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The 4 C’s To Picking The Perfect Diamond

The 4 C’s To Picking The Perfect Diamond

Whether it’s for a necklace or an engagement ring, knowing what to look for when buying a diamond is essential. The trick to buying the perfect diamond is first understanding the 4 Cs of diamonds. The 4 Cs are the 4 most important traits of a diamond and serve as the jeweler’s cheat sheet to finding the best diamonds. So, what are the 4 Cs of diamonds, who came up with them, and what do they mean?

The 4 Cs: A Crash Course

For centuries, the jewelry industry was a patchwork of different systems and standards, with no formal education for the jewelers in the trade. This endlessly confusing system allowed for rampant fraud to take place. One of the biggest problems was the total lack of training and education for jewelers. Because of this, an ambitious and charismatic jeweler named Robert Shipley had an idea.

In the 1930s, Shipley, himself a successful jeweler out of California, came up with an idea to professionalize the jewelry industry through proper education. This idea led to his creation of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in the early 1930s. To this day, the GIA is still the world’s foremost resource for all information, training, and certification for jewelers all over the world.

Shortly after establishing the GIA, Shipley set to work standardizing the diamond grading process. To him, the most important thing was to keep it simple. Shipley identified the 4 most important traits of a diamond: color, clarity, carat, and cut. By the end of the 1940s, the 4 Cs of diamonds were created and the jewelry industry was forever changed.

Color

One of the 4 Cs of diamonds is color, best seen close-up, like with this fancy color diamond; come see it in real life at F.A.O. Jewelers in Brighton, MI.
When it comes to diamonds, the best color is an absence of color. Over the years, many different methods of color grading for diamonds were developed and used. So many, in fact, that many of the systems conflicted with each other. It was more and more difficult for jewelry customers to get a clear and consistent grading. That’s when the GIA and their 4 Cs of diamonds stepped in.

The GIA color grading scale goes from D-Z, and it actually rates a diamond’s colorlessness. The purest diamonds in the world have no color in them and they’re rated a D. As you go down the scale, diamonds appear more and more yellow or brown. Z-rated diamonds have a pretty distinctive yellow-brown hue to them.

You can get an excellent visual of the color grading scale right here on our site.

Fancy Color Diamonds

Not on the GIA color grading scale are what’s known as “Fancy Color Diamonds”. These are some of the rarest, most precious, and most valuable gemstones on earth. Fancy color diamonds are absolutely stunning and they come in a whole array of different colors. These natural diamonds come in vibrant hues of blue, red, green, purple, gray, black, and basically any other color you can imagine. Because fancy diamonds are so rare, they typically command a much higher price than colorless diamonds.

Clarity

One of the 4 Cs of diamonds is clarity, and these stunning stones are about as clear as can be; see the real thing at F.A.O. Jewelers in Brighton, MI.
The clarity of a diamond refers to the perfection of the diamond. In order to determine the clarity of a diamond, a professional gemologist needs to inspect the stone for imperfections, like inclusions and blemishes.

An inclusion refers to an imperfection within the diamond. A blemish refers to an imperfection on the outside of the diamond. Inclusions and blemishes diminish the value of a diamond because they affect both the beauty and structure of the gem.

The GIA, in their 4 Cs of diamonds, came up with a generalized, universal grading system for clarity. The scale is broken into 6 categories and 11 total grades. The variations between these different categories may seem slight, but skilled gemologists can tell the difference.

GIA Clarity Grading Scale:

FL – Flawless: No blemishes or inclusions detected at 10x magnification.
IF – Internally Flawless: No inclusions detected at 10x magnification.
VVS1 & VVS2 – Very, Very Slightly Included: Inclusions only slightly detectable by skilled graders at 10x magnification.
VS1 & VS2 – Very Slightly Included: Inclusions can be detected (with some effort) at 10x magnification.
SI1 & SI2 – Slightly Included: Inclusions detected at 10x magnification.
I1, I2, & I3 – Included: Inclusions are easily detected under 10x magnification.

Carat

The carat is the easiest of the 4 Cs to explain; it refers to the weight of the diamond. Diamonds are incredibly valuable stones, and some of that value is dependent on how big the diamond is. One metric carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. To be as precise as possible, each carat is broken into 100 points. This allows the carat of a diamond to be precise down to the hundredth decimal point.

Cut

The cut is the final C of the 4 Cs of diamonds, and it's the most complex one; come learn more at F.A.O. Jewelers in Brighton, MI.
Finally, there’s the cut of a diamond. This member of the 4 Cs is often hailed as the most important “C”. It’s also the most difficult to rate because of its complexities. A diamond’s cut essentially rates how beautiful a diamond is based on how it interacts with light.

When people think of “diamond cut”, they’re typically thinking of the shape of the diamond instead of the cut. The best cut diamonds seem to come to life under light. They sparkle and shine in the most beautiful ways. This is achieved by, very precisely (and artfully!), cutting and shaping the diamond’s facets to perfectly bounce light across and through the diamond.

