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Since 1890, the Kirk Kara artists and artisans have handcrafted rings and fine jewelry. Each exquisite piece is designed to be forever captivating.

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How to Choose the Perfect Diamond

Shopping for a diamond can feel overwhelming at first, but finding your perfect diamond doesn’t have to be a challenge. To help you easily find your ideal gem, we’ve put together this expert guide to choosing a diamond. This step-by-step guide includes all the information you need to make an educated decision and find a diamond you’ll treasure. 

Follow the guide in order or jump around to specific sections as needed. Once you’re ready to choose your perfect diamond, visit our easy-to-use diamond search page. Use the filter options to find diamonds with your ideal specifications, then choose your favorite from our wide selection. If you need further assistance with the selection process, we’re here to support you via virtual appointment


Select Your Shape

Diamond shape, the shape a diamond has been cut into, has a major impact on a piece of jewelry’s style. You want to make sure you choose a shape that has the aesthetic and sparkle you’re looking for. 

Diamond shapes fall into one of two categories: round or fancy shaped. Round is by far the most popular diamond shape, so much so that it gets its own category. “Fancy shaped” is a broad category that includes every shape other than round. 

Here’s a simple guide to the most popular diamond shapes: 

Round brilliant cut Round Brilliant cut Exceptional brilliance, classic style
Round rose cut Round  Rose cut Subtle sparkle, looks larger per carat, antique style
Oval cut Oval Brilliant cut High brilliance, elegant style
Cushion cut  Square with rounded corners, like a cushion Brilliant cut  High brilliance, excellent fire (rainbow sparkle), vintage style
Princess cut  Square  Brilliant cut  High brilliance, modern style
Emerald cut  Rectangular with cut corners Step cut Flashy sparkle, captivating hall of mirrors effect, Retro vintage style 
Pear shaped  Pear shaped, with one rounded end and one pointed end Brilliant cut High brilliance, bold style
Marquise cut  Football-esque, with long rounded sides and two pointed tips  Brilliant cut High brilliance, elongated shape, unique style
Asscher cut Square with cut corners Step cut Flashy sparkle, geometric patterning, Art Deco vintage style
Radiant cut  Rectangular with cut corners  Brilliant cut High brilliance, glamorous modern style
Heart shaped  Heart  Brilliant cut High brilliance, romantic style

Note that these top diamond shapes feature one of three different types of faceting, each of which reflects light in its own unique way. Brilliant cut diamonds feature many tiny facets that create maximum brilliance and sparkle. Step cut diamonds have long, linear facets that create larger flashes of light. Rose cut diamonds have a flat base and triangular cut facets that create soft shimmer. 

All diamond shapes and faceting styles are beautiful, but you’ll probably prefer some over others. Take a bit of time to explore the different styles and decide on the shape you’re looking for. 


Consider Your Jewelry Setting

If you’re shopping for a diamond to use in a piece of jewelry, like a diamond engagement ring, keep your jewelry setting in mind as you shop. The same center diamond can look quite different in different settings and you want to make sure you’re happy with your final pairing. Pay special attention to how the size, shape, color, and faceting of a center stone will look alongside your setting and any side stones within that setting.


Select Natural or Lab Grown

Another thing to consider early in the diamond shopping process is whether you want natural diamonds or lab-grown diamonds. Both options are real diamonds with the same carbon crystal structure, strength, and optical properties. The main difference between them is how they’re made, which affects their price and how you may feel about them. 

Natural diamonds form in the earth over billions of years. People who choose natural diamonds tend to like that they’re a traditional option with rarity and emotional symbolism. They’re more expensive than lab-grown diamonds, but many people feel the higher price tag is worth it. 

Lab-grown diamonds are made by scientists in a laboratory. People who choose lab diamonds tend to like that they don’t require mining and that they have a much more affordable price tag compared to natural diamonds. This lower price point can help you maximize your budget, allowing you to get a higher quality, larger diamond. 

Whether you want natural or lab diamonds is a very personal decision. Some people have a strong preference, while others are more flexible. However you feel, it’s good to think about this early on, as it will narrow down your options when it comes time to pick a specific diamond. 

At Kirk Kara, we offer a wide selection of both natural and lab-grown diamonds. When you shop for a center diamond online using the Kirk Kara diamond search tool, you can filter by diamond type by clicking the “natural” and “lab-created” options. For jewelry designs with accent diamonds, you can choose either natural or lab diamonds by clicking your desired option under “Accent Diamond Type.”


Understand Diamond Quality

Once you know the shape and type of diamond you’re looking for, it’s time to pick out a specific diamond. To do that, you’ll want to have a general understanding of the 4Cs of diamonds, which can tell you a lot about how a diamond looks. 

The 4Cs of diamond quality are cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. Here’s an overview of these and what they mean for how your diamond looks:  

  • Diamond cut is a grading of how well a diamond has been cut into its shape. A well cut diamond will capture and reflect light beautifully, helping the diamond look large and bright. A poorly cut diamond will look dull and dim, causing the diamond to look lifeless and smaller than it actually is. 
  • Diamond color is a grading of how colorless a colorless diamond is. Colorless diamonds, also called white diamonds, can range in hue from completely colorless to noticeably yellow. Many diamonds that are slightly tinted still look white when set in fine jewelry, but color can be obvious with lower grades.
  • Diamond clarity is a grading of how flawless a diamond is, internally and externally. Most people don’t want to pay a premium for a perfectly flawless diamond. Instead, most people are happy with a diamond that is “eye clean,” which means you can’t see any flaws with the naked eye. 
  • Diamond carat weight is an objective weight measurement that can give you an idea of how large a diamond is. 

