’t get in the way of sparkle and aesthetics, and let in as much light as possible with a decently graded colour range.

As always, however, remember that personal preference is critical when it comes to diamond engagement rings. You won’t be selling this item for a profitable return in the future; it’s a symbol of your love and commitment. Once you’ve found the perfect ring, insure it with Q Report jewellery insurance. We’ll protect it wherever you are.


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Helpful resources

Diamond Setting Fact Sheet

The Complete Guide to Buying an Engagement Ring

Engagement Ring Shopping Checklist

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