The most seasoned and skilled diamond craftsmen and women can almost make the light dance across their diamonds. This skill requires an incredible amount of patience, precision, and creativity in order to achieve the perfect cut.

The diamond cut grading scale, from the GIA, goes from Excellent to Poor.

Find the Perfect Diamond at F.A.O. Jewelers in Brighton, MI

Finding the right diamond for your piece of jewelry is easy, with a little guidance from the pros. That’s what we’re here for. The diamond experts here at F.A.O. Jewelers have years of experience finding the perfect diamonds. With a huge supply of individually sourced diamonds, we can help walk you through the 4 Cs of diamonds to ensure you get the perfect stone.

Give us a call at 810.229.5335, or stop by our location in Brighton, MI to see our engagement rings firsthand. For even more information, check out our Jewelry 101 blog or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

The 6 Best Gemstones for Engagement Rings – That Aren’t Diamonds

The 6 Best Gemstones for Engagement Rings – That Aren’t Diamonds

When it comes to gemstones for engagement rings, diamonds are by far the most popular. There are tons of practical reasons most people choose diamonds for their engagement ring – they’re incredibly strong and stunningly beautiful – but these lovely gemstones definitely aren’t your only choice. If you’re looking for something more unique, these are the 6 best gemstones for engagement rings – that aren’t diamonds.

Ruby

Rubies are one of the best gemstones for engagement rings and one of our favorite stones here at F.A.O. Jewelers in Brighton, MI.
Rubies are among the hardest known minerals, making them the perfect choice for something that will be worn every day – like an engagement ring. Besides their incredible strength, rubies are breathtakingly beautiful. The rich red hues of these stunning gemstones make them the perfect representation for love, romance, and passion.

Mohs Hardness Rating: 9

Sapphire

Another super-tough gemstone that’s perfect for an engagement ring is a sapphire. Best known for their deep, royal blue color, sapphires actually come in just about every color except red. Some sapphires even have a special property called pleochroism, where the gem changes colors based on how you look at it.

If you’re looking for something really special, check out star sapphire rings. These unique stones sport a scintillating star pattern in the center of the sapphire. The result is a truly unique and utterly beautiful piece of jewelry.

Mohs Hardness Rating: 9

Topaz

If you’re looking for a versatile gemstone with tons of beautiful colors and cuts to choose from, then let’s introduce you to Topaz. Topaz is one of the best gemstones for engagement rings because there are options and variations that suit just about everybody’s taste.

Not only does topaz come in a wide variety of colors, from blue and purple to red and orange, but they’re tough as well. Coming in at an 8 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, topaz is durable enough to wear everyday and beautiful enough to show off to everyone you know.

Mohs Hardness Rating: 8

Spinel

Spinel is one of the most beautiful gemstones on earth. So beautiful, in fact, they are often mistaken for rubies. The Black Prince’s Ruby, a world-famous gemstone and one of the Crown Jewels of the UK, is actually a world class spinel that was mistaken for a ruby for over 1,000 years.

With a hardness rating of 8 and the type of beauty that can fool royalty for over a millennia, Spinel is one of the best gemstones for engagement rings.

Mohs Hardness Rating: 8

Emerald

Another one of the best gemstones for engagement rings is the ever-beautiful emerald; find yours today at F.A.O. Jewelers in Brighton, MI.
If you’re looking for a gemstone that’s instantly recognizable and perpetually beautiful, an emerald may be the perfect choice for your engagement stone. This verdant gem rates between 7.5 – 8 on the Mohs hardness scale, meaning emeralds are strong enough to handle the everyday wear of an engagement ring.

If you have a partner who has a thing for green, then choosing an emerald for your engagement ring should be a no-brainer.

Mohs Hardness Rating: 7.5 – 8

Aquamarine

Another excellent option when it comes to alternate gemstones for engagement rings is aquamarine. This lovely stone comes in colors reminiscent of the watery world for which they’re named. This sea-colored gem is the perfect choice for someone who has an affinity for the ocean and is more than capable of holding its own in comparison to over gems.

Not only are aquamarine engagement rings beautiful and romantic, but they’re extremely tough as well. Coming in at a hardness rating of 7.5 – 8, there are only a few gems harder than aquamarine.

Mohs Hardness Rating: 7.5 – 8

Honorable Mentions – Moissanite

I think that no list of alternate gemstones for engagement rings is complete without mentioning Moissanite. With a hardness rating of 9.5, only diamonds are tougher than Moissanite, but nothing compares to the sheer brilliance of this otherworldly stone.

Moissanite might just be the rarest gem on earth, mostly because it’s actually extraterrestrial. First discovered in a meteorite in the late 1800s, Moissanite is so difficult to find in nature that it’s now exclusively made in the lab. These lab-made gems have the exact same composition, beauty, and toughness of their spacefaring siblings, but at a much more reasonable price.

