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Diamond Engagement Ring and Wedding Band Shopping

Schwanke-Kasten has been in the jewelry business since 1899. So naturally, as a locally family owned business, we have been the go-to for diamond engagement rings for decades.

When shopping for diamond engagement rings, you should:

  • Work with a reputable jeweler who carries GIA certified diamonds.
  • Be familiar with the Four C's - Cut, Clarity, Color, Carat Weight - which describe the characteristics of a diamond, and are explained below.
  • Keep in mind that a diamond can appear larger (or smaller) than its actual weight, depending on its cut.
  • A diamond may actually have a higher carat weight than a bigger-looking diamond with a shallower cut. Look at different designs and mountings as they can affect the appearance of the size of the diamond, and
  • Know that the accent diamonds that we use in our engagement ring mountings are F-H in color and VS2 in clarity, unless otherwise noted.

When purchasing a loose diamond for a mounting, you should:

  • Carefully place the diamond on the top of your hand and compare it with a similar diamond mounted in jewelry.
  • Hold it up to the light and look at the way the light dances around – it should throw out a rainbow of colors and display the diamond’s natural brilliance.
  • Look at diamonds of different clarity, shapes and sizes to find the one that is perfect for you. In some diamonds, the internal features may be hidden by the setting and will not detract from a diamond’s overall beauty.


The Four C's are a standardized way to compare certified diamonds, established by the DeBeers group. They describe details about a diamond which reference Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat Weight.

CUT refers to the SHAPE
, round, princess, oval, square, marquise, pear, emerald, cushion, etc. As well as the ANGLES & DIMENSION parameters used to create the brilliance, fire and scintillation of a diamond. To maximize sparkle, a diamond must be cut very specifically with strict attention to the polish finish of the stone

CLARITY measures a diamond’s purity
or how free it is from tiny blemishes and inclusions. Skin Blemishes are surface features like scratches and nicks. Inclusions are naturally occurring features in the diamond such as tiny fissures or feathers and included crystals which can be diamond or other minerals. Diamonds without features are rarer and therefore more expensive, but small inclusions do not affect the beauty or the brilliance of a diamond. Diamonds equal in weight, color and cut will vary greatly in price depending on their clarity features. There are for five distinct groups for grading clarity:
  • FL to IF / Flawless to Internally Flawless – the rarest of rare diamonds, known as FL diamonds are those with no internal features and no external features or blemishes visible at 10 x magnification. An IF diamond will also have no internal features, but may exhibit a minute scratch left over from polishing.
  • VVS -- Very Very Slightly diamonds are those with minute inclusions so small that they are extremely difficult for even a skilled diamond grader to see at 10X magnification.
  • VVS1 diamonds may have a single pinpoint, whereas a VVS2 may have a pinpoint and a tiny needle-like crystal of another mineral as its internal features.
  • VS -- Very Slightly are diamonds with minor internal features deemed difficult for a skilled grader to detect at 10X. VS1 diamonds may have a tiny cloud of inclusions, or a pinpoint or two, whereas a VS2 diamond could have, for example, a small included crystal.
  • SI -- Slightly Included are diamonds with internal features that are easily seen by the skilled grader at 10X magnification. This category is also divided into SI1 and SI2, and even an SI2 diamond that contains internal features are still not visible to the unaided eye.
  • I1, I2, I3 – Included diamonds have features that are obvious at 10x magnification, but can be seen by an unaided eye, and could affect the durability of the diamond. These diamonds are excluded from the Schwanke-Kasten collection.
COLOR is the whiteness of the diamond and is graded on a scale from D to Z, exceptionally white to tinted color. In this scale:
  • D / E / F diamonds are considered colorless and have such little difference in color that it takes an expert with sample diamonds of known grades to distinguish one from another.
  • G / H / I are considered almost colorless and begin to show faint hints of yellow only when compared to diamonds of better color.
  • J & K, near colorless diamonds, will show even more hints of yellow when compared against a pure white background.
  • Fancy Colored Diamonds are extremely rare and highly treasured natural wonders. They can be found in shades of green, blue, yellow, orange, pink or – rarest of all – red. The value of fancy colored diamonds is determined primarily by the intensity of the color which can significantly outweigh the effects of other Four C's.
CARAT is a measure of weight. One carat (1 ct) equals 0.20 grams and is divided into 100 points (half a carat - 0.50 ct - diamond can be described as a 50 points diamond). It's important to remember that a diamond is not valued by carat weight alone and two diamonds of equal carat weight can have very different values depending on cut, clarity and color.

Every center diamond Schwanke-Kasten Jewelers offers has been certified by the GIA® exclusively, the world's most recognized diamond grading laboratory. We select only the most exquisitely cut diamonds that have been individually checked and can be perfectly matched to your chosen setting. We ensure that our diamonds are ethically sourced and compliant with the industry's most rigorous standards of social responsibility.

Remember, this information does not replace the trained human eye, the magic ingredient of a truly stunning piece of jewelry is seeing it in person. Allow us to make your dream a reality.