Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.

Diamonds: A Primer

The inside scoop from Mike Calcote of Lafayette Jewelers

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend. And rightfully so – who doesn’t want a best friend that’s unbreakable, highly sought-after and brilliant? These are the attributes that have elevated the diamond as a symbol of everlasting love. Resilient and rare, diamonds have been used for engagement rings since the late fifteenth century, when Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed to his love Mary of Burgundy.

If you’ve mustered up the courage to propose, or you want to give that special someone a gift or want to treat yourself to some bling, read on to find out what to look for and current trends happening in the world of diamonds.

We spoke to Mike Calcote of Lafayette Jewelers, and he gave us a primer on this season’s brilliant bauble.

The Four C’s

“The four C’s were created as a universal language for diamonds, so that jewelers and buyers could both understand the quality of a diamond,” Calcote explains. “The four C’s are carat weight, color grade, clarity grade and cut grade.” These characteristics are used as common measures to assess the quality – and therefore price – of a diamond.

- Carat weight has been the longest running industry standard used to appraise diamonds since the 1500s.

- Color grade actually refers to the lack of color – the less color a diamond has, the higher its grade.

- Clarity grade of a diamond measures how clear the stone is, which can only be assessed under a patented scientific microscope.

- Cut grade is not to be confused with shape. The cut is subjective and therefore has been a controversial aspect for quality measurement. The cut makes the diamond sparkle and determines how much light is reflected from the gem.


Round is a classic shape that has never gone out of style, while oval and pear have been trending for several years. “Lately we’ve seen an upturn in marquise purchases, so that shape seems to be making a comeback,” says Calcote. In terms of design, vintage and antique styles are trending. Slimmer band designs seem to be popular, which allows the stone to make the statement. But be careful, as they aren’t quite as durable as wider bands. Hidden halos are a modern twist and quite literally in the eye of the beholder. The hidden halo is typically only visible to the wearer, but it adds a little extra bling and sparkle to the side of the basket where the diamond sits. Baguette accents are having a moment, serving vintage vibes and depth. A return of the nineties trend, yellow gold is also super popular.

Natural, lab grown & moissanite

“Lab diamonds are different from natural diamonds only because they are artificially created,” Calcote tells us.

“Man made diamonds are created in a laboratory in only a couple of weeks, instead of naturally produced diamonds that are created by nature as a result of intense heat and pressure formed over the course of billions of years.” To the naked eye, it is impossible to tell the difference; the two diamonds look and feel the same and have the same chemical makeup.

“Moissanites aren’t a diamond at all,” Calcote continues, “however, they make a great alternative if you’re on a budget.” Moissanites are a durable, synthetic stone that do not scratch easily, which makes them ideal for everyday wear. They exhibit a different kind of brilliance than a diamond and have a higher refractive index, emitting fiery rainbow flashes.

A Little Color

Recently brides have been opting for less traditional engagement rings, even choosing a colored center stone. Calcote says, given their strength and durability, sapphires are a great option – and they are a symbol of love, loyalty and harmony. “Morganite has been another popular nontraditional stone that we’re seeing in engagement rings,” he confirms. “The pale pink color of the stone pairs beautifully with rose gold, as well as the popular yellow gold.”

Whether you chose a natural diamond, a lab diamond or a colorful gemstone, a ring is a beautiful expression of everlasting love and commitment – perfect for that special proposal, a Valentine’s Day surprise, or a just- because gift of love.