Mohs Hardness Rating: 9.5

Design the Perfect Engagement Ring at F.A.O. Jewelers in Brighton, MI

When deciding on the best gemstones for your engagement ring, you don’t have to do it alone. The jewelry design experts here at F.A.O. Jewelers are here to help. With a huge supply of different high-quality gemstones, we can help you make the engagement ring of your dreams.

Give us a call at 810.229.5335, or stop by our location in Brighton, MI to see our engagement rings firsthand. For even more information, check out our Jewelry 101 blog or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

How To Find the Right Jeweler: 5 Things to Look for When Choosing a Jeweler

How To Find the Right Jeweler: 5 Things to Look for When Choosing a Jeweler

As far as gifts go, you can’t beat a beautiful piece of jewelry. No matter what the occasion; it could be Christmas, Mother’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, or just-because, gifting someone you love with a beautiful piece of fine jewelry is an excellent (and popular) way to show them how much you care. The question now becomes: how to find the right jeweler? Lucky for you, we’ve put some serious thought into this and came up with the definitive list of 6 things to look for when choosing a jeweler.

5 Tips to Help You Find the Right Jeweler

Only Buy From Professionals

The first and most obvious thing to look for when choosing a jeweler is… are they even a jeweler? Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are plenty of great people offering to sell you an engagement ring out of the trunk of their car or a fancy “new” watch out of the hidden pocket in their trench coat, but those great people probably aren’t professional jewelers. Buying jewelry from a professional jeweler comes with a few undeniable perks. Most notably, a professional jeweler knows what they’re talking about, and I don’t mean memorizing a sales pitch. Professional jewelers can offer you the best information, guidance, and advice on all of their pieces. They should know everything about the piece of jewelry, from how it was made to where the gemstones and materials originated from.

High-Quality Diamonds, Gems, and Metals

You'll know you found the right jeweler if they can tell you, in detail, where their diamonds, gemstones, and metals came from, so you can rest assured that their materials are conflict-free; that's exactly what you get at F.A.O. Jewelers in Brighton, MI. Going along with our theme of education, another thing to look for when choosing a jeweler is how well they know their products, materials, and their craft in general. They should be able to answer your questions about gemstones, diamonds, metal quality, and anything else related to your piece of jewelry. We put together a short list of strategic questions to ask to help you find the right jeweler.

Questions Every Jeweler Should be Able to Answer:

  • Are your diamonds conflict-free?
  • What are the strengths, weaknesses, and general characteristics of different gemstones?
  • What’s the difference between the “Cut” and the “Shape” of a gemstone?
  • Do you know the difference between a Karat, a Carat, and a Carrot?
  • Can you explain the 4 C’s of diamonds?
  • Are your diamonds and gemstones verified and certified through a respected, third-party organization, like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA)?

Reputation Matters

When it comes to finding the right jeweler, reputation definitely matters. Checking their reviews and social media accounts is an important part of the finding-a-jeweler process. Pay attention to the good reviews, the bad reviews, AND their responses to the bad reviews. You can tell a lot about a company by looking at their responses to bad reviews. Are they helpful? Dismissive? Do they own their mistakes and offer up solutions or do they come up with catty excuses? The answers to these questions should give you some insight into how you’ll be treated at this jewelry store.

Best Ways to Check the Reputation of a Jewelry Store:

  • Ask around for recommendations.
  • Check them out on social media.
  • Check their online reviews.
  • How long have they been around?
  • Are they locally-owned?

Do They Care?

Ok, this may seem like a pretty low bar, but you’d be surprised at how important this question is. Unfortunately, it’s too easy to walk into a big-name jewelry store, like Tiffany & Co., Jared, or Kay Jewelers, and just become another number on a spreadsheet. Going to a Jewelry shop where the jewelers genuinely care about their customers is the best way to ensure you’re getting the best treatment possible. A jeweler who cares is much more likely to go above and beyond, making sure you feel heard and appreciated.

Post-Purchase Perks

Finally, a good thing to keep in mind when choosing a jeweler is what happens after the purchase. Ask whether or not they offer things like a life-time warranty, free repairs, free cleaning and polishing, updated appraisals, and financing options. The answers to these important questions will help you find your forever jewelry store.

Look No Further: F.A.O. Jewelers is Here for You

If you’re looking for the right jeweler, then you’ve come to the right place. Here at F.A.O. Jeweler, we combine the care and personalized attention of a locally-owned jewelry shop with the high-quality professionalism and incredible jewelry selection of a big brand. In the end, we know that it’s all about you and your experience with us. That’s why we’re dedicated to providing the absolute best customer experience imaginable. Stop in to have a conversation with one of our professional gemologists or design specialists. We’d love to be your forever jewelry store. For more information, give us a call at (810) 229-5335 in Brighton or (810) 632-0202 in Hartland. You can also check us out on Facebook and Instagram for more pictures, reviews, and information about us. Check out our Jewelry 101 Blog for more helpful information on our jewelry, gemstones, diamonds and more.