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Photo courtesy of O.C. Tanner Jewelers

Why the 5th 'C' is the most essential when choosing a diamond

By O. C. Tanner Jewelers | Posted - Nov. 5, 2019 at 8:02 a.m.

Getting engaged is an exciting event — but finding the perfect ring can be overwhelming.

The tradition of wedding rings predates the Egyptians, who wore the ring on the fourth finger of the left hand because the vena amoris (vein of love) runs directly from the heart to that finger. Modern medical science says no such vein exists, but the tradition has endured for centuries.

Throughout history, wedding rings have symbolized the binding pledge between spouses; the circle of the ring representing the eternal nature of the marriage union. Such history and tradition can make the selection of a ring a weighty task.

Thankfully, when choosing a diamond engagement ring, there is a simple way to remember what is important during your search.

In the 1940s, the Gemological Institute of America established the four "Cs" as a method of evaluating the quality and value of diamonds. While these are still the standard used today, one local jewelry expert explains that there is actually a fifth "C" that is the most important when choosing a diamond for a special occasion.


A diamond's cut defines the unique relationship it has with the light that hits it. A diamond that is too shallow or too deep will lose light through the sides or bottom. An ideal cut diamond, however, reflects light within itself, manifesting a balance of brilliance and brightness.

"Of all the 4Cs, cut has the greatest effect on a diamond’s beauty," according to the American Gem Society.

This ideal cut creates an "inner fire" of light, according to O.C. Tanner Jewelers.


Clarity refers to tiny imperfections, called inclusions, which exist in almost all diamonds.

"The size, location, type, and number of such markings affect the beauty of the diamond, with the location playing a particularly important role in its brilliance," according to O.C. Tanner Jewelers.

Truly flawless diamonds are rare and expensive, but a good jeweler will go to great lengths to select diamonds with minimal inclusions or ones that don't adversely affect their beauty.

Photo courtesy of O.C. Tanner Jewelers


While diamonds come in a variety of colors, engagement rings are typically created with white diamonds.

Most white diamonds are nearly colorless, with natural tints of yellow or brown. In fact, there are 23 levels of color within a white diamond's range, according to the American Gem Society.

The best jewelers source diamonds which are cut to their exacting standards — mitigating natural tint while maximizing brilliance. This creates colorless or near colorless diamonds in the top six levels of the colorless white range.


The number of carats you choose is a personal preference and is not necessarily correlated with value in the same way as cut, color and clarity. In fact, a large diamond that has been improperly cut may be less brilliant than a smaller diamond that is properly cut.


The last but most important "C" in choosing your perfect diamond is care. While reputable jewelers adhere to the four "C"s, care starts at the beginning of a diamond's life.

The Gemological Institute states you should "Select a jeweler as carefully as you do a doctor, lawyer or any other trained professional."

A good jeweler can ensure that your engagement ring buying process is stress-free, reports the institute. The right jeweler can educate you about diamond quality and help you narrow your choices to those that fit your tastes and budget.

Founded in Utah in 1927, O.C. Tanner Jewelers selects their diamonds from the world's best cutters and ensures they are responsibly sourced. Each diamond has been hand chosen by their team of diamond experts.

Go beyond the four "C's" by choosing a jeweler who cares about finding a diamond as precious and beautiful as your love. O.C. Tanner's unique fifth "C" exemplifies its commitment to each individual's unique diamond-buying journey.

O. C. Tanner Jewelers

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