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What to Look for in a Diamond: Color, Clarity, Carat, Cut

emerald cut three stone engagement ring

The word “diamond” comes from the Greek word “adamas,” meaning unconquerable or invincible. Perhaps that’s why these gemstones have been treasured for so many centuries and used as symbols of power and love throughout history. It’s also the traditional April birthstone (lucky for our Aries and Taurus friends!). Whether you’re seeking a breathtaking center stone for a necklace or an engagement ring to launch your happily ever after, a brilliant diamond is guaranteed to speak volumes.

But when you’re making such an important purchase, you want to make sure you understand what to look for. At Bromberg’s, we’re all about master craft, and we love sharing the knowledge we’ve accumulated over decades with our clientele. A diamond’s true value depends on four important properties: color, clarity, carat, and cut. Let’s dive into what each of these aspects really means!


Color is determined by the presence of trace elements or structural defects in the gem. Of course, when we think about diamonds, we typically think of colorless, pristine purity, and that’s true of the highest-quality stones. Diamonds are graded on a color scale that ranges from D (colorless) to Z (light yellow or brown). The closer a stone is to colorless, the more valuable it is.

That said, diamonds do come in a variety of colors, including yellow, brown, pink, blue, green, and even black.

Yellow orange fancy diamond engagement ring
A yellow-orange diamond engagement ring makes a unique statement.


Clarity, on the other hand, refers to the absence or presence of internal and external flaws (known as inclusions) or blemishes (known as surface marks). These imperfections are natural and occur during the formation process. When a diamond is evaluated for clarity, a trained grader examines it under a magnifying loupe or microscope and assigns it a clarity grade based on the size, location, and number of these inclusions and blemishes.

The diamond clarity grading scale ranges from Flawless to Included. The fewer the inclusions and blemishes, the higher the clarity grade and the more valuable the stone.

A princess cut engagement ring with pristine clarity.
A princess cut engagement ring with pristine clarity.


Most people are familiar with the word carat, but may not know that it actually refers to weight. A carat equals 0.2 grams. Often, people ask us what the best carat weight is, but there is no one answer. The carat doesn’t determine the piece’s quality—for example, a smaller diamond can be of higher value than a larger one with flaws or hints of color.

Instead, there are a few other ways carat can affect your overall choice:

Appearance: A larger carat weight will generally appear more impressive and show more fire and brilliance, but a well-cut diamond with a smaller carat weight can also have excellent sparkle and beauty.
Setting: The setting can affect how the gem appears, regardless of its carat weight. A well-designed setting can enhance a smaller stone and even make it appear larger.

This brings us to the final property to consider when shopping for that perfect piece of jewelry: its cut.

The dazzle is in the detail of these clover-shaped diamond halo pendants.
The dazzle is in the detail of these clover-shaped diamond halo pendants.


The cut of a diamond refers to its proportions, symmetry, and polish. All other properties being equal, this aspect of craftsmanship is what determines the stone’s true beauty. After all, the better the quality of the cut, the better the final product’s facets will interact with light. A masterfully cut diamond will flash and scintillate, showcasing all the best qualities of the stone.

The ideal cut style can vary depending on its shape. For example, the perfect facet arrangement for a round diamond will be different than for an oval or pear-shaped diamond.

Is a diamond shape the same as a cut?

The shape influences the way a diamond is cut, but it’s not the same thing as the cut itself. The shape is the outline or form of the rough stone. A skilled cutter then crafts it to achieve maximum beauty and value, using their insight, talent, and expertise to enhance its innate features.

Check out our previous blog on diamond cuts to learn more about your options!

Asscher cut exceptional diamond engagement ring
The alluring Asscher cut diamond in this engagement ring truly mesmerizes.

Get Expert Diamond Advice from a Reputable Jeweler

When purchasing such an impressive gemstone, it’s important to work with a reputable jeweler who can help you evaluate its quality, value, and style. We hope that when you’re ready to start exploring your options, you’ll allow us to use our state-of-the-art tools to show you what to look for in a well-cut, perfectly weighted stone. We’re more than happy to be your guide in choosing a piece of true value and beauty.

Bromberg & Co. Jewelers: Birmingham’s Diamond Authority Since 1836

With two fine jewelry stores in Mountain Brook Village and the Summit, Bromberg’s is Birmingham’s destination for superior quality diamonds and personalized customer service that can’t be matched. Whether you’re looking for something specific or aren’t sure where to begin, please don’t hesitate to connect with us today. Call The Summit at (205) 969-1776 or Mountain Brook at (205) 871-3276.

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