Breakdown of Engagement Ring Terminology

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When you’re engagement ring shopping, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all of the options and new terminology. After all, when you’re not an expert in the jewelry department, terms like “VS clarity” and “Colour Grade” can be stressful to figure out which diamond would make your partner the happiest.

Understanding the vocabulary behind engagement rings and stones can help you feel confident as you head to the store. Follow this guide, and you’ll be one step closer to finding the ring that your partner can’t help but show off.

The 4Cs

When it comes to diamonds, sometimes it can be hard to know exactly what you’re looking for to determine its quality and desirability. Cut, Colour, Clarity and Carat weight, otherwise known as “the 4Cs”, allow us to classify and grade diamonds based on the most important variables that all ultimately tell us if the diamond is clear, white and brilliant.

It’s a lot to expect the average consumer to be an expert in these details, so look for a trusted and knowledgeable professional, like the custom jewelers at Alexis Gallery to better understand subtle differentiating factors to look for when choosing your diamond.


The cut of a diamond refers to its symmetry, polish, and precision which effects the sparkle of a diamond. A diamond that is well cut allows the light to enter the stone and refract back out, without getting “lost” by exiting out of the side or bottom of the stone.


A diamond’s color is rated on a 23-point scale, ranging from “D” (colorless) to “Z” (light yellow). Although most diamonds might look the same to you, they actually vary in natural tint. The closer the diamond is to being colorless, the higher its colour grade is. Diamonds with a lower colour grade appear more yellow or have a warm tone to them.


A diamond’s clarity is a measure of any naturally occurring inclusions that appear inside the stone. Experts use ten-power magnification to detect inclusions (internal flaws) and blemishes (external flaws) on a scale of 11 grades ranging from completely flawless and free of inclusions to highly included to the naked eye.


Diamonds are measured based on their weight, the unit of scale is called a carat. 1 carat is the equivalent to 0.2 grams. Typically, stone size in millimeters increases as the carat weight increases, and the higher the carat, the more expensive the diamond tends to be.

The Different Cuts

The cut of a diamond refers to its shape, with some shapes being more popular than others. Common ring cuts include:

  • Round: Circular-shaped diamond, the most classic of all.
  • Asscher: Square-shaped diamond with a high crown.
  • Cushion: Square cut with rounded corners like a pillow.
  • Emerald: Rectangular shaped with small, straight corners and a large, open table.
  • Heart: Shape of a heart.
  • Oval: Oval-shaped from slim to wide width.
  • Marquise: Long and narrow.
  • Pear: Combination of round and marquis, shaped like a tear drop.
  • Princess: Square shape, fancy cut diamond.
  • Radiant: Square or rectangular with minimal curved edges.

The Range of Metals

The ideal engagement ring metal can vary for each person based on their daily jewellery preferences. While some people prefer yellow gold, others prefer white. Consider the different ranges of metals you will likely be choosing between when picking a ring. “K” refers to the ‘karat’/purity of gold within the metal alloy.

The most common choices are:

Yellow Gold: 14K – more subtle colour or 18K – more bright and strong yellow

White Gold: 10K, 14K, 18K – varying levels of strength and ranging from a greyer tone (10K) to brighter white (18K)

Rose Gold: Typically made in 14K to achieve the perfect balance of peach/copper hues.

Finding the right engagement ring can feel like a complex puzzle, but with the right knowledge, you can start putting the pieces together. Being aware of common ring terminology can give you the confidence to shop without feeling the need to carry a dictionary. If you’re a soon-to-be proposer, take some time to learn the engagement ring language and sweep your partner off their feet with the perfect ring!