Getting Engaged Over the Holidays? Know the 4 C’s of Engagement Rings

Getting engaged over the holidays? The season of engagement can be an exciting and overwhelming time! There are so many decisions to make as you consider what type of jewelry you’d like to place on the hand of your loved one or to wear yourself. What are the most important facts that you should consider as you approach making an investment in a heritage piece of jewelry — jewelry that may one day be passed along to your children, or your children’s children, possibly becoming vintage?

All stones and minerals vary in quality and should be evaluated according to the criteria, or framework, for those materials. Here are the 4Cs (four C’s) — and some important facts — that you should know about engagement rings before you put down a considerable amount of money.

Image showing colored stones that could use the 4 Cs of engagement rings

Use the 4 C’s to Evaluate Colored Stones (Rubies, Emeralds, Sapphires, etc.)

Perhaps you’re considering a ruby ring, an amethyst ring or another colored gemstone for your engagement? According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the process for evaluating colored stones is much more subjective than that for diamonds. However, the framework for evaluating stones — such as rubies, emeralds and sapphires — does parallel the 4Cs of the diamond: color, clarity, cut and carat weight. This trustworthy framework for evaluating diamonds was developed by the GIA and has been around since the 1950s. You should use it too.

Also, if you’re considering a ruby, you should be aware that rubies (like diamonds) are associated with conflict zones in the world. You can steer clear of conflict or blood ruby by purchasing an ethically mined ruby or a vintage ruby ring, or by asking the jeweler for the ruby’s source and certification.

For colored stones, here are some questions to ask yourself and your jeweler:

  1. Color: How light or dark is the stone? Is the color vivid? The stone color should be neither too light nor too dark; in general, avoid extremes.
  2. Clarity: Colored stones are categorized into three clarity types based on how they were formed, but clarity is a little more complex for colored stones and should be evaluated by a professional. As with the diamond, follow the same pattern of evaluation and analysis.
  3. Cut: How is the cut? Does it sparkle and reflect light? It’s important to note that if you can see through the colored stone to the other side, the stone has likely not been cut properly by the gemcutter.
    “Most gemstones are faceted, in which facets are cut on the gemstone to give the gemstone its brilliance and final shape. A properly cut gemstone will reflect most of the light coming through the stone back to the viewer in an even pattern, giving a stone its brilliance.”
    – Gemological Institute of America
  4. Carat weight: How big is the colored stone that you’re considering for your engagement ring? Remember: Large emeralds and rubies are particularly difficult to find (they are rare in the earth), while the beautiful citrine can be found in almost any size. So, for colored stones (as for

Diamonds Should Also Be Evaluated Using the 4 C’s

If the ring that you’re considering includes a diamond — the most popular type of engagement ring thanks to a hefty De Beers campaign — you should also verify the quality of the stone in the ring just as you would with a colored gemstone (above).

Furthermore, if you’re buying a diamond, you should be aware that these stones have long been associated with armed conflicts in various parts of the world where they are mined. Before buying you can inquire if the seller is committed to taking the steps necessary to comply with the Conflict Minerals Rule and is implementing processes to meet the Rule’s requirements, including its suppliers and subcontractors to source responsibly, respect human rights, and not contribute to conflict.

Make an Informed Decision, and Enjoy

Overall, try to enter the engagement ring process feeling informed. Ask smart questions and give yourself time to consider the best-quality stone and ring for your price range. Then, purchase and enjoy this season of engagement as you look forward to your upcoming marriage.

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