The 4Cs affect how a diamond looks–and how much it costs. Diamonds with higher grades and carat weights are more expensive. Luckily, a diamond doesn’t need to have the highest grade in each category to be beautiful. Let’s go over which grades tend to be more important and which you can be more flexible on. 


Select Your Cut

If you want your diamond to be bright and sparkly, don’t sacrifice on cut grade. While you don’t necessarily need to get a diamond with the top grade, you’ll likely be unhappy under a certain grade. 

Diamond cut is graded on a scale that ranges from Excellent to Poor: 

  • Excellent 
  • Very Good 
  • Good
  • Fair 
  • Poor 

We generally recommend choosing a diamond with either an Excellent or Very Good grade. Diamonds with a grade of Good or lower tend to be noticeably duller and dimmer, with poor light performance. 


Select Your Color

Diamond Color Chart: The Official GIA Color Scale - GIA 4Cs

The right diamond color grade for you is a matter of personal preference. 

The diamond color scale has five categories, with more specific letter grades within each category: 

  • Colorless: D to F
  • Near Colorless: G to J
  • Faint: K to M
  • Very Light: N to R
  • Light: S to Z

Diamond experts often recommend G or H color diamonds as a good bargain pick. They’re significantly less expensive than Colorless diamonds, but will generally still look white in jewelry. Diamonds with grades from K to Z will typically be noticeably yellow, so stay away from those grades if that’s something you want to avoid. 

Another thing to consider is that transparent stones reflect their surroundings, so your center diamond will reflect its setting. A D color diamond might look faintly yellow in a yellow gold setting due to reflections, so you may want to pick a design with platinum or white gold prongs to avoid this. On the plus side, a yellow gold setting can help mask a bit of color in a slightly yellow diamond, making it less obvious than it would be in a pure white setting. 


Select Your Clarity

Diamond Cut vs Clarity | SGDX Singapore Diamond Exchange

A higher diamond clarity grade means that a diamond has fewer inclusions (internal flaws) and blemishes (external flaws). 

The diamond clarity scale has six categories, four of which also have subcategories: 

  • Flawless: FL 
  • Internally Flawless: IF
  • Very, Very Slightly Included: VVS1, VVS2
  • Very Slightly Included: VS1, VS2 
  • Slightly Included: SI1, SI2
  • Included: I1, I2, I3

Diamond clarity grades are given based on how the diamond looks under 10x magnification, so these flaws can’t always be seen with the naked eye. Even Slightly Included diamonds can occasionally be eye clean, with no inclusions visible to the naked eye.  

So, which clarity grade should you start looking at? If you want to maximize your budget, know that most people can find a brilliant cut diamond they like within the Very Slightly Included range. Brilliant cuts tend to make it harder to see inside a diamond, so brilliant diamond shapes are less likely to have visible inclusions. 

However, if you’re shopping for a step cut diamond, you’ll probably want to stick to the Very, Very Slightly Included range or higher. It’s quite easy to see inside step cut diamonds, so you need to be more careful about clarity when shopping for one.


Select Your Carat Weight

Out of all of the 4Cs, carat weight has the biggest impact on price. Higher carat diamonds are more expensive. Most people simply get the largest diamond they can within their price range, so choosing carat weight tends to be a simple process. 

But what if you’re not happy with the carat weight that works within your budget? You’ll need to be more flexible with other factors. Here are some things to consider: 

  • Go Lab-Grown: Lab-grown diamonds are significantly less expensive compared to natural diamonds, so your budget will go farther if you choose a lab-grown stone.
  • Choose a Fancy Shape: Round brilliant cut diamonds are more expensive because round is the most popular diamond shape. To maximize your budget, choose a fancy shape with a lower price point. 
  • Choose a Shape That Looks Larger: Some diamond shapes look larger per carat due to the way their weight is distributed. Examples of larger-looking shapes include round rose cut, oval cut, emerald cut, and pear shaped diamonds. 
  • Go Lower in Quality: Higher quality diamonds are more expensive, so consider whether you’d still like the look of a slightly lower quality diamond. However, don’t skimp on diamond cut grade if you care about size perception. A great diamond cut will ensure your diamond looks big and bright, rather than dull and smaller than it actually is.

The Kirk Kara diamond search tool allows you to quickly change your search parameters when shopping, so you can easily play around with these different factors until you find what works for you. If you’re struggling to find a diamond with the right balance on your own, remember that you can always get personalized advice from a Kirk Kara expert through a virtual appointment


Make Sure You Have Certification

Before you make your final diamond purchase, make sure your loose diamond comes with a grading report from a respected gemological laboratory like the GIA. A grading report provides you with proof that your diamond has the qualities it’s advertised to have. It will detail your diamond’s carat weight and quality grades, and whether it is natural or lab-grown.


Find Your Perfect Diamond at Kirk Kara

We hope this guide has been helpful as you search for your perfect diamond. Now that you know exactly what you’re looking for, you can use the Kirk Kara diamond search tool to find your ideal diamond with just a few clicks. 

If you still have questions or need personalized assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our jewelry experts are always happy to help you find a diamond you’ll love. We’re available to answer all your questions by Virtual Appointment, Live Chat, or via phone. 


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