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The Ultimate Guide to Purchasing the Perfect Diamond Engagement Ring

The Perfect Diamond

Excellence is a mindset that exists beyond monetary value. The perfect diamond should sing with beauty, whisper of love and speak eloquently of your discerning taste. It expresses an ideal of excellence that begins with the quality of the diamond itself. The diamond’s quality is determined by how it is cut, mounted and presented to a prospective client.

The Shreve, Crump & Low Guide goes over each of the grading elements (color, cut, clarity, carat) that comprise an excellent diamond and how to identify and purchase the best one.

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Table of Contents

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The Four C's

Shreve, Crump & Low offers an exceptional collection of diamond engagement rings. Each piece is selected with a discerning eye and a commitment to offering you the highest quality diamonds from around the world at the best value. A knowledgeable and attentive diamond consultant should guide you through selecting a diamond best suited to your budget.

Our Shreve, Crump & Low Graduate Gemologists select diamonds based primarily on the four C’s of diamond grading:

  1. Cut refers to the faceted proportions in which a rough diamond is shaped.
  2. Color grade characterizes the lack of color in a diamond.
  3. Clarity rates the imperfections that may interfere with the beauty and durability of a diamond.
  4. Carat denotes the actual measurable weight of a diamond.


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Cut is what most determines the beauty of a rough diamond, revealing its full brilliance. The cut is the most critical of the Four C’s because the beauty of the diamond in the eye of the beholder depends entirely upon this one factor. 

A quality cut diamond allows light to enter through the top (known as the table), reflecting off precisely placed facets on the diamond’s pavilion and directly back to the eye of the beholder. A skilled and experienced master diamond cutter shapes a rough diamond into a perfect prism of fiery brilliance that had lain dormant for millions of years. While all diamonds will reflect light, only those with precisely aligned and proportioned facets will capture and release the maximum play of light.

The round diamond with its 58 facets can be thought of as a set of mirrors and prisms placed in exact symmetry by the cutter to release this dazzling display.

The Path of Light

When a diamond is properly cut, light entering through the table is bent towards the center of the diamond, reflect off the precisely placed facets and returns through the top in a rainbow blaze. Only a precise set of proportions in cutting ensures this brilliant display. 

If a diamond isn’t cut to ideal proportions, light will “leak” out instead of returning though the table. In a diamond cut too deep, much of the light is reflected to the facets at the wrong angle and is lost through the sides. In a diamond cut too shallow, light escapes through the bottom.

A Shreve, Crump & Low diamond collects light through the crown and is perfectly mirrored off the pavilion and reflected back through the crown.

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A diamond’s color is graded on a scale established by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) using the alphabet. The scale begins with D and ends at Z, with D being the whitest and Z having the strongest yellow tone. The term “color” may be misleading when speaking about diamonds, as the more colorless and white a diamond appears to the eye, the more rare and valuable it is. This absence of color allows white light to pass effortlessly through the diamond and emerge in rainbows of color.

At Shreve, Crump & Low, if the color of a diamond falls on the border-line between grades, we will always grade the diamond at the lower grade. A Shreve diamond is your assurance that the diamond you select is accurately and honestly assessed for color. 


The Shreve, Crump & Low diamond professional recommends diamonds with color grading D through J. Though available rarely or upon request, it is not advised to purchase a K-Z grade diamond for your engagement ring.


Fluorescence refers to the bluish, yellowish or greenish tint emitted when a diamond is exposed to the long- or short-wave ultraviolet light (natural sunlight), occasionally making a D through G graded diamond appear milky or hazy. While there are rare occasions when this might be desirable, fluorescence is usually not considered an acceptable quality and, accordingly, Shreve, Crump & Low rarely sells such diamonds. 

Color: D
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1.72 carat D VS2 Oval Cut 3-Stone Diamond 3-Stone Ring (GIA Certified, Platinum)
Color: E
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10.74 carat E IF Emerald Cut Diamond 3-Stone Platinum Ring (GIA Certified)
Color: F
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13.06 carat F VS1 Cushion Cut Diamond 3-Stone Diamond Ring (GIA Certified, Platinum)
Color: G
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5.04 carat G VS1 Brilliant Cushion Cut Diamond Solitaire Ring (GIA, Platinum)


A flawless diamond is extremely rare and valuable. The majority of diamonds contain miniscule natural inclusions and surface blemishes called “imperfections.” When imperfections are larger and more plentiful, they may interfere with the diamond’s beauty, durability, and the path of light traveling through it. A diamond that is free or nearly free of imperfections is thus more valuable and sought after. 

A Graduate Gemologist grades the clarity of every Shreve, Crump & Low diamond under 10 to 100 power magnification using the GIA scale. A flawless diamond would be graded FL on a scale that ranges from FL (Flawless) to I3 (Imperfect).

Our diamond professionals do not recommend diamonds with clarity gradings lower than SI2. 

Carat Weight

A carat is a unit of measurement that describes the weight of a diamond. One carat equals 0.20 grams. A carat is calculated in points. For example, a one carat diamond is equal to 100 points. Thus, a 50-point diamond is the same as 0.50 carats.

A large diamond may be rare, but it is not necessarily better or more valuable. In fact, a smaller may actually be more valuable than one with a larger carat weight, if its cut, clarity and color are superior. 

GIA Certification

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is the benchmark standard for diamond grading reports. A majority of all Shreve, Crump & Low diamonds are accompanied by a GIA certificate, designating an official report on the diamond’s color, clarity, cut, and carat size. 

While a GIA certificate may be the official grading report on a diamond, it is important to note that a diamond’s carat size and cut measurements are definitively objective attributes, while a diamonds color and clarity are highly subjective to the individual Graduate Gemologist grading the specific diamond.

A Shreve, Crump & Low Graduate Gemologist (G.G.) has been trained by the GIA to the same rigorous standards as the person in the GIA laboratory defining color and clarity on a GIA grading report.

Colored Diamonds

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Thought not the traditional route, colored diamonds are amongst the rarest in the world, and today are increasingly selected as the perfect diamond engagement ring. Shreve, Crump & Low’s collection of colored stones is unparalleled.

The most popular colored diamond is the Canary, named for its intense yellow hue. Shreve, Crump & Low has bought and sold a variety of pink, purple, blue and even green diamonds. Our professional diamond experts will always utilize Shreve, Crump & Low’s resources to locate and acquire and colored or colorless diamond you desire